I appreciate that for me it costs peanuts to visit Barcelona, the third most popular visited city in Europe and not everyone is that fortunate. However for anyone who loves architecture, beaches and a vibrant cosmopolitan culture, it is a must. It needn’t cost a fortune either and providing you don’t go hunting out gourmet restaurants or high end shops, you can still enjoy the city for free or almost free.
To make your budget stretch a little further I would suggest staying outside the city centre then….
1 Buy a T10 card
As the name suggests it can be used 10 times on any form of public transport. Alternatively, it can be used by several people for a maximum of 10 trips. Where to buy and how to use the card which costs €9.95 can be found HERE.
2 Roam La Rambla
Like we did on our last visit stroll down the unashamedly touristy La Rambla. The architecture is beautiful, you can see the history of the city in its buildings, but you also get to feel the real Barcelona all around you.
3 Mooch about the Markets
While on La Rambla, you must explore the famous La Boqueria Market an explosion of fruit, vegetables, seafood, and meats displayed in such a way they look like works of art. What many don´t know, is that you’ll find better prices at the back of the market. Stalls selling fresh juices and cut fruit need to clear their stock at the end of the day, and you can snap up some delicious deals if you go around closing time at 8:30pm.
4 Stake out Encants
If markets are your thing, visit Encants we stumbled on it as we went to catch the metro from the Plaça de les Glòries. There is everything imaginable here, from junk to electronics to second-hand clothes. It is open 3 days a week. There are also some nice shops and good as well as cheap places to eat in Glòries, far cheaper than eating in the centre. Other markets to keep an eye out for are the Palo Alto Market, with tasty food, and the Vintage Market which takes place at the Estación de França.
5 Get lost
To one side of La Rambla is the Barri Gòtic. It is a warren of narrow streets and alleyways that in themselves are fun to wander around and full of history. See the old Jewish quarter, and charming squares, but don´t forget to visit La Catedral to say this colossal cathedral is impressive is an understatement, and it is free.
6 Sunday Specials
Some of my favourite museums have free entry on Sunday after 3pm. We always peak into the Picasso Museum to see his early works and this time around, we visited the new Born Cultural Centre, a 19th-century market beneath which are the ruins of the 18th-century city. Surprisingly this is quite emotional
7 Free festivals
We visited Barcelona in September and were lucky enough to see the La Mercè Festival. It seemed that everywhere you went, each plaza and park there were music concerts, dancing and fireworks. We didn’t know what was going on at the time and have never managed to time our visits to coincide again. If you visit in August the Gràcia festival is another free fiesta that takes place in the streets of the Barrio. And in June like many countries the Feast of Sant Joan is celebrated on Midsummer’s Eve.
8 Bask on the beach
Barceloneta is the most popular, beach, it has lovely golden sands but is always crowded. Although we are not beach people, this is close to the old fisherman’s quarter, which is worth exploring. From our hotel we would walk down the Rambla de Poblenou filled with locals, doing their shopping, lots of cafes and bars and a great atmosphere, not quite the famous Rambla but coming in at a close second.
9 Admire the Art and the Architecture
You don´t have to pay to see some of the most impressive architecture in Barcelona. Gaudi’s Casa Batlló is a breath-taking building. On the same street is La Pedrera/ Casa Milà and of course La Sagrada Família, you have to pay to go inside all of these but you can also enjoy them for free from the outside.
Similarly, the work of Joan Miró can be enjoyed without opening the wallet. Visit the Parc de l’Escorxador filled with pergolas, walkways and an artificial waterway, this is the site of Miró’s sculpture Donai Ocell (Woman and Bird)
10 Be enchanted at the Font Màgica
You can reach the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc by metro. It was built for Barcelona’s 1929 World Exposition. The centrepiece of the light and music spectacle is a collection of waterfalls where, 2,600 litres of water per second are pumped through the fountain! No wonder they call it Magic.