Save your vacation dollars for espadrilles and tapas and soak in some of Barcelona’s charms for free.
You don’t have to pay an entry fee to see some of Barcelona’s best sights. From beautiful beaches to free walking tours to evening concerts in the park, there are plenty of ways to stretch your vacation budget and feel like a local while you enjoy Spain’s magical city.
One of Barcelona’s many charms is its free municipal beaches, such as Barceloneta and Sant Miguel. Due to their central location, and the fact that this part of Spain remains warm and sunny for most of the year, the beaches are popular and thus quite crowded with both locals and tourists. The upside is that they’re lively, great for people watching, and there are lots of amenities.
Free Hours at Museums
Many museums in Barcelona offer free admission on certain days of the month, or between specific hours on certain days of the week. If you happen to be visiting on May 18th, International Museum Day, you’ll find many of the city’s museums are free. Many museums offer free hours (varying days, so check ahead), and some are free the first Saturday or Sunday of every month. For example, MNAC is free every Saturday, starting at 3 pm and on the first Sunday of the month, and Museu Picasso is free Thursday evening and the first Sunday of the month.
Montjuïc Magic Fountain
Built in the late 1920s and restored in 1992, the Montjuïc Magic Fountain offers music and a light show choreographed with undulating jets of water. The fountain itself is a lively spot and a beautiful setting, even if it is a little kitschy, particularly if the evening’s featured music is an 80s hits parade. Showtimes vary seasonally and are usually extended during the summer.
Barcelona is justifiably known for its markets filled with vendors selling high-quality food, drink, and merchandise, and even if you don’t buy anything, they’re a great way to experience the city’s culture. The most famous by far is La Boquería, but lesser-known (and trafficked) options include, Mercat de la Llibertat, Mercat de Santa Caterina, and Mercat de Sant Antoni.
Barcelona is a beautiful city perfect for walking, and multiple companies offer free walking tours. Sandemans New Europe and Runner Bean are both reliable operations with knowledgeable tour guides and excellent itineraries. (While these tours are free, there is an expectation that you’ll tip your guide at the end.)
Catedral de Barcelona
The Barcelona Cathedral is an excellent alternative (or supplement) to more famous cathedrals like La Sagrada Família, particularly as it offers free admission to tourists for most of each day (donations are expected at peak hours). Its broad front courtyard provides an unobstructed view of the cathedral’s facade, making for great photo ops, and you can call ahead to arrange a tour (for a small fee). This church is welcoming to travelers, but it’s also the seat of the Archbishop of Barcelona and an active place of worship, so be respectful.
Park Güell is one of Catalan architect Antoni Gaudí’s beautiful creations and one of Barcelona’s top attractions. The hillside park features gorgeous mosaics as well as prime examples of Gaudí’s architectural vision, and it’s also home to multiple museums that require a ticket to enter. While the “monumental core” (i.e., the section of the park with the museums) requires a ticket, there are sections of this grand park that you can enter free of charge.
Parc de la Ciutadella
While this leafy park is home to several institutions that will require tickets (such as the Museu d’Art Modern, the zoo, the Museum of Natural Sciences, and the Museu de Geologia), one could argue that the main attraction is the park itself … which is free. It’s also a popular place for runners and walkers who are drawn in by its fountains, beautiful staircases and towering palm trees.
Parc del Laberint
Free on Wednesday and Sunday, this park is the oldest remaining architectural park in Barcelona and is known for being off the beaten path of tourists. Wander its terraces, and you’ll find not just the sculpted topiaries which make up the maze but other hidden gems as well, such as temples dedicated to the Greek gods Artemis and Danae and a statue of Dionysus, the god of wine. The park complex is also located inside of a Mediterranean forest, enhancing its peaceful nature.
Concert in a Park
Barcelona’s Music in the Parks Festival is a yearly summer series of free concerts hosted in green spaces across the city. The performances, which provide a platform for young up-and-coming musicians, feature a variety of musical styles and act as a way of drawing people into the parks on summer evenings. It’s a lovely way to listen to free music and to experience Barcelona’s many parks.