18 Free Things To Do In Barcelona (+ Fun Facts And Top Tips)
Barcelona is the most visited city in Spain and for good reason. It is full of amazing architecture, cafés and restaurants combined with a relaxed atmosphere due to its location at the beach. And there are plenty of free things to do in Barcelona, so no need to empty your wallets!
Even if you are traveling on a tight budget you will have a great time and enjoy Barcelona to the fullest.
So keep reading to find out all the best free things to do in Barcelona!
1. Get A Tan On Barcelona’s Beaches
For me, this is by far one of the best free things to do in Barcelona. Barcelona attracts thousands of tourists from all over Europe and the world looking for some beach time.
Due to its popularity, the beaches can definitely be very crowded, especially in summer. But I always found there was a great atmosphere at the beach even when it was busy.
There are many beaches that you can visit but most people head straight to Barceloneta Beach. It is the closest beach to the city center and has a metro stop, so it will be the busiest.
If you are looking for a lively atmosphere then this is the beach for you. But if you would like a quieter more peaceful beach then you should head further down the coast.
Platja de la Nova Icària is a beach that is one bay over from Barceloneta. It is generally a bit quieter and more relaxed than Barceloneta.
As you go further down the coast there are also more bays. So if you want somewhere quieter you can just keep moving further down the coast. All beaches are connected by a great walkway and a bike lane so enjoy the view!
2. Marvel At The Sagrada Familia
The Sagrada Familia is the most iconic building in Barcelona and it’s a truly unique building that you have to see. Although going inside costs 26 euros which is not cheap, viewing the exterior of the building is totally free and almost as impressive as the interior.
But if you have the money to spare I highly recommend going inside as well as the inside is not a usual church but an architectural masterpiece.
The Sagrada Familia is the most famous project of Gaudi, a famous architect from Barcelona, who designed many buildings around the city. Gaudi is well-known for designing extremely complex and unique buildings.
From the outside, you can see thousands of intricate details covering the building which is truly fascinating to look at.
Fun Fact 🤓
An interesting fact about the Sagrada Familia is that it has been under construction for over 140 years! The reason for this is that the design of the building is so complex and there has been difficulty getting enough money to finance the project.
However, because more money has been coming in from tourists in recent years it should be finished by 2026. So if you have some money to spare for the ticket you at least know where it goes to.
3. Visit The Picasso Museum For Free
The Picasso Museum is a super popular museum in Barcelona that contains 4,251 works of art by the world-famous artist. It is usually 17 euros to enter. However, there are certain time periods where you can enter for free as long as you book a ticket in advance.
The free periods to enter the museum are every Thursday from 5 pm to 9 pm and the first Sunday of every month. You simply have to book your tickets online at the Picasso Museum website. Just go to the ‘Buy Ticket’ tab and select free admission.
You are able to book your free tickets 4 days before the day you want to go. But you will have to be quick as the free tickets sell out very quickly! It took us a couple of attempts before we were able to get in.
Even if you are not a big fan of Picasso just seeing the building from the inside, as it reminds of a castle, is a great free thing to do in Barcelona.
4. Get Lost In The Gothic Quarter
The Gothic Quarter is the historic center of Barcelona and is a great place to get lost wandering around. The area is a maze of narrow alleyways and streets lined with shops that open up into courtyards and squares.
Around the gothic quarter, you can find the remains of Roman walls and many buildings dating back to medieval times.
Fun Fact 🤓
Despite its name, most of the gothic quarter was constructed much more recently than in medieval times. The area was actually quite a rundown area of the city.
Then in 1929, there was a massive world fair held in Barcelona. Because of the fair, a huge amount of restoration work was done in the area to make it look nice for the world’s media.
So most of what we see today is the result of the work done for that fair in 1929.
There are many restaurants and shops spread throughout the quarter and a lot of historical buildings. You can walk through it many times and always see something new so I recommend walking through it as often as possible.
One warning that must be given about the Gothic Quarter is to be very careful walking through here at night. Barcelona does have quite a big problem with street robberies which we experienced twice ourselves.
So as soon as it gets dark be sure to either stay out of deserted alleyways and head for busier streets or stay in a large group and keep your belongings close.
5. Hike Up Mount Tibidabo (A Free Thing To Do In Barcelona With A View)
Mount Tibidabo is the highest peak in the hills behind Barcelona and will give you awesome views of the city. At the top of the hill is one of Europe’s oldest amusement parks opened in 1905 and a beautiful church called Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor.
To get to the start of the path to the top you can take the metro to Av. Tibidabo if it’s too far to walk. From there walk to the funicular station and the path will start next to it. The trek to the top will take around 45 minutes. Enjoy the view for free!
The path up to the top is mostly under the shade of trees so you will not be too exposed to the sun in the summertime. However, you should probably not do it during the middle of the day in summer as it will still get very hot.
6. Visit Palau Güell For Free
Palau Güell is a mansion designed by Gaudi for a rich businessman which was built between 1886 and 1888. It is one of Gaudis’ earliest works and a really impressive building. It is free to visit on the first Sunday of every month.
The interior of the building is dark and gloomy with dark shiny stone covering the walls. It almost feels like you are in a castle though you are right in the center of Barcelona. But as with all of Gaudis’ buildings, it is a very unique design and super interesting.
Once you make it to the rooftop you will find a whole lot of colorful chimneys which was also a trademark of Gaudi. It is an interesting contrast because the inside of the building is so dark and serious while the roof is covered with these psychedelic chimneys.
General Admission to Palau Güell is 12 euros but if you go on the first Sunday of the month it is free. You just have to book a ticket online to get free entry on the Palau Guell website.
Free tickets are available to book one week before the date you wish to visit. They will sell out fast so you will have to make sure that you book them as soon as they are available.
7. Stroll Through Parc De La Ciutadella
Taking a walk through the Parc de la Ciutadella is another great free thing to do in Barcelona. It is centrally located so you can often walk through on the way to another location or come to chill out on the grass like the locals.
The park has a lake where you can rent boats and there are many sculptures and monuments to see.
My favorite part of the park is the Cascada del Parc de la Ciutadella. This is a huge fountain and monument partially designed by Gaudi. It was designed to be similar to the Trevi fountain in Rome and they definitely did a good job making it impressive.
The park is also the location of the Parliament of Catalonia which was built between 1717 and 1727. It is a beautiful old building and you can book free tours of the building here. (Update Feb 2024: The free tours stopped/paused)
8. See Arc de Triomf
The Arc de Triomf is a massive archway similar to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. This archway was built in 1888 for the world fair held in Barcelona and was used as a way to welcome visitors.
One of the best free things to do in Barcelona at night is to walk the promenade in front of the arch in the evenings. Especially in summer, there will be a lot of street performers and people hanging out.
The promenade starts at the edge of the Parc de la Ciutadella so it is nice to walk there after visiting the park.
9. Check Out Gaudi Buildings
Gaudi left his mark all over the city designing many buildings. So a visit to Barcelona would not be complete without seeing a few of his projects. Entry into some of them can be a little expensive though.
But luckily the exteriors of the buildings are super interesting so you can just do your own free walking tour and have a great time. Thanks to Gaudi for contributing to so many cool free things to do in Barcelona! 😉
I have already mentioned the Sagrada Familia and Palau Güell but three more buildings that I recommend checking out are:
- Casa Vicens – is the first major project completed by Gaudi built between 1878 and 1880. It is located in the Gracia neighborhood, which is also a really nice area to walk around. At the time Barcelona was a separate town and Gaudi built Casa Vicens as a summer house for the owner. The exterior is covered with tiles and is inspired by art from Eastern areas such as India, Persia and Japan.
- Casa Batllo – is a building that was redesigned in 1904 by Gaudi. The design of the building had made it undesirable to buyers. So the owners contacted Gaudi to make it more interesting and were very successful.
- Casa Mila – was constructed between 1906 -1912 and has some very interesting wrought iron balconies which you can see in a few of Gaudis’ works.
All three Gaudi houses are pretty much on the same street (C. Mayor de Gracia and Passeig de Gracia) and it takes a 30-minute walk to see all of them. If you come early you will have fewer people lining up for tickets and standing in front of them to take pictures.
10. Explore Montjuïc
Montjuïci is a hill in Barcelona with numerous attractions located on top of it. Walking up to the top is a great way to get some exercise and also to have some great views over the city. There are also some attractions with free entry on the hill.
Attractions located on Montjuïc include:
- Montjuïc National Palace – is a majestic building sitting at the top of a large staircase covered in fountains. The building is home to the National Art Museum of Catalonia. You can visit the art museum for free every Saturday after 3 pm and on the first Sunday of every month.
- Montjuïc Castle – is an old fortress built in 1640 located on top of Montjuïc. It can also be visited for free every Saturday after 3 pm and on the first Sunday of every month.
- Torre de Comunicacions de Montjuïc – is a monument built for the Olympic Games in 1992. The surrounding area was also used for the Olympic Games and is a nice place for a walk.
- Montjuïc Cemetery – the Montjuïc Cemetery is not a traditional tourist attraction but is a very unique cemetery with beautifully decorated graves. It was opened in 1885 and has 150,000 plots with over 1 million burials. You can see it from the highway and it is enormous.
- Montjuïc Cactus Garden – reopened in 2011 after 5 years of renovation and is located on the hill facing the ocean. The gardens are named after the poet Miquel Costa i Llobera and include a collection of cacti from all over the world. You can walk through it for free.
11. See The Magic Fountain Show (A Free Thing To Do In Barcelona At Night)
The Magic Fountain is another free attraction in Montjuïc that you have to visit at night. The fountain is located on the staircase leading up to the National Palace and at night there is a light show with music where the fountain moves in time with the music.
The fountain is huge and the show is one of the many awesome free things to do in Barcelona at night.
The time of the show varies depending on the season and the schedule can be found here. Simply show up just before and wait on the stairs for the show to begin. There will probably even be some street performers to entertain you while you wait for the show to start.
12. Walk La Rambla
La Rambla is the most famous walking street in Barcelona and is a place you will definitely pass through if you visit Barcelona. The tree-lined promenade creates a boundary between the Gothic Quarter and the El Raval neighborhood.
You will see many souvenirs, shops, restaurants, cafés and bars on La Rambla but be aware of tourist prices.
It is nice to take a walk down La Rumbla if it is not too busy as there are many historic buildings spread out along it. However, on weekends and during summer it can be incredibly crowded and it is a favorite for pickpockets.
So if you are visiting during peak times keep your belonging close or choose a street that goes parallel to it to avoid being stuck in the crowds.
13. See The Barcelona Cathedral
The Barcelona Cathedral is a beautiful gothic cathedral that funnily enough is located in the Gothic Quarter. Construction of the church originally started in 1298 and over the centuries many alterations have been made to get it to where it is today.
Located at the edge of the maze of streets in the Gothic Quarter it is a good starting or end point for exploring that area.
14. Check Out Sant Felip Neri Square
The Saint Felip Neri Square is a small square in the Gothic Quarter located very close to the Barcelona Cathedral. It is an interesting square with quite a dark history.
In 1938 during the Spanish Civil War, a bomb was dropped on a church located in the square. The bombing killed 42 people most of which were children being housed in the church as a makeshift orphanage.
Today you can still see the damage caused by the bombs on the walls of the square all these years later. I found it to be a very unique place to visit and very different from anywhere else in Barcelona.
15. Explore Neighborhoods By Foot
Barcelona has so many beautiful walkable neighborhoods that one of the best free things to do in Barcelona is just to go for a walk. There are many great areas offering a different atmosphere and things to see. I will list some of the best below.
El Raval 🍽️
El Raval is a neighborhood full of bars and restaurants. It especially comes alive at dinner time and is a popular spot for trying the many different cuisines this part of the city has to offer.
A popular spot is a square with the statue El Gat de Botero which is a giant cat and fun to take a picture with.
El Born 🍺
El Born is a trendy neighborhood full of medieval alleyways where also the Picasso Museum is located. During the day there are plenty of cool cafés covering the streets. While at night the streets are a great place to grab a drink as all the bars open up.
Gracia is an upmarket neighborhood with a lot of cool cafés, restaurants and boutique stores. Casa Vicens is located here.
We found a really good secondhand English bookstore in Gracia called Hibernian. It is definitely worth visiting if you want a cheap book for the road or hand in one for a little discount.
Eixample is in the center of Barcelona and where most of the main shopping and business districts are. Many of Gaudis’ works such as the Sagrada Familia, Casa Battlo and Casa Milo can be found here.
Passeig de Gracia is one of the main shopping avenues through Eixample and you will see many important beautiful buildings walking along it.
El Poblenou 🌳
El Poblenou is another trendy area located East of the city center. A lot of areas of Barcelona can feel very hectic with people all over the streets but Poble Nou feels a lot more chilled out.
There are some really cool cafes there and we particularly liked Little Fern a great cafe for brunch run by New Zealanders.
You should also go for a walk down the Rambla de Poblenou a tree-lined boulevard that is a lot more relaxed than the main La Rambla and has some health food stores on it.
La Barceloneta 🏖️
La Barceloneta is the name of Barcelona’s most popular beach but it is also the name of the neighborhood located next to it. The area was traditionally an area where fishermen lived. Today despite its location right next to the beach it still very much has a working-class feel.
If you walk through the area you will see buildings with beautiful little balconies covered in local washing. It is a nice place to walk through on the way to the beach. There are also a few squares with some bars and cafes to grab a drink if you like.
We stayed in this neighborhood for more than one month and absolutely loved it!
16. Visit Mercado de la Boqueria (A Free Thing To Do In Barcelona For Foodies)
Mercado de la Boqueria is a famous market in Barcelona with an array of meat, produce, cheese, local delicatessen and other foods. It is a colorful bustling place where we found some really good cheap strawberries.
However, even if you don’t feel like buying something the market stalls are all beautifully set up and it is well worth walking through.
17. Go Inside Museums For Free
I have already highlighted visiting the Picasso Museum and Palau Güell for free on this list. But there are plenty more museums to visit in Barcelona for free. See here when to go to get a free entry:
- The History Museum of Barcelona MUHBA – free entry every Sunday from 3 pm and every first Sunday of the month
- The Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona MACBA – free entry every Saturday from 4 to 8 pm
- Museo del Disseny Design Museum Barcelona – free entry every Sunday from 3 to 8 pm and every first Sunday of the month
- Botanical Garden Barcelona – free entry every Sunday from 3 pm and every first Sunday of the month
18. Workout At The Beach For Free
Barcelona is a very active and fit city. If you are around the beach at any time during the day you will see a lot of people out for runs, doing watersports or playing volleyball. I really believe in staying fit while on the road so the beach is a great place to get a workout in.
If you are looking for somewhere to work out for free while in Barcelona I highly recommend heading to the calisthenics areas at the beach.
One calisthenics area is located at the Northern end of Barceloneta Beach, you can find the location here.
Another one is located at the other end of the beach by the W Hotel, you can find the location here.
They were my favorite spots to work out while I was in the city and are popular with locals as well. There was a really good atmosphere whenever I went there even when it was busy.
It was great to work out for free right next to the beach and can’t be missed on my top free things to do in Barcelona!
How To Stay For Free In Barcelona
Yes, that’s possible! If you love pets have a look at Trusted House Sitters. Especially in summer many people go on holiday and need someone they can trust to take good care of their pets and home.
We have used Trusted House Sitters around the world and multiple times in Spain staying in amazing places with fun pets in Valencia and Madrid. It’s a great unique and free way of experiencing Barcelona.
How To Get From Barcelona Airport To The City Cheap
If you arrive at Barcelona airport the easiest way to get into the city is to catch the Aerobus. These buses depart from outside terminals 1 and 2 and cost 5.90 euros one-way. You can also get a round trip for 10.20 euros to save a bit.
You can buy a ticket from a person standing in front of the bus, from a vending machine nearby or on the Aerobus website. The buses leave very regularly and you shouldn’t have to wait longer than 10-15 minutes.
There are only a few stops on the way into the city with the final stop being at Plaza Catalunya which is in the city center and a 30-minute ride from the airport. To catch the bus back to the airport you can get in at Plaza Catalunya or at the stops in between.
Super Cheap Tip 🚃
When you leave Barcelona you can take the Aerobus to the airport or you can use a single metro ticket for 2.40 euros or 1.13 euros if you have a 10-ride pass.
To do so you can go by metro to Barcelona-Sants station and take the regional train R2N using the same ticket. This will take you straight to the airport and save you money on the bus.
The train arrives at terminal 2, so if you have to be at terminal 1 you can take the free airport shuttle that leaves very regularly and takes about 15 minutes.
The train leaves every half an hour and takes about 40 minutes so you need to plan in more time than for the Aerobus.
Getting Around Barcelona For Free Or Cheap
As this article is about free things to do in Barcelona the best and cheapest form of transport is of course walking. Luckily Barcelona is a very walkable city and although still a very large city population-wise you can see a lot of attractions simply by walking.
However, the fastest way to get around the city is by metro. Tickets for the metro are also very affordable. The metro in Barcelona is clean, efficient and a comfortable safe way to get around.
Money Saving Tips ✌️
If you are in Barcelona for a few days the best and cheapest option is to get a 10-ride pass. The pass costs 11.35 euros which works out to just above 1 euro per ride.
This is super cheap when you compare it to other major cities in Europe and it can even get you to the airport as described in my previous tip.
Another cool and fairly cheap way to get around Barcelona is by bike. We rented Donkeybikes for a day for about 12 euros and enjoyed exploring the city on the many bike lanes that were fast, safe and easy to navigate. Look out for promo codes on their website or app.
Now You Know All The Best Free Things To Do In Barcelona
Barcelona is a huge city and the list of free things to do could be endless. We enjoyed every single one and are sure you will too. Which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments below!
Looking for more travel guides in Spain with free things to do? We got you covered!
- 16 Free Things to do In Madrid
- 12 Free Things to do in Valencia
- 10 Cool Things to do in Toledo
- Hiking For Free in Andorra – A weekend trip from Barcelona
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