Barcelona on a budget: 10 free things to do in the city
Barcelona is a magical place that can be enjoyed without spending a penny. While some of the sites require an entrance fee, many are free and often just as spectacular. If you’re worried you’ll spend too much in the Catalan capital, check out these 10 things you can do for absolutely nothing!
Check out Encants Flea Market
Walking around Encants is like taking a walk back in time. This large flea market is located near Gloriès and is covered by a tall mirrored roof. Each vendor has their own specialty – whether it’s used clothing items, vintage clocks or old books. You can spend an afternoon here wandering past trash and treasures (what they’re worth is up to you to decide).
Opening hours: Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday from 9:00-20:00.
Visit a museum for free
As Barcelona is considered a cultural capital, it knows that appreciation of art and culture is important. For this reason, most museums offer free entry on the first Sunday of the month or every Sunday. Make sure to arrive early as many people take advantage of this offer.
Some museums that offer free entrance on Sundays include the Picasso Museum, CCCB (Centre for Contemporary Culture of Barcelona), the Design Museum, the Maritime Museum, the Natural Science Museum, Montjuïc Castle and MACBA (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art) which is free on Saturdays.
Marvel at the free ruins
Barcino was the original Roman city on which the current Barcelona is built meaning there are a few remains from those times. Inside a courtyard in the Gothic Quarter, you’ll find the Temple of Augustus (open daily from 10:00-19:00, Mondays from 10:00-14:00) which was built in the first century BC. Wandering through the Gothic Quarter, you’ll also see remnants of the Roman wall, remains of the original aqueduct, and even a Roman burial site. Underneath the Mercat del Born (open from 10:00-20:00, Tuesday to Sunday), you’ll see remains of the medieval city which are relatively newer than the others, but still very interesting to see.
If you enjoy wandering endlessly through beautiful places, Montjuïc is for you. Start at Plaça Espanya and walk up towards the Palau Nacional de Catalunya which houses the National Art Gallery of Catalonia. Once you’ve passed by there, you can continue on to the rest of the hill. You’ll find beautiful gardens, the Montjuïc Castle, a Greek-style amphitheatre, and the Olympic stadium. You’ll also see quite an impressive view of Barcelona’s port. Our favourite garden has to be the Mossèn Costa i Llobera gardens which are decorated with full-sized cacti.
Take a stroll through Parc Güell
One of Gaudí’s masterpieces, the parts of the park further from the centre offer a peaceful refuge. Although you now have to pay to enter the regulated area, you can still enjoy the beautiful paths and architecture. If you arrive early enough (before 8:00 when the park officially opens) you’ll be able to enter the regulated area for free too.
Go on a free walking tour
Want a great way to get to know the city and some of its history? A free walking tour is a wonderful way to spend a morning or afternoon and meet new people. Although most have many available times, they recommend you book online and secure a spot. The walking tours are advertised as completely free and once the tour is over, you can decide what it was worth, kind of like a tip.
Free Walking Tours Barcelona
- Free tour of the Gothic Quarter
- Meet at Plaça Catalunya
- Every day at 10:00, 11:00 and 15:00.
- They are wearing purple T-shirts and have a purple umbrella.
- See website for more info
Sandeman’s New Europe
- Free tour of Barcelona’s major landmarks
- Meet every day by the Jaume 1 metro exit
- Every day at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 16:00
- See website for more info
Runner Bean Tours
- Introduction to Gaudí tour
- Meet every day by the water fountain in Plaça Reial
- Summer: every day at 11:00 and 16:30
- Winter: every day at 11:00
- See website for more info
Enjoy the views from Tibidabo
Barcelona used to live “with its back to the sea”, meaning the most important and beautiful parts of the city were the mountains. Head up to Tibidabo to see for yourself – you can hike up from Plaça Catalunya (it’ll take about 2 hours) or take a nice path that starts through the Parc de Cervantes (a beautiful rose garden) which takes about an hour and a half. Once you reach the top, you’ll have the beautiful Sacred Heart church to look up at and a whole city to admire down below. Watch as people enjoy the rides at the amusement park, or take part yourself.
Visit the Parc de la Ciutadella
This park is a hub for activities of all kinds. It is where people come to enjoy Barcelona’s sunshine and good weather. You can bring a blanket and have a picnic, appreciate the variety of vegetation, feed the ducks by the pond, pass by the stunning fountain with its dramatic staircase, or visit the Umbracle (greenhouse) which is open Mon-Fri from 10-15:00.
Watch the Magic Fountain show
Montjuïc’s music and light show is a delightful plan for after the sun goes down on a warm night. It tends to get crowded, but if you search out a seat further back and away from the crowds, it’s much more enjoyable. Each night features a different type of music and is usually scheduled every Thursday. Friday and Saturday night. Click here to find the complete showtimes depending on the month of the year.
Bask on the beach
Barcelona’s location on the Balearic Sea makes the beaches easily accessible. Setting up on the sand and going for a dip, or joining in on a game of beach volleyball, will cost you nothing. If the weather is cooler or you don’t feel like getting wet, it’s still nice to go for a walk along the sea. If you start in Barceloneta, you can walk all the way to the Forum if your heart so desires.
We hope that you can find enjoy at least a few of these free activities in Barcelona! If you’ve fallen in love and want to stay awhile, why not sign up for some Spanish classes?