Traveling on a budget and looking for the best free things to do in Barcelona? If so then this expert’s guide is for you.
I have been backpacking in Barcelona many times and am always looking for Barcelona free things to do.
And that’s where this guide to free things to do in Barcelona today comes in mighty handy!
It’s an epic list that features top attractions as well as some of the most unusual things to do in Barcelona – epic places that you’ve probably never heard of.
So, use this post keep your wallet full and your Barcelona three-day itinerary packed with fun things to do.
Free Things to do in Barcelona Today
1. Check for Free Admission Days to Museums
Barcelona is home to some of the best museums in Europe. I mean, can you say the Picasso Museum?
Now, the good news is that many of these museums offer free days. This way you can visit these amazing places for a whole lot less and use your extra $$$ to pick up some epic Barcelona souvenirs.
Some museums with great free days are the Picasso Museum (Thursday afternoons from 4.00 pm to 7.00 pm and the first Sunday of every month), MNAC (every Saturday after 3:00 pm and the first Sunday of the month), and
I love Centre de la Imatge in the Palau de la Virreina and Centre d’Art Santa Mònica. Both are near La Rambla and have constantly changing exhibits that are free to enjoy.
2. Enjoy a Free Festival
Barcelona is such a vibrant and vivacious city. Therefore, there is always a unique festival happening that serves as one of the best free things to do in Barcelona.
Some of my fave festivals include:
- Carnival – Usually in February/March. It lasts for about a week and includes parties, costumes, parades, music, and more.
- Cinema Lliure – Shows free documentaries at the library all year long, They also play free movies on the beach from June through September.
- Festa Major de Gracia – In August, the streets are exquisitely decorated and come alive with free outdoor concerts. This is a great way to enjoy some local culture.
- Festes de le Mercè – This event happens in September. It takes place over five days and includes concerts, fireworks, acrobats, dancers, drums, and more.
3. Walk Down La Rambla in the Morning
I’ll be real with you. La Rambla is not my fave place in Barcelona. However, it is one of the free places to visit in Barcelona and is slightly less packed with tourists in the morning.
Yeah, everyone stays out late enjoying the best nightlife in Barcelona. So, no one gets up early in the AM.
Therefore, set your alarm and stroll along this 1-km pedestrian street.
While you’re here be sure to visit La Boqueira (food market), admire Liceu Opera House, have a coffee at Cafe de l’Opera, and enjoy breakfast at Escriba.
4. Admire Free Modernisme Archiecture
Because Barcelona is home to architectural geniuses like Gaudi and Miro, there are tons of amazing Catalonian Modernisme buildings to see throughout the city.
Generally, you won’t be able to step inside (stupid fees) but you can admire the exterior of Casa Lleó Morera, Casa Batlló, and Casa Amatller.
These all sit right next to each other on Passeig de Gràcia and are pretty amazing from the outside. If you have the cash though deffo try to visit Casa Batlló. I LOVED it.
Anyway, you can also admire the exterior of La Sagrada Família (I found the exterior super underwhelming but that’s just me) and the Art Nouveau grandeur or Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau.
5. Go for a Bike Ride
Many hostels and hostels offer free bike rentals. If this is the case then one of the best things to do in Barcelona for free is to go for a bike ride.
Barcelona is a great place to bike ride since the city has a growing number of bike lanes, with a scenic path along the water that extends from Port Olímpic towards Riu Besòs.
Now, if you’re super into biking, you could take a 72-kilometer trip along the Ronda Verda cycling route loop that takes you along the outer edges of the city.
6. Relax on the Beach
Does Barcelona have the best beaches in Spain? No. They are kind of crowded and filled with pickpockets. So, watch your stuff.
But, they are a nice place to sit and relax after a long day of sightseeing. Many people flock to Barceloneta but I prefer the Fòrum area since it is farther away and less packed with people.
Pro Tip: Get out of Barcelona and use public transportation to visit Costa del Garraf and Costa Maresme.
7. Explore the Galleries and Shops of El Born
El Born is an amazing part of the city that is packed with cool art galleries and neat shops. So, wander through the narrow alleys here and see what you can find.
Highlights include La Ciutadella Park, Palau de la Musica Catalana (book a tour), Santa Maria del Mar (church), Pinzat (cool shop with recycled items), the Lomography Store, and Born Cultural Centre.
8. Enjoy Some Street Art
One of the best free things to do in Barcelona is to check out some wicked awesome street art.
After all, street artists from all around the world come here to do epic murals and leave their tags for you to see.
Some of the best places to see street art include El Raval and the Gothic Quarter (this art is on windows/shutters and is best seen when businesses close).
In particular, the gardens around Sant Pau del Camp monastery have cool murals, as does the Agora Juan Andres Benitez community garden.
Plaça de Terenci Moix also has murals all along its walls, as does Tallers Street.
And in the Gothic Quarter, don’t miss the photo-mural El Beso de la Libertad of two mouths kissing.
Pro Tip: Check out the giant Keith Haring mural that surrounds MACBA (Museo Contemporáneo de Arte Moderno de Barcelona).
9. Marvel at Incredible Sculptures
Barcelona is filled with giant sculptures that you can easily enjoy for free. See, Peix was made for the 1992 Olypmics and looks like a big fish made out of mesh.
The Face of Barcelona was also created for the Olympics and looks like a giant pop art face.
Afterward, check out The Cubes on Barceloneta Beach, The Fat Horse (airport), The Fat Cat at Rambla del Raval, The Woman and the Bird in Joan Miro Park, and La Gamba on the Moll de la Fusta Quay.
10. Take in the Epic Views From Bunkers del Carmel
For one of the best views in Barcelona, head to Bunkers del Carmel.
This structure sits 262 meters above sea level and offers epic panoramas of the city since it was originally built as an anti-aircraft fortification during the Spanish Civil War.
However, the climb up is a bit tough. So, bring lots of water and wear shoes with a good grip.
Pro Tip: You can no longer visit in the evening. I also suggest visiting early in the day since this spot is now very popular.
11. Explore Parc de Joan Miró
Built-in 1979 by Beth Gali (and several other architects), Parc de Joan Miró sits on the site of a former slaughterhouse.
It features the famous Woman and Bird sculpture (it’s giant and 22 meters tall) and contains several different elements that sit around a central plaza that hosts a variety of events.
Check out pathways and platforms of different heights as you enjoy pergolas and a well-landscaped area with tall trees.
It’s also a great place to stop either before or after you visit Plaça España.
Pro Tip: There’s also a Miró mosaic on La Rambla and another on the wall of Terminal 2 at the airport.
12. Check Out Born Centre Cultural
If you like history even a little bit then be sure to visit the Born Centre Cultural.
It sits inside the Mercat del Born, a 19th-century brick/iron building, and features archeological excavations of the old streets of Barcelona.
And while the free section isn’t super amazing – so you will have to pay to see various local artifacts – this is where many local buildings were destroyed by King Philip V in 1714.
For many Catalan people, this was the moment when they started to seek independence from Spain. So, this is a great place to visit to better understand Catalan history/culture.
13. Enjoy a Food Market
If there’s one thing Barcelona is really good at it’s providing you with tons of amazing food.
Therefore, one of the best free things to do in Barcelona is to walk around some of the food markets that have popped up across the city.
Generally, Mercat de la Boqueria is the most popular. However, it is also the most touristy.
Therefore, you won’t see a ton of local products since many vendors cater to tourists who want fancy desserts and exotic fruit juice. It also gets extremely crowded which detracts from the experience.
Instead, visit either Mercat de la Llibertat or Mercat de Santa Caterina for a more authentic experience. Any food you purchase will also be more budget-friendly.
14. Visit La Catedral
Centrally located in the Gothic Quarter, the Catedral is a Gothic marvel that is just as beautiful outside as it is inside.
So, head inside to enjoy epic domed ceilings immense pillars, and a cool cloister filled with oranges, palms, and a herd of geese.
If you want to visit for free, stop by for worship in the morning or at night. That being said, you should not walk around and take pictures during mass since it’s considered rude.
Otherwise, you will have to pay to enter. You also need to dress appropriately to enter the church.
15. Enjoy Barri Gòtic (the Gothic Quarter)
Barri Gòtic is easily one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Barcelona and is a great place to wander around as you enjoy the best things to do in Barcelona that are free.
So, explore the area’s many cobblestone streets which are filled with cool bars, even better shops, and charming plaças.
Yeah, this place just oozes historic, medieval charm and is a perfect place to wander either before or after you visit La Rambla.
Along the way, grab a beer at Els Quatre Gats, relax in Plaça del Pi, shop for vintage clothes on Carrer Avinyó, and explore El Call Jewish Quarter.
16. Visit El Raval
Another epic Barcelona neighborhood, El Raval is a fun and funky place that is home to a wide array of students, backpackers, and artists.
Therefore, you’ll find plenty of fun bars and retro shops that are just waiting to be explored before you hit up MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona).
Just be sure to visit MACBA after 4:00 pm on Saturdays since admission is free.
Afterward, grab some real Catalan cuisine at La Masia before grabbing a coffee at La Central and catching a show Omea Theater. Yeah, this historic theatre is supposed to be haunted.
17. Wander Around Parc de la Ciutadella
Pass through the Arc de Triomf and you’ll be rewarded with entrance into this amazing park.
It’s an enchanting green space that was built in the mid-19th century. It is a great spot to relax, people watch, go for a boat road, and enjoy a picnic.
You could also visit the Parlament de Catalunya or enjoy a stunning waterfall/fountain that was designed by, you guessed it, Gaudi.
To view this architectural delight, just enter via the Passeig de Pujades park entrance.
It’s a site to behold that features statues, rocks, plants, and a waterfall. It is also crowned with a golden statue of the Roman dawn goddess Aurora.
18. Arc de Triomf
Designed by Josep Vilaseca in 1888 for the Universal Exhibition, this amazing brick arch sits right on the edge of Pard de la Ciutadella near the top of Passeig Lluís Companys.
Because of its size and beauty, this classic monument, with amazing sculptures and decorative art, has become an enduring emblem that you cannot miss when visiting Barcelona.
If you love photos, arrive early so that you can snap lots of photos without the crowds.
19. See What Monjuic Has to Offer
Believe it or not, there are a TON of fun things to do in Montjuic. Even if you’re on a tight budget, you could spend the day wandering around this epic hill.
Highlights include the Moorish-style Jardins de Laribal and the former Olympic Stadium.
However, if you have cash to spare you could also visit the Joan Miro Foundation, MNAC (National Museum of Catalan Art), and attend a performance at Teatre Grec in the summer.
Just be sure to stop and admire the views as you hike, take the bus, or soar in a cable car to the top of the mountain. Plus, this is where you’ll find the magnificent Castell de Montjuïc.
It’s worth exploring, but if you’re short on cash then just stroll around the gardens.
20. Els Encants Vells Flea Market
Els Encants Vells is so much more than a flea market since it dates back to the 1300s when the market sat near the city’s wall.
Today, it is the largest flea market in the city and one of the oldest in Europe. So, it’s a great place to get acquainted with modern Catalan culture as you haggle with local vendors for newly found treasures.
You can also visit local food stalls, enjoy seasonal concerts, and marvel at the canopy of this epic place.
Pro Tip: You’ll need to get your hands on the best stuff. Crowds are also insane on Saturdays (avoid this place like the plague) and keep an eye out for pickpockets.
Free Things to Do in Barcelona at Night
21. Enjoy the Font Màgica
Now, is this the best show I’ve ever seen? No. But it’s cute and easily one of the best free things to do in Barcelona at night.
Plus, this place is steeped in history since the fountain was created for the 1929 World Exposition and was showcased again during the Olympics in 1992.
Today, during these 15-minute-long shows, water erupts from the fountain, and is illuminated in a variety of colors, as ultra-peppy pop music plays in the background.
It won’t blow your mind but it’s nice and is a great way to end a hot summer day in Barcelona.
22. Check Out Plaça Reial
Plaça Reial is a an iconic square in Barcelona that is super popular among visitors. After all, it’s well-located near La Rambla and is a perfect place to relax in the evenings.
This heavily arcaded plaza is also home to one of the first pieces that Gaudi did for the city – awesome lamp posts with dragon-like serpents.
There’s even a lovely fountain at the heart of the plaza and plenty of palm trees to add to the beauty of this magical place.
23. Listen to a Concert in the Park
Once the sun goes down, the parks of Barcelona come alive with music.
So, if you’re here during the summer and are looking for one of the best free things to do in Barcelona at night then check out the Musica als parcs.
It is a free concert series that was created to get people out and into the city’s fabulous greenspaces.
During this event, you can enjoy musical performances from local jazz, classical, and gospel musicians.
Typically, concerts start at around 8:00 pm/9:00 pm and take place in Parc de Joan Miró, Parc de la Ciutadella, Jardins de la Tamarita, and Parc de la Estacion del Norte.
Map of the Best Free Things to do in Barcelona
Best Things to Do in Barcelona for Free FAQs
What is there to do for Free in Barcelona?
Some of the free things to do in Barcelona include:
- Explore Roman ruins
- Enjoy epic views from a hilltop
- Take a free walking tour
- Enjoy a free day at a museum
- Admire some Art Nouveau architecture
- See the Magic Fountain show.
- Visit a food market
What You Can’t Miss in Barcelona?
Some of the things you can’t miss in Barcelona are:
- Sagrada Familia
- Gaudí’s other buildings
- Local food markets
- The Gothic Quarter
- Barcelona’s beaches
- Museu Picasso
What Do People in Barcelona Do in Their Free Time?
People in Barcelona like to visit museums/open-air museums, check out amusement parks, grab coffee, go for a bike ride, and more.
What are the Dos and Don’ts in Barcelona?
The do’s and don’ts in Barcelone are:
- Do learn some Spanish and Catalan
- Don’t eat on La Rambla
- Do take a cooking class
- Don’t get political
- Do check out wine bars
- Don’t try to eat dinner at 6:00 pm
- Do adhere to local schedules/customs