The best things to do for free in Barcelona

A visit to the sun-drenched Ciutadella Park is one of the best free things to do in Barcelona – 2017©Luis Castañeda/Luis Castaneda Inc.

There is a lot you can discover for free in Barcelona. Start by entering a hidden courtyard in the old town to discover Roman ruins, then walk to Parc de la Ciutadella to gaze at the graceful fountain designed by Josep Fontserè and a certain famous student: Antoni Gaudí. If you’re traveling with kids, head to the southern part of Platja de Barceloneta, where you can find rock pools and a rope climbing frame.

Below, our expert shares her top recommendations on the best things to do in the city for free. For more Barcelona inspiration, check out our comprehensive guides to the city’s best hotels, restaurants, bars and nightlife, shops and attractions, plus how to spend a weekend in Barcelona.

Barri Gotic

Stroll along the city’s main artery

The city’s most famous street, La Rambla, is a mile-long avenue that starts at the port and ends at Plaça Catalunya. The stalls with caged animals and birds have been replaced by luxury souvenirs and tourist information points, but the colorful flower stalls, like Miró’s sidewalk mosaic, remain halfway up. Along the boulevard are the wax and erotic museums, the information center and exhibition space Palau de la Virreina and of course the beautiful Boqueria food market. The first thing you do in the morning is the ideal time to walk down La Rambla.

Nearest metro: Metro Liceu

La Rambla, BarcelonaLa Rambla, Barcelona

Visit the kilometre-long pedestrian street La Rambla – Kondoros Eva Katalin/Eva-Katalin

Discover Roman history

In Roman times, the hill where the city’s cathedral now stands was home to a complex containing the main temple and forum, along with a smaller temple: the Temple d’August (dedicated to Emperor Augustus). Today you can see the four Corinthian columns that were part of the temple but were hidden for centuries in the fabric of other buildings; they were only rediscovered in the 19th century. They are located on the patio of a mountaineering center, but are open to the public and entry to the space is free. A more recent discovery is the mansion, mosaics and other Roman remains nearby at Carrer Fruita 2.

Nearest metro: Metro Jaume I

El Born

Discover the most beautiful neighborhood of Barcelona

El Born has medieval buildings in the Barri Gòtic, pedestrianized streets and an increasing number of charming cafés and boutiques. The central axis is the Passeig del Born – once a medieval joust, and now flanked by the glorious Santa Maria del Mar Church on one side and the Born Center de Cultura i Memòria on the other. It is worth walking to the less refined part of the district, above Carrer Princesa, which has its own sights: the Modernista Palau de la Música concert hall, the colorful Santa Caterina market and the medieval Church of Sant Pere.

Nearest metro: Metro Jaume 1

Learn about the roots of the Catalan independence struggle

The beautiful old Born market lay unused for decades, but has now been transformed into an impressive archaeological exhibition space: the Born Center de Cultura i Memòria. The framework of iron slats and patterned brickwork surrounds a sunny atrium, where visitors can walk around the medieval remains of buildings razed after the defeat of the Catalans in the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714. This gives the building an enormous symbolic meaning in today’s time. political climate and is free to enter, but there is also a ticketed exhibition space that looks at life at that time, the battle and its aftermath.

Nearest metro: Metro Jaume I

Born, BarcelonaBorn, Barcelona

Born Center de Cultura i Memòria is an extensive exhibition space – ©Eve Livesey/By Eve Livesey

Picnic in the park

For Old Town residents, Ciutadella is the closest thing to a backyard, so all year round you’ll see children learning to roller skate or ride a bike, musicians practicing, and old ladies walking their small dogs. There is also plenty to do for tourists, including a boating lake, a waterfall partly designed by Gaudí, the city zoo, snack bars and an abundance of sculptures. There are picnic areas, outdoor table tennis tables and a few playgrounds, including one for blind or disabled children. The most peaceful place to read or picnic is next to the pond in the formal rose gardens.

Opening hours: Daily, 8:30 am – sunset
Nearest metro: Metro Arc de Triomf

Parc de la Ciutadella, BarcelonaParc de la Ciutadella, Barcelona

Parc de la Ciutadella has a boating lake, a partially Gaudí-designed waterfall, the city zoo, snack bars and an abundance of sculptures – NataliPopova


Explore a hilltop retreat

Montjuïc is perhaps best known for its museums – the MNAC, the Fundació Joan Miró and the Olympic, Archaeological and Ethnological Museums – but it is also home to several themed gardens dotted around the hill, including the Jardí Botànic. At its peak is the colossal castle, now open to the public, and some striking architecture surrounding the Olympic stadium complex, along with a public outdoor swimming pool with views over the city, and the dizzying cable cars that soar above. In the summer months, an open-air cinema festival, Sala Montjuïc, takes place in the castle’s moat.

Nearest metro: Metro Paral·lel, then Montjuïc cable car


Go for a swim on an artificial beach

The city’s beaches are not entirely natural and were only really created – with sand dredged from the seabed and palm trees imported from Malaga – around the time of the 1992 Olympics, for which Barcelona reportedly ‘turned its back on the sea’ . ‘. The result is seven kilometers of sand, which becomes quieter the closer you get to the Fòrum. The liveliest part is the Platja de Barceloneta, marked by Rebecca Horn’s tower of rusty cubes. If you have kids in tow, turn right and walk to the end, for rock pools and a rope climbing frame.

Nearest metro: Bus 47, H16 or V15 to Passeig Marítim

Platja de Barceloneta, BarcelonaPlatja de Barceloneta, Barcelona

Platja de Barceloneta was created around the time of the 1992 Olympics – This content is copyrighted./Westend61

How we choose

Every attraction and activity in this curated list has been tried and tested by our destination expert, to bring you their insider perspective. We cover a range of budgets and styles, from world-class museums to family-friendly theme parks – to best suit every type of traveler. We update this list regularly to stay informed of the latest vacancies and to provide current recommendations.

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