What to Do for Free in Barcelona
Barcelona can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. This article contains our top 10 list of free and cheap things to do, as well as free attractions, nighttime and family-friendly activities, and almost-free attractions.
TOP 10 THINGS TO DO
From tours through the city and the best tapas to parks, free museums, and street art, there are a lot of free things to do in Barcelona.
Here are our top 10 activities for travelers on a budget.
(1) Sightseeing Tours
It can be pricey to see the inside of Barcelona’s architectural attractions.
However, the city’s unique art-nouveau style architecture can be enjoyed from the street for free, and Barcelona can turn into an open-air museum with our self-guided Gaudí walking tour itinerary.
We also recommend Rick Steves’ free audio tour of the city center – complete with a map.
If you’re looking for a guide around the city, you can also look into pay-what-you-like walking tours.
(2) Free Music
Get a taste of some free Barcelona culture at a number of small bars, restaurants, and clubs around the city.
And for even more things to do after the sun goes down, check out the nighttime section of this article.
(3) First Sunday and Sunday Afternoon Museums
After 3:00 pm on Sundays, a number of museums offer free entry for the last few open hours of the day. Additionally, many have a completely free day on the first Sunday of each month.
The Picasso Museum is a must-see for fans of his work, but beware of the long lines during the free hours.
We have a bigger list of museums and attractions in the section below.
(4) Explore the Neighborhoods
Gracia was a smaller village that eventually became part of Barcelona as the larger city expanded.
Find quaint pedestrian streets and older shopfronts. There are many great restaurants and shops, but the main attraction of Gracia is Park Guell.
Note: Now you must pay for a ticket to visit the famous mosaic monument that overlooks the rest of the park.
El Born was a medieval neighborhood, home to knights looking to compete in jousts and other competitions. It contains the Picasso museum and some breathtaking stone architecture.
We pass through the neighborhood on our pay-what-you-like walking tour. El Born is also known as a great nightlife spot.
The Gothic Quarter is right in the middle of Barcelona and started as a Roman village. You will find modern architecture right next to ancient Roman buildings.
Quite a few of the points of interest in these historic neighborhoods have beautiful lighting at night, so they’re some of the things worth checking out in the evening.
(5) Get Free Tapas with Your Drinks
There is an older tradition in the South of Spain where bars will offer free tapas to go along with the drink you paid for.
While it isn’t as widespread as it used to be, there are still a few bars that keep the practice up.
- Go to Raspall for one free tapa with the purchase of a draught beer, wine, or vermouth.
- La Xula Taperia offers one free bite with each drink ordered.
- Try Gata Mala for unique and homemade tapas with your drink of choice.
- For an Italian aperitivo (Italy’s version of this tradition), go to Cecconi’s between 6:00 and 8:00 pm Monday to Friday.
(6) Play at the Parks
While Barcelona doesn’t have a large, central main park, the city does have a big collection of smaller green spaces in almost every neighborhood. There are almost too many to count!
The most famous by far is Gaudí’s Park Güell. This public park is full of beautiful gardens and sculptures but is most famous for the terrace overlooking Barcelona and its colorful, mosaic bench – which is roped off as the Monumental Zone.
Although you have to pay for the Monumental Zone to see the famous mosaic, the rest of the park is free and perfect for a picnic.
Parc de Ciutadella was Barcelona’s first public park to be created for free recreational use. It has open green spaces, paths, and a pond. There is even a castle on the grounds with interesting architecture.
Turo Parc is in Sant Gervasi and looks like a park from a storybook. Covered in sculptures, green spaces, and winding paths, you could spend hours here. There is also a fun playground area with play equipment suitable for both toddlers and older children.
For more fun kid-friendly spaces, check out the section below.
(7) See an Authentic Market
See the markets that locals go to – the Santa Caterina Market is a lively food market housed in a brand new building with a fun, modern mosaic roof.
It is smaller than some of the other popular markets, but there are fewer tourists, and you can get a good look at what authentic Barcelona food looks like.
It was the first covered market in the city and has been around since 1848. It is a fun place to walk through just to see the colorful displays of fruit and other food stalls.
The market is also a great place to find supplies for a picnic in one of Barcelona’s parks.
(8) Admire the Graffiti and Street Art
Barcelona has a vibrant street art scene typified by bright colorful designs. There are a number of walls where you can enjoy an ever-changing gallery of urban art, or even have a go yourself!
If you’d like to learn a bit more about Barcelona’s history with graffiti and see the most impressive murals, consider taking a graffiti tour.
(9) See the City at a Lookout Point
All around the city, there are breathtaking views to be had from climbing any one of Barcelona’s hills.
The best view by far is from the mountain of Tibidabo with the church of Sagrat Cor and a vintage amusement park.
From the top of the mountain, you can descend away from Barcelona and lose yourself in the natural beauty of the Collserola park.
A little closer to the city center, on the same range of hills as Gaudí’s Park Güell, are the much less crowded civil war anti-aircraft placements, from where today the city lays peacefully at your feet.
Hiking is a great family activity – check below for more family-friendly ideas.
(10) Get Discounts with a Tourist Attraction Pass
The Barcelona Pass isn’t free, but after buying this all-inclusive tourist pass for one price you will get free entry into a large group of attractions.
These passes also offer skip-the-line privileges at several attractions.
Attractions Included in the Pass:
- Hop-On-Hop-Off Bus Tour
- Barcelona Zoo
- Liceu Opera Tour
- Popular Museums & Landmarks
- Museu de la Musica
- L’Aquarium Barcelona
- Barcelona Bike Tour
We have an excellent post comparing the best city passes Barcelona has to offer.
ATTRACTIONS AND MUSEUMS
Barcelona can be an expensive city if you want to see some of the interesting art and history museums and other cultural attractions. Fortunately, there are some museums that offer free entry on certain days and times.
Housed in the city’s former shipyards, at the Maritime Museum you can learn about medieval shipbuilding and the way technology has advanced through the years in Catalonia.
They have a collection of old merchant and warships.
Entrance is free after 3:00 pm on Sundays for everyone and regular admission is discounted with the Barcelona Card during normal hours.
Pablo Picasso lived in Barcelona for much of his life and became one of the most well-known artists in the world.
In his hometown museum, you can explore his artwork – over 4,000 pieces. You can also learn about his life and how he grew up.
Entrance is free on the first Sunday of every month, as well as every Thursday between 6:00 pm and 9:30 pm. Regular admission is discounted with the Barcelona Card during normal hours.
Museu Frederic Mares
Frederic Mares was a sculptor who also enjoyed collecting the statues of other artists.
His home was beautifully decorated with his own artwork and his collection and is now a museum of art and sculpture that has been open for over 70 years.
Entrance is free after 3:00 pm on Sundays, and all day during the first Sunday of every month. Regular admission is discounted with the Barcelona Card during normal hours.
Museu d’Historia de Barcelona
Visit the network of Barcelona History Museums to learn about the city’s origins – over 2,000 years of history and artifacts.
There are five separate museums you can visit, which include an archaeological dig site of Roman ruins, a 19th-century farmhouse celebrating Catalan writers, Barcelona’s historic Jewish Quarter, and an air-raid shelter from the Spanish Civil War.
Entrance is free after 3:00 pm on Sundays, and all day on the first Sunday of every month. Children under 16 years old are always free.
Museu Nacional d’Art Contemporani
The National Contemporary Art Museum has paintings, photographs, and sculptures through the mid-20th century. If you’re a fan of Medieval, Renaissance, or Baroque art, you won’t want to miss this museum.
Entrance is free on the first Sunday of each month. Regular admission is discounted with the Barcelona Card during normal hours.
Museu Blau – Natural Science Museum
The Natural Science Museum looks at the world around us in nature and in our larger solar system. If you’re interested in how the global ecosystem works, this is the museum for you.
Some of the more interesting exhibits include a whale skeleton and an interactive display about which plants and animals are dangerous or safe.
Entrance is free after 3:00 pm on Sundays. Regular admission is discounted with the Barcelona Card during normal hours.
La Virreina Centre de la Imatge
A baroque palace at the top of La Rambla is home to La Virreina Centre de la Imatge.
This museum is home to a constantly rotating set of photo exhibitions on various subjects.
You can learn about the photographers and subjects of the different collections, which range from political to artistic.
Entrance is always free. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday from 11:00 am – 8:00 pm.
The Catedral de la Santa Creu i Santa Eulalia is a gorgeous Gothic cathedral that draws in crowds. Construction began in the 13th century and is dedicated to the patron saint of the city.
It is a truly impressive building on the outside any time of day, and the inside is just as breathtaking.
You can pay for a ticket during tourist opening hours, or visit for free during prayer and worship times.
- Weekdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm and 5:45 pm – 7:30 pm
- Saturdays 8:30 am – 12:30 pm and 5:15 pm – 8:00 pm
Barcelona doesn’t shut down at night. There is a thriving nightlife, and some of the activities are free!
Our list here includes free concerts, movies, and other sightseeing ideas.
For even more after dark ideas, check out our post on things to do at night in Barcelona.
See the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc
The magic fountain was finished in 1929 for the Great Universal Exhibition – Barcelona’s first International World’s Fair.
It took 3,000 workers one year to complete, and the fountain is still a crowd-pleaser today.
The fountain lights up with an impressive water, light, and music show almost every weekend of the year except January 7 – February 28.
- March 1 – 31 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
- April 1 – May 31 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
- June 1 – September 30 on Wednesdays through Sundays from 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm
- October 1 – October 31 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9:00 pm – 10:00 pm
- November 1 – January 6 on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 8:00 pm – 9:00 pm
- January 7 – February 28 CLOSED for maintenance.
See Impressive Facades and Monuments at Night
Did you see the Sagrada Familia during the day? Why not go back after dark? There are many lights set up to make it beautiful at night – it looks as if it is glowing.
And you don’t have to stop at the Sagrada Familia. La Pedrera’s curvy architecture is impressive at night, too.
You could do the entire self-guided Gaudí walking tour itinerary after dark for an entirely different experience!
Catch a Free Park Concert
During the summer the Barcelona City Council puts on Musica als parcs – a free concert series designed to bring people to the city’s public parks and give local up-and-coming talent exposure in the community.
Parks used for the concerts include Parc de la Ciutadella, Parc de Joan Miró, Jardins de la Tamarita, and Parc de la Estacion del Norte.
Music is usually in the jazz, classical, or gospel genres.
Concerts generally start at 8:00 pm or 9:00 pm. Check their Facebook page for scheduling specifics.
Free Beach Movies
Cinema Lliure hosts free movies on the beach during the summer months. A film under the stars with a fresh sea breeze – could there be a more perfect night?
The movies are completely free and very popular, so you must arrive early if you want to grab a good spot in the sand. Spectators bring their own towels or chairs as well as food and drinks.
Movies are shown in their original language, with English subtitles for Spanish movies and Spanish subtitles for English movies.
Walk the Beaches at Night
You don’t have to wait for a scheduled film or beach party to enjoy the shoreline at night!
If you’re out looking for something relaxing to do, walking along one of Barcelona’s multiple beaches could be perfect.
Plenty of locals and visitors enjoy the sea breeze at night, and you might just get to enjoy some impromptu musical performances if someone decides to bring out their guitar.
For even more after dark ideas, check out our post on things to do at night in Barcelona.
From playing in parks to seeing some behind-the-scenes props for festivals, there are a good number of interesting things to do as a family in Barcelona.
We have many more family-friendly activity ideas in our things to do with kids post.
Climb at Parc de l’Estacio del Nord
This compact city park is full of grass and trees, as well as interesting architectural structures.
There are specially-designed playground areas with fun equipment for children, but they can also take the opportunity to climb on the multiple mosaic-tiled structures in the shape of waves throughout the park.
When the weather is nice, you’ll probably find several other families enjoying the park and running around.
Parc de la Ciutadella
One of the greenest parks in the city, Parc de la Ciutadella is a calm haven in the middle of bustling Barcelona.
There are paths for walking or biking, grassy spaces for picnics, a pond with a waterfall, and interesting architectural structures – like a castle.
There is an enclosed playground perfect for younger children, featuring mazes, building toys, playhouses, and even some pots to be used as drums.
The kids’ area is open from 11:00 am to 1:30 pm daily.
Lookout Point on Bunker del Carmel
Former anti-aircraft bunkers from the Spanish Civil War now give great city views. The structures are now slightly-crumbling concrete without the armaments and have become a popular lookout spot.
Getting to the top of the bunker is a bit of a strenuous hike, so this activity is best for slightly older children.
Once you’re at the top, you can see the ocean, Sagrada Familia, and other major landmarks. Kids might enjoy looking to see if they can find your hotel.
We also suggest bringing a picnic! Enjoy the views while refueling for your hike back down.
See the Sardana Dancing at Pla de la Seu
The Sardana is a traditional Catalan folk dance symbolizing unity.
It is danced in a circle with participants holding hands, taking small, exact steps, and allowing the circle to get bigger as more participants join in.
There are two main Sunday groups who organize Sardanas. One group dances in the morning and the other in the afternoon. You can watch these folk dancers, and sometimes they let spectators join in on the fun!
Go to a Beach
Barcelona has multiple beaches, many of which are easily accessible by public transportation. Enjoying the beach could be a perfect afternoon with the family since the kids can play in the water and the sand.
Sant Sebastia and Sant Miquel are two of the oldest beaches in the city and are popular with beach volleyball players as well as those with young children.
The water is quite shallow on the stretches of beach near the hotels.
Barceloneta is the most popular, and therefore the most crowded, beach, with many restaurants, street performers, and sand artists to keep you entertained.
See the Festival Giants
During almost any festival in Barcelona, there will be a parade or performance involving a giant papier mâché figure of a person or animal.
When they aren’t currently being used by a festival, over 50 of them sit in glass cases at La Casa de los Entremesos.
- Tuesday – Saturday from 10:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm – 7:00 pm
- Sunday from 11:00 am – 2:00 pm
We have many more family-friendly activity ideas in our things to do with kids post.
Barcelona has some not-quite-free activities that are perfect for sticking to your budget.
Here we have a small list of ideas for things to do and places to eat or drink.
Boat Rentals at Parc de la Ciutadella
While admission to the park is free at all times, there are a few activities within the park that will cost you a few Euros.
The large pond is equipped with rowboats that can each accommodate several people at a time. This is a perfect activity for anyone from solo travelers to families.
30 Minute Boat Rental Pricing:
- 2 people: €6
- 3 people: €9
- 4/5 people: €10
Sala Montjuic Outdoor Movies
If you can’t find a free beach film that strikes your fancy, take a look at the Sala Montjuic open-air cinema showings between the end of June and August.
The movies are projected in the courtyard of a castle and begin at 10:00 pm – so this is definitely a late-night activity.
If you order a picnic ahead of time, you’ll get a packed meal with a burger, fries, and a drink.
- Adults: €6.50
- Children 6-12 years old: €4
- Children Under 12 FREE
- Chair rentals: €3
- Eco-Picnics: €11
El Bosc de les Fades
This bar is decorated like a magical fairy forest – or a Rainforest Cafe for adults. If you’re looking for a unique venue to grab a drink, try El Bosc de les Fades.
Most visitors feel like they are walking into a storybook, especially after hearing the sound effects.
It doesn’t cost anything to enter, but you would be expected to purchase a drink if you sit down at a table. We recommend sharing some sangria and some tapas with your travel partners.