It’s #ThrowbackThursday! Memory Lane has taken me back to fall 2009, when I visited several European cities while studying abroad in Morocco. A student budget meant this was only possible thanks to low-cost carriers and other budget-friendly activities I sought out. Namely, I had the best luck in Spain, so today I’m sharing my favorite Barcelona free attractions and tips.
Barcelona Free Attractions
I took some of Sandeman’s free tours and highly recommend them. Their guides are knowledgeable and witty. They only live off tips though, so I don’t like to promote the tours as “free” but rather “good value for your money.”
Their three-hour Barcelona walking tour is the most complete of the bunch. It covers a good mix of the city’s history, Catalonia’s national identity, and famous characters. People watch at La Rambla; awe at Picasso’s paintings and Gaudi’s architectural legacy; learn more about the Spanish Civil War; and even visit Roman ruins.
Runner Bean also offers free walking tours in the city—the difference being that they are more targeted. Their Old City tour covers some of the most iconic plazas, churches, and other sites within the Gothic Quarter, highlighting Barcelona’s cultural past. Conversely, their Free Gaudi Tour exclusively focuses on the eccentric architect’s life and modernisme masterpieces.
Independent travelers will be happy to know that Barcelona’s free attractions are not limited to group tours. I love Cinema Lliure and its independent film screenings on Sant Sebastià beach Sunday and Thursday nights. Speaking of beaches, you can also visit crowded Barceloneta—or even wear your birthday suit at the nudist section of Mar Bella—gratis.
Barcelona’s vibrant scene is constantly sprinkled with free cultural events though, so make sure you check out For Free’s calendar during your visit.
As an art lover and history buff, I was thrilled to find out that some of Barcelona’s top museums offer free admission every Sunday after 3 PM.
The Museum of History of Barcelona is particularly striking, with a 4,000-square-meter archaeological dig, filled with Roman ruins. Also worth a visit is the Picasso Museum, highlighting the artist’s early work; the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona for a deeper look into Catalan culture through different exhibitions and special events; and the National Museum of Art of Catalonia for a good mix of both modernist and medieval pieces (free first Sunday of the month).
Barcelona Free Accommodation (and Food!)
Many bars throughout the city throw in free tapas when you order a drink—per Spanish tradition. Some spots that come to mind are Gata Mala (Gracia), Ambiente del Sur (L’Eixample), Bar Mingus (Gothic District), and Bar Atrapatapa (also in L’Eixample).
Even if you’re staying at a Barcelona hotel, check out the local Couchsurfing scene. Hosts are willing to show you around town, even if you’re not staying with them. One of the highlights of my trip to Barcelona was attending a free Catalan poetry reading, accompanied by live music. Afterward, my host took me bar-hopping with his friends in a district I cannot pronounce—and did not see another tourist the whole night.