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Top 10: Best Free Things to Do in Barcelona

Posted on April 20, 2014 at 7:35 PM


By Kris Härsing

Barcelona’s beautiful architecture, great climate and active party scene certainly attract a lot of travellers. If you’re looking for something to do here for free, keep reading for local recommendations.

1. Enjoy amazing architecture along Ruta del Modernisme

For those who enjoy architectural walks, the local Barcelona government has put together Ruta del Modernisme – the Modernism Route. It’s an itinerary that takes you through the Barcelona of Gaudí, Domènech i Montaner and Puig i Cadafalch – the architects who contributed to making Barcelona the world capital of modernism. The route gives you the opportunity to see impressive palatial residences, amazing houses, the temple that has become a symbol of the city, a huge hospital, and several more humble buildings and structures including pharmacies, shops, lampposts and benches. There are 115 works in total demonstrating the city’s strong modernist roots.

2. Spend a sunny day at Barceloneta Beach

Barceloneta is one of the city’s oldest and most beloved beaches. For many years it was primarily a nudist beach due to its out of the way location, though this changed when the W Hotel opened – a huge building that looks like a sail. Nowadays Barceloneta attracts lots of people as it’s the closest beach to Barcelona city centre. Although it gets packed on sunny summer days, the convenience of not having to venture far from the city centre makes up for the crowds.

3. Appreciate culture at CaixaForum

CaixaForum is housed in a beautifully restored factory at the foot of Montjuic hill. The rotating exhibitions feature everything from modernist architecture to works by painting greats, with some modern art thrown in for good measure. Recently, CaixaForum established an exchange with Madrid’s Prado – possibly one of the finest art museums in the world – so visitors can expect even more world-class exhibits. Entrance is free all year round as CaixaForum is run by the foundation that owns La Caixa, Spain’s second-largest bank.

4. Experience the local atmosphere at Mercat de la Barceloneta

Markets like Mercat de la Barceloneta are the key to understanding the urban and social logic of Barcelona. Going to the market means not only going shopping but also socialising with your neighbours. Here you’ll find a wide range of fresh produce including fruit, vegetables, meat and seafood – Mercat de la Barceloneta’s specialty thanks to its proximity to the sea.

5.Relax amongst greenery at Parc de la Ciutadella

Being one of the most beautiful places in Barcelona, this park is a great spot for couples, families and anyone wanting to escape the loud and busy city atmosphere. Have a picnic with your friends, play ball with your kids or simply relax on the grass with a good book or a loved one. There’s also an open Wifi network – sit as close as possible to the “W” signs for the strongest connection.

6. Admire the icon of Barcelona – Sagrada Familia

Despite being possibly the most touristy place in Barcelona, Gaudi’s unique masterpiece Sagrada Familia is definitely worth seeing. Queueing up with masses of tourists and paying a small fortune to enter the church is by no means necessary, this place is already regal enough from the outside. Though its construction began in 1882, it’s still a work in progress that’s expected to be ready by 2026, the centenary of Gaudi’s death.

7. Watch talented young skaters in front of MACBA

MACBA is the Museum of Contemporary Art of Barcelona, and while it’s well worth seeing for its grand architecture, the plaza in front offers an even more spectacular sight – it’s one of Barcelona’s most popular skating spots. Even if you’re not a fan of skating yourself, the truly talented skaters are really interesting to watch. Keep in mind that some of the tricks they perform are incredibly dangerous and might give you the chills.

8. Soak up fresh air and scenic views at Collserola

Located on a mountain range just a short ride from the city centre, this huge natural forest attracts both locals and travellers. The paths are often filled with joggers and cyclists, particularly on weekends. It’s also a top destination for nature-lovers and anyone wishing to enjoy great views of Barcelona. Moreover, here you’ll have the chance to discover the flora and fauna of a genuine Mediterranean forest. If you’re lucky, you might even see a wild boar. The best times to visit are on windy days or the days following rainstorms. At these times you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy full HD views without any interference from pollution.

9. Get some outdoor exercise!

There are numerous ways to keep fit without having to pay a fortune for a gym membership. Along the beach of Barcelona there’s plenty of outdoor gym equipment free for all to use. In addition, the road is a very popular place for rollerskating, cycling and jogging, and there are even beach volleyball nets. Make the most of the warm climate and enjoy an outdoor workout!

10. Discover the Parc del Forum industrial area

Locals call this Chernobyl beach – it’s a sand-less beach set in an area that looks very industrial. It’s actually not a bad place to relax as it’s not nearly as crowded as Barceloneta and the surrounding architecture is interesting to say the least. The area is massively popular with the locals – the less frequented paths are used by skaters and oftentimes there’s some sort of a fair along the boardwalk. There’s also a beach club at the back of the area – a great place for a night out in summer. With eight stages, the Forum area can accommodate over 100,000 people, so if there’s a big concert in Barcelona it will almost certainly take place here.

Kris Härsing (Project Manager at Like A Local Guide) is a psychology student in Tartu University and has helped hundreds of travellers during her 2 summers at Tallinn Traveller Info. Kris has lived in Australia, Sweden and Russia for a bit.

Categories: Europe

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