5 free things to do in Barcelona is from travel blogger Claire Sturzaker of Tales of a Backpacker, she lived and worked there for three years.
Barcelona is a gem of a Mediterranean city, boasting spectacular food, nightlife, culture, museums and a healthy stretch of golden sand. It has earned a reputation for being on the pricey side compared to the rest of Spain, but fear not, there are still plenty of free things to do. A visit here is perfect for any budget. Here are a few ideas for free things to do in Barcelona for you to enjoy!
Be Amazed by Gaudí
Antoni Gaudí is an integral part of Barcelona. The famous architect left his mark all over the city, from lampposts in Plaça Reial, to spectacular homes in el Raval, and on Passeig de Gracia. Park Güell, designed by Gaudi, perches on the hillside above Barcelona inviting visitors to explore the gardens. Although there is a charge to see the lizard and mosaic terrace, the most famous part of Park Güell, most of the park is free for the public. From the summit, you can enjoy awesome views of the city below; just keep climbing up every path and step you find. Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece La Sagrada Familia simply has to be seen to be believed. All of these are worth a look from the outside, and. of course, looking is free. If you have some cash to spend, La Sagrada Familia; it really is worth a visit inside, it really is spectacular. Be sure to buy your tickets online to avoid the long queues.
Stroll Along the Beach Front
Most visiting sun seekers head straight to the beach in Barceloneta, but the Barceloneta beaches can be overcrowded and not the cleanest. Instead, take a stroll along the boardwalk and admire the views. Bring a picnic and find a quiet spot to enjoy the sunshine. Or stop off at one of the chiringuito (beach bars) along the way for a beer or cheeky cocktail and tapas. Generally, the further along the coast you go, the less crowded it will be. Barceloneta and the beaches around Port Olímpic are usually the busiest. They attract a lot of tourists. Locals tend to go to Bogatell or Mar Bella beaches near Poblenou, or even to Badalona beach a few metro stops away. These are the best options for finding a space for your towel! For real peace and quiet though, I like to walk out along the Moll de Gregal on the other side of Port Olímpic. There isn’t any sand here, just concrete but there aren’t many people either, so it’s a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of the city as the waves lap against the boardwalk and the boats rock in the breeze. If you head to Poblenou, take time to explore this up-and-coming area filled with street art and cool galleries inhabiting old factory buildings.
Explore the Markets
I love markets! No trip to Barcelona is complete without visiting the Boqueria Market on La Rambla. Head there early in the morning to beat the crowds (remember, it’s closed on Sundays). Once inside the market, be sure to explore beyond the first few stalls – you will find cheaper produce towards the back. Fellow market-lovers will also be pleased to find that La Boqueria isn’t the only food market in Barcelona; there’s at least one in every area of town. Try Santa Caterina opposite the Cathedral, Sant Antoni on the other side of the Raval, and the market in Gracia. For something completely different, Mercat dels Encants is full of second hand and new items, furniture, pictures, books. This fascinating flea market offers a great chance to seek out bargains and barter with the locals.
Soak up Some Culture on Sundays
Many museums in the city are free after 3pm on Sunday, or all day on the first Sunday of the month. Time your visit around this to enjoy free entry to popular museums like the Picasso Museum, the Hospital of Sant Pau, the Museum of Catalan History (which has awesome views over Barceloneta port), the Barcelona History Museum and the MNAC National Museum of Catalan Art. There may be long queues, especially at the Picasso Museum; choose your favourite carefully and be prepared to wait.
Party with the Locals
Barcelona is a city that loves to party, particularly during the spring and summer months. From May to July, there is always something going on. There are often live performances in Parc de la Ciutadella, in the square in front of the cathedral or even on the beach. In June and July there is free cinema on Barceloneta beach a couple of nights a week. Films are shown in their original version with Spanish or Catalan subtitles.
During the rest of the year, there are big festivals to watch out for with free music, events and performances all over the city. Each area of the city celebrates its own Festa Major at different times of the year. The most popular is the Festa Major de Gràcia in August. Residents decorate the streets with different themes. Other major festivals include La Merced in September, Las Festes de Santa Eulàlia and the Light Festival in February, and San Joan in June. Everyone heads to the beach for fireworks.
Most festivals include performances by the castellers (a Catalonian word that means castles). Teams from different areas of Barcelona and Catalunya compete to create magnificent human towers. The towers are an incredible mix of teamwork, strength and bravery on behalf of every single member of the team. Watching castellers gradually build their tower, topped off by a young child who clambers to the top and waves his or her hands, is definitely a test of nerves. They’re quite a sight to behold!
This is just a small sampling of the free things to do in Barcelona. What are you waiting for?
What are your favorite free things to do in Barcelona?
Claire Sturzaker lived in Barcelona for three years. She began blogging as a hobby while working in there. She left that job in 2015 to travel solo around South America. Her blog, Tales of a Backpacker, is designed for travellers on a budget willing to splurge on once in a lifetime experiences. She loves to inspire others to travel without breaking the bank; sharing the best food, drink and activities a destination has to offer. You’ll find her on Twitter and Instagram.
Read more posts from our free things to do series:
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