Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Western Europe. Its Mediterranean climate, beaches, and unique blend of modern and classic culture and design make it a popular addition to many travelers’ to-visit lists. Unfortunately, like in any other desirable destination, a trip to Barcelona is definitely not cheap. However, there are plenty of attractions, including some of the city’s most famous spots, that are completely free to visit. Here are the best of these costless, but memorable, sites.
1. La Rambla
This huge pedestrian-only promenade in central Barcelona is arguably one of the most famous streets in all of Spain. It is always an entertaining place to visit and is especially busy during the summer high season. Kiosks selling souvenirs, flowers and food are set up along the tree-lined boulevard. Street performers provide entertainment for anyone with a few cents to spare. There are lots of chances to buy things along La Rambla, but it is completely free to wander. La Rambla is sometimes referred to in its plural form, Las Ramblas, because there are actually several different sections that make up the almost-mile-long promenade.
2. Parc Guell
Famed architect Antoni Gaudi’s influence is seen throughout Barcelona, but the most whimsical and accessible examples of his neo-Gothic style are in Parc Guell. A Gaudi inspired sculpture garden covers part of the park. However, there is also an undeveloped section of green-space that offers great views of Barcelona’s skyline.
This highland area overlooking Barcelona was the site of the 1992 Summer Olympic opening ceremonies. Today, the area features gardens, museums, the National Palace, and numerous scenic overlooks. However, the most popular attraction in the area is the Magical Fountain, which features a choreographed light and water show. The National Art Museum of Catalunya, also on Montjuic, is free on the first Sunday of every month.
One of Barcelona’s biggest attractions, its beaches, are completely free to visit. Some visitors spend most of their time in the city swimming and sunbathing. The beaches can get rather crowded during the high season, but are still worth a visit.
5. Seaside Promenade in the Barceloneta District
This is a good place for non-water-sports-enthusiasts to enjoy views of the blue waters of the Mediterranean. There are lots of places to eat and shop along the seaside, but it is free to stroll and take in the sights of the sea and the atmosphere of the promenade.
6. The Gothic Quarter
This historic area is part of Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella (Old City). As its name suggests, the Quarter features lots of examples of Gothic architecture. One of the best examples of Catalan-style Gothic design is the Basilica de Santa Maria del Mar. The stunning and somber building dates back to the 14th Century, though the history of the area dates back even further. The Cathedral of Santa Eulalia is another picture-worthy Gothic church in the Quarter.
7. La Boqueria
Sitting near La Rambla, the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria, usually just referred to as Boqueria, is a bustling daily market that is popular amongst locals and tourists alike. It is free to window-shop and experience the atmosphere of the Boqueria, but if you were going to spend some money during your stay, this would probably be the place to do it. Breads, seafood, meat and artisanal foods and crafts are for sale, as are wines and flowers.
8. La Sagrada Familia
This tower, another structure designed by Spain’s most famous architect, is arguably the most recognized landmark in Barcelona. There is an entrance fee for those who want to visit the interior, but most of the building can be appreciated from outside.
9. Parc de la Ciutadella
This large green-space is filled with options for spending a leisurely afternoon. Sports fields, a lake, and even a zoo are located inside this 74 acre park. The parliament building for the regional government of Catalunya is also inside Ciutadella.
10. La Placa Catalunya
La Placa Catalunya is a major public square in central Barcelona. It is an oversized version of the type of public gathering places that are found all around Spain. The plaza has fountains and statues that make it an interesting place for a stroll. Perhaps the best reason to visit is to soak in the atmosphere that is especially tangible in the evenings.
Even though its hotels and food are expensive, Barcelona is a great place to visit on a limited budget because many of its best sites and attractions are completely free. What are some of your favorite free places to visit in Barcelona?