Ash
Written by Ash

14 Free Things to Do in Barcelona

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They say the best things in life are free, but are they really?

Aside from my wishlist on Amazon.com I suppose there are hugs, friends, family, sleep, fountain shows… wait! Fountain shows? In Barcelona, yes.

With all the free things to do in Barcelona you could spend a weekend here without spending a penny, just make sure you don’t end up camping out anywhere.

Here’s all the things to do for free:

14 Free Things to Do in Barcelona

Walk Around La Boqueria

The biggest food market in Europe sits right in the heart of La Rambla.

La Boqueria is a feast for the senses and the hustle and bustle of the day’s trade is a sight in itself. Just a fantastic place for photos: colourful, aromatic, lively. So get Instagramming.

The past winner of ‘Best Market in the World‘ at the World Markets Congress might tempt you into spending, but what doesn’t? If you’re not a fan of crowds and prices substitute another of Barcelona’s best markets.

Catch the Magic Fountain Show

The heavyweight champion of free things to do in Barcelona at night.

At the foot of the National Palace (headquarters of the National Art Museum of Catalunya: MNAC) you’ll find the magic fountain show: 3620 water jets synchronized to light and music, a true balletic spectacle.

For more information and timetables read my article dedicated to the Magic Fountain Barcelona.

Take in a Great View of the City

How many European cities offer a free birds-eye view without paying to go up some tower?

The feeling of escape when you ditch the noise of downtown for a breathtaking panoramic view of a beautiful city is priceless. I suggest starting with the Free Zone at Gaudi’s Utopian landmark Park Guell since it’s already bang right up there in day one of my 3 day itinerary.

Less touristy places like Turo de la Rovira (‘The Bunkers’) or Montjuic are more tranquil, allowing you to get downright philosophical with yourself. Life decisions made? Check.

Go to the Beach

Of all the things to do for free in Barcelona, did we really need to mention the golden sand? We’ve covered this extensively in our article about the best beaches in Barcelona but here are some general tips:

  • Avoid the crammed local beaches (Barceloneta, Vila Olympica).
  • Go farther north (Marbella, Nova Mar) for cleaner water and more space.
  • Watch your valuables when you go for a swim!
  • It’s crowded in the afternoon so the later the better.

Swimming season is between May-September with peak months naturally being July and August. Even on a sunny autumn or winter day a great walk can be had along the beach-side promenade Passeig Marítim.

Take a Stroll down the Ruta del Modernisme

So many architectural masterpieces, so little time.

Counting 115 buildings including the world-famous Casa BatlloLa Pedrera, and Casa Vicens – this route not only showcases the wealth and flair of turn of the century Catalonia, but the sheer madness of the industrialists one-upping each other with each new palatial residence.

For a full itinerary of this architectural Disneyland consult the Ruta del Modernisme website.

Have a Picnic at Ciutadella Park

This 280,000 square meter urban park is Barcelona’s green lung and by far its biggest park.

What really makes this place stand out is the mix of people: young people, families with kids, street artists, punk rockers, joggers, musicians, tourists, and residents all living together. Keep an eye out for the fountain loosely based on the Trevi Fountain in Rome.

The stone sculpture in the pond at Plaça d’Armes of an inconsolable woman is great for reflection, but you’ll be consoled by your picnic wine, meat and cheese from nearby supermarket Condis at Calle Comerç 19.

Check out the Summer Festivals (Festes Majors)

In summer you’ll find entire neighbourhoods like Gracia and El Gotico shutting down to host week-long street festivals. Of our list of free things to do in Barcelona this has to be the best value for your (no!) money.

The legendary Festa Mayor de Gracia goes in August and has entire blocks shutting down to redecorate according to certain themes – last year’s impressive Japanese-themed village was the run-away winner. Each block has a different live music with food and drink.

And who could forget September and its legendary correfoc (a parade of fire-breathing dragons and revelers dancing in the flames) at La Mercè? There’s live music everywhere, exhibitions, traditional food and costume and more.

Check this link for a full list of Festes Majors.

Get Free Food (Yes, Free Food!)

What’s the only thing better than having quality Spanish tapas with your beer? Having free tapas with your beer.

Though Barcelona tapas bars can hardly compare to the generosity of their southern cousins in Andalusia, there are still a handful of great bars which will give you free food when you order drinks.

Check out the full list in my article best tapas in Barcelona + 8 bars with free tapas.

Dance Swing

If you’ve got lindy hop or Charleston fever you’re in luck because Barcelona is on to this trend! On Sunday in the city’s squares between 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm swing enthusiasts meet up to get down to rhythms of the 1920’s.

The first Sunday of each month goes at the Rotonda del Casino del Poblenou (metro Llacuna), the third Sunday kicks off at Plaça Osca in Sants (metro Hostafrancs) and the last week at Plaça de la Virreina in Gracia (metro Fontana).

Take a Tour of the Santa Maria del Mar

Considered the finest and most complete example of Catalan Gothic architecture, this is a can’t miss if you’re wandering the streets of the famous Born district.

The imposing 14th century church might be hemmed in by surrounding buildings (making it difficult to get an overall impression), but the inside is pure light and spaciousness. The tall columns were a major inspiration for Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia.

Look in the vault for walls blackened by smoke at an anti-Franco protest during the Spanish Civil War.

Take Advantage of Free Museum Sundays

Here is one of the free things to do in Barcelona that normally costs money. A handful of popular Barcelona museums offer free entry, usually on Sundays.

First Sunday of every month: Picasso Museum, Museum of Pre-Colombian Art, National Art Museum of Catalonia (also free Saturdays after 3 pm), Museum of Catalan History.

You can also visit the Chocolate Museum for free the first Monday of every month.

Get Lost in the Parc del Laberint d’Horta

Aside from being one of the most romantic places in Barcelona this well landscaped half-park half-maze is free on Wednesdays and Sundays. Yes, Barcelona’s oldest garden is teeming with flower beds, tiny squares, waterfalls, and mythical statues in every corner.

Another great urban escape to have fun with the family, friends, or challenging your significant other to see who can get out first!

Surf the Internet

Of the best free things to do in Barcelona this very simple capability that we all take for granted back home may outrank them all. Barcelona’s free internet network Barcelona WiFi has connection points in almost the entire city: 634 points to be exact.

To make sure you’ve got hotspots near your holiday apartment or hostel you can check the Barcelona city WiFi map. The speeds are capped and at times slow so if you want speeds to watch Youtube and upload photos take a look at a pocket WiFi option.

Take a Free Walking Tour

OK, so this one is only free if you’re a horrible person and don’t end up tipping your guide. I’ve found though that free walking tours are a great way to get a sense of a city, especially if you’re too lazy to read up on it yourself!

Runnerbean Tours has a wide selection of tours run by charming and informative guides that includes the Gothic Quarter tour, Gaudi‘s Barcelona, and the chilling ‘Dark Past’ night tour.

Another Free Thing to Do is Talk to Me

So, did I miss something completely obvious and you’re almost too embarrassed to tell me? Any feedback you can leave to help me improve this resource would be a great help.

Also, if you’ve got any more questions about my list of free things to do in Barcelona or anything else to do with your visit they will be answered promptly in the comments section below, and guess what? It’s free.

Happy travels 🙂

15 comments
  • October 23, 2019 at 10:27 pm
    MB
    Hello! We will be in Barcelona at Christmastime with our children (ages 11 and 13). In addition to the world-famous Christmas Markets any other highlights or day trips or hidden gems for this time of the year? Thank you!
    • October 24, 2019 at 2:18 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi MB, I'll direct you to my article on visiting Barcelona during Christmas and there I share pretty much all there is to do during that time. I'll be updating it soon with info for 2019 but as a whole the activities are the same. For a day trip you may strongly consider Montserrat for its religious significance. Hope this gives you some ideas :) Ash
  • October 13, 2019 at 9:53 pm
    Lou
    Hi Love your website! So helpful and informative. I go to Barcelona in a couple of days and just wondering where the best place is to view the city, Utopian landmark Park Guell or Turo de la Rovira (‘The Bunkers’)? Thanks Lou
  • September 2, 2019 at 5:34 am
    Peter
    Hi Ash, Great post and really helpful. Now, I have a question. We will be in Barcelona during this year's La Merce Festival. It's only three weeks to go and i still cannot find schedules for Correfoc, Castellers, Gigantes (parade), Projection Show at Plaça de Sant Jaume and other events. The main festival website https://www.barcelona.cat/lamerce/en lists concerts but not other things. I cannot find a comprehensive list of all events. Any idea where to find all this info?
    • September 2, 2019 at 10:38 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hola Peter, Yes indeed, I am in the same boat here! I've been checking back on this site for the info (to update my site) but have yet to see the relevant updates... all I can say is to keep checking back on the official site (the one you listed) because it'll be updated any day now. Cheers, Ash
  • July 13, 2019 at 10:17 pm
    D
    I'm pretty sure Santa Maria del Mar is in Born :)
    • July 14, 2019 at 9:02 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      My mistake! Corrected :)
  • September 19, 2018 at 7:43 pm
    Jasmina
    Hola! :) I just wanted to say, that your blog is amazing. So helpful, ful of good advices and everything convenient to have a great holiday in the city. We are super excited to visit this gorgeous place, escpecially after reading useful articles from this blog. Keep doing it so well event further, wish you all the best ;) Thank yoou! Jasmina
    • September 20, 2018 at 6:53 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Jasmina, that is just about the kindest message I have ever received on here so thank you! :) If you have any questions I would be glad to help. Ash
  • August 22, 2018 at 11:06 am
    Andreas
    Hi, you can visit Parc Güell for free before 8.00 am [including staircase, hall, terasse!]. My recommendation: Join the sunrise at Turó de les Tres Creus early in the morning and then step down to Parc Güell, it's just 3 minutes away if you take the entrance at the back side [look for The Greek Theatre in Google Maps]. Done today [22 Aug 2018]. Enjoy it.
    • August 22, 2018 at 1:57 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Andreas, Thanks so much for the great tip, I intend on doing an update to this post soon so hope you don't mind if I copy the idea ;) I haven't done this yet but have heard it's amazing, especially since there's hardly anybody around. Was is very packed during this time or did you have the feeling of being more alone with the nature? Ash
  • June 10, 2018 at 2:57 am
    Christian Gullon
    My family will be in Barcelona for the start of the World Cup. Any good suggestions for where to watch games with good food and drink? Thanks. I am from Argentina, wife is Mexican but have lived in US for some time now. Thinking of going to Messi's family restaurant for the Argentina game but looking for other venues. Mexico plays Germany on Sunday, 1700hrs,
    • June 11, 2018 at 12:49 pm
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hi Christian, Would definitely recommend the big pubs because they've got the best screens and a more international atmosphere. These serve traditional pub food which is good for some, especially me since I've been away from home for so long! Try the The George Payne or Flaherty's Irish Bar. Cheers, Ash
  • December 26, 2017 at 7:53 pm
    Alana Davis
    Hola! I very much appreciate your article, very helpful. This is my first time in Barcelona and I'm here with my friend. Both of us are performers (fire and burlesque) and we are desperately wanting to meet kindred artistic performers and perhaps catch a great show for this NYE (2017-2018). If you have any suggestions we'd be greatly appreciative. This is a shot in the dark, haha. We'll have fun either way. Thanks again :) Sincerely, Friction
    • December 27, 2017 at 7:41 am
      ashley
      Team Member
      Ash
      Hola Alana! It's a shot in the dark but I appreciate it none the less ;) The only burlesque shows I've heard of in BCN are at the El Molino on Paral-lel, and they've traditionally had them on NYE... the only info I can find though is for the 2015 version. You can check their website here and see they don't have any events... they're pretty bad at updating their site so this could be why. https://tickets.elmolinobcn.com/portalelmolinobcn/en_US/tickets After a look around other channels I haven't found any info either... you could try emailing them at info@elmolinobcn.com for their NYE schedule or any burlesque/cabaret info about the city. For like minded people and events you could try a shot on the dark at meetup.com... there are all sorts of events organized and I'm sure some include these types of performances. I hope this steers you in the right direction! Ash
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