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By Regina W Bryan in Barcelona—
I wish this list was easier to compile, but Barcelona is not the “land of the free.” In fact, many locals believe that we pay more here for just about everything than they do in other parts of Spain.
Road-trip? You’ll pay loads in tolls in Catalonia. Bread and olives with dinner? That’s another €2 per person. Free tapa with a drink (like they do in Granada or Oviedo, or in many other areas of the country)? Yeah right! Don’t make me laugh…
While it seems that nothing is free anymore in Barcelona, here are a few things that they haven’t figured out how to charge people for yet.
Free Wi-Fi is available all over the city thanks to the city government. From Ciutadella Park to the beaches of Barceloneta you can sign on and check your Facebook updates. Of course, you can also find Wi-Fi at one of the city’s many libraries. For more, read our previous post on free Wi-Fi in Barcelona.
This is a good one. Parties in Barcelona are elaborate, days-long, and for the most part free or very inexpensive. When I say “party,” I mean citywide parties or festivals such as La Mercè and Festes de Gràcia. These free parties take over whole barris, or in the case of La Mercè the whole city, and offer concerts, dances, decorations, activities for the kids, fireworks, fire running, and inexpensive communal dinners.
Drinks are also sold at low prices in the streets during these celebratory times. Mostly these bashes happen in the summer and early fall. Almost every barri in Barcelona has its own bash. La Mercè, which is the largest and brings in the big dogs in music, is held every September 23rd with many concerts and events leading up to it the week prior.
Yes maps, and info in general on the city, can be found in abundance in any of the Tourist Information Offices at no cost. There’s a big one on Pl. Catalunya and another one on the corner of Pssg. de Gracia in Palau Robert. Which brings me to number 4…
Lots of museums in the city are free. Palau Robert is one, though I’ll warn you that many of its exhibitions are in Catalan. Most museums also have a free day. The MNAC for example is free the first Sunday of each month, plus free on International Museum Day, which is May 18th.
(Update: The Caixa Forum, one of my favorite museums, was free until 2013. Sadly, they’re charging now.)
As of right now sunshine, as much as you can take, is free. “Big whoop,” I hear you saying, “I can get that anywhere!” No sir, you can’t. I know this for a fact because I come from Portland, Oregon, where the Sun God makes very few appearances.
One of the aspects of Barcelona I enjoy most is all the sunny days, winter and summer alike. Go down to Barceloneta and sit on the beach in the sun in May. Have a coffee in October on a plaza in the sun. Do cartwheels at Ciutadella Park in February in the sun. It’s free, it’s uplifting, and it’s one of the reasons many foreigners from cloudy, chilly places relocate here.
Your favorite freebies?
What do you like doing in Barcelona for free? Tell us about it in the comments section below.