With world-class art, stunning architecture, and a beach on its doorstep, it’s no wonder Barcelona attracts so many visitors. However, costly accommodation and steep sightseeing fares can sometimes make for an expensive break to this Spanish city. But don’t panic! We have put together a list of free things to do in Barcelona so that you can enjoy this vibrant city without spending a penny.
Take a Stroll Down La Rambla
Meandering along Barcelona’s mile-long street, La Rambla, is a must if you’re visiting the city. With street performers, amazing food and flower stalls dotted along the boulevard, it’s not a surprise that both locals and tourists flock to this hot spot. Taking a free walking tour is a great way to uncover the hidden secrets of La Rambla, whilst soaking up the lively atmosphere too.
Browse La Boqueria Food Market
La Boqueria indoor food market is gourmet heaven and free to enter! Wonder around, let the tantalising smells of Spanish cuisine entice you and gorge yourself on free samples. There is a vast array of specialist stalls selling culinary delights from olives and cured meats, to seafood and candied nuts. It is worth visiting in the morning if you can, as the market becomes extremely busy when the locals descend for lunch.
Bask on a Beach
For sun worshippers, Barcelona does not disappoint. The 4.5 km of coastline means there is plenty of space for visitors to relax after a jam-packed day of sightseeing. Barceloneta Beach is without a doubt the most popular, with gorgeous golden sand and a promenade brimming with restaurants and bars. For somewhere less crowded, we recommend walking a little further north to The Forum Area. Although this is a sandless beach, it is a quiet spot for sunbathing and swimming in the sea.
Free Museums on Sundays
Many of Barcelona’s museums are free the first Sunday of every month, or every Sunday afternoon. The Catalan National Museum of Art (MNAC), the Contemporary Culture Centre (CCCB) and the Picasso Museum are among those free to visit on the first Sunday of every month, all year round.
Time Your Visit with a Festival
If you’re thinking of visiting Barcelona in the mid-late summer, make sure you check out the incredible free festivals on offer. The summer extravaganza, Festa Major de Gràcia, boasts beautifully decorated streets and a packed programme of free outdoor concerts to enjoy. If you’re visiting at the end of September, don’t miss the five-day Festes de La Mercè, which delights the city with a mixture of dancing, fireworks, acrobatics, parades and free concerts!
Rummage Through a Flea Market
Els Encants Vells is the largest flea market in Barcelona and one of the oldest in Europe, dating back to the 14th Century. The market is free to enter and you certainly won’t be breaking the bank if you fancy treating yourself. Amongst the hustle ‘n’ bustle, you’ll find an array of second-hand goods to new clothes, furniture and electronics. This Aladdin’s cave is well worth a rummage but if you want to hunt down a real bargain, make sure you attend the public auction before the market opens at 8:30 am!
Explore Barcelona’s Gothic Church
Okay, so it’s not La Sagrada Família but Barcelona’s Santa Maria del Mar is a great, free alternative! Built during the 14th Century, this imposing church is a wonderful example of Catalan Gothic architecture. It is one of the most sought-after churches in Barcelona for couples getting married, so don’t be surprised if a wedding is taking place when you visit. Due to the simplistic nature of the church interior, the acoustics are incredible, making it the host of many choral concerts and even some jazz.
Visit The Ruins at El Born Cultural Centre
As you walk through the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, make sure you check out El Born Cultural Centre; an old market but now home to an incredible archaeological site. Visitors can observe the open, preserved remains of the town Vilanova de Mar from 1700, whilst learning about what city life was like in Barcelona at the time. Entry to the cultural centre is free!
See The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc in Barcelona delivers an amazing free display of colour, light and water all synchronised with music. Great for all ages, the spectacle lasts for around forty-five minutes and takes place every Thursday to Sunday in the summer months and every Friday and Saturday during the winter.