A trip to Barcelona is almost guaranteed to include a few things – live music, delicious food, and more things to see and do than you could possibly hope to experience during your stay. With so many museums to tour, meals to devour, and attractions to check out, it’s easy to quickly rack up a pretty serious bill when planning a trip to Barcelona.
To lessen the blow on your wallet, ‘it’s always a good idea to include some cheap or free things as you craft your itinerary, especially when traveling with kids. Many of these attractions are some of the most well-known in the city, making them obvious additions, and the fact that they don’t cost must – or anything – to enjoy can be considered an added bonus.
Looking for some cheap or free ways to spend your time in Barcelona? Here are some of my favorite low- or no-cost ways to have some fun in the city:
Seek Out Some Roman Ruins
Many tourists don’t realize that Barcelona is built upon Roman ruins, many of which are visible throughout the city today. Many websites like this one feature a pretty comprehensive list of spots where you can find remnants of ancient Roman walls, arches, temples, and towers. Some, like the Temple of Augustus, are unexpectedly hidden within more modern homes, making them even more fun to visit.
Spend Some Time Around La Rambla
To many visitors and locals alike, La Rambla is the heart and soul of Barcelona. It’s the name of the street that cuts through the center of town, a vibrant destination that remains filled with life late into the night. You’ll find a variety of street performers, from human statues to caricature artists and musicians, as well as artists and crafters selling their wares (which can make great souvenirs). It’s a great spot to spend a couple of hours exploring, window-shopping, and people-watching if you’re looking to get a feel for the city.
You should probably know that La Rambla simply means “The Boulevard.” While the main La Rambla is well-known throughout Barcelona, many of the town’s neighborhoods have their own vibrant version of La Rambla – a main street – filled with shops, bars, and restaurants to explore.
Experience Las Arenas
When Barcelona finally banned bullfighting in 2010, it needed to repurpose the massive arena once dedicated to watching the sport. The solution? They transformed the arena into the aptly-named Las Arenas, a commercial center well worth a visit. You’ll find plenty of shops, a food court boasting a wide variety of local eats, and interesting architecture to examine as you stroll. Head up to the roof for one of the best views of the city.
Enjoy One of Barcelona’s Many Free Festivals
Thanks to its gorgeous location, beautiful weather, and celebratory culture, it’s not hard to find a fun, free festival to enjoy in Barcelona. From the massive celebration known as Carnival to the Sant Joan festival, a midsummer event marked by fireworks and late-night parties, you can find all kinds of free festivals with a quick Google search. While you’ll want to bring cash for food, drinks, and souvenirs sold by local vendors, you can almost always rely on lots of live music, street performers, and excellent entertainment.
Hang Out in Parc Güell
This park is another work of art designed by the late Gaudi. Named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park is well-loved by local residents and holds significant cultural value, making it a great spot to add to your Barcelona itinerary. You’ll find stunning sculptures, inspiring mosaics, and other works of art worth photographing. Some parts of this whimsical park can be accessed for free, but to prevent crowding, tickets are sold to access the central area.
Admire La Sagrada Familia
La Sagrada Familia is Gaudi’s unfinished masterpiece, a stunning church that stretches high above Barcelona, and it’s a must-see for any visitor to the city. You’ll need to pay a fee to enter the church, but it costs nothing to gaze upon the building’s incredible exterior, marveling at the building that somehow doubles as a work of art.
Take Advantage of Free Nights at Well-Loved Museums
Many of the city’s most popular museums open their doors to the public on Sunday evenings. Cultural highlights like the Music Museum, the Picasso Museum, the Contemporary Cultural Center of Barcelona, and the Barcelona History Museum are free to the public each Sunday beginning at 3:00 p.m. local time. Locals and tourists alike try to take advantage of the opportunity to see these attractions free of charge, so plan to get there early and prepare for crowds. Still, if you’re looking to enjoy some low-cost activities in Barcelona, a free museum experience can be hard to pass up.
Explore Barcelona’s Beautiful Botanical Gardens.
Built in the early ’90s to celebrate the city’s Olympic Games, Barcelona’s botanical gardens are a gorgeous sight to behold – and they’re absolutely free. The garden features five distinct themed areas, with plants and landscapes pulling inspiration from Australia, South Africa, Chile, the Mediterranean, and California. Spend an hour or two wandering the grounds, photographing nature’s beauty, and consider stopping for a picnic lunch to really appreciate what the garden has to offer.
Wander Along the Passeig de Gracia
This Barcelona street is home to some of the city’s most iconic architecture. This historic street was once home to Barcelona’s best artists and architects, so it’s no surprise to see the assortment of buildings that popped up along the avenue. Admire the modernist buildings of the Illa de la Discordia, the stunning facade of the Casa Bonaventura Ferrer, and the Casa Mila, designed by Gaudi.
While the lighting is best during dawn and at dusk, there’s truly no bad time to explore the Passeig de Gracia.
From beaches and botanical gardens to cultural attractions like museums and parks, there are lots of ways to experience Barcelona without blowing your budget. You can’t go wrong by including some of these low- and no-cost activities as you build your Barcelona agenda.