Budget Travel

Parks, public art, watching people and more great samples by mail to do in Barcelona

Barcelona has enough to keep the most voracious of culture vultures and self-indulgent of gourmets happy for weeks, but all those entry fees and tapas bills can increase.

Luckily, with this list of top samples by mail to do in Barcelona, you may enjoy this excellent city without spending a lot of money.

Research the days museums offer free admission

Some city-run museums (such as the Museu Picasso and MNAC) have an afternoon or evening each week when entry is free of charge. Other medication is also free on the first Sunday of the month; check individual websites for details.

Time your visit for any festival

There's almost always some type of festival happening in Barcelona, therefore it will not be difficult to get a fun week or weekend to go to. If you're in town around September 24, don't miss the 5-day Festes en Mercè, which brings the town to life with free concerts, dancing, fireworks, acrobatic feats and lively correfocs (colorful parades of drums, devils and firecrackers). Or try the August extravaganza Festa Major de Gràcia, which is most widely known for extravagantly decorated streets, and which also brings a packed program of free outdoor concerts.

Browse the less touristy city markets

The most well-known indoor market hall may be the Mercat de la Boqueria, filled with an explosion of fruit, vegetables, seafood, rows and rows of cured ham and some mind-boggling butchers' displays. However, it can get extremely crowded and touristy, with increased stalls selling fancy sweets and tropical juices than local products. If you prefer a less hectic market experience, try Mercat de Santa Caterina, within colorful undulating roof, or Mercat en Llibertat in Gràcia.

Saunter up La Rambla very first thing within the morning

While unashamedly touristy, ambling along this 1km- (.6 mile)-long walkway is really a quintessential Barcelona experience. Lined with regal historical buildings, La Rambla is definitely an excellent place to walk, specifically if you time it right. Morning hours is better.

Admire Modernisme architecture from the outside

While a lot of Barcelona's architectural gems charge admission fees to go in, the impressive facades are arguably more memorable – and could be admired free of charge. Three stunning types of Catalonian Modernisme sit alongside around the Passeig de Gràcia: the Casa Lleó Morera, the Casa Amatller and Gaudí's Casa Batlló. Elsewhere, be dazzled through the mind-blowing workmanship of Gaudí's magnum opus, La Sagrada Família; a short leave is the world's largest art nouveau complex, the Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau.

Read more: A perfect weekend in Barcelona

Bask (and people watch) on the city beach

Barcelona has some wonderful beaches perfect for resting feet that ache after days of sightseeing. Barceloneta is the most popular, using its lovely sweep of golden sand and promenade backed with restaurants; for something less crowded, walk further north towards the Fòrum area.

Gaze at public art by native son Joan Miró

The definitive assortment of Barcelona's favorite homegrown artist at Fundació Joan Miró is worth forking out for – but you will find plenty more fantastic Miró sculptures around the city, all free for the viewing. Parc de Joan Miró is home to his epic 22m-(72ft-)tall Woman and Bird sculpture, covered in primary-colored glazed tiles and rising dramatically from a sparkling pool. There's also a Miró mosaic in the central walkway of los angeles Rambla and another displayed unexpectedly on the outside wall of Terminal 2 at the airport.

Visit the cradle of Catalan independence

The Born Centre Cultural is really a dazzlingly converted former market building which has as its centerpiece remains of some of the countless buildings razed down through the forces of Castilian King Philip V following the siege of 1714. For most Catalans, the event marks the starting point of the desire for separation. It remains an emotionally charged place.

Feel the Gothic splendor of los angeles Catedral

In the center of Barri Gòtic, the colossal Catedral is really as impressive on the outside because it is within. Consume its soaring domed ceilings and pillars, as well as the cloister using its courtyard of palms, orange trees and resident gaggle of white geese. Note that the church is open for worship in the mornings and evenings; should you visit in the afternoon, you will need to pay an entry fee.

Sniff out free music, dancing and art

There's always some kind of free cultural event happening out and about, whether jazz in the park, a poetry reading or perhaps a kids' workshop. Check with the tourist office for a rundown of what's on while you are around.

Get wonderfully lost in Barri Gòtic

A warren of cobblestone alleyways lined with bars and quirky shops and dotted with quiet little placas, the atmospheric medieval quarter of Barri Gòtic makes it a goody to obtain lost. Eventually, you'll almost certainly surface either on La Rambla or the Via Laietana, which flanks the area on the other hand.

Read more: Best excursions from Barcelona

Wander through Placa Reial

Reminiscent of the more sensible version of St Mark's Square in Venice, this arcaded placa has fixtures that stick out. Don't miss Gaudí's first piece of commissioned work for the town: lampposts featuring coiled dragon-headed serpents prior to a winged helmet.

Keep it real in El Raval

It might lack the historic impact (and tourists) of neighboring Barri Gòtic, the lively streets around El Raval are the place to find a varied cast of characters including artists, backpackers, students and more. You'll find plenty of cool bars and vintage clothing stores, not to mention the colossal MACBA (Museu d'Art Contemporani de Barcelona), as impressive outside as in, and free every Saturday from 4pm.

Cool down in Parc en Ciutadella

Saunter down Passeig Lluís Companys, beneath the Arc de Triomf to the city's best park, Parc de la Ciutadella. A huge playground for visitors of every age group, it's full of a varied array of people, from West African drummers to tap dancers in the bandstand and aspiring circus performers practicing around the grass. If the human tableau isn't enough, you may have a monumental waterfall, a boating lake, the grand Catalan Parliament building and the lovely pink-hued Parroquia Castrense de la Ciutadella church.

Embrace the kitsch of the Font Màgica

Built for Barcelona's 1929 World Exposition, this water-, sound- and light show continues to be drawing tourists ever since. Sure, the Magic Fountain borders on tacky – but what's to not love about jets of multicolored water rising in sync to cheesy 1980s numbers and show-tunes?

See the best street art and public sculpture in Europe

Barcelona's graffiti artists are a proud bunch and you'll find some good examples of the work they do around town, particularly in El Raval and Poblenou. The city also offers a long tradition of street art and sculpture. Some better-known examples include Peix, a giant fish sculpture created by Frank Gehry overlooking the beach; Roy Lichtenstein's 15m-(50ft-)high Barcelona Head in the Port Vell; Catalan artist Antoni Tàpies' Monument Homage to Picasso on the Passeig de Picasso; and Fernando Botero's enormous cat around the Rambla del Raval.

Read more: Why Poblenou is Barcelona's coolest neighbourhood

Enjoy the best view of the town from the Bunkers del Carmel

They usually takes some leg power to reach, however the Bunkers del Carmel provide the best view within the whole of Barcelona, a 360-degree vista with the city and all its iconic monuments on one side, and hills and also the town of Sant Cugat on the other. You may also climb down into the bunkers, where you will find a free small museum telling you concerning the role they played as an anti-aircraft battery throughout the Civil War, and then as a shantytown housing over 3000 people during the 1940s to 1960s.

Explore the gardens and galleries of Montju”ic

The lush green hill of Montju”ic rises up in the port, and is home to countless museums, gardens and important sights, as well as incredible views over the city. You may have to pay for the museums, but much of the remainder is free. Wander around gardens such as the Moorish-inspired Jardins de Laribal using their elegant fountains, sculptures and steep tiled walkways; then take a jaunt around the grand Olympic Stadium, which played host towards the 1992 Summer Olympics.

When you're done exploring the lower slopes from the hill, take the bus (or hike if you are feeling fit) right to the top, where you'll find the Castell de Montju”ic. You spend a small fee to go in, but you can continue to wander around its walls and gardens for free, while admiring the astounding views.

Seek out treasures at the Encants flea market

The Mercat dels Encants provides an intriguing mix of trash and treasures. While not without its fair share of odd shoes and outdated electronic devices, you will find enough random oddities to create a search among the many vendors worthwhile. There's also a surprisingly gourmet food court up on the first floor.

Browse the independent galleries of El Born

The charming area of El Born is packed by having an exciting array of small independent art galleries and boutiques. Explore the narrow alleyways and see what gems you can find, from traditional paintings to cutting-edge artwork. There's also two excellent free galleries nearby on La Rambla that host changing exhibitions: the Centre de la Imatge within the Palau en Virreina, near the top of the bouvelvard, and also the Centre d'Art Santa Mònica toward the underside.

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