Top 5 Things to do for Free in Barcelona this Summer
June 7, 2020
After more than two long months of confinement, Barcelonians have never been as hungry to sink their teeth into their vibrant, Mediterranean home. There’s always a tonne of things to do, but how can you enjoy yourself this summer without breaking the bank in one of Spain’s most expensive cities? Fortunately, the Catalan capital offers plenty to do that doesn’t cost a cent! Let’s start with the one you’ve most been looking forward to…
1. Hit the Beach
The first and most obvious choice is to cool down at the beach. Barcelona has around 4km of sandy beaches stretching from the popular Barceloneta in the South, to the quieter Platja de Llevant further up North.
If you don’t like crowds though, beware! Even without any tourists here for the time being, after months of being cooped up at home, you can bet the beaches will fill up fast. To avoid the worst of the crowds, get out of the city if you can.
With almost 600km of coastline, Catalonia has no shortage of wonderful beaches. Check out my compilation of Top 5 Beaches Near Barcelona you can reach easily by train or even bike for some inspiration!
2. Get on your Bike
Once you’ve had your fill of lazing around at the beach, you might want to do something more active. So get those legs pumping and do some sight-seeing by bike.
One of my favourite routes is to start at Barceloneta beach and continue up north on the cycle path which hugs the coast. It’s flat, safe, and you have a constant sea view and light breeze blowing through your hair.
Tip 1: go in the cool of the morning for the most pleasant bike ride before the rest of the city wakes up.
Tip 2: Give the low-hanging palm trees a high five as you cycle under them. A friend told me to do this once and it may sound silly but it always makes me smile. Honestly, give it a try, it feels so good!
Tip 3: Go on a heart-shaped route for some heartful cycling. Check out Cycle Your Heart Out for more info about how to get started! If you haven’t got a two-wheeled friend, don’t worry, you can always use Bicing, the cheapest way to get around for short journeys. And if you want to go on longer trips I would recommend a bike-sharing app like Donkey Republic.
3. Be a Tourist in Your Own City
From left clockwise: Casa Batlló, Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau and Gaudí’s La Pedrera
With no international tourists until at least July, now is the perfect time to be a tourist in your own city without the usual summer crowds. So whatever famous landmarks or museums you’ve always wanted to visit, go now and enjoy the added bonus of shorter queues and more opportunities to take some snaps without hordes of tourists blocking your shot.
Although many museums are expensive, with the likes of Sagrada Familia charging 20 Euros for a standard ticket, lots of them have free entrance days on: public holidays, La Nit dels Museus (this year postponed to Saturday 14th November), as well as the first Sunday of every month.
Plus, Sagrada Familia have just announced that they’ll be opening free of charge to front-line workers during the first two weekends in July and then to all other Barcelona residents from 18th July until December. How cool is that?! These visits will take place on Saturday afternoons and will be exclusively for residents. So for all of you Barcelonians who still haven’t been inside, now’s your chance! No excuses!
I would particularly recommend a visit to Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau (pictured above). Read all about why Sant Pau is my favorite Barcelona museum and when you can go free in my blog post A Hospital You Wouldn’t Want to Leave.
Aside from visiting museums, one of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing lately is waking up early to go for a bike ride and take photos around the city. It’s a really fun way to see our beautiful city with fresh eyes and remember how many cool sights there are on our doorsteps!
An added bonus of there being no tourists right now is that you can finally walk comfortably down popular areas like Las Ramblas with a low chance of being pickpocketed, visit el Mercat de la Boquería without being hit in the face with selfie sticks, or even just have a pleasant evening drink in Plaça Reial without inflatable-penis-toting hen and stag parties spoiling your evening. Cheers to that!
4. Get some Fresh Air in Serra de Collserola
As great as Barcelona city life is, sometimes you just need to escape the cars and pollution. Fortunately, there’s a natural haven and breath of fresh air for walkers, runners and cyclists alike just a 15 min train ride from the city centre.
If you turn away from the dazzling Mediterranean sea for a moment and look inland, you’ll see Collserola Natural Park providing the city’s beautiful green backdrop on the mountainside. Compared to many of Barcelona’s “parks”, which are tiny and sometimes don’t even have grass, Collserola is a real treat for nature lovers or just for those wanting to stretch their legs in a bigger area.
The 8,000 hectares of protected park provides some well-needed fresh air for the city, stunning views and rich biodiversity, such as wild boar! (Watch out though, they’re cute but can get quite aggressive, especially if you stumble across a mother with her young.)
How to get there: Take one of the FGC trains from Plaça Catalunya, such as the S1 or S2, and get out at either Baixador de Vallvidrera, Les Planes or La Floresta. If you want to walk the most popular route, Carretera de les Aigües (which ultimately takes you to the lovely little old-fashioned amusement park on the top calledTibidabo), I would suggest getting off at Baixador de Vallvidrera and then travelling one stop with the funicular from the same station to get to the start of the route. This can all be done easily and cheaply with a zone 1 ticket.There’s a visitors centre close to this stop and they can provide you with routes, maps and advice.
Top tip: Go in the morning or evening to beat the summer heat, pack plenty of water and a picnic and you’re good to go!
Sea + mountains = AMAZING VIEWS. And you don’t have to go far or spend a single penny to find those Insta-worthy panoramas. One of my favourite spots for breathtaking views has to be Bunkers del Carmelwhere you can enjoy spectacular sunsets among the remains of an anti-aircraft battery from the Spanish Civil War. The Bunkers offer you a 360° view of the city from a height of 262 metres and is the city’s best sunset drinking and picnic spot.
How to get there: If coming from the centre you can take the L4 metro line and get off at Alfons X followed by a 20 min uphill walk. Alternatively, if you don’t want to do as much walking, you could take the L3 and get off at Vallcarca followed by the 22 bus (direction Carmel) and get out at Gran Vista-Turó de la Rovira. For even less walking you can take the L3 and get off in Penitentes and then take the very cute 119 bus del barri (direction Carmel) and get off at Panorama Marià Lavèrnia.
Alternatively, take an easy walk up to Montjuïc for some stunning views!
And there you have it, my Top 5 things to do for free in Barcelona this summer! Please let me know if there are any suggestions you would add in the comments section below.
Sending you positivity and sunshine from Barcelona!
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