With the news that cash-strapped Spain will start charging tourists 8 EUR to enter Gaudi’s Parc Guell; we look at some of the FREE things to do in Barcelona.
La Rambla – Meandering from the center of Barcelona down to the harbour side is the mile-long La Rambla. The wide tree-lined boulevard is an entertainment complex within itself; lined with street entertainers. Musicians, dancers and fortune tellers line La Rambla, which also provides the perfect spot for people spotting.
Hospital de Sant Pau – The UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Hospital de Sant Pau is a stunning modernist complex created by Catalan architect Lluís Domènech i Montaner. The former hospital was originally founded in 1401 and is architecturally spectacular.
La Sagrada Família – The most famous example of Spain’s Modernisme architecture has to be Antoni Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia. Construction kicked off in 1882 and more than 130 years later, remains incomplete. The absolutely stunning creation however remains the city’s main tourist attraction and is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Mercat del Born – Located in Barcelona’s Ciutat Vella is the former central market of Mercat del Born. Now being transformed into a museum and cultural hub, the street level is free to explore.
Picasso Museum – opened in 1963, the Museu Picasso is dedicated to painter and sculpture Pablo Picasso. The 3,800 pieces on display are from his early period and entry is free each afternoon on the first Sunday of each month.
Gaudi’s Works – Gaudi’s stamp is evident throughout the Eixample district, including La Pedrera (Casa Milà) which houses ever-changing activities and exhibitions and the exquisite Casa Batllo, which is known locally as the House of Bones, which seemingly contains no straight lines.
Museu de la Xocolata – Calling all chocolate lovers! This museum is dedicated to the sweet stuff and has free entry each first Monday of the month.
Casa Amatller – For a different take on the Modernisme style of architecture; check out Josep Puig i Cadafalch’s Casa Amatller. The former private residence mixes Gothic and Dutch influences and its exterior is a curious design of dragons and other mystical creatures. Together with Casa Batlló (above) and Casa Lleó-Morera, this forms the famous trio of Illa de la Discòrdia, aka "Block of Discord" in English.
Palau de Justícia – The Modernista tale is one with four sides, that is to say there were four main architects of the period and Enric Sagnier was the first and least known. His works include the Palau de Justícia, the Caixa de Pensions structure in Via Laietana and the ornate Church on the Tibidabo.
Beaches – Many travellers forget that Barcelona is actually a beach city and when all the cultural sights and architectural wonders become just a little too overwhelming, there’s always a golden beach or too to rest your weary feet. By far the most popular (and busiest) is the blue flag approved Barceloneta which has a glorious stretch of golden sands and promenade lined with shops and cafes. Other Barcelona blue flag beaches include Bogatell, Llevant, Mar Bella and Nova Icaria.
Entrance charges of 8 Euro per person for the iconic Park Guell come into force on 1 October 2013 and follows the introduction of a 10 Euro charge to take part in the annual Tomatina festival.