Free Things to Do in Barcelona

Nadezhda1906/iStock/GettyImages

Savoring the City While Saving Your Pennies

The Spanish city of Barcelona is a great destination for adults and kids alike. The capital of Spain’s Catalonia region is known for its art and architecture, as well as delicious food and beachside locale. And you don't have to spend a fortune to enjoy it. There are plenty of free and memorable activities available for your family in this seaside gem—from beaches to markets to dancing fountains.

Eat It Up: Mercat De La Boqueria

A great way to learn about a city's culture is to explore one of its food markets. Barcelona is home to Mercat de la Boqueria (91 Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona), Europe's largest food market. Amble through the aisles and marvel at the local fruits, vegetables and spices, then give your kids a chance to discover what makes Catalonian cuisine unique. If you get hungry (and you probably will), snack on some tapas at one of the several restaurants inside the market, which is open every day except Sunday from 8 a.m. until 8:30 p.m.

Soak It Up: Barceloneta Beach

Barcelona has several nearby beaches, but your best bet is to pack up the towels and sunscreen and head for Barceloneta Beach (Passeig Maritim de la Barceloneta, Barcelona). As the city's main beach, it's filled with children exploring and sunbathers soaking up the sun—a fantastic place to enjoy the Mediterranean coast and its loved by many on TripAdvisor. It's best experienced during the spring and summer, when, even in August, temperatures average a tolerable 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Head early to avoid the crowds, especially if you have young kids. And don't forget the shovels and buckets so you can build your own Spanish castles.

Play It Up: Parc de la Ciutadella

Barcelona is a busy metropolis, so when you're ready to relax, head to the green spaces of Parc de la Ciutadella (Passeig de Picasso 21, Barcelona). Stroll past the historic buildings and ornate fountains, then spread out a picnic on the grass and enjoy. Your kids will be thrilled to run and play, and you can also pay a visit to the Umbracle, a tropical greenhouse built in 1888.

Dance It Up: Font Magica

Barcelona's Font Magica (Placa de Carles Buigas, Barcelona), which means "magic fountain," is the city's No. 2 activity on TripAdvisor. Visitors and locals alike highly recommend paying a visit to the magical fountain, which was originally built in 1929. In the evenings, the fountain glows and dances along with music, putting on a compelling 15-minute show your family will find delightful. In the summer, performances occur every 30 minutes on Thursday to Sunday evenings and on Friday to Saturday the rest of the year. Join the crowds and enjoy the spectacle.

Dream It Up: Castell de Montjuïc

What child doesn't dream of castles? Barcelona's Castell de Montjuïc (Carretera de Montjuïc 66, Barcelona), built in 1640, is an old military fortress with amazing views of the city. The castle is open daily and you can skip the usual entry fee by visiting on Sunday after 3 p.m. It's worth it: the castle features rotating exhibits, family-friendly activities and lots of rooms to explore. It's also the perfect spot to capture a family photo with the city in the background.