Deemed the capital of northern Spain, Barcelona is hip and trendy, has great beaches, tops the scales with culture and can be yours, for free. Don’t believe us? Get your flights and hotels sorted and from there, you can experience this incredible city for next to nothing.
First stop on the grand Barcelona tour is always La Rambla, one of the most famous boulevards in the world. Even if you’re short on time in the city, make it a point to stroll down this street flanked by lines of tress on each side and crowded with tourists, human statues posing for spare change, street performers, even fortune tellers. Don’t miss the Joan Miró mosaic in the Pla de l’Os.
If you know his style, you’ll be able to spot where Gaudi has left his mark on the city as you walk around. The famous architect has designed apartments, hotels, churches and cathedrals and parks. While the Sagrada Familia isn’t free to enter, you can admire his work from the outside, taking in all the details. Equally impressive is Park Güell in the city centre. Gorgeous mosaics, gatehouses and even panoramas from the top of the hill.
Though Picasso was born in Malaga, the painter spent much of his youth in Barcelona. Take a walk down Calle Reina Christina and then over to 3 Carrer de la Mercè where he used to live with his family. It is well known that Picasso and many painters and poets of that time used to hang out at a cafe called Els Quatre Gats on Calle Montsió, 3. The Picasso Museum is also worthwhile, although it’s only free on Sundays between 3-8pm and all day on the first Sunday of the month.
Tastes and sounds
Live music is not hard to come by in this city that celebrates the arts. The summer is packed with music festivals, from Primavera Sound to the Festival Internacional de Jazz de Barcelona. September welcomes the Festes de la Mercèe, a week-long festival with free concerts and exhibitions across the city celebrating the best of Catalan culture.
Like the south of Spain, the north has its own version of tapas, small platters of bite-sizes foods served with bread, called pintxos. Tradition goes that each piece you eat you pick up with a different toothpick and at the end of the night, you’re charged for how many toothpicks you have. These days, you’re more likely to be charged for the platter but in smaller places, you’ll find pinxtos served on the house with your drink.
Barcelona is on the coast so there is no denying that it’s a great city to also catch some summery rays and hit the beach. All of Barcelona’s beaches are equipped with the usual facilities although sometime these are only available in the high season from April to September.
- Sant Sebastià – close to the city but gets very crowded in warm weather. Very close to the acquarium with many restaurants nearby.
- Barceloneta – worth the short jaunt to get to, lined with beach bars called chiringuitos. Great for a lively atmosphere day or night.
- Nova Icària – good choice for families, located on the other side of Port Olympic. Restaurants nearby are known for their quality menus, perfect for foodies.
- Bogatell – a fantastic choice even though it takes some effort to reach. It’s the happy mix between relaxing and lively with the best sand in the city.
And if you want to get out of the city and explore the region more, check out Catalonia: Barcelona and beyond.
What is your favourite thing to do in Barcelona? Any other free tips to add to our list?