People often think of a European vacation as an expensive undertaking, and of course they can be, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. In addition to natural beauty of mountains and beaches, Barcelona has many other free or almost free things to see and do on your visit. Barcelona on a budget can be just as enjoyable as a top shelf vacation.
Below, we’ll share some of our favorite ways to make the best of your visit to this wonderful city while keeping your ATM withdrawals to a minimum.
Museums: Many of Barcelona’s museums, such as MACBA, MNAC, CCCB, Fundació Joan Miró, Cosmo Caixa and Museu Marítim are free the first Sunday of every month.
At MACBA you can check out a display of contemporary art. MNAC is national art museum of Catalunya (where kids 15 and under and adults 65 and over get in free every day) and CCCB is the center of contemporary culture of Barcelona.
Fundació Joan Miró celebrates the contemporary art of the famous Barcelona resident and is located among the lovely gardens of Montjuic.
CosmoCaixa is the impressive science museum, which offers many interactive exhibits; while it is free the first Sunday of the month, the entrance fee is only €3 every other day.
Museu Marítim (MMB), which celebrates Barcelona’s rich maritime history, is located just inside Parc de la Ciutadella, so after enjoying the museum, you can take a stroll around the park.
Additionally, the Museu Picasso is free every Sunday and houses many of the artist’s famous works. The lines are usually long, though, so be prepared to wait a little while.
La Caixa Forum Barcelona – This space, which is funded by the La Caixa bank hosts free art exhibitions and concerts throughout the year. Part of this includes concerts and shows just for kids. The full, year round program can be found at www.obrasocial.lacaixa.es. The hours are Monday through Sunday 10am-8pm. Avenida Francesc Ferrer I Guardia, 6-8, take the Red L5 or Green L3 metro to the Espanya stop.
Films: During the summer, several locations throughout the city show outdoor films free of charge, just bring your blanket and some snacks! True, you may not understand everything if you don’t speak Spanish, but the experience is almost as important and fun than understanding the dialogue.
- Olokuti, a fair trade shop in the hip Gracia neighborhood has a secret garden behind its shop, where they show a film for free every Friday throughout the summer. Films start at 7pm, but get there early to get a good spot. 36 Astúries 08012 Barcelona, Green L3 metro to the Fontana stop.
- Castell de Montjuic, while not free, €5 to watch a film in this beautiful setting isn’t so much to ask. Sala Montjuic shows films on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays throughout the summer. The showings begin at 10pm, but the doors open at 8:30. The castle is located on the eastern side of Montjuic, closer to the sea. Get there via the Green L3 or Purple L2 metro lines to the Paral-lel stop.
- CCCB, mentioned above, the Center of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona shows free outdoor films throughout the month of August
Nightlife: Barcelona is known throughout the world as a great place to party, but you don’t have to drop a ton of cash to dance the night away.
- Lists: the hottest clubs like Shoko, Bikini and Opium usually cost around €15 just to enter, but if you get on a guest list you can get in for free, and there’s no requirement to buy an expensive drink once you’re inside. Check out barcelonaparties.com or join the Barcelona Nightlife group on Facebook. You can usually sign up for free entrance for groups of up to five to ten people.
- Promoters: there are also club and bar promoters handing out fliers and cards in all of the busy areas of the city. Often these are for a free drink or discounted entrance, but sometimes the promoters have lists under their names and if you mention them at the door you’ll get in for free. They can be annoying but sometimes it pays off to listen to their sales pitch for a minute or two.
- Port Olímpic: almost all of the bars and clubs along this strip have free entrance and many of them have promoters outside trying to lure passersby in with the offer of free drinks or shots. Since they are all free, you can make your way down the strip until you find the right fit.
Street Fairs and Festivals: Many of the Barcelona neighborhoods have celebrations where streets are blocked off and food, drink, clothing and jewelry vendors set up in the middle of the road. These often include free outdoor entertainment. Just wandering around taking in the sights, sounds and smells of these festivals can be a fun, free way to pass a few hours. Just do a search for Barcelona festivals and the month of your visit.
Many of Barcelona’s famous sights are also free to visit or at least to look at such as Font Magica (The Magic Fountain) at Montjuic, the gardens of Montjuic, Sagrada Familia (there’s a fee to enter, but the view from outside is impressive), Las Ramblas, Parc Guell and all of the city’s beaches. In this amazing city you are more than able to fill your days without emptying your wallet.
There are always plenty of activities to partake in throughout the city however visiting Barcelona doesn’t mean you have to pull out your wallet at every turn to enjoy the town. Therefore, here at Way2Barcelona we have put together a Top Ten List of our favorite activities that won´t cost you a single cent.
1. La Caixa Forum Barcelona – Funded by the banking institution La Caixa as a part of their Fundacion Obra Social, La Caixa Forum Barcelona hosts numerous exhibitions year around for the whole family to enjoy and access to gallery/event space is absolutely free. In addition the monthly agenda also includes free concerts and shows geared specifically for young children. Log onto www.obrasocial.lacaixa.es for more information on their current program of activities.
Avenida Francesc Ferrer I Guardia, 6-8
Monday – Sunday 10am – 8pm
2. MACBA, MNAC, CCCB, Fundació Joan Miró, Cosmo Caixa, Museu Marítim, Picasso Museum – All of these fine institutions as well as all Barcelona museums filled with ancient artifacts, famous works of art and interactive exhibits are open to the public for free the first Sunday of every month. Therefore, if you happen to be in town on this particular Sunday take advantage of this discount to enjoy Barcelona’s arts and cultural institutions. Just so you know, teens 15 and under and adults over 65 enter the MNAC for free regardless of the day.
MACBA Museu D’Art Contemporani de Barcelona – www.macba.cat
MNAC Museu Nacional D’Art de Cataluyna – www.mnac.cat
CCCB Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona - www.cccb.org
Fundacion Joan Miro - www.fundaciomiro-bcn.org
Cosmo Caixa Barcelona – www.obrasocial.lacaixa.es
Museu Maritim de Barcelona - www.mmb.cat
Picasso Museum - www.museupicasso.bcn.es
3. Park Güell – Originally built as a private estate, the park is like a surreal playground designed by genius architect Antoni Gaudi. Enjoy a day connecting with nature and familiarizing yourself with Gaudi’s whimsical building style. The view from the esplanade, with its beautiful curvaceous mosaic bench offers one of the most amazing views of the city. The zigzagging pathways are ideal for an easy trek through the park.
Monday – Sunday 10am – 7pm
4. Font Mágica – The Magic Fountain in Barcelona is a must-see for the whole family and doing so is free of charge. Located at the base of Montjuic in Plaça Espanya the grand fountain built for the International Festival of 1929 is a stunning display of light, color, music and water in motion.
5. Barcelona Cathedral – The looming structure soaring over the Barrio Gotico is one awesome site worth spending some time at regardless if you are religious or not. This historical site inside and out has many features from its Baroque chapels to its Crypt of Santa Eulalia that will captivate you.
Plaça de la Seu
Free access daily between 8am-1:15pm & 4:30pm – 7:30pm
6. Port Vell Antique Fair – Fans of antiquing will be pleased to know that once a week the beautiful promenade along Port Vell converts itself into an outdoor antique mall. There aren’t any fees to browse however if you see something you like, that is another story.
Between Maremagnum and Colum de Columbus
Saturday 10am – 8pm
7. La Sagrada Familia – Experiencing this splendid monument it isn’t necessary to pay the entrance fee to tour inside. Instead skip the long lines and visit the church taking your time making your way around the façade. The details of the outer-structure are jaw dropping and no need to worry about visiting during normal hours of operation.
Between Calle Sardenya and Calle de la Marina on Calle Provença
8. Las Ramblas – This carnival-like street turns a simple stroll into a feast for your eyes. Street performers line the boulevard offering entertainment to passerbys (not free of charge but wait for someone else to drop a 10c into their bucket to watch them perform). Smelling the flowers at the flower market doesn’t cost a thing neither does ogling the cute furry, baby animals in the various pet stalls that are stationed along the pathway. There are also other vendors towards the end of Las Ramblas selling a variety of arts and crafts.
Located Between Plaça Cataluña and Colum de Columbus
9. Beaches of Barcelona – Well this is an obvious one, pick a beach, any beach starting from Barceloneta on down to the Parc Forum to enjoy the calm Mediterranean seafront. Enjoying Barcelona’s aquatic scenery is free of charge and probably the most famous free activity the city is known for.
10. Montjuic – This mountain full of gardens, parks and a fort with fabulous vistas over the city can fill up a whole day with outdoor fun and exercise for the whole family. Take a picnic lunch and put on your walking shoes to explore this magnificent hilltop.
Start your walk up beginning at Plaça Espanya or at the base of the hill on Calle Nou de de la Rambla
11. Mercat dels Antiquaris (Antique Market) – This is where antique aficionados and collectors come regularly to pick through vintage jewelry, watches, silver trays, candelabras and other knick-knacks at this long standing antiques market just in front of the Barcelona Cathedral.
Place de la Seu
Thursdays from 10am-3pm