Barcelona is a cosmopolitan capital of Catalonia, Spain.
Known for its arts, architecture, party and food scene and urban beaches, this Spanish city is one of the top destinations in the world. Because of this, Barcelona is getting more expensive to visit.
But don’t worry, this list of most recommended free things to do in Barcelona, Spain is proof that you can still enjoy the city on a budget.
So without further adieu, here are our top travel tips for Barcelona and how to save money by going to these tops attractions in Barcelona for free.
11 Free Things To Do In Barcelona, Spain
1. Enjoy panoramic views of Barcelona at Tibidabo Skywalk
Tibidabo Skywalk is a great free-viewpoint high up above Barcelona on Mount Tibidabo. Tibidabo is actually an amusement park (with paid admission), however, the Skywalk is a free area just outside the main park. It is home to a handful of fairground rides that date back to 1921 (2 euro each to ride).
However, even if you don’t go to the attractions, they are bright and colorful and make awesome photo subjects against the backdrop of the cityscape!
Not only is it worth going up to the Skywalk for the views, but the Sagart Cor church is an impressive sight!
There are a couple of ways to reach Tibidabo Skywalk, the easiest is the shuttle bus which departs from Placa Catalunya and drops you right outside the gates of Tibidabo.
The second option requires a couple of bus or metro changes but the last part of the journey is via the Mount Tibidabo Funicular which has been operating since 1901!
2. See Picasso’s First Works at the Picasso Museum
Discover Pablo Picasso’s works before he invented Cubism and became the renowned international artist he grew into. This museum is on a charming, narrow street on Carrer Montcada and graces a row of several courtyard-palaces in Ciutat Vella.
You’ll witness Picasso’s development from 1890 to 1904 with the self-portraits he created as a teenager and sketches of landscapes.
In another room, you see how he jumped into cubism and oil paintings in the 1950s.
While you won’t see Picasso’s most famous sketches from your high school art textbooks, it’s still worth seeing how a genius’s mind develops — pre-fame.
Picasso Museum entry is free on very specific days and hours: Thursday evenings from 6 pm to 9:30 pm; the first Sunday of each month from 9 am to 7 pm; and all day on February 12th, May 18th, and September 24th.
Even in free times, you must reserve your ticket on the website. Advance tickets are available up to 4 days before your desired date of entry.
Address: Museu Picasso de Barcelona c/ Montcada, 15-23 – 08003 Barcelona
Phone: (+34) 93 256 30 00
3. Admire an ancient Roman Temple
If you need to find things to do in Barcelona beyond Gaudi’s gorgeous architecture, you may wish to visit one of the oldest relics dating back to the 1st century AD.
Head to Plaça del Rei in the Gothic Quarter, a stone’s throw from the Catedral de Barcelona, and you will find remnants of an ancient Roman Temple that was originally erected in honor of Emperor Augustus.
The temple was initially located nearby at Mons Taber and has today shifted to its current location at 10 Carrer Paradis. There are only four columns left due to erosion, but rehabilitation efforts have done a great job of preserving the remaining columns.
The first column is actually made of several different ones due to damage when they were first found in 1850. The other three columns were only found at the end of the 19th century after renovations of the Centre Excursionista de Catalunya.
Seeing the columns is a peek into Barcelona’s ancient history and as its a lesser-known attraction, it is less busy so you can look around at your own pace, really taking in the gorgeous architecture.
4. Be Amazed by Gaudi’s Casa Vicens
Antoni Gaudi’s architectural masterpieces are must-sees in Barcelona. However, one of his most important creations, Casa Vicens, often gets overlooked.
Located on a quiet street in the Gracia neighborhood, Casa Vicens was the first house designed by Gaudi.
It is one of the most significant symbols in the history of Catalan architecture and the building that had put Gaudi on the map. You can tell straight away it’s a Gaudi invention because there’s nothing traditional or boring about it.
The mix of architectural styles, colors, and materials catches your eye, and you can’t help but be amazed by all the intricate details. It’s no wonder it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Casa Vicens was a private home until 2014, and today, it is a museum. Although visiting the museum will cost you quite a few Euros, enjoying this work of art on the outside is free of charge. The museum is also free for people with Barcelona pass, ICOM members and Super3 Club.
From October 15, 2019, to March 31, 2020
Monday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Last admission 1:40 p.m.
From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Last admission 5:40 p.m.
Closed: December 25 and January 6 and from 13 to 19 January 2020 due to maintenance works.
Special day: Casa Vicens will be open 1 January 2020, from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (last visit 4:40 p.m.)
From April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020
From Monday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Last admission 6:40 p.m.
Free days/Open doors days: May 22, Santa Rita.
From October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021
Monday, from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Last admission 1:40 p.m.
From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Last admission 5:40 p.m.
General – 16€
Senior (+65) -14€
Students from 12 to 25 years old- 14€
Member large or single-parent family -14€
Children up to 11 years
People with disabilities -14€
Surcharge for a guided tour
*(each person) 4€
Disabled person’s companion free
Address: Carrer de les Carolines, 20-26 08012 Barcelona
Phone: +34 93 547 59 80
5. Take in the greenery at Parque de la Ciutadella
Set aside at least one long and leisurely afternoon for this beautiful park. No big city is complete without its share of wide-open green spaces. Seventy acres of green in the middle of this busy city make this a great picnic spot and the perfect place to unwind in nature.
After a long walk passing by several orange trees and locals relaxing on the grass here, I was pleasantly surprised by the grandeur of the well-sculpted waterfall and lake in the northern corner of the park.
You can rent a boat and paddle in the lake, a popular activity among locals on weekend afternoons. It is located just next to the old town, making it easily accessible.
6. Watch the sunset from the Bunkers del Carmel
The site of Bunkers del Carmel offers 360-degree views of the city of Barcelona. The top of the hill contains old concrete firing platforms and bunkers remaining from an anti-aircraft battery during the Spanish Civil War to explore.
While it’s well worth the hike, I would recommend taking a bus up rather than walking but the walk down the hill is easy enough to get the metro back to your accommodation.
In Summer evenings the bunkers can get rather busy, especially on the side where La Sagrada Familia is visible but they certainly make for a very romantic place to take someone special with a picnic dinner and bottle of wine to watch the sunset over the horizon.
Instead of paying for drinks and food at a restaurant or bar you can watch the lights come on across the city and see the architectural highlights of Barcelona by both day and night for free.
7. Barrio Gótico
The Barri Gòtic, or Barrio Gótico, is not only one of the oldest, but also the most popular parts of Barcelona.
You shouldn’t miss this part of the city even if you just stay one day in Barcelona. It is not for nothing that hundreds of tourists and locals come to this part of the city every day.
As the name implies, this district of Barcelona is constructed in Gothic style. Probably the most visited part of this quarter is the cathedral La Catedral and the square in front of it. Once in awhile, events take place here, especially on summer weekends and during the Christmas season.
Going a little further through the narrow streets of the Barrio Gótico you‘ll come to the square Plaça de Sant Felip Neri, which is one of the most beautiful squares of the city if you ask me.
Anyway, there is so much more to see in this area of Barcelona. It’s best to just stroll around and get lost in the narrow streets. On every corner, you will find something new, such as small local shops, bars, restaurants or street art.
8. Watch the Magic fountain show
The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc is one of the best free attractions in the city of Barcelona. The spectacle lasts for around 30 minutes during which hundreds of gallons of water come alive synchronized to the sound of music and light.
The fountain is centrally located just below Palau Nacional and Plaça d’Espanya making this attraction easily accessible via public transport.
The Magic Fountain only works at specific times so I would advise inquiring about operating hours at your hotel or the tourist information near the fountain.
Another tip would be to arrive early to beat the crowds and get a good vantage point from which to view the show.
9. Poblenou Cemetery
Sometimes when you get to visit a local cemetery, you can learn more about the history of that city than visiting museums or other monuments. In Barcelona, one of the most important historical burial grounds is the Poblenou Cemetery, found in the Poblenou neighborhood on the seaside.
Ginesi, an Italian architect, designed the Poblenou Cemetery in the 18th century when the principal cemetery in Montjuic had no more space for the deceased.
Poblenou Cemetery is divided into two major sections: the larger section closer to the entrance consists of thousands of burial niches, but there’s also a monumental area with large individual crypts and family mausoleums.
You can’t miss out on the impressive “Kiss of Death” statue, a winged skeleton that kisses a person. You should pick up a leaflet at the entrance to find the most interesting sights.
10. Visit a local food market
Among the things that make Barcelona, such an amazing city is that friendly neighborhood feeling. Past the grand architecture and picturesque green spaces, you’ll find areas that feel like an entirely different city. Each of these diverse neighborhoods has its own food market for locals to do their shopping.
For visitors, this is a chance to immerse themselves in the local culture. Here, seasonal Catalan delicacies are on offer. Walk along the stalls, breathe in the various scents and aromas, accept a few samples, or observe the locals. This is a fascinating free thing to do in Barcelona that’s a definite must experience.
11. Take photos at the trendy coffee shops
You do not have to pay to get inside a famous building or museum to take stunning and unique photos of Barcelona. You only have to walk around and be on the lookout for some of the city’s most interesting sights. The best thing about it is that it won’t cost you anything.
Take for example a distinct Barcelona feature — their one-of-a-kind coffee shops. These funky, quirky coffee shops are all over the city, but there’s a lot in the Gracia neighborhood. Be sure your camera has enough battery, wear comfy shoes and walk the streets of Barcelona in search of these charming coffee shops.
Some truly picture-perfect coffee shops are the bicycle-themed Bicioci Biker Café and the very cozy Mama’s Cafe. This fun free thing to do in Barcelona is the perfect way to spend an early morning or late afternoon.