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Top 10 free things to do in Barcelona

Times are tough for travellers. But with the world preparing to reopen in 2021, we're here to keep you dreaming and planning for your next adventure - whether that's a staycation or flying off to parts unknown. Until then, we've got the latest COVID-19 travel advice and updates to keep you up to date and ready to go.

Looking for free things to do in Barcelona? You’ve come to the right place. Whether you’re backpacking on a strict budget or simply looking to save your cash for all the tapas you can eat, we found plenty of free activities around Barcelona to fill your days and nights.

The top 10 free things to do in Barcelona:

  1. Some museums on certain days
  2. The Montjuïc Castle
  3. Park Güell
  4. Bunkers del Carmel
  5. Parc de la Ciutadella
  6. Barceloneta Beach
  7. Las Ramblas
  8. Gothic Quarter
  9. La Boqueria
  10. Walking tours

Please always check local government guidelines before booking travel and again before you head out. Any specific information in this article has been updated as of May 14, 2021.

1. Certain museums on certain days

Many of Barcelona’s museums offer free entrance if you know where to look and when to go! Virtually all Barcelona museums have free entrance on the first Sunday of every month to encourage more people to visit museums during slower times, or museums that they may otherwise skip. The Museu Nacionál d’Art d’Catalunya has free admission every Saturday after 3pm, the first Sunday of every month and on May 18 and September 11.

This museum was built in 1929 for the World’s Fair and now houses a collection of works from the Catalonian Romanesque era to the mid-20th century. Even if you don’t make it to the museum on a free day, it still is beautiful to walk around the grounds and admire the outside, which doesn’t cost a thing!

2. The Montjuïc Castle

The Montjuïc Castle sits at the very top of Montjuïc and is a fortress that was built in 1640. The castle is 570 feet (174 meters) above the Barcelona port and offers uninhibited 360-degree views over all of Barcelona. Once you make it up to the castle, it doesn’t cost anything to walk its grounds. In fact, there is a dirt path that takes you all the way around the castle with a view of the port, Barcelona and the castle. The walk itself takes around 30 minutes to complete.

Unfortunately, the castle itself costs 5€ during the weekdays and Saturdays, but there isn’t much to see inside because it is unfurnished and mostly just a fortress. Be sure to make it there during a free time (every Sunday after 3pm and the first Sunday of every month) if you want to experience the incredible views and the castle itself.

The Montjuïc Castle in Barcelona

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3. Park Güell

Park Güell holds its spot as one of the most popular tourist attractions in Barcelona. Contrary to popular belief, the park aspect of Park Güell doesn’t have an entrance fee, making it one of the best free things to do in Barcelona! The monumental zone, which is where most of the typical pictures of Park Güell are taken, is the only part that costs money. Much of the monumental zone can be seen from the park surrounding it. Gaudì designed a few houses that are still standing and can be viewed from the park as well.

View overlooking Barcelona from Park Güell with beautiful blue and green mosaic pattern

4. Bunkers del Carmel

Barcelona abdicated from the Olympic Games in 1936 to fight the Spanish Civil War. Instead of celebrating the Olympics, Spaniards built bunkers into the top of Mount Tibidabo. Decades later, the Bunkers del Carmel is one of Barcelona’s hidden treasures and is slowly becoming a popular hangout spot.

One of the appeals of the bunkers is that they are a bit out of the typical tourist’s path. (You’ll need these directions to the bunkers.) The best time to go is either extremely early in the morning to watch the sunrise or in the evening to watch the sunset and avoid the crowds. There isn’t a lot of shade up there, so plan accordingly if you go during the warmer months. The best part? All of the bunkers are open to the public, making this a favorite among locals for free things to do in Barcelona.

5. Parc de la Ciutadella

Parks are a very important part of life in Barcelona. One of the main parks in the city is Parc de la Ciutadella, and it is a very popular place for locals to go and hang out (for free!). It’s a massive park and there are lots of green spaces and fountains inside. The entrance is marked by a huge Arc d’Triomphe. If you’re searching for somewhere to just hang out and visit with friends or to enjoy a picnic, Parc de la Ciutadella is the place for you!

A woman holding a map

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6. Barceloneta Beach

Once again, no trip to Barcelona is complete without a trip to the beach! Barceloneta is the beach that’s closest to the city center. Spain isn’t strict about enjoying a drink in public, so grab a bottle of wine and enjoy it on the beach. The waters of the Mediterranean are warm year-round, and the perfect weather really makes Barcelona the ideal location for beach-goers. A sunny day on the sand is certainly one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.

Aerial view of Barceloneta beach with the city behind - one of the top free things to do in Barcelona

7. Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is the main vein of Barcelona. It is also one of the biggest tourist attractions. Over the years it has become more and more popular. It’s an incredible way to soak up some of the sights and sounds of the city. The walk from the top of Las Ramblas (Plaça de Catalunya) to the end of it at the Christopher Columbus statue takes about 30 minutes.

This lively street is lined with a lot of small kiosks, as well as salesmen selling their wares. Dozens of restaurants also have outdoor seating on Las Ramblas. Even though it may be prime restaurant real estate, the prices along Las Ramblas are a bit inflated. On the bright side, it doesn’t cost anything to wander along Las Ramblas and soak up all the sights!

Daytime view of Las Ramblas, crowded with people and lined by trees and buildings

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8. Gothic Quarter

Paying a visit to Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) is like taking a step back in time. The Gothic Quarter is a section of Barcelona directly off of Las Ramblas and is the oldest part of the city. All of the gothic quarter is extremely picturesque and is full of twists and turns—unlike the grid pattern of the rest of Barcelona.

One of our favorite free things to do in Barcelona, and the best way to experience the Gothic Quarter, is to simply get lost inside of it. There are so many different passages and narrow streets, and the more lost you become, the better it is! Plus, if you’re searching for the Barcelona Cathedral, it can be found in the heart of the Barri Gòtic. There’s no guarantee that your walk around the Gothic Quarter won’t include you pulling out your wallet. However, it’s a guarantee that you will find some cute coffee shops and restaurants at which you’ll want to stop.

ornate gothic architecture

9. La Boqueria

La Boqueria is the best-known market in the city, it’s incredibly appealing to the senses, and it’s one of our favorite free things to do in Barcelona. There are rows and rows of fresh fruit, fruit smoothies and perfectly cracked coconuts. If the fruits aren’t tantalizing enough, La Boqueria has virtually every type of food available. Iberian cured pork leg (jamón ibérico), some of the most expensive ham in the world, is sold here at La Boqueria.

There are many food stands where locals go to enjoy tapas and a cerveza. Some tourists don’t enjoy strolling through La Boqueria because it can get packed during the day. Nevertheless, there are so many sights and experiences within the market. You can do it as cheaply as possible by just wandering around the stalls, or you can snack your way through—either option will definitely be a wonderful choice, and you can’t go wrong!

fresh fruit on display at La Boqueria, one of the best free things to do in Barcelona

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10. Walking tours

The best way to experience Barcelona truly is to just walk around and enjoy the sights. People say that the best way to understand and explore a city is on your feet, and Barcelona is no exception. Stroll through the streets and admire Gaudí’s architecture. Walk along some of Barcelona’s busiest thoroughfares and watch the locals on their way to work. Be sure you take some time to see at least some of this vibrant city by foot because not only is it free, it’s also the best way to experience the city!

A square full people. Walking tours are one of the best free things to do in Barcelona

No matter which of the free things to do in Barcelona you want to experience, be sure to always check government guidelines and comply with any COVID-19 health and safety regulations. Enjoy your time in Spain!

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FAQ

What can you do for free in Barcelona at night?

Nighttime in Barcelona is great for wandering down Las Ramblas or heading up to Montjuic Castle for sunset.

Are museums free in Barcelona?

Many of Barcelona’s most well-known museums are free on the first Sunday of every month. In addition, many offer free admission at other times as well. Check the individual museum’s website for more information.

Is Barcelona safe at night?

Barcelona is generally safe at night, but pickpocketing and other petty crimes are not unheard of. Be sure to use ATMs during the day and keep close guard on purses, wallets and other valuables at all times.

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