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BEST FREE Attractions in Barcelona - Top Free Things to do in Barcelona

Top Free Barcelona Attractions

TOP FREE Barcelona Attractions and Paid Attractions list

1. Sagrada Família (Paid)


Famous as Gaudí’s great unfinished masterpiece, this fascinating building is one of the most unusual and distinctive churches in the world. Its dramatic spires are a sight that has to be seen on any visit to Barcelona.

Sagrada Familia is made all the more interesting by the fact that it is still a work in progress. Gaudí devoted the last 43 years of his life to the project, and it was less than a quarter complete when he died in 1926. It is hoped that the church will finally be finished by this event’s centenary in 2026.

At its completion the building will have three elaborate facades; two representing Christ’s Nativity and the Passion. These feature intricately carved figures and animals. Work was started on the third facade, Glory, in 2002, which represents the ascension to Heaven, also taking in Hell and Purgatory.

The interior of the building is a fantastic tapestry of colour, with curves and sharp points creating an abstract effect which is highly characteristic of Gaudí’s work.

Opening Times
  • October-March 9am-6pm
    April- September 9am-8pm
    25th and 26th December, 1st and 6th January 9am-2pm
    There are other details found on the website regarding the Towers, shops, information points and illumination times.

Getting there

2. Gaudí Walking Tour (Free)


The weird and wonderful buildings which Antoni Gaudí left behind in Barcelona are a feature you can’t afford to miss. They stand as unique symbols of a fascinatingly creative mind. A guide on a free walking tour will be able to tell you much more about the history, design and uses of these eccentric buildings.

One such tour is operated by the Discover Walks company, meeting at Metro Passeig de Gràcia in front of Casa Battl?, one of Gaudí’s great works with its undulating lines. The tour takes about one hour and forty minutes. It takes in all of Gaudí’s notable and often controversial creations, including La Pedrera (link), ending near his great unfinished masterpiece, the church of Sagrada Familia (link).

A free tour is the best way to take in the architectural legacy of the city as fashioned by one of its most intriguing residents. There is no booking required - just show up.

3. Barri Gotic (Free)


Translated as the Gothic Quarter, this neighbourhood which stretches from Las Ramblas to the seafront makes for an atmospheric place in which to take a stroll. This was the city centre in days gone past, and the architecture goes right back to Roman times, including the remains of the old city wall which can be seen at Avinguda de la Catedral (where you will also find the Catedral de Santa Eulalia (link)) and Carrer de la Pala among other places. Where the two main streets of Carrer del Bisbe and Carrer Llibreteria converge, you will find the Roman temple of Augustus.

You are transported to another time as you wander through the narrow winding streets and old squares. This feeling is enhanced by the area being closed to most regular traffic.

There is a diversity of interesting shops and cafes where local treats can be found. The best thing to do in the Gothic Quarter is relax, enjoy the ambience, and see what you find.

  • As this is a residential area it is busy all year round, but particularly so in the summer months.

Getting there

4. Park Güell (Free)


One of the most popular and famous attractions in Barcelona, Park Güell stands as a living, breathing monument to the wild imagination of Antoni Gaudí. It was laid out by the artist between 1900-14 as a commission for Count Eusebi Güell. Gaudí lived here from 1906-26 in a house which now functions as a museum to him.

Although it seems whimsical, the park actually includes many well thought-out and utilitarian design features. Consider the intricately designed serpent bench, said to be the longest in the world. It looks beautiful, being composed of a mosaic of thousands of broken crockery pieces, but allows for private conversation with its winding shape.

Another highlight is the large, colourful salamander at the entrance steps, and the market space under the bench’s terrace, with its large columns and pretty mosaic ceiling tiles. Gaudí intended this as a gathering place for the city. Elsewhere, you will find columns which mimic palm trees. From of the top of the park, you can see the whole of Barcelona, including the bay.

5. Mercat de Sant Josep (Free)


Often referred to as La Boqueria, this colourful food market has a diverse range of goods and a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. It’s easy to get to, being located just off Las Ramblas (link) near the Liceu opera house (link).

Just walking around La Boqueria is a treat for the senses. You’ll find an amazing range of fruit, meats, cheeses, seafood and many more. There’s even more exotic fare on offer, such as beetles and worms.

The market has a rich history. It’s thought the Boqueria name derives from boc (goat), a meat that was sold here as early as 1217, while Sant Josep derives from a convent that once occupied the site. The current iron framework enclosing the market, with its ornate stained-glass shield over the entrance, was built in 1914.

La Boqueria is noted for the freshness of its produce, leading to its status as Barcelona’s premier food market. You can also eat on the go while visiting, at one of the tapas bars that are dotted around.

6. La Pedrera (Paid)


Part of Gaudí’s architectural legacy to the city of Barcelona, this fabulous building commands the attention with its wavelike lines and elaborately decorated wrought iron balconies. Built between 1906-12, it has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984 and nowadays hosts cultural events and concerts.

Its official name is Casa Milà, but it became known as La Pedrera (Catalan for stone quarry) due to its appearance. There are many fascinating aspects to the building. Firstly, it is actually two blocks of flats that share a facade and are joined by an inner courtyard. You should also make sure you see the roof terrace, which hosts jazz concerts in the summer and features distinctive sculptures and breathtaking views of the city; the attic with its brick arches that houses the only exhibition that is dedicated to Gaudí; and a recreation of how one of the apartments would have looked in the early 20th century.

Opening Times
  • 5 November to 28 February, Monday to Sunday: 9am-6.30pm (last admission: 6pm)
    Closed: 25 December and 7 to January 13.
    1 January: special opening hours from 11am to 6.30pm.
    1 March to 4 November, Monday to Sunday: 9am-8pm (last admission: 7.30pm).

Getting there

7. Catedral of Barcelona (Free)


The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia, to give it its full title, makes for an imposing sight with its soaring towers and gargoyles. Constructed from the 13th to 15th centuries, the impressive neo-Gothic facade was not actually added until the late 19th century (completed in 1913), although these were based on original 15th century plans.

It is dedicated to Eulalia, one of the patron saints of Barcelona, a young virgin who became a martyr after being exposed in a public square; a magical snowfall concealed her nudity, but the Romans then put her in a barrel, stuck knives into it and rolled it down the street. She is entombed in the cathedral’s crypt.

An interesting feature is the Chapel of Christ of Lepanto, containing a cross that was on board a ship that fought at the Battle of Lepanto.

The cloister courtyard houses thirteen white geese, one for each year of Eulalia’s life.

Opening Times
  • Weekdays and Saturday: 8am-12.45pm (cloister 8.30am-12.30pm)
    1-5pm (with donation)
    5.15-7.30pm (cloister 5.15-7pm)
    Sundays and holidays: 8am-1.45pm (cloister 8.30am-1pm)
    2-5pm (with donation)
    5.15-7.30pm (cloister 5.15-7pm)

Getting there

8. Montjuïc (Free)


This hill to the southwest of the city makes for a pleasant place to spend a day. There are many attractions on the hill, some of which, such as the Spanish Village (link), are a legacy from the 1929 International Exhibition held here.

You can enjoy many things for free on Montjuïc, not least of which are the panoramic views over the harbour below, and the spectacular Magic Fountain in front of the Palau Nacional, now housing the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC). Try to come at night when both the fountain and palace are beautifully illuminated.

There is also the CaixaForum art gallery, opened in 2002 in a former factory, itself an Art Nouveau architectural gem. There are many interesting temporary exhibitions on subjects like painters and film-makers, as well as permanent fixtures including a major art collection including such luminaries as Dali, Turner and Hogarth, and there are also activities on offer for kids.

Castle Montjuïc, which requires an entrance fee, has some interesting history and still features some big gun installations.

9. Ciutadella Park (Free)


This park, popular with locals and tourists alike, is located near the old town and provides a peaceful respite from the busy hubbub of the city. A wide variety of attractive features can be found here, including the lake and the ornate Cascada fountain (reputed to have been partially built by a young Antoni Gaudí), a children’s playground, a couple of museums, and perhaps most notably, Barcelona Zoo (link).

You can also take part in activities in the park; boating on the lake, cycling and jogging.

Although it was opened in 1877, the park’s origins go back to 1714, when Philip V built a citadel (from which we derive the name Ciutadella) in the area in the shape of a five-pointed star, after he won the War of Succession. Much of the old Ribera neighbourhood was razed to make way for the widely hated fortress, which was demolished in the late 19th century, leaving just three buildings in the newly formed park: the chapel, the Governor’s Palace and the Arsenal, now home to the Catalan Parliament.

10. Mercat del Encants (Free)


This large flea market is a real mixed bag, with some great treasures to be had if you’re ready to do a bit of rummaging. Books, furniture, shoes, records, clothes, toys and instruments are among the wealth of goods on offer. It takes some dedication if you want to find a genuine antique, as something genuinely valuable could be hidden under a pile of videos.

Dating back to the 14th century, it has a nostalgic charm all of its own - hence the name, which literally means Market of Charms in Catalan.

On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, antique auctions are held from 7-9am, so if you really want to grab a bargain it’s worth getting there early. Alternatively, there is the midday auction, when all unsold goods drop dramatically in price - but don’t get there too late after this, as the stalls will start to pack up for lunch in the early afternoon.

11. Los Tarantos (Paid)


This highly popular flamenco show is located in Placa Reial in the heart of the Gothic Quarter. It serves as a good introduction to this style of dance which is so culturally significant in Spain; each performance lasts for just over half an hour.

The show consists of two dancers with a four-piece backing band including a singer. The dancers put on an energetic and passionate display, and the accompanying music is excellent. It’s recommended that you book tickets online in order to secure the best seats; the venue is rather small and fills up fast. This would be a good way to start off an enjoyable evening after a busy day’s sightseeing; there are plenty of great restaurants in the surrounding area.

There are three shows per day with a rotating line-up of performers, so you could even go more than once and have a different experience each time.

12. Barceloneta Beach (Free)


One of the most popular and well-known beaches in Barcelona, this beach which bears the same name as its neighbourhood boasts more than 1100m of golden sands. Relax and soak up some rays, or take part in some beach volleyball or gymnastics using the well-equipped sports facilities.

Barceloneta itself is a buzzing neighbourhood with an array of restaurants and nightclubs along the beach boardwalk. Enjoy some tapas or freshly-caught fish in this traditional fishing area.

The beach also has a literary history as it is thought to be the setting for the showdown between Don Quixote and the Knight of the White Moon in Cervantes’ classic novel.

A fun and quirky feature of the beach is its sculptures, particularly Rebecca Horn’s L’Estel Ferit (The Wooden Shooting Star), four industrial-looking cubes seemingly balanced precariously in a stack. It’s thought these are a homage to the xiringuitos, small cuboid bars and restaurants which used to line the beach but were removed prior to the 1992 Olympics, having become dilapidated.

13. Barcelona Zoo (Paid)


This large and popular zoo is located in Ciutadella Park. It makes for an enjoyable day out for all the family, with a diverse range of animals including chimpanzees, Komodo Dragons, Galapogos tortoises, toucans, gorillas, lions, elephants and many more. Especially popular are the bottleneck dolphins who put on displays for the visitors. Animals are grouped into sections that reflect the animal population in different regions of the world.

In total, there are over 325 species of animals housed in sympathetic enclosures, and it’s recommended to spend a full day here to take everything in at a leisurely pace.

The Granja area, very popular with children, is a petting farm where you can meet and greet goats and Shetland ponies and have a chance to feed them. Pony riding is also available at weekends and holidays for a small extra charge.

Other facilities at the zoo include a variety of food outlets, picnic areas, and a small train.

Opening Times
  • The zoo is open every single day of the year. It closes at midday on Christmas Day.
    The ticket office and zoo open at 10am and close between 5.30pm-8pm depending on time of year. Check website for more details

Getting there

14. Museu Picasso (Paid)


This museum features an expansive collection of Picasso’s work, including more than 3,500 paintings, engravings and ceramic pieces. It is housed in five Gothic medieval palaces, themselves the subject of some interest. Barcelona’s most popular art gallery, over 1,000,000 visitors pass through its doors every year.

The collection gives an insight into Picasso’s development, with most of the paintings being from the early part of his career, including his Blue Period and early work created in Barcelona. It was Picasso’s own wish that the museum be established in this city, as he undertook his apprenticeship here.

As well as its permanent collection, the museum also hosts temporary exhibitions, focussing on areas such as self-portraits, ceramics and collages. Check the website to see what’s happening.

There are also educational resources geared towards children on offer, with interactive workshops which encourage them to be involved with the art and discover more about Picasso’s techniques.

Opening Times
  • Tuesday to Sundays (including holidays): 10am-8pm
    Access to rooms until 30 minutes before closing.
    Mondays (except bank holidays) closed
    Monday Bank Holidays 1st April and 20th May
    Annual Bank Holidays closed 1st January, 1st May, 25th June, 25th and 26th December

Getting there

15. Las Ramblas (Free)


The most famous street in Barcelona and indeed one of the most famous in the world, Las Ramblas is a vibrant, thriving centre of cultural and commercial life in Barcelona. Actually comprised of a series of shorter streets, hence the plural name, along its 1.2km tree-flanked length you can find markets selling flowers and pets, the Liceu opera house (link) and an arts centre. Naturally, there is also an abundance of tourist shops to cater to the many visitors that walk the fully pedestrianised street.

Las Ramblas ends as a wooden walkway leading into the port, where you will find the Aquarium (link) among other attractions.

There are many street performers on Las Ramblas including human statues, and a colourful mosaic created by famed painter Joan Mir?.

As with any crowded area, Las Ramblas can be frequented by pickpockets, and the southernmost end becomes rather seedy during night hours. However, if you keep these things in mind it shouldn’t detract from your enjoyment of this wonderful street.

16. Aquarium Barcelona (Paid)


This aquarium located in Port Vell at the harbour is home to 450 marine species, and features an 80 metre shark tunnel with a moving tunnel. It is the largest aquarium in Europe, with about six million litres of water altogether.

Among the displays are tanks focussing on Mediterranean sealife, including octopi and flat fish, as well as tropical exhibits which recreate the ecosystem of a coral reef. There is also a penguin enclosure.

Many activities are on offer - you can dive with the sharks, or even spend the night sleeping in their tank! The Explora area has interactive exhibits geared towards kids.

A particularly interesting area is Planeta Aqua, which is near the end and shouldn’t be missed. It focuses on creatures that have adapted to survive in areas with harsh conditions, such as the Arctic and the deepest trenches of the sea. You can see rays, mudskippers and piranhas in this section.

Opening Times
  • Monday to Friday: 9.30am-9pm
    Weekends, public holidays, June and September: 9.30am-9.30pm
    July and August: 9.30am-11pm

Getting there

17. Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art (Paid)


Commonly known as MACBA (an abbreviation of its Spanish name), this Modernistic building opened its doors to the public in 1995 and has since become one of the most important repositories for modern art. Its large collection is split into three subject areas: the 1940s to the 1960s, the 60s and 70s, and the 80s up to the current day.

With an emphasis on Spanish and Catalan art, the collection also includes some international work. Situated in the Plaça dels Ángels in El Raval, the south side allows for wonderful views across the Plaza through its extensive glazing, which also brings ample amounts of natural light into the galleries.

Designed by architect Richard Meier, the building is renowned for its smooth lines which reflect light, complementing and setting off the art that is contained. The displays change frequently, so check the website for current exhibitions. There are also educational activities on offer, including chances to learn about artistic techniques and how art is restored.

Opening Times
  • Winter (25 September to 24 June):
    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday: 11am-7.30 pm
    Tuesday: closed (except public holidays)
    Saturday: 10am-9 pm
    Sunday, public holidays and 1 May, 10 am to 3 pm
    Closed 25 December and 1 January
    Summer —
    From 25 June to 24 September
    Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 11 am to 8 pm
    Tuesday closed (except public holidays)
    Saturday, 10 am to 8 pm
    Sunday and public holidays 10 am to 3 pm

Getting there

18. Spanish Village (Paid)


This outdoor museum, located on the slopes of Montjuic, was built for the 1929 International Exhibition and aimed to bring together all the different architectural styles of Spain’s regions. Although intended to be temporary, you can still visit the Village - known as Poble Espanyol - to this day.

As well as the buildings, the museum recreates the diversity of Spanish culture, with local crafts on display from around the country. These include glassblowing, jewellery, ironworking, basket weaving and paper making. You can visit the workshops and see unique items being created at first hand.

The Village also has a focus on Spanish gastronomy and the preservation of traditional recipes. Various activities are on offer in this field, as well as numerous restaurants.

Contemporary art can also be explored in the Village, most notably in the Fran Daurel Foundation, which houses over 300 works by such luminaries as Picasso, Dalí and Míro.

19. Gran Teatro del Liceu (Paid)


Usually known simply as the Liceu, this lavishly appointed opera house dates from 1847 and is centrally located on Las Ramblas.

The building has survived two fires in 1861 and 1994, being faithfully rebuilt each time with the original facade on Las Ramblas still in place. There is no royal box in the theatre, as it was built by public subscription rather than at the command of the royal family.

The vast auditorium features five tiers of seats and a magnificent ceiling. Opera and ballet performances are staged at the theatre. It’s well worth taking in a concert if you get a chance, but if not, guided tours are on offer. You’ll see elegant rooms including the foyer and the elaborate Hall of Mirrors with its painted ceiling, as well as El Cìrculo del Liceo, a private club within the building which is sumptuously decorated with works of art including paintings by Ramon Casas.

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