Gaudi´s La Sagrada Familia
Barcelona’s most famous landmark may charge admission, but viewing it from the outside is free. Personally, I don’t think going inside is worth it – the museum isn’t especially interesting (unless you have a big interest in architecture) and the climb to the top gives you a less-than-spectacular view of the city.
Of course, paying the entrance fee does at least help guarantee that they finish the building (over 120 years and counting, so far), but if you’re on a very tight budget, you can still appreciate 90% of the building from across the road.
Ramblas, Boqueria market, and The Plaza Real
Barcelona’s most famous thoroughfare is a tourist attraction in itself. The street performers are there all day, every day and for a few cents will do their little party trick for you (if you’re really, really tight, you can wait until someone else pays the 10c needed to get them to do something).
Also on Las Ramblas is the Boqueria market (though the fruit and vegetables come at a price, wandering around the stalls costs nothing) and the Plaça Reial can be found just off the main street.
Parc Guell is another of Gaudi’s works and, like the Sagrada Familia, was never completed. It was intended as a residential area for Barcelona’s rich and famous, but it didn’t receive the local support required. What exists today is a fabulous park with gingerbread houses, fountains and interesting ceramic statues that will fascinate young and old alike. The small museum charges to get in, but everything else is free.
The Picasso museum is the best showcase of works by the Spanish cubist artist. It is only free on the first Sunday of the month. Be warned, the line to get in is gigantic – get there early.
The museum is also free to under-16s and to study groups (only on Wednesday afternoons). Inquire at the museum for more information.
On certain days there are free guided tours of the collection, but you have to pay the normal entrance fee to see it.
Montjuic and de Museu Nacional D’ Art de Catalunya
One of two moutains in Barcelona (the other being Tibidabo), Montjuic has a wealth of sights for those who don’t mind a bit of a climb. Take a walk with a nice view of the sea, wander round the old watchtower and marvel at the Mayor’s Belvedere, a collage of broken bottles and pottery by Carles Buïgas. The Museu Nacional D’Art de Catalunya is free to under-15s, over-65s and on the first Sunday of the month.
Modern art museum that offers innovative exhibitions, often incorporating modern technology. Started in 1980 to provide a showcase for art considered too experimental for normal galleries.
Hospital de Sant Pau
Designed by Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner, a contemporary of Antoní Gaudí, this fully functioning hospital is an architectural delight and is within walking distance of La Sagrada Familia, which means you don’t need to even pay for any more transport.
Though you might have to side step the elderly and infirm to get your photos, the vast majority of the hospital is open for you to wander around.
Parc de la Ciutadella
Take the kids for a run in a very pleasant park in the center of Barcelona. It features Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf (much nicer than the one in Paris) fountains, museums (not free) and a zoo (also not free).
It isn’t the most attractive beach in the world (artificially made, rumor has it that it is half sand and half concrete) but everyone loves to spend half a day catching some rays, right?
Entrance to the Barcelona Cathedral is free, so you can marvel at the Romanesque cathedral from both outside and within.