Barcelona is one of my favorites. It has everything in one place: yummy food, history, architecture, beaches and sunny days 😊 A perfect city in all senses 😊 But there is a big disadvantage here: entrance fees to tourist sites can be too expensive. For example, visiting Casa Mila or la Pedrera, one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, costs 22 EUR. Considering this price, I have never gone inside the place despite being to Barcelona a couple of times. Still, almost all of Gaudi’s buildings can be enjoyed from outside. But I get it, it’s not enough, so here are the things to do in Barcelona for free: this city can be explored at a lower price 😊
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Things to do in Barcelona for free
1. Musical magic fountain
I consider the magic fountain one of the most important sights of the city and absolutely the best of the things to do in Barcelona for free. It is a magnificent show of light, when water jets change their colour and shoot up following the sounds of music. It is very popular among tourists and locals alike.
As it is a spectacle of light, it is better enjoyed when it is dark. This is easier done in winter, when it gets darker quicker. In summer the first show starts early, so there is not much to see. The best thing to do is to come long before the first show to take a nice place from where one could see the whole square and wait till it gets dark. Trust me, spectators start coming early and take the best ‘seats’.
We came there before the first show and struggled to find a place with a good view point. So, come as early as possible.
2. Parks Ciutadella and Joan Miro
The parks of Barcelona are amazing! And they are necessary in the city, as the days can be excruciatingly hot. My favorite park is Ciutadella, and even Guell cannot surpass it.
Ciutadella is right in the city center not far from the beach. There are many benches, a magnificent fountain, which is a true masterpiece, a pond with trees growing right out of the water, and greenhouses. Don’t miss the greenhouses!
Joan Miro Park is at Placa de Espanya on Montjuic Hill. I remember it for rows of palm trees and a fancy statue of a woman and a bird. I don’t know about others, but I find it hard to see a woman there 😊 You can get a nice view of the park if you climb the Arenas de Barcelona nearby.
3. Barceloneta Beach
I have to mention the beaches of Barcelona 😊 Rows of palm trees, blue water, golden sand, warm sea breeze… yeah, it is a nice place 😊
Barceloneta beach is relatively not far from La Rambla. Just bring your towel and spend the whole day here, swimming and sunbathing. Or combine it with visiting the Aquarium of Barcelona (not free) or the Museum of History of Barcelona (free on certain days).
4. Arc de Triomf (Triumphal Arch)
You won’t miss this impressive structure! It is located not far from Ciutadella Park and served as an entrance gate for the Universal Exhibition held in Barcelona in 1888 (the main exhibition was in the park).
This red-brick structure is about 30 meters tall and was erected in the Neo-Mudejar style. Just come closer and admire its intricate ornament.
5. Arenas de Barcelona
Arenas de Barcelona is a former corrida venue. It was converted into a shopping mall with stores, restaurants, cinemas and occasional exhibitions.
But the best thing about the Arenas is the view from the roof. You can see Placa de Espanya from above, the fountains, the museum, the park of Joan Miro, etc.
One way to get to the top is by taking a lift which is outside the building. The cost is 1 EUR. But I have heard that there is another way to do it for free: take the stairs inside the building. FYI: I have not tried it 😊
6. Walk around the Gothic Quarter
Gothic Quarter or Barri Gotic is one of the most famous and oldest parts of Barcelona. It is right in the city center between La Rambla and Via Laietana. Start at Placa de Catalunya and get lost in the labyrinth of its narrow streets moving towards the sea. Have a look at the Cathedral of Barcelona, Roman Walls, Wax Museum, the Gothic church of Santa Maria del Pi, plazas Reial, Pi and George Orwell.
In addition, there are many stores in these narrow streets like Bershka, Zara, Massimo Dutti, H&M, etc.
7. La Rambla and Boqueria
Yes, we have finally come to La Rambla, the most famous street in Barcelona 😊 It is partially pedestrian, with some amazing buildings nearby like Gran Teatre del Liceu and Güell Palace. But, basically, this is a street with restaurants and stores. Sometimes tourists can see street performers or artists on La Rambla, and there are always people dressed in costumes waiting to be paid for a picture with them. I have seen a guy in the costume of Alien once 😊
Boqueria is the most famous market in Barcelona, and it is mostly a touristic place. It is perfect for a quick snack as there are rows of freshly cut or squeezed fruit, thin slices of jamon, candy; crayfish, shrimps, prawns and many kinds of fish wait to be cooked and served. Well, walking around is free, but I doubt you will refrain from buying anything 😊
Barcelona has many plazas that are known to everyone. Each plaza has its own character and details. For example, Placa de Espanya has a huge fountain in its center and is walled by magnificent buildings and two towers. Placa de Catalunya has a couple of fountains and is surrounded by architectural masterpieces. Placa Reial in the middle of La Rambla is a nice place with palms. Placa de Pius XII is a beautiful place with trees and palms.
Of course, Placa de Espanya and Catalunya are the most famous ones, and you will definitely see them, so just take some time to sit, relax and contemplate the world around you. Give your feet some rest 😊
9. Bunker del Carmel
Unfortunately, I did not go to Bunker del Carmel when I was in Barcelona. The reason is simple: I had no idea it existed. I came across the info on it just checking things around. Apparently, Bunker del Carmel is the best panoramic deck in Barcelona offering the best views of the city.
The bunkers are anti-aircraft fortifications built in 1938 on top of Turó de la Rovira Hill. They are far from the city center which is the reason that they are not overly crowded, well, yet. Search in Google Maps for MUHBA – Colina de la Rovira to see its exact location.
Tibidabo Hill is another place with fantastic views of Barcelona. And just like in case of the bunkers, I did not go there: it is even farther from the city center. Naturally, it takes quite some time to get there: apparently, you need to take metro or bus first, and then the funicular up the hill. I have found some useful info on getting to the hill here.
There is an amusement park (entrance tickets are quite expensive) on top of the hill, and the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (visit to the crypt and the church is free, but getting up to the terrace costs 3,5 EUR).
11. Passeig de Gracia
You can’t miss Passeig de Gracia! It is one of the central streets in Barcelona, starting at Plaça de Catalunya and runs till Plaça de Joan Carles I. it is here that you can see the famous La Pedrera, Casa Batlló, Casa Amatller – from outside only as they are not free to enter – and some other fancy buildings like Casa Lleó Morera. And if you turn to your right at the Plaça de Joan Carles I on Avinguida Diagonal you will see La Casa Comalat and Palau del Baró de Quadras.
And it is a shopping street 😊 Stores of Mango, Desigual, Zara, Gucci and many-many others, cheaper and more expensive, are on Passeig de Gracia.
12. Festivals and concerts
Spain is a land of festivals 😊 There are many religious and secular festivals, national and local ones. Festa de la Merce and Epiphany are among the most famous religious ones. Then there are festivals in some parts of the city. Just google them by month or season. If you love music festivals, there is an abundance of them in Barcelona.
When we were there, there was a festival in the part of the city we stayed, all people were dressed in yellow and danced and sang. And exactly at the same period there was a football match between the Spanish teams in Barcelona and there was a concert in Placa de Espanya in front of the museum.
Things to do in Barcelona for free: partially free attractions
Well, there are some places that offer limited free entrance, and I have a list of them here.
13. The main Cathedral of Barcelona
Its official name is quite long: the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. It was built more than 600 years ago and stands proudly in the Gothic Quarter.
It is very similar to any other Gothic church around the world, with its fair share of ornaments and gargoyles. But it is quite well-known for its pond with 13 geese, a place where everyone takes selfies.
Some parts of the cathedral and the pond are free to visit. The elevator to the roof costs 3 EUR. For times and prices go here.
There are dozens of big and small museums in Barcelona, and some of them offer free admission on specific days. And here they are:
Museum of Picasso exhibiting the works of the famous painter opens its doors for free on Thursday afternoons from 6:00 PM to 9:30 PM, first Sunday of each month from 9 AM to 7 PM, and during the open days on 12th February, 18th May and 24th September.
National Arts Museum of Catalonia (Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya) is free to enter on Saturdays from 3:00 PM, the first Sunday of each month, 11th and 24th September and 18th May which is the International Day of Museums.
Museum of History of Barcelona (Museu d’Història de Barcelona) is free on the first Sunday every month and after 3 PM on Sundays.
Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona) offers free admission on Sundays from 3 PM till 8 PM (limited capacity), on International Museum Day, Museums Night and La Mercè Holidays.
Maritime Museum of Barcelona (Museu Marítim de Barcelona) is free to enter on Sundays after 3 PM.
Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) is free every Saturday from 4 PM to 8 PM and on February 10.
The Design Museum of Barcelona (Museu del Disseny de Barcelona) offers free admission on Sunday from 3 PM to 8 PM, the first Sunday of each month, on February 12 and September 24.
15. Pedralbes Monastery
I had the possibility to visit this Gothic monastery but wasted it. This is what happens if you do not prepare. The monastery is quite far from the city center, and we thought it was a good idea to visit it on Monday. Silly us, we did not even bother to check, otherwise we would have seen that it was a day off 😊
The monastery was built in the 14th century. The construction period took very little time, and, thanks to this, only Gothic elements are present. There is a museum there that exhibits religious objects, but the best part, in my opinion, even if I have never visited the place, is the courtyard and gardens. I have seen it in pictures only, and I will definitely visit the place on my next trip to Barcelona.
The monastery is free to visit the 1st Sunday of the month, and the entrance is free every Sunday after 3 PM. In addition, free admission is offered on February 17, May 3, May 18 and September 24.
16. Palau Reial Pedralbes and Finca Guell
If you come to see the monastery, you can’t do all that way just for it. There are a couple of other places of interest there. One of them is Palau Reial Pedralbes. Initially it belonged to Eusebi Guell, who later gave it to the royal family. Now the palace is a part of Museu del Disseny and houses collections of design and ceramics. It is free to enter Sunday afternoons and every first Sunday of month.
The park, partially designed by the famous Gaudi, is free to wander. And it is a magnificent park with fountains, sculptures and palm trees. Perfect for a visit on a hot day.
Another place of interest here is Pavellons de la Finca Güell. It is very close to the Palau Reial of Pedralbes, so just pass it by. I did not go inside, so I can’t say anything about the place. But everyone can admire for free the famous dragon gate: it faces the street, so there is no fee to see it.
17. Park Guell
I bet this is the most famous tourist sight in Barcelona and one of the most well-known creations of Gaudi. According to the initial project, it had to be a residential area for wealthier residents of Barcelona, but the project failed. Now the area is open to visitors.
When I first went there many years ago, the entrance to the whole park was free. That’s why it was a surprise for me when I came there a couple of years later and was asked to pay 😊 Still, the biggest part of the park is free, but the most interesting one with the lizard fountain and gingerbread houses is ticketed.
You can walk freely around the park and, maybe, only maybe, you can glimpse the gingerbread houses if you go up enough.
That’s it, these are the things to do in Barcelona for free. I assume you intend to go to Barcelona, so have a look at my travel tips, places to stay and top things to do there. Or, if you are short of time, check my guide on one day in Barcelona.