20 free activities in Barcelona for budget-friendly fun
Article updated 14 November, 2018.
You don't need a huge holiday budget to get the most out of Barcelona! Here is our list of 20 free activities to show that money really isn't everything.
Many of Barcelona’s tourist attractions are not always within reach of all budgets: you will have to pay for must-see visits like Sagrada Familia, Camp Nou, La Pedrera, Casa Batlló or the Miró Foundation. It’s well worth it, but the price soon adds up!
That’s why we suggest you alternate these visits with a whole host of completely free activities, and you won’t feel like you’re missing out!
Free activities in Barcelona
1. Admire art nouveau façades
The Eixample quarter was built in the late 19th Century, at the height of the Art Nouveau movement, and many of its buildings are masterpieces of modernism. The result is truly magnificent!
- Even better, you can admire all of these buildings for free! Simply follow our itinerary for a free walking tour.
2. Lose yourself in the Old Town
Between the sea and the Art Nouveau area of the city, you’ll find Barcelona’s Old Town, where the wide avenues of the newer parts of the city give way to winding medieval sterets.
The Gòtic and Born quarters are architectural treasure troves, and it’s easy to spend hours exploring their many nooks and crannies.
The Raval is Barcelona’s most cosmopolitan and alternative quarter – an unusual and surprising place to visit!
3. Visit free museums
Some of Barcelona’s museums are free all of the time; on top of that, some of the city’s most iconic institutions offer free entry on Saturdays or Sundays from 3pm. The list includes the Catalan National Museum of Art. Many museums are also free on the first Sunday of the month.
4. Treat your senses at the Boquería market
A visit to the Boquería Market is a must! you’ll be swept away by the beauty of the colourful displays and the market’s own special atmosphere. The products on offer are often unusual and always photogenic. The only drawback is that it’s always packed!
Prefer something a little less tourist-y? Take a look at our list of our favourite markets in Barcelona.
5. Kick back at the beach
Barcelona wouldn’t be Barcelona without its beaches!
Barcelona’s beaches run for over 5 kilometres and are particularly easy to get to due to the presence of several metro stations along the coastline.
Absolutely packed in the summer months, the beach is still a great place for a relaxing walk at any time of the year. Another one not to miss!
Want to discover a more traditional quarter with a fishing-village feel? Wander the streets of Barceloneta, which offers a complete contrast with the rest of the city!
6. Walk along las Ramblas
Yes, Las Ramblas is extremely touristy. Yes, it’s full of bad restaurants and cafés. And yes, it’s home to more than its fair share of pickpockets. That said, you shouldn’t leave Barcelona without visiting this iconoic avenue, with its lively atmosphere and beutiful buildings.
- Our article on Las Ramblas, Barcelona should help you pick out the best from the rest and enjoy a trouble-free visit.
7. Live the bohemian life in Gràcia
Gràcia is an area of Barcelona with its own special character. Charming little shops to tranquil squares and some excellent cafés and restaurants (including La Pepita, Famen and La Nena) come together in a harmonious whole which exudes joie de vivre.
To get straight to the heart of things, start your exploration in Vila de Gràcia, around Carrer Verdi.
8. Make the most of the Festes Majors
For one week each year, the inhabitants of each Barcelona’s distinctive quarters get together to celebrate the best that their area has to offer: these are the Festes Majors (click here for a calendar of events). The streets are often highly decorated (first prize goes to the spectacular Festa Major de Gràcia), a whole host of free activities are organised, and castells are constructed. Dive in and enjoy local culture at its most spectacular!
9. Discover public artworks
Barcelona is an art gallery in its own right! There’s really no need to go inside when you can find plenty of works of art to admire outside. Why not enjoy a game of spot-the-sculpture in the city’s streets?
- For more information, see our article on Art in Barcelona’s public spaces.
10. Admire contemporary architecture
Barcelona is still at the forefront of architectural innovation, with new works constantly springing up by daring contemporary architects.
- A list of some of the most impressive structures can be found in our article on contemporary architecture in Barcelona.
11. Go to a concert – for free!
The Festes Majors always involve free concerts, but there are plenty of other free musical events held throughout the year. Some of the biggest include the BAM festival, held in September, the first day of Primavera Sound, and the Música als Parcs festival which takes place every year in July and August.
12. Window shopping
If you’re on a tight budget, shopping probably isn’t the best idea. That said, it won’t cost you anything to look! Stroll along the Passeig de Gràcia, Rambla Catalunya and Avigunda Diagonal (between Passeig de Gràcia and Plaça Francesc Macià).
For a more authentic experience with plenty of local colour, explore some of the stunning boutiques in the old town. You’ll find some of our favourites in two articles on the subject: Barcelona’s iconic shops around Las Ramblas and Barcelona’s oldest shops around the Via Laietana.
13. Admire the views
As everyone knows, for the best views, the only way is up. From parks to hill-tops, former bunkers to high-rise buildings, our list of Barcelona’s best views can be found here.
14. Gaze on Montjuïc’s magical fountains
Montjuïc’s magical fountains provide a spectacular free sound and light show, with water jets moving in time to the music. Take the kids (from 0 to 99)!
15. See a film in the open air
During the summer months, Barcelona plays host to an ever-increasing number of al fresco film screenings, some of which are free.
- For more information, see our article on Barcelona’s open-air cinemas.
16. Decode the mysteries of Street Art
The public spaces of Barcelona change constantly, partly thanks to a flourishing urban art scene. One main element of this is Street Art, not to be confused with graffiti or vandalism.
Street Art is almost everywhere in Barelona, and its history is truly fascinating. The Street Style Tour collective offers free guided visits every day. Fascinating, and it won’t cost you a cent!
17. Take it easy at the park
Some, on the other hand, are less well-known, such as the Horta labyrinth park. This park is breathtaking, and – better still – offers free entry on Wenesdays and Sundays.
- A great way of saving money on your food budget and making the most of the great outdoors is to take a picnic to the park!
18. Get away from it all at La Carretera de les Aigues
If the hustle and bustle of the city is getting a bit too much for you, plan your escape and head for La Carretera de les Aigües. This mountain pathway offers spectacular views across the whole of Barcelona, along with a healthy dose of fresh air. The site is particularly popular with cyclists, runners and dog-walkers.
19. Tone up at the seaside
Barcelona’s beach front is home to a number of free sports facilities, from beach-volleyball courts to climbing nets, sophisticated gym equipment and even dedicated spaces for boules! We can’t think of anywhere better to exercise.
Obviously, swimming in the sea is also an option, as is a run along the Passeig Marítim promenade. Why not tone up while you top up your tan?
20. See a Barça match in a bar
Okay, this option isn’t completely free, because you’ll have to buy a drink, but €2 for a beer and the chance to watch Barça play seems worth it! On top of that, the fierce local devotion to the club means that the atmosphere is bound to be special.
With all that, you should be able to enjoy the best that Barcelona has to offer without breaking the bank… If you do decide to splash the cash, you can’t blame us!
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