Barcelona is an incredible place to spend anything from a weekend to a few weeks, as I was lucky enough to do this August. There’s heaps to do but most of it is touristy and overpriced, so I’ve put together my top tips for amazing things to do in the city either for free, or spending very little for a lot in return.
- La Xampanyeria (Can Paixano)
This is a complete gem and possibly my favourite place to eat and drink in the whole of Barcelona. For about €1- €2 per glass or €5 per bottle you can get the tastiest, most refreshing cava in existence (I especially recommend the rose). With your drinks you have to order tapas from the wide selection spread out on the bar, and they even do mini-hamburgers for carnivores. It is absolutely packed late afternoons/early evenings so you’ll have to be prepared to fight your way in. Luckily their air conditioning is fabulous. For under €10 per person you can leave very merry and well fed.
Need to know: Once you’ve ordered from one of the guys behind the bar, stay put. Even if you spot a better place to perch your glass, don’t be tempted because your server is in charge of a certain section of the bar and is keeping track of your bill and won’t be best pleased if you disappear.
How do I get there? It’s right next to Barceloneta metro station, on the yellow line. Lovely after an afternoon at the beach.
2. Barceloneta Beach
If you’re in Barcelona in the summer months, a completely free day can be whiled away on Barceloneta beach, working on the tan and enjoying the warm waters of the Mediterranean. The water is lovely and clean considering it’s an urban beach, especially at the end closest to the city. Find a supermercat/supermarcado and get a picnic lunch to save splurging on the beach-side restaurants.
Even in spring and autumn the weather can be warm enough for a bit of beach time, and the promenade is lovely for a stroll at any time of year.
3. Parc Guell
Although you pay a pretty hefty €8 for the pleasure of getting into the inner sanctum of Parc Guell for a photo with the famous lizard, the majority of it is free of charge and has loads to explore. If you keep heading upwards you’ll find the viewpoint above the park which offers stunning views of the city.
How do I get there? The closest metro station is Joanic. Head uphill and follow the signs for the escalators if you want to save your legs, take the stairs for a cracking workout.
4. Sunset on top of Mount Carmel
This is one of the best spots in the city and, judging by the small numbers of people who are up there for sunset, not many people know about it. From the viewpoint above Parc Guell, keep heading upwards (there’s no actual path and it’s a bit of a scramble in places, wear sturdy shoes) until you reach the peak where you’ll be rewarded with 360 degree views of the city. The sun sets behind Mount Tibidabo so the church and theme park up there are silhouetted against the sky.
One mountain along, (a short up and downhill walk) at the top of Parc de Guinardo, there are some bunkers left over from the civil war which offer another spot for great city views.
Top tip: Get yourself a cheap bottle of cava and some nibbles for a sundowner with panoramic city views, without the pricetag. What more could you want?
5. Open Air Cinema: Beach and Montjuic
During the summer, there is a free open air cinema on Thursday nights on Barceloneta beach and, for a few euros, another one in the grounds of Montjuic Castle. Both are incredible settings and are opportunities for cheap picnics in incredible settings rather than expensive meals out.
6. Picnic in Parc de Citudella
The Parc de Citudella is yet another lovely spot for a picnic, especially in the evenings when its full of locals out for a walk or a chilled beer and a chat.
How do I get there? Metro Arc de Triomf is a short and very attractive stroll away.
If you’re into jogging (or have thought about starting) Barcelona is just the spot to inspire you. Parc Guell and Parc de Guinardo are little slices of mountain in the middle of the city and wonderful places to run around, although they do involve a lot of hills. Parc de Citudella and the beachfront are also great places for a workout. In the evenings you’ll find the locals running, cycling and rollerskating by the marina, so join in and soak up the atmosphere of the city whilst burning off a few of the glasses of cava.
8. Arena View Point, Plaza Catalunya
The old bullring has been turned into a state of the art shopping centre with restaurants and a 360 degree viewing platform at the top. There’s a touristy lift they charge you for to get up there, but if you just go inside and go up the escalators it’s free. From the top you’ve got wonderful views over Placa de Espanya and the Magic Fountains of Montjuic which put on incredible shows. Have a stroll up there and admire the view back down from the National Palace.
How do I get there? Espanya is the metro station you need to enjoy the view.
9. A Day Trip to Sitges
If you’re in Barcelona for more than a weekend break, think about taking a day trip to this spot half an hour south of Barcelona on the train. It has a beautiful old town and two lovely beaches, and the best part is you can use a 10-trip metro ticket (€9.95) to get through the barriers!
How do I get there? Catch the frequent trains from Passeig de Graca.
10. Free Museum Entry
The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is crammed with a huge variety of art and is free on Saturdays from 3pm!
11. Take a Stroll
Have a wander around the city and you’ll be sure to happen upon beautiful, picturesque buildings. The city centre is also jam-packed with perfect streets for window shopping and you can easily loose yourself in the old town for an afternoon. Have fun, explore, and let me know if you discover any gems!