Travel

The 36 Best Things to Do in Barcelona Under €10

With its seaside views and laid-back vibe, Barcelona’s basically a dream come true -- provided your dreams are filled with influential art, delicious food, and beautiful people. We picked out 36 of our favorite free (and fantastically inexpensive) things to do here, from swimming in the Mediterranean to visiting the city’s oldest bar.

1. Get hip at the Museu d'Historia de Catalunya

Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia -- a region with its own language, economy, and culture distinct from Spain. Knowing the history will help to understand the Catalonian flags flying from balconies all over the city, and will stop you from putting your foot in your mouth when chatting with locals. Admission is free the first Sunday of every month.
 

2. Get Gaudí at the Park Güell

Antoni Gaudí’s architecture is all color, imagination, and engineering genius -- it also happens to be the pride of Barcelona, and Park Güell is the perfect place to take it all in. Strolling the expansive grounds and paths of the park is free, but you can also buy a ticket to tour the main house and mosaics.
 

3. Do some people-watching at Plaça de Catalunya

This is the heart of Barcelona: as the central hub for transport, the start of La Rambla, and a main gathering point for the city, it’s a great place to begin exploring. Enjoy the fountains, sculptures, and open space while you observe the comings and goings of BCN locals and tourists alike. It’s also the start of a shopper’s paradise, with four major shopping zones radiating out from its core. 
 

4. Wander down La Rambla

From Plaça de Catalunya, stroll this pedestrian walkway all the way to the sea. The walk is less than a mile, but there are distractions galore: street snacks, booze, vendors, pickpockets, and tourists with selfie sticks will all impede your progress.

5. Swim in the Mediterranean Sea

With all the famous artists and whatnot, it’s easy to forget BCN is inherently a beach town. Get ye to the sea: take the Yellow/Line 4 to the Barceloneta stop, which drops you near the sand, and marvel at how many people on the subway are wearing flip-flops.
 

6. Get cultured at the Picasso Museum

The Picasso Museum is something you just gotta do. It's tucked in the alluring pedestrian alleyways of Ciutat Vella -- the old city -- and there you’ll learn the full spectrum of the artist’s life. Be amazed at the precise talent of young Pablo before he fell in with the bohemian crowd and revolutionized modern art with his abstract ways. Admission is free every Sunday 3-7pm, and all day the first Sunday of the month.

7. Get some fresh seafood at Mercado de la Boqueria

This massive market is stuffed with stalls selling fresh fruits, veggies, olives, preserved foods, hot meals, heart attack-inducing amounts of jamón, and glistening seafood for days. Even if you don’t end up buying anything, it’s worth just wandering through and checking out the wares. Make sure to go in the morning, before the place gets packed with tourists.
 

8. Drink cava at the locals’ favorite spot

Sangria is for tourists. Yes, you should still drink it, but the real action is in cava -- the bubbling wine that is Spain’s answer to Champagne. Join locals and expats in the know at Can Paixano, the badass brunch spot/tapas bar/purveyor of cheap and delicious cava. The place is usually jumping on late Saturday mornings, when you’ll have gourmet bocadillos and (many) glasses of bubbly for under €5. 
 

9. See the city from atop the Catedral de Barcelona

For €3, ride the elevator up to the top of a church that broke ground in 1298 -- go at sunset for an even better view. The massive cathedral itself is Gothic architecture in all its glory, with towering spires and a soaring, vaulted ceiling.

10. Lurk in the Gothic Quarter’s alleys

The Barri Gòtic (or Gothic Quarter) is the heart of the old city, and some of its structures date back to the Medieval period. It can feel like walking through another world at times, with narrow cobblestone streets turning into unexpected plazas and curving off into brick-walled walkways. Start off the right way, with a cup of Satan’s Coffee to fuel your exploration. 
 

11. Visit an espadrille shop

Nothing is more beach-vibe-tastic than these classic Spanish shoes -- men, women, children, and badass grandparents all wear them, and La Manual Alpargatera has been sewing ‘em by hand since 1940. You can choose a color/sole you like and fork over $35 for a made-to-order pair, or simply pop into the shop and do some (literal) shoegazing.
 

12. Wander the Parc del Laberint d’Horta 

Live out your David Bowie/Goblin King fantasy in this manicured cypress maze, filled with Greek statues hidden throughout the many twists and turns. Bring a buddy in case you get lost and have to live there forever. For under €3, the adventure can’t be beat; take the L3 to station Mundet, where it’s a quick walk away.

13. Walk on top of a former bullring

The man who transformed the Centre Pompidou in Paris turned Las Arenas, Barcelona’s central bullring, into a futuristic multi-use center. The architecture inside is fascinating, but the real reason to visit is up on the roof: the circular promenade grants a breathtaking 360-degree view of the city. Do it for the Insta.
 

14. Gobble pinchos in Poble-sec

Tapas-hopping on a Sunday afternoon is what all the cool kids do, and Calle Blai in particular becomes an eater’s paradise. Stroll the pedestrian street while eating your way through bite-sized culinary delights, all for about €1 each.
 

15. Take the tram over the port

For the perfect selfie of you floating over the city, hop in this cable car that soars from Port Vell at Barceloneta beach up to the top of Montjuic -- Barcelona’s own mini-mountain. The views are great for wooing a date, or even just for wooing yourself. 
 

16. Picnic in Parc de Montjuic

The gardens overlooking Barcelona at the top of Montjuic are absolutely gorgeous. Bring your love interest, a spitfire roasted chicken from a street stall, and a bottle of cava, and live the glamorous life on a picnic blanket in the park. Or, y’know, continue wooing yourself.

17. Visit the Fundació Joan Miró

Also on top of Montjuic, you’ll find a brilliant, white modern building designed by Josep Lluis Sert, a close buddy of the artist Miró. The two collaborated to create this space to house not only Miró’s own work, but to provide a space for up-and-coming contemporary artists. The outdoor balcony for sculptures is especially excellent, and entrance is free for students with ID. 
 

18. Be wowed at the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya

Located inside the glorious Palau Nacional, this beautiful museum houses everything from Medieval to modern art -- peep the collection of Catalonian art to get a feel for the soul of the city. Admission is free every Saturday after 3pm and on the first Sunday of every month, but the hangout scene on the front steps is just as good as the art inside, thanks to the view of the Magic Fountain below.

19. Get your romance on at the Magic Fountain

Get all giddy -- little kid style -- at this colorful water show. The display is choreographed to music, which changes regularly, and has a set schedule depending on the season. With the fountain’s placement at the base of the Palau Nacional, it really is breathtaking. 
 

20. Cruise the streets on two wheels

After a lazy day by the water, rent a bike for about €5/hour and wind your way along the ocean. Biking in Barcelona has rentals right on the beach, but there are comparable companies all over the city. Good luck in the roundabouts. 
  

21. Party like a penguin in Icebarcelona

Because nothing is more quintessentially beachy than chilling out by blocks of ice, grab your friends (for warmth) and duck into the artist-designed concept bar that sits right next to the Mediterranean Sea. Try to outlast the average bear’s 45-minute visit. Be strong.
 

22. Visit Barcelona’s oldest bar 

Barcelona nightlife requires serious nocturnal skills: pro tips include taking a three-hour siesta, going to dinner at 10:30pm, and being prepared to see the sunrise. Start the evening at Bar Marsella, reportedly Barcelona’s oldest, which is as famous for its absinthe as it is for being the haunt of literary lushes like Hemingway.

23. Attend an FC Barcelona game 

You can actually score a ticket to see Barça play for as little as €9 -- granted, the seats won’t be the best in the house (obviously), but it’s more about the exciting atmosphere in the stadium than watching every single play of the game.
 

24. Stroll Passeig de Gràcia

Filled with architecture from the modernism movement, snazzy stores, and charming touches -- like the ornate benches and street lights -- this is the place for a Saturday afternoon stroll. Keep your eye out for the Casa Amatller
 

25. Go stare at La Pedrera

In case you couldn’t tell already, Gaudi was king of Barcelona’s modernism movement -- and the Casa Milà is no exception. His signature curves are on display in the undulating facade, while the warrior-headed chimney structures make regular homes look downright boring. It’s off Passeig de Gracia, so stroll by while window shopping on the fancy strip.

26. Cruise through the Gracia District

The Williamsburg of Barcelona, this neighborhood at the base of Park Güell is a must-hit. The narrow streets are packed with fun boutiques, co-working spaces, charming cafes, and foodie restaurants. Start on the shop-lined pedestrian walkway of Carrer de Verdi between Carrer de Providencia and Carrer de l’Or to get a feel for the heart of this ‘hood. The ancient plazas come alive in the evenings, and you’ll immediately want to move here -- until that happens, stop in and have a drink at L’entresol
 

27. Take in the best view of the city

This is also an opportunity to indulge your inner history nerd. On top of Turó de la Rovira -- Barcelona’s highest hill -- are anti-aircraft bunkers that survived the Spanish Civil War. They’re cool for their history, but even more so for the panoramic view of the city. Sneakers are key, since it’s a solid uphill walk from the Guinardo metro station.
 

28. Take the cinematic tour of BCN

For only the cost of taking the metro, visit Barcelona sights and locations immortalized in films starring such actors as Jack Nicholson, Javier Bardem, and Woody Allen. Of course, this merits a full-day movie marathon beforehand to really capture the essence of the moment.

29. Go beyond the beach in Barceloneta

After a day on the sand, wander the streets of the city’s former fishermen’s quarter; the narrow roads feature verdant balconies full of plants, Catalonian and Spanish flags, and the signs of working class life being slowly gentrified. Buried in these several square blocks are excellent local eateries like La Cova Fumada, which you’ll definitely wanna hit up.  
 

30. Feel the music at the Palau de la Música Catalana

Built in 1908, this Art Nouveau concert hall is so spectacular it’s been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Tour the exquisite space for the student price of €9, or receive the student discount for one of the many musical performances that take place throughout the year. 
  

31. Check out La Sagrada Familia

This basilica was the masterwork of Gaudi until his death, based on Gothic architecture but spun through with his uniquely modernista love of nature. The whole experience is way cooler if you start with the Gaudi and Nature exhibit and learn how nature inspired the overall design, but if you don’t want to spring for entrance tickets, grab a bottle of cava and enjoy the view from the lawn of the Placa de la Sagrada Familia across the street. 
 

32. Relax in the Parc de la Ciutadella

This charming park sits on the northeastern edge of the Ciutat Vella. There’s a zoo, as well as paths to bike, a sweet lake to rent a paddle boat, and pretty green gardens for lounging around when the chaos of the old quarter gets to be too much.

33. Explore the Castell de Montjuic

The massive castle overlooking the city first broke ground in 1640. It was long a symbol of the repression of Catalan people -- throughout the Spanish Civil War, it was used as a prison where political prisoners were tortured... and now it’s open for tours! After all that heavy history, let your inner child loose and play on the hidden Montjuic Slides tucked near the base of the fortress. 
 

34. Take part in a massive outdoor celebration

If you’re visiting in September, you’ve got to check out La Festes de Mercè. This weeklong festival honors the city’s patron saint, La Mercè, and features huge outdoor concerts, dance performances, interactive exhibitions throughout Parc de la Ciutadella, and endless parties and revelry throughout the city. How endless, you ask? Well, nearly 2 million people turn out each year. 
 

35. Get sporty on the Carretera de les Aigües

This flat, unpaved trail is 9km long and perfect for biking, hiking, or jogging. Arrive by metro and funicular and be stoked on the view and the break from Barcelona city life. The path is situated in Parc de Collserola, giving you the opportunity to tour the park’s sites or even hit up one of the astronomy nights if you’re feeling celestial. 
 

36. Get some perspective at the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar

In the neighborhood known as La Ribera (the seashore), you’ll find the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar, one of the best examples of Catalan Gothic architecture. With the church’s cornerstone dating from 1329, this massive stone monument with soaring ceilings will bring you back down to Earth if Barcelona life gets overwhelming. 

There’s so much more. You’re just getting started. The only thing left to do is buy a plane ticket, show up, and have fun. Oh yeah, and don’t get pickpocketed.

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Annie Crawford is a freelance-writing country hopper. Follow her @ReinaAnnie.