Standing in the middle of a road looking at a large castle shaped buidling in Barcelona

Best Free Activities in Barcelona – Insider Secrets to Visit

Published on: June 30th, 2019 at 10:57 am

Are you coming to Barcelona on a bit of a budget? Maybe you are just looking for some cool things to see and do without having to dive into your pockets and trying to find your wallet? Well lucky for you I have got you covered with some awesome free activities in Barcelona for you to enjoy while you are in this cool beachside city.

12 Free things to do in Barcelona plus a free walking map

The list below should allow you to stretch your much-needed budget much further. Who wouldn’t love some free activities in Barcelona?

Spend the day at the beach:

If you are in Barcelona then you need to head to the beach at some point and soak up the atmosphere and of course, some vitamin D, unless you are unlucky like my family on a recent trip when it rained for 3 days straight. How unlucky can you get right?

Anyway, I’m sure your luck will be much better so be sure to head to one of the many beaches on offer. If you don’t mind being where the crowd is then Barceloneta Beach offers plenty of area and lots of local tapas places nearby for when you get hungry. If you want some Spanish food recommendations or Barcelona tapas restaurant suggestions in the area I have done a lot of eating, I mean research. in the area.

If you want to avoid the crowds then your best to head towards Playa Llacuna, which is just past the Casino and marina area. The other option is to grab a train to one of the smaller towns on either side of Barcelona itself. One of the most charming towns for this is Sitges in my opinion.

This one is probably the easiest thing to do on my free activities in Barcelona list.

Watch the Sunset at Bunker del Carmel Lookout:

If you are wanting to see Barcelona from above, then I think the best way to do this is by combining such an outing while watching the sunset of an evening. The best place I have witnessed both of these has been from Bunker del Carmel.

It is a popular destination for tourists and locals alike for this exact reason and I always think that if it’s where the locals head it is obviously a good spot. Most opt to bring a little picnic or a few drinks to help bring the day to a close in a nice way. Just be sure to take any resulting rubbish with you please.

Other areas to get good views from the city include Park Guell and the surrounding garden area, MNAC terrace, Montjuic Castle and of course Mt Tibidado.

Overlooking the city of Barcelona in Spain with the Mediterranean Sea behind
Visiting somewhere for amazing views over the city is one of my favourite free activities in Barcelona

Be amazed by the architecture in the city:

Barcelona city is full of stunning architecture in many different styles. The most famous of all the architects are of course Antoni Gaudi who is famous for his work on Sagrada Familia, Casa Vicens, Casa Milá (La Pedrera), Parc Güell (Park Güell), Casa Batlló and Cascada Fountain at Park de la Ciutadella.

All of these are within easy access around the city and planning a walking route is a great way to see them all. While walking around you can also plan to wander through the Gothic Quarters, Born area and local parks to really get a feel for the city that is Barcelona.

I have managed to source a map that has a great route for you to take and tick off many of these great spots. Find it below

While these are free activities in Barcelona when you are just looking at the buildings from outside, be aware that you can venture inside most for a fee to study the buildings further.

Walk Through La Rambla street:

La Rambla is arguably the most famous of Barcelona’s streets, it is a 1.2km street that runs from Plaza Catalunya to the Columbus statue at the end of the street. This area is full of tapas bars and restaurants eagerly trying to coax slow-walking tourists into their tables.

In my opinion, the tapas here is not the highest quality and there is a much better option for lunch or dinner elsewhere. Find my “5 Best Tapas Places”, “Different Patata Bravas Places” and “Best Vermut Venues” for some much better options.

A birds eye view of La Rambla street in Barcelona with green trees showing the way
Here is a birds-eye view looking up the famous La Rambla street in Barcelona

Another area worthwhile looking at along the way includes Boqueria Market. You will find some nice-looking food market stalls and it is nice to see what the Spanish people’s local ingredients are. There are some nicer tapas places here if you want to eat but none made my lists mentioned above.

Look through a food market:

As mentioned above a walk through one of the local food markets is a really cool experience. I personally love checking out what different cultures and countries use and eat throughout their day to day lives.

You have a few different options to choose from with markets but be sure to remember that markets are not open on Sundays and usually finish earlier on Saturday afternoon. If you are heading to the beach or to one of the parks why not grab some produce to have a picnic there? Or if you have cooking facilities in your accommodation this is always a great option to keep costs down a little bit during the trip.

Markets worth looking at include Boqueria Market, Sant Andreu, Poble Nou or Gràcia.

Watch the Street Performers:

If you travel around Barcelona by foot then chances are you are going to find a crowd of people standing around either clapping, laughing or just simply amazed. This will most probably be because someone or some group are doing some sort of talented act.

It is common to see dancers, singers, comedians, entertainers, cartoon artists and even human statues dotted about the city. Most of these people work to earn a living this way and are extremely talented, notice I said most, so if you do find them worth your time it is always a generous thing to donate a small amount of change.

Of course, this won’t be one of the free activities in Barcelona if you decide to offer some spare change to the people putting on the awesome show but it’s pretty close.

Visit the gardens around Park Guell:

Visiting Park Guell itself is not free and booking tickets in advance is most certainly required to ensure you get access but if seeing the famous lizard statue and some other art pieces from Gaudi doesn’t excite you too much then a trip out here just to see the surrounding gardens and view certainly should.

There are plenty of different walking paths located behind this Park and all offer you the chance to see the city of Barcelona from a birds-eye view. If you have been in the city for a few days, it is always fun to try and locate some of the famous landmarks you have visited.

Of course, if you do want to go in and see the Park you can book your tickets in advance here. Once again buying your tickets beforehand is a must to get access.

A colourful lizard tiled statue called El Drac found in Parc Guell
A lizard tiled statue in Parc Guell is one of the most visited attractions in the city of Barcelona

Do a free walking tour of the city:

When visiting most cities throughout Europe and worldwide, in general, I have always enjoyed starting off doing a free walking tour. I find this a really great way to a. get your bearings of a new city or destination b. find out useful information about the cities past and what has made it the city it is today and c. you almost always find out some awesome local places to eat and drink at so you can feel like a local rather than a lost tourist.

If you have done one of these tours before then you know how they operate but if you haven’t then just be warned that just because they are called “free walking tour” doesn’t exclude the option to tip the guide at the end.

Of course, it is your choice if you want to tip the guide or not, but the general practice and I believe the nice thing to do is to tip them for the information and sites that they have shown you. They are almost always accredited guides that have grown up in the area and have a great deal of passion and love for the history they are sharing with you.

Book a “free walking tour” here

Visit a museum:

Do you fancy learning a little more than the average tourist about certain areas you visit? Or do you love checking out art or other exhibitions on offer at museums when you travel? If so, Barcelona has you covered here as well.

Some of the worthwhile museums to brush up on your knowledge are Catalonia’s National Art Museum, City History Museum, Natural History Museum, Barcelona Design Museum, the Maritime Museum or Picasso’s Museum. All these offer you different viewing experiences.

To find out when each one is open and available to visit for free just click on the name and be directed to their website.

Watch the Light show:

Up there with the best free options Barcelona offers, in my opinion, is the “Free Light and Music Show” at Magic Fountain. It really is an amazing sight to see what they can do to make the fountain come to life. It is a tradition that has been going ever since the area was opened in 1929 as part of the International Exhibition.

The best show happens in September each year for a local festival that includes the lights, fountain and fireworks all performing in-sync much to the amazement of local and tourist spectators alike. Other times of the year vary depending on the time you are visiting as the season and daylight times vary. Unfortunately, if you are visiting in January or February it is most likely closed for maintenance.

Check the viewing time for when you are visiting here.

Water being sprayed up into the air over the Magic Fountain in Barcelona
The Barcelona light show is a free show worth the effort to see.

Visit a gothic church:

Europe has these everywhere and of course, Barcelona is no different. If you have already visited some of the hundreds of other churches throughout Europe, then this one might not be for you but if you haven’t then it is something worthwhile to check out.

The design and sheer impressiveness of these buildings are sure to gain your appreciation from the outside as well as the inside.

The best churches to head to for free are Cathedral of Saint Eulalia & the Holy Cross, Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar, Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi and Basilica of Sant Just i Pastor. They all have varying times you can enter for free so look below to find out when each different church is available.

Cathedral of Saint Eulalia & the Holy Cross:

FREE OPENING TIMES: Monday to Saturday: 8.30am to 12.30pm / Sundays: 8.30am to 2pm. Other times: €7

Basilica of Santa Maria del Mar:

FREE OPENING TIMES: Monday to Saturday: 9am to 1pm & 5pm to 8:30pm / Sundays: 10am to 2pm & 5pm to 8pm. Other times: €5

Basilica of Santa Maria del Pi:

FREE OPENING TIMES: Monday to Sunday: 9.30am to 10am & 6pm to 8.30pm. Other times: €4

Basilica of Sant Just i Pastor:

FREE OPENING TIMES: Monday to Saturday: 11am to 2pm & 5pm to 9pm (8pm on Tuesday) / Sundays: 10am to 1pm. Other times: closed

Chill out in a park:

If you happen to get sick of the beach, what is wrong with you.

Na just kidding I know it can happen, lucky for you there are some other awesome options including chilling at Parc de la Ciutadella. This is probably the biggest and most famous park in Barcelona and with good reason, it has plenty on offer either in it or close by.

Chilling out in this park promises to be one of the more relaxed free activities in Barcelona.

Inside the park is located Cascada Fountain which I mentioned above when talking about Gaudi’s work. It is a huge fountain worthy of your time to admire. There are often street performers hanging around here and a few little rides for small kids. Speaking of kids, the Barcelona Zoo is actually located on the beachside of this park and is always a nice option to entertain the kids for a few hours.

You can have a picnic in the park, lay on the green grass and catch some of the sun’s rays or maybe even watch the endless array of activities happening in the park. There are quite often large groups practising on a balance rope between trees, doing hardcore group yoga moves I can only ever dream of doing or jugglers or entertainers honing their skills.

Just up past the park in the opposite direction to the Zoo is located the Arc de Triomf, which is another of Barcelona’s famous landmarks.

Other areas to note inside the park itself are Castle of the 3 Dragons, The Umbracle and Catalan Parliament.

A large golden statue behind a water pond in Ciutadella Park in Barcelona
Cascada Fountain is located inside one of the great parks of Barcelona

Here is a complete list of free activities in Barcelona that can help keep your budget under control while still having an amazing time during your stay in Spain. It is visited by thousands every year and is one of my favourite holiday spots in Europe.

If you are coming during summer time then make sure you sort out your accommodation as early as possible to avoid missing out on your desired hotel, city location or before the prices start to increase. I find it best to compare prices across main booking sites like Hotels.com, Bookings.com and Agoda to ensure you are getting the best bang for your buck.

There are also some really nice hostel-style accommodation options located throughout Barcelona if you really want to keep your money for the local tapas and sangria.

I have published a blog on how I manage to book accommodation at the lowest possible price and might be of some interest to you before your next holiday.

Remember to join Ebates before your next trip so you can earn CASH back when you book your accommodation and flights. Find out more

If you are looking for some good spots to eat, then head on over to my Barcelona section in this blog for a large amount of eating ideas as well as other cool places to see during your time in Barcelona.

Happy holidays and please let me know how your trip goes or if you know of any other free things to do in Barcelona just below in the comments section.

Travel budget tips

Either booking a new travel holiday right from the start or while on such a holiday can be expensive. Things like flights, accommodation, meals, transport and tours can add up fast and put a strain on what should be a fun time. These budget travel tips will assist with booking a holiday at the best price or staying on budget while travelling.

Organise Your Trip: Travel Advice and Tricks I Personally Use

Book Your Flight

Heading to either Skyscanner or Momondo are my methods of choice for this. They are my favourite as they search for flights from different companies all over the world. You can filter the results to suit your needs and ensure you land the best price every-time.

Book Your Accommodation

This is an important part of any holiday you’re going on. Read all the reviews and get the right accommodation via TripAdvisor. They even show you the best prices available at the time for that room from suppliers like Booking.com.For booking a hostel your best bet is to start with HostelWorld or possible even use CouchSurfing if you’re on a real budget.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Travel Insurance is a must these days so you have a piece of mind you’re covered for anything that could go wrong while on your trip. I now never go on a trip away without travel insurance. I’ve been using World Nomads for the past few years.

My favourite companies that offer the best service and value are:

  • SafetyWing (cheaper option to just cover you for health issues)

Looking for the best companies to save money with?

As I have been travelling frequently over the last few years I’ve learnt some great tools to use for saving money when travelling. I have a travel resource page that lists all the trusted companies I personally use and rely on. I think you will find them good as well.

I also have a couple of great blogs that share quick and easy ways to save money on flights or accommodation. Take a look and save some cash on your next trip.

The Best Place To Book Your Tours

If you are someone you likes to have the best tours in one place and read reviews from other travellers about their personal experiences of each different tour then the best platform to use is GetYourGuide.

They offer the best tours, have money-back offers in case your trip is cancelled and ensure the price of each tour is the lowest possible.

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Last Updated on: May 27th, 2020 at 2:51 pm

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