Barcelona is known for its art and architecture. The famous works of Antoni Gaudi are included in these architectural wonders, but there’s more to the city than this! Barcelona is a lively place, full of culture, attractions, history, and activities. It’s an enchanting seaside city that offers everything you could want in a travel destination, and then some. Tourists and locals alike crowd La Rambla, architectural buffs gawk at the beauty of the Cathedral, art lovers flock to the Picasso museum, and beach bums line the shores of the Mediterranean. And what makes Barcelona even more attractive and exciting is finding a way to explore this fascinating destination for free. Here are some great free attractions available in the city that will keep your interests piqued and your wallet happy.
Picasso lived some of his most important years in Barcelona – those of his apprenticeship as an artist. He established and maintained strong links to the city throughout his life and it was here where he wanted his museum to be. With 4,251 works exhibited by the painter, the museum has one of the most complete permanent collections of works.
The museum is housed in five adjoining medieval palaces in Barcelona’s La Ribera and is located on Montcada Street in Barcelona. Highlights of the collection include two of his first major works, The First Communion (1896), and Science and Charity (1897). This museum is one of Barcelona’s prime attractions, and there are times where you can visit for free. Thursday afternoons from 6:00 to 9:30 and the first Sunday of each month are totally free entry to see the famous works of Picasso.
Barcelona’s most famous street is both a tourist magnet and a window into Catalan culture, with cultural centers, theatres and intriguing architecture. Flanked by plane trees, the middle section of La Rambla is a broad pedestrian boulevard, crowded every day until the wee hours with a wide cross-section of society. The area is full of restaurants, bars, stores, and even street performers (music, mimes, statues, etc.). It is a hub of culture and entertainment, and it’s totally free to walk the stretch and experience the excitement.
Mercat de la Boqueria
Mercat de la Boqueria is possibly La Rambla’s most interesting building because of the food market within. Barcelona’s most central produce market is one of the greatest sound, smell, and color sensations in Europe. It spills over with all the rich and varied bounty of fruit and vegetable stands, and seemingly limitless varieties of sea critters, sausages, cheeses, meats, and sweets. According to some chronicles, there has been a market on this spot since 1217, and while today it is a tourist attraction in its own right, it has always been the place where locals come to shop. Many of Barcelona’s top restaurateurs buy their produce here, which vouches for the quality of the market’s offerings. It’s an interesting place to experience, and window shopping won’t cost a thing.
Catedral de Barcelona
Most visitors come to Barcelona to see Sagrada Familia, which is well worth a visit, but you should also spend some time exploring Barcelona’s other cathedral. Built in the 13th Century, the Catedral de la Barcelona is one of the finest examples in Europe of the Gothic style of architecture and it is free to enter! Construction of the magnificent Gothic Cathedral of Barcelona commenced on 1 May 1298, on the site of a Romanesque temple.
The work was carried out in three stages over 150 years. The beautiful Cathedral receives three million visitors each year. The magnificence of its Gothic art, the splendid Gothic and Baroque altarpieces, its marvelous choir, the baptistery and the sepulcher of Saint Eulalia are evident to all observers.
Join a Free Walking Tour
There are a number of small local companies that provide free walking tours in Barcelona, so it’s a great (and low cost) way to get familiar with the city and explore some of the top sights. A number of cheap tours and activities in Barcelona are also available for those who are willing to pay a small price, too.
Walk Along the Passeig de Gracia
This walk towards the neighborhood of Gracia may be one of the most popular roads and footpaths in Barcelona, for good reason. Along the route are many of the city’s best examples of Gaudi’s work – Casa Batllo and Casa Mila – and many of the most luxurious Spanish and international brands. It’s free to walk the route and the sights make it a rewarding journey.
Visit the Arc de Trimof
Another architectural highlight in Barcelona is the Arc de Triomf, however this isn’t your standard victory arch. While inspired by other European victory gateways, this particular red brick giant was built as an entrance way for visits to the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. It’s well worth stopping by to admire the details of the structure and it’s free.
Join a Free Language Exchange
One of the most fun ways in which to experience a new culture is to learn a little of the language while you’re there. By joining a free language exchange you can share an experience with someone that you’ll remember forever, you’ll also help someone else to practice their languages skills.
See the Roman Remains at El Born Cultural Centre
If the history of Gothic Quarter isn’t enough to excite you then be sure to spend some time within the El Born Cultural Centre where you’ll find some recently recovered remains and building foundations from the Roman period of the city.
Incredibly it’s within what was once one of the oldest market halls in the city, and to see the two thousand year old evidence beneath you of houses, shops, and classic flagstone roads is mind-blowing, and, even better, it’s free!
Party with the Locals
Barcelona is not just historic and cultural, it’s also exciting and lively. The nightlife in this dynamic city ranges from bars and clubs in the city center to parties at the nearby beaches. Why not stay at one of the many amazing party hostels in Barcelona where you can meet up with fellow travelers, and then venture out into the city’s bar scene at night to make some new friends.
Bryan, with his wife Laurie, co-founded Budget Your Trip in order to find out how much everything costs around the world. Having visited over 50 countries, he is an avid photographer, occasional hiker, aspiring writer, and dedicated father.