A country that epitomizes taking life slowly—always with the glass of sangria in hand, of course—it's no wonder that Spain is often considered a premier summer destination. One of the crown jewels of Spain is Barcelona, a coastal city whose gorgeous architecture, seaside views, and exquisite cuisine are praised across the globe. As one of the most popular European hot spots, Barcelona can be a pricey spot to spend your vacation time—but that doesn't mean an affordable trip is out of the question. In fact, there are plenty of activities that can be enjoyed in the heart of the city for nothing at all, whether it's taking in the sites at the local plaza or soaking up the sun at the beach. Keep reading for seven incredible things to do in Barcelona that don't cost a dime.
Barcelona is home to Museu Picasso, the first museum to exclusively honor the works of one of the most famous Spanish painters of all time: Pablo Picasso. Here you'll find an extensive collection of paintings, drawings, ceramics, and sculptures by the artist. Free admission to the museum is available every Sunday from 3 p.m. till closing. Free entrance is also granted to museum-goers under 18.
What better way to pass the time in a coastal city than by spending a day at the beach? Barcelona has two main beaches close to the city that visitors can visit free of charge: Barceloneta and Sant Sebastià. Barceloneta is home to the city's fishing district, making it a prime spot to enjoy fresh seafood at its numerous restaurants and cafés. For a cost-free way to enjoy an afternoon, pull up a beach chair under one of the beach's many umbrellas and enjoy a relaxing afternoon. If you're looking for a quieter alternative, try Sant Sebastià, one of the city's oldest beaches that's farther from Barcelona's city center.
The Gothic Quarter
Experience Barcelona's historical roots with a trip to the city's Barri Gòtic, or Gothic Quarter. Originally the main site of old town Barcelona, the Gothic Quarter contains numerous examples of Gothic architecture, along with buildings dating from the medieval period. Take a walk around town squares like Plaça Reial or Plaça Sant Felip Neri for numerous dining options and shopping boutiques.
Santa Maria del Mar
In the heart of Barcelona's Ribera district is one of the city's most famous churches, Santa Maria del Mar. This 14th-century church is a classic example of Gothic architecture, containing high-vaulted ceilings and intricate stained-glass windows. Admission to the church is free, although guided tours to the rooftop are available for 8€, a gorgeous way to get a panoramic view of the city.
Arc de Triomf
A must-see during any trip to Barcelona is the Arc de Triomf, located at the Passeig de Lluís Companys, one of the city's main promenades. Built in 1888, the arch was originally made as an entryway to the Barcelona World Fair. Now it's one of the city's enduring pieces of architecture, made of red brick with intricate carvings. Take a bike ride to the arch, whose boulevard leads to one of the city's most beautiful parks, Parc de la Ciutadella, a peaceful area to spend an afternoon.
Passeig de Gràcia
Find a café on the Passeig de Gràcia and enjoy an afternoon of people-watching. Referred to as Barcelona's Champs-Élysées, Passeig de Gràcia is a high-end shopping district filled with boutiques, charming pathways, and architectural wonders. Two buildings by famous Catalan architect Antoní Gaudi—Casa Milà and Casa Batlló—are located at the Passeig de Gràcia.
A spectacular multilevel flea market in Barcelona, Encants Market is a must for anyone looking to do a spot of shopping before heading home—without breaking the bank. Whether it's clothes, books, or antiques, the market has a labyrinthian array of booths selling various goods at lower price points. If you're looking for a place to buy one-of-a-kind souvenirs, Encants Market is what you've been looking for.
Staying local this season? Keep reading for nine inexpensive things to do this summer.