Free Barcelona Spain Attractions: Fact or Fiction?
Are free Barcelona Spain attractions even real? Well, you know what they say, “There ain’t something for nothing.” And that may be true, but I tried to defy that saying, as much as possible, by creating this list of mediocre things to do for free in Barcelona! Kidding. A lot of these activities are actually super fun. Plus, i would still explore a lot of these places even if they weren’t free.
So I solemnnly swear, (that I am up to no good! Harry Potter anyone? LoL) that this ia a list of things that you would actually want to do, and not just some less than exicitng compliation of the only free things that Barcelona has to offer.
And I get why this list is imporant. You’re broke lke a joke and need a free way to experience the culture of Barcelona, without all the cost. Well, checkout this guide to Free Barcelona Spain attractions: A Financially Unstable Person’s Guide to the top 11 free things to do in Barcelona, Spain.
***If you have extra time in Barcelona, I highly recommend hopping on a ferry and heading over to Ibiza for three days.
1. Els Encants Vells flea market
I have been known to like a good flea market in my day. However, I never really have the energy to comb through someone else’s junk just to find a hidden treasure. I don’t know, I just don’t have the patienece for it.
But Els Encants Vells is so much more than JUST a flea market. It is an epicenter of modern, Catalan culure that is expressed through the market’s food stalls, seasonal concerts and events, and even the architecturial beauty of the structure’s canopy; an angular, zinc and aluminum, multi-level canopy that is studded with mirrors which irregularly reflect the surrounding area (Think like a trippy fun house mirror,only much cooler. An you don’t have to be high to enjoy it.). But all this culture doesn’t even take into account for the fact that not only is this the largest flea market in Barcelona, but it is also one of the OLDEST markets in Europe (And that’s saying something because things in Europe are always WAY older than things in America). A legacy of history tha is worth a visit for even the most unenthusiastic shopper in the family (In my family, that would be me!).
Address: Carrer de los Castillejos, 158, 08013 Barcelona, Spain
Hours: Closed Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday. Open 9am – 8pm on Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Wednesday.
Underground: Glòries Stop Line 1 and Encants/Monumental stop
on line 2
– Come early to score some great stuff.
– Avoid the markets on Saturdays because that’s when it’s most crowded.
– Watch out for pickpockets (This is a serious problem in ALL of Barcelona and not just in the flea market).
– Don’t be afraid to haggle like a rockstar (Or like a poor person. Whatever works).
2. Free Museums on Sundays
Look, I love a good museum, but at 14 € a ticket (for the Picasso Museum), the price may leave me begging on the street for dinner. And since begging is not high on my “life list of things to do”, I’ll stick with Barcelona’s free museum Sundays instead. This event occurs every Sunday, between 3pm and 8pm, with admission free all day on the first Sunday of every month.
Talk about an awesome way to see some of Barcelona’s BEST museums. But, not all museums participate, so here is a list of all the museums that this weekly ritual applies to (I don’t want you visiting a museum and then finding out it’s full price. It’s the worst when you get to the front of the line and something is way too expensive. Then you kind of have to be like, ‘Oh hey. Just kidding! I just like waiting in line for fun.” Talk about ambarassing.) : Barcelona Design Museum, Barcelona History Museum, Picasso Museum, Ceramics Museum of Barcelona, Ethnology Museum of Barcelona (Straight up, I have no idea what ethnology is. Oh. “The study of the various characterisitics of people”. Really they need a museum for this? Oh sorry. Continue on.), Centre de Cultura Contemporénia of Barcelona, El born Cenutre de Cultura, Frederic Marès Museum, Barcelona Botanical Gardens, Martime Museum, Blue Museum, Barcelona Music Museum, and Palau de la Virreina (Holy Hannah! That’s a lot of museums. Who knew Barcelona had so many?).
Obviously I’m not going to get into the particuliars of each one because then this post would be longer than the World Encyclopedia, and way more boring. So if you have any further questions, you can always ask your dear old pal GOOGLE for help.
3. La Rambla
Look, I’m not gonna lie to you. La Rambla is very crowded and very touristy, with people constatly in your face, telling you to, “Go to this club, ” or “Eat at this restaurant.” It is also loaded with tourists and seemed pretty devoid of Catalan culture. It felt like a glorified tourist trap that prohibted cars so they could cram more people on the sidewalk. So why is it on this list?
Well first of all, and I know you won’t believe this, walking is free! Shocking I know, but true. But aside from La Rambla being free, it is emblematic of Barcelona. Therefore, it is kind of every tourist’s duty to stroll along this tree lined, pedestrian highway, that stretches from Plaça de Catalunya (in the center of Barcelona) to Christopher Columbus Monument at Port Vell.
Basically, 1.2 kilometers of heaven or hell, depending on how you feel about crowds and people accosting you to buy things. Okay, it’s really not that bad and totally worth checking out since it is a total icon of the city.
***If you’re in the are then might as well treat yourself and explore some of the best bars in Barcelona.
4. Mercat de La Boqueria
Possibly one of the best food markets in Europe, and maybe even the world, this place is like Disneyland to anyone who even mildly enjoys consuming food (I live to eat so this has never been a problem for me.). But as delicious as this food is, this market has so much more to offer, like it’s exstensive history. This market actually dates back all the way back to 1217, when local farmers began to sell their meats by the gate of the city.
Out of such humble begginings has emerged a cultural buffet of sorts, with the establishment of the Boqueria Cooking School, which teaches students about the fine art of Catalan cooking. Throw in over 200 food stalls, selling any and every food imaginable, (fish and seafood to fresh-garden fruits and vegetables, meats, dairy, spices, and flowers) and you have a market that is a total expression of local culture, through the use and preparation of food. Truly an amazing experience.
But the best part is that the Mercat doesn’t just offer street food. Instead, this vibrant and dynamic places offers an assortment of food options that include restaurants, take away places, and even traditional tapas bars. So sit back, relax, rock your elastic pants, and use food to explore the history and historical cultural of this amazing city.
Address: Rambla, 91 08001 Barcelona (It’s right off of La Rambla so even I had no trouble finding it, and I’m directionally challenged.)
Hours: Monday – Saturday: 8:00am – 8:30pm
5. Walk the Modernist Architecture Route
So, I am not an architecture buff (I really had no clue who Gaudi was before I visited Barcelna. LoL.), but anyone who has spent five minutes in Barcelona knows that modern architecture is a BIG deal here. And as it should be since Barcelona is the birthplace of the Catalan Modernist movement of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
Now, even if arhcitecture is not usually your thing, you will still fall in love with modernism in Barcelona, wihich is without a doubt the most awesome and most innovative architetcural movement that I have ever seen in my life. And yes, you do have to pay to get in most of these buildings, but a lot of these buildings are almost as impressive on the outside, as they are on the inside (Casa Batlló and La Pedrera are two great examples). So leave the wallet at home and check out the modernist architecture route outlined here.
P.S. I know everyone goes goo goo ga ga over Gaudi (and wth good reason because he is one bad ass architect), but I bet you are shocked to hear that there are OTHER modernist architects on this route, like Lluís Domènech i Montaner and Josep Puig i Cadafalc (I love Spanish. Their names sound so fancy and important).
6. Sunbath on the beach
Pretty self-explanatory huh? Well, some beaches are better than others, and Barcelona has a bunch. So, I would hit up Ocata beach. Sure, it’s a bit North of Barcelona and about a half an hour out of the city, but the trip is worth it for an old fogie like me, who wants a quiet, pristine and flat beach, with no crowds and plenty of room so that I can stretch out my beach towel on the warm sand.
However, Barceloneta Beach is HILLARIOUS. Sure, it’s dirty, touristy, and crowded, but where else can you find drums from around the world, quirky cube monuments, sand-artists, and singing/dancing donut salesmen (The last one is my favorite. We don’t even have those in New York City. And New York is pretty eccentric). Yup, I thought the donut salesmen would SEAL the DEAL. I rest my case.
7. Visit Born Centre Cultural
Shocker, this is a cultural center. But you don’t need Spanish to understand that. The building’s name kind of givrs it away. However, I bet you didn’t know that this center is housed in the Mercat del Born, a 19th-century structure of slatted iron and brick tha is truly marvelous to behold.
Additionally, recent excavations of former Barcelona streets are now on display in an exposed, subterranean exhibition (I promise, it’s pretty cool. And there are actual panels of information so you know what you’re looking at and don’t just think, “Oh boy! Rocks! We sure don’t have those at home!”).
Now, while the centre itself is free, the showcase of historical items, that details the area’s dsruction, is €4.40 for adults, €3 concession, and free for children.
Address: Plaça Comercial 12, Barcelona, Spain
Hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10am-8pm (March – October) and Tuesday – Saturday: 10am-7pm and open until 8pm on Sunday (November – February)
8. Joan Miró’s public art
If you’re as worldy as me, then you have absolutely no idea who Joan Miró was, until you read this post. Because I had no clue (Maybe I can pretend like I’m Rip Van Winkle and was just asleep for the past 100 years. LoL.). I actually read the name and thought he was a she, but I digress.
Now, there is an amaxing exhibit of Miró’s art that is totally worth the cost. However, this artist is so beloved that many of his sculptures are scattered throughout the city so that every citizen can enjoy his spirit of innovation; through the use of primary colors and morphefd shapes that symbolize both the moon and the female form, among other things.
Some of his free works on display include a 22m-tall Woman and Bird sculpture rising from a sparkling pool in Parc de Joan Miró, a mosaic in the central walkway of La Rambla, and another displayed on the outside wall of Terminal 2 at the airport. A theme that truly reminds us that beauty can be found in even the most unexpected places. All we have to do is open our eyes and look (and that is the only mildly profound thing I will probably say so brace yourself.).
9. La Catedral
I know, I know. You’re probably thinking, “Oh wow. What a surprise. ANOTHER Spanish Church that I JUST have to see. Shocker. I have never seen one of those before.” Yeah, I get it. You can get pretty churched out in Spain. But I swear, this one is worth a vsit. Now is it La Sagrada Familia? No. It’s defintitely classical and way less innovative and exciting, but still worth a peek to admire the stunning neo-gothic architecture that abounds here (Pretty good right? Sounds like I know what I’m talking about huh? LOl.)
Now if that architecturial style means nothing to you, just think enormous domed ceilings, pillars galore, a cloister with a courtyard of palms, orange trees, and a gaggle of white geese (honk honk). Be sure to visit in the early morning or late afternoon when it is FREE!
Address: Plaça de la Seu, Barcelona, Spain
Hours: Monday – Friday: 8am-12:45pm and 5:15-7:30pm and Saturday and Sunday: 8am-8pm.
P.S. This building is located among the cobblestone alleys of the medieval Barri Gòtic quarter. So while here, check out some of the bars, quirky shops, and quiet plaças that make this neigbbrhood a fun place to explore (And by explore I mean get hopelessly lost. At least, that’s what happens to me.).
10. El Raval
Okay, so this Barcelona neighborhood is definitely not as whimsical as Barri Gòtic. So sorry, you won’t be romantically riding your bike, with a whicker basket and bell, along the charming, cobblestone lanes of a quaint alleyway where the scent of fresh baked bread hangs in the air (Carbs. it always comes back to my one true love.). Okay, maybe that is from a movie like Sense and Sensibility but you get the idea. We have this historic fantasy and El Raval ain’t it.
This neighborhoood is a more lively and exciting place that is home to swrams of artists, backpackers, punks, students and more. Basically, a great place to people watch (Kind of like Washington Square Park for the New Yorkers in the audience). There are also some pretty sweet bars and vintage clothing shops if you want to rock some groovy bell bottoms from decades gone by. Also, don’t miss the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona) which is pretty amazing both outside and in.
11. Font Màgica
Is this water fountain and lights show a little cheesy? You betcha! But who doesn’t like cheese (Unless you are allergic to dairy in which case, I’m sorry you can’t enjoy the glory that is cheese. My other favorite food group besides carbs.)? Plus, add in some over the top, vintage 80s music and you might have to start a flash mob to the tune of “Let’s Get Physical” (Don’t judge me! You kow it would be awesome! And bring your leg warmers!).
Okay, it is no Broadway performance of the Lion King but it’s something fun and FREE to do so why not? I mean, it’s not like you’re paying for it. And if water fountains, lights, and music work for Disney, then why not give it a shot here. Who knows, you may just get all nostalgic and feel like a kid again. Plus, it’s historical because it was created for the 1929 World Exposition (So if anyone gives you a hard time about it, just says it has a place in history. BOOM! Convo over.).
Location: The gigantic fountain crowns the Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina in the grand facade of the Palau Nacional. Seriously, you can’t miss it. I didn’t get lost and I ended up in Syracuse when driving home from Maryland (And I’m from NYC). I get lost everywhere so if I can find it, anyone can.
Hours: Friday and Saturday: A show every 30 mintues from 7-9pm (Novmber – March) and Thursday – Sunday: 9.30-11pm (April – October).
Well there you have it. The ultimate list of free Barcelona Spain attractions if you should ever fall victim to a pickpocket in Barcelona, practically the pickpocket capital of Europe. Just kidding, but do watxh out for those pesky pickpockets. I had my wallet stolen there and it was no fun. That’s why I hope you can use this list under much better circumstances. Have fun, save money, and make all your facebook friends super jealous (Need more to do in Barcelona? Then click here !!!
FYI Random aside, a lot of places in Spain do not accpet credit cards and only accept debit cards so keep that in mind.