Barcelona is a wonderful city to visit and it need not be expensive. There are free gardens, exhibitions and galleries, and discovering the city’s ancient quarters, markets, boulevards and churches is completely free – you just need to know where to look. So here are my top ten free things to do in Barcelona.
1. Parc Guell. Designed by Antoni Gaudi, Barcelona’s celebrated architect, the park is just outside the centre, situated on a hill overlooking the city. Designed originally as a residential park, it’s a joy to visit and you can easily spend several hours there.
The park includes extraordinary houses, wonderful structures, mosaic designs and fantastic views over Barcelona to the sea. To reach Parc Guell take the metro (green line) or bus, followed by a 10 – 15 minute uphill walk.
2. Las Ramblas. Las Ramblas is the famous boulevard which runs from the old port to Placa Catalunya through the centre of the old town, and is lined with café terraces and plane trees. Mid-way along Las Ramblas you will find Barcelona’s opera house – Gran Teatre del Liceu. Directly opposite is Café de l’Opera, the perfect place to stop for a drink, either on the terrace or inside where you can enjoy a typical Catalan atmosphere. A little further is La Boqueria, a vast, bustling food market with architectural displays of fruit and vegetables. Sample inexpensive meals from the fresh produce at one of the restaurant stalls.
3. Barrio Gotico. The gothic quarter is the oldest part of Barcelona and its maze of narrow streets are full of ancient buildings, shops, bars and restaurants, which open on to small squares with market stalls selling crafts and foods.
Plaza Real is one of the grandest squares, great for eating alfresco, and is full of bars and clubs at night. Plaza Jaume houses the impressive town council buildings, including the Palacio de la Generalidad. There are several beautiful churches, most of which are free to enter. Santa |V|aria del Pi, one of the best, dominated by its large circular window, is located in Placa del Pi, and some of the most historic buildings, dating from the 14th century, are in Placa del Rei.