Written by Meritxell ~ You don’t have to tell me that Barcelona is an expensive city, I’ve lived here almost all my life. But there are many free things to do in Barcelona. Here are some of my favorites.

Walking the markets

Food markets and street markets are always free and are a great place to mingle with locals. One of the famous food markets in town is El Mercat de la Boquería in the city center, it’s a great market full of history and colorful stalls. Don’t miss it!

MArket Barcelona Boqueria

Mercat de la Boquería

In the city center there are many different types of street markets:

Food street market in Plaça del Pi:  Food artisans get together in Plaça del Pi the first and third Friday, Saturday and Sunday of every month.

Mercat de Sant Antoni: Secondhand and new market with books, clothes, and all different types of products. It is open every Sunday from 8am to 2pm. C/ Comte d’Urgell, 11.

Gothic Market: Originally created for antiques and collectibles objects. Now all shops have a range of different products: porcelain, books, clothing etc. It runs every Thursday.
Spain market ham

At the market you can find everything from pans to hams.

Free guided tours of Barcelona

Poblenou cemetery guided tour: The first and third Sunday of every month there is a guided tour around the cemetery to discover the graves of famous people buried in Barcelona.

Where: Cemetery of Poblenoi: Av. Icária s/n 08005 Barcelona. Metro: Llacuna L4, exit c/ de la Ciutat de Granada)

Schedule: 1st Sunday of every month: 10:30 in Catalan, 12:30 in Spanish. 3rd Sunday of every month: 10:30 in Spanish, 12:30 in Catalan.

Barcelona walking tour for free: Gaudí and Old City, two tours offered by http://www.runnerbeantours.com/

Strolling Barcelona’s lovely parks

Parks are a great place to relax, go for a walk or lie down on the grass. We have many great places to do that in Barcelona:

Parc de la Ciutadella: The most famous park in Barcelona, in the city center just next to Estació de França the park offers a wide variety of activities. The park hosts the Barcelona zoo, as well as the Catalan Parliament and the Museum of Zoology.

Montjuïc is the upper part of Barcelona with sweeping panoramic views of the city. If you want to take pictures check out the Montjuïc and Poble Espanyol Panoramic Tour.

Free things to do in barcelona view from  L’alcalde viewpoint in Montjuïc

Panoramic view of Barcelona from L’alcalde viewpoint in Montjuïc

Top free tip for Barcelona

Here is my favorite tip for discovering free things to do in Barcelona. The website forfree.cat highlights the free activities taking place that week. It offers various categories so you can search for what you are interested in. A section called “less than 5 euros” shows activities that are not free, but are still pretty cheap for the budget-conscious traveler.

Free museum day in Barcelona

Admission is free to many of the museums on the 1st Sunday of the month. List of Free museums on Sundays

They include:

CosmoCaixa—Museo de la Ciencia – Opened in 2005, it’s already become on of the most popular science museums in Europe with a hands-on approach to learning. www.cosmocaixa.com

MNAC—Museo Nacional de Arte de Cataluña This art museum is taking part in the Google Art Project where it is digitizing its collection. www.mnac.es

Museo Picasso Highlights the formative years of the legendary artist. www.museupicasso.bcn.cat

Written by Barcelona native, Meritxell, a 23-year-old tourism professional who loves to travel for the sake of travel and discover new cultures and places. I live like a local everywhere I go because traveling is not only about places but mostly about people. You can follow me on my blog at Tourism With Me, on Twitter @TourismWithMe and Facebook.

What sites do you recommend in Barcelona?

Not only is it Spain’s most romantic city, there  are many free things to do in Seville; a metropolis where flamenco echoes through nighttime streets and bullfighters are carried out of the ring on the broad shoulders of their fans. Just taking in the city’s clash of Moorish, Jewish and Gothic art and architecture is enough to make the trip worthwhile.

Get lost in Seville’s old quarter 

Seville Spain old quarterSeville has the largest old quarter in Europe. Its Moorish roots guarantee that it’s chaotic and easy to get disoriented, but that’s all part of the fun. Put away your map and explore the ancient architectural details and colorful bars while witnessing daily life in the center of town. Don’t worry – you won’t end up anywhere dangerous or sketchy!

 

Soak up the soul of Andalucía with a free flamenco show

Free things to do in Seville flamenco dancer
Flamenco is a gypsy art that developed its modern form in Seville. Ever since UNESCO declared flamenco an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, it has become the lifeblood of both Sevillanos and visitors. Peñas flamencas, small bars dedicated to legendary artists, often put on free or discounted shows in small, dark locales, the guitar wailing as a raven-haired Sevillana taps and claps her way across the stage.

La Carbonería – Seville’s landmark flamenco joint is in every guidebook because the nightly shows are free. Still, the popularity of La Carbonería and its location in the heart of downtown means that the drinks are expensive and the dancers just sub-par.

Peña Hípica El Búcaro – Tucked in the back of this unassuming bar is a dim candle-lit cavern of flamenco. Lesser-known artists dance, sing and play guitar here, but the juerga continues long after the show is finished; you may be invited to join in. Shows are Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 p.m.

Anselma – The eponymous robust owner of Anselma puts on free flamenco every night of the week except Mondays. Just be aware she’ll always make sure you’ve got a drink in your hand! (Calle Pagés del Coro, 49)

T de Triana – This bar cum flamenco haven features free shows on Tuesday and Thursday nights around 10:30 p.m. It’s location on Calle Betis makes it an ideal start to a night at one of the city’s best-known nightlife spots. (Calle Betis, 20).

Brush up on Seville’s eccentric history on free museum day

Seville Torre del oro tower of gold

The Torre del Oro is the home of the Maritime Museum

Most museums and monuments set a day aside for free entry.

Museum of Intolerance / Castillo San Jorge – free daily

Archivo de Indias – free daily with appointment

Torre del Oro – free all day Tuesday

Fine Arts Museum – free all day Tuesday

Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo – Free Tuesdays after 6p.m.

Casa Pilatos – free Tuesdays 1p.m. – 5p.m.

Hospital de los Venerables – Free Sundays 4p.m. – close

Cathedral and Giralda – Free Sundays 2:30p.m. – 6p.m.

For EU citizens, entry to the museums at La Encarnación is always free, as is admission to Itálica, a Roman settlement outside the city.

Students under 26 enjoy discounted rates or free entrance at the Alcázar, Cathedral, Fine Arts Museum, Archaeological Museum and Arts and Customs Museum.

Barter, haggle and observe at Seville’s local markets

The best way to observe how Sevillanos live is at the city markets. Old ladies clear space with jabbing elbows as they make their way to the food stands, while their husbands enjoy a morning anise in the bar. You’ll be shocked by the cuts of animals, the array of fish and the mounds of spices sold at each neighborhood’s market. A gourmet edition is set to open early in 2013 at the end of the Triana bridge. Most markets are open Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. Triana, La Encarnación and Feria are the most lively.

Take advantage of the city’s new free wi-fi spots

Free things to do in Seveille Metropol Parasol

The Metropol Parasol is the largest wooden structure in the world

Seville is a city that straddles both old and new. With the addition of the Metropol Parasol, the city’s skyline, once pierced by only a few church spires, now has a gigantic mushroom-like structure rising above the squat buildings. With the inception of the “Setas,” as they’re known to locals, has come a surge in boutiques, gastrobars and even wi-fi hotspots.

The system allows free access for 30 minutes. Sites include the light rail tram that snakes through the city center, Plaza Nueva, Plaza del Pan, Plaza de la Pescadería, Plaza Salvador, Plaza de la Encarnación, along with all McDonalds, Starbucks and many other restaurants. Just look for the wi-fi sticker in the window because, let’s face it, you’d rather spend your money on something else! 

Wander the Exposition fairgrounds

For two brief periods in its long history Seville was the focus of the world’s attention when it hosted the Iberoamerican Festival in 1929 and again in 1992. Large portions of the city were dedicated to these projects, adding architectural gems to a city whose beauty was already apparent. Walking around the fairgrounds is enriching, yet both are surprisingly different as they reflect the times when the events were held.

In 1929, Seville hosted the Iberoamerican Fair, an event that brought together Latin and South American countries, most of which were former Spanish colonies, to strengthen their ties. Located on the southern end of the historic quarter in María Luisa Park, the building style reflects a golden age in Spanish architecture and art, with each country designing its own pabellón, or exhibition hall. What remains today are the building exteriors, mainly occupied by government and university offices, and the crowning gem, the Plaza de España.

On the opposite side of the city, in the Isla de la Cartuja, Spain again hosted an exposition, this time to welcome the 21st century. Over 100 countries attended. Preparations included building several new bridges that spanned the Guadalquivir River and a monorail; the area is reputedly the launching point for Columbus’ first journey to America.

Visit San Fernando Cemetery

Seville’s main cemetery provides a peaceful respite from the bustling city. Opened in 1852, the city’s most illustrious names have been laid to rest here, including bullfighters, flamenco singers, war heroes and criminals. The still-active cemetery is open during daylight hours. Take bus 10 from Ponce de León until you see the cemetery (1,40€ one-way)

Discover the city’s Roman roots 

Seville has been conquered, reconquered and conquered again, creating a mix of architectural and artistic legacies. The Roman roots of the city are best preserved since city decrees outlaw the destruction of ruins or artifacts. Such objects can be seen in the archeological museum of María Luisa Park, but tourists can discover many of its ruins for free.

Starting at the corner of Calle Mármoles and Calle Abades, where the columns of a Roman temple once stood, make your way to Plaza de la Pescadería, where giant marble blocks preserve the ruins of a fish monger. Walk through the Alfalfa neighborhood to Plaza de la Encarnación for the gorgeous mosaics and old city walls that lie underneath the square (1,50€ for non-EU citizens). There are also ruins of a Roman aqueduct just outside the city center on Luis Montoto, beautifully preserved and illuminated at night as cars zip by in a city anchored in its past, but trying to break into the future.

Cat GaaUpon receiving an offer to work at a radio broadcast center in Chicago, writer Cat Gaa turned it down and instead showed up at the Consulate of Spain. Five years and a daily craving for Cruzcampo later, she writes at Sunshine and Siestas about life and culture in Seville. Follow her on twitter and instagram at @sunshinesiestas.

Gibraltar is a pretty interesting place to visit. Besides the giant rock that takes up most of the land, it’s the only place where we’ve had to drive across the airport runway to enter. This can cause a few complications since jets also use the runway. But the Gibraltarians take it in stride. When a plane is taking off or landing they hold back the traffic, just like at a railroad crossing.

Gibraltar airport runway

How many airports let you cross the runway?

Since there isn’t much land at Gibraltar they’ve come up with clever ways to use what they have. Before World War II, airplanes used to land on the grassy area in the middle of the local horseracing track. With the advent of the war the British built a runway into the sea. With minimal margin for error not just any pilot can land at Gibraltar. Despite the somewhat hairy landing, a quirk that placed the Gibraltar airport in a list of the top 10 unusual airports, there has never been a civil aviation accident.

Gibraltar Airport cars crossing runway

Since Gibraltar is part of the UK a double-decker bus on the runway is not an unusual sight.

We met our friends Charles and Maureen, native Gibraltarians, for a behind-the-scenes visit to the “Rock.” A relic of Gibraltar’s strategic position is that the rock itself is honeycombed with tunnels, some dating to the 1700s. We were inside one of these tunnels when we heard the unmistakable sound of a jet engine roaring to life, a noise that typically provokes a Pavlovian response in Larissa as she jerks her head quicker than a one-eyed dog in a sausage factory.

Gibraltar Airport birds eye view

Gibraltar Airport viewed from the Rock. The border with Spain is about 500 yards on the other side of the runway.

We ran to a viewpoint in the tunnel and were rewarded with a literal bird’s-eye view over the runway. Since there are only about five flights a day out of Gibraltar our timing was perfect. Here’s our video of a jet taking off from one of the quirkiest airports in the world. And as our friend Charles points out, also one of the safest.

If you’re into watching planes take off check out the video of the new runway viewing platform at Perth Airport.