Spent all your money on delicious tapas and beautiful souvenirs? Don’t panic! There’s still tons of fun activities to do in Barcelona without spending a cent. While booking flights and finding accommodation are essential travel expenses, your entertainment doesn’t have to break the bank. The Catalan capital is rich in history, art, and culture that you can see completely free. From free festivals to architectural marvels, here’s the top 10 free things to do and see in Barcelona.

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1. Spend an afternoon in Parc de la Ciutadella

The sweeping expanses of Barcelona’s central park are home to all kinds of picturesque picnic corners. Pick up some fresh local goodies at a market like Mercat de Santa Caterina and spread out your picnic blanket on the lush grass. This 70 acre park contains the Barcelona Zoo, the Catalonia Parliament building, an artificial lake where you can rent a boat, several museums, and an elaborate fountain. Parc de la Ciutadella is a perfect place to spend an afternoon. You can sunbath by the lake, stroll through the grounds, and discover the statues and monuments dotted around the park.

2. Celebrate Catalan culture at a festival

Barcelona has almost as many festivals as there are weeks in the year. During the summer especially, the city seems like one nonstop party. The biggest festivals are Sant Joan, Epiphany, and Festa de la Merce. 

  • The eve of Sant Joan takes place on the 23rd and 24th of June and is a firework-filled, all-night party throughout the city. This festival celebrates both the summer solstice and the birth of the Catholic saint John.
  • Epiphany is celebrated on the 5th and 6th of January and recreates the arrival of the three wise men to Jesus’ manger. A grand parade winds through the city with floats, acrobats, and clowns.
  • Festa de la Merce is one of Barcelona’s most famous festivals, celebrating the city’s survival from a 17th century locust plague. Around the 24th of September, Barcelona throws a huge party full of concerts, fireworks, and Catalan traditions.

3. Admire the skyline from the top of Montjuïc

If hiking to the top isn’t for you, the teleferic (cable car) can take you to Montjuïc’s peak. This wooded hill is the perfect place to watch the sun rise or set, or to simply admire Barcelona’s skyline. Montjuïc is home to the Magic Fountain which puts on spectacular musical water and light shows. Catch a performance from Thursday to Sunday in summer and Fridays and Saturdays in the winter.

4. Go to the beach

Going for a beach swim is one of Barcelona’s most popular activities. May to September is the usual swimming season with July and August as the busiest months. The most popular local beach is Barceloneta which can get very crowded, especially in the afternoon. It’s worth going a little further north to Nova Mar Bella for somewhere a little quieter. If you’re not a swimmer (or it’s too cold) meandering along the Passeig Marítim promenade is equally fun and free.

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5. Explore the Gothic Quarter

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One of the loveliest sections of Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter is the perfect spot to wander around. Turn a corner and stumble across hidden squares and pockets of the city’s Roman history. This area is also home to the Cathedral and Placa Reial, which you can admire from the outside without paying steep entry costs. It’s easy to spend hours looking around for the area’s architectural secrets like symbolic letterboxes and hidden carvings.

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6. Wander through la Rambla de Poblenou 

For a less touristy experience than the famous Rambla de Barcelona, stroll through La Rambla de Poblenou. This colorful street stretches 1km from Gran Via to Bogatell Beach. A neighborhood of mostly locals, it’s full of independent shops and cafes, interesting architecture, sculptures, and street art.

7. Drink in the bright colours of La Boqueria market

Right off La Rambla is Europe’s biggest food market! A delight for all the senses, wander through the hustle and bustle and drink in the sights, sounds, and smells of the market. While not technically free, local markets are a great place to find cheap snacks. Other great local produce markets include Mercat de Santa Caterina and Mercat de Sant Antoni.

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8. Take advantage of free museum entry

Like most European countries, the first Sunday of each month sees many popular museums offering free entry. In Barcelona, you can visit museums like the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Pre-Colombian Art, and Museum of Catalan History. The National Art Museum of Catalonia also offers free entry on Saturdays after 3 pm.

9. See live music in El Raval

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The neighborhood of El Raval is colorful and contemporary, lined with bars and palm trees. Here you’ll find the MACBA modern art museum as well as the popular Rambla del Raval. The London Bar, one of the oldest in Barcelona, often offers free live music that you can check out. The eclectic mix of artists includes jazz, blues, and rock musicians.

10. Take a Roman walking tour of Barcino

The city of Barcino was built by the Romans, and reminders of the ancient city are scattered across Barcelona. You can check out some of the ancient city wall and towers at Plaça Ramon Berenguer and the remains of the Temple of Augustus at Carrer del Paradís, 10. The City History Museum is an excellent place to learn about the excavations that revealed much of ancient Barcino. The museum is free to enter every Sunday from 3pm to 8pm.