Free museum days in Barcelona are a great budget way to have fun. There are more museums that waive fees, but I only have direct experience with these three: The Barcelona City History Museum, The Frederic Mares Museum, and The Picasso Museum.
The Barcelona City History Museum
The best way to get to a know a city is to walk it. Another great way is to talk with locals. And a third way to learn about a city is to learn about its history. The Barcelona City Museum is all about the history of this city, and it’s presented to visitors in an engaging way.
Who wouldn’t find it cool to walk right over Roman ruins? That’s what’s happened here. The ruins are ‘underneath’ the modern city. Walkways lead visitors through a maze of sections of the old Barcino – what it was called before it became Barcelona.
There are animated short film clips dotted on the route to help visitors visualize the grandeur that once stood where they themselves stand as they watch the films. The first film is in a room at ground level, before the elevator takes visitors down, and back roughly two-thousand years.
The great old buildings of the Roman Empire were eventually mostly dismantled and used for newer construction. But the pieces that remain in this part of the old Gothic Quarter made history come alive for this budget-traveling kid.
Free admission is on Sunday starting at 3:00 p.m., and there is no audio guide possible for the free entry.
The official website is here.
Note, to find the free entry information on the website, I had to click on the “Buy Tickets” link and start to go through the process as if I was actually buying the tickets. When I got to the calendar, I finally saw the updated hours information and the free entry schedule.
The Frederic Mares Museum
This is an extraordinary collection of mostly sculptures. Frederic Mares was a sculptor himself, and throughout his life he collected other sculptures, and also other items – everything from keys to pictures to decks of playing cards.
The sculptures comprise a few floors of the museum, and the other goods take up a couple more floors. If you are a collector of anything yourself, you will appreciate what this guy must’ve gone through to get all of this stuff.
Most of the sculptures are religious.
The displays start from the times Romans worshiped the gods, and take you through Christianity’s birth and growth through the 19th century.
The museum is in the Gothic Quarter, practically around the corner from the Barcelona City History Museum, and both are right outside the cathedral.
Free admission is on Sundays from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Please check their website first – which is here. Days and times sometimes change. While we were in Barcelona, this museum extended its hours, for example.
The Picasso Museum
The Picasso Museum is free every Thursday from 6:00 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.. When we arrived without tickets, we couldn’t get in. DOH!
Tickets need to be ‘ordered’ on the website. Even though it’s free admission on Thursdays, tickets are given out on a first come, first order basis. When I first looked up the information on the official website, I didn’t scroll down far enough to see tickets were needed even for free admission. And we had plans with family and friends for every other Thursday evening during our month-long stay, so we ran out of free museum days in Barcelona.
The official site is here. Do not make my mistake.
Scroll down and follow the directions for the “free-of-charge” times.
Go through the process like you are buying paid tickets.
It’s a bummer we missed The Picasso Museum because of my mistake. We could have paid for admission on our last full day in Barcelona. Instead, we used our money on a museum I wanted to visit more: the Dali Theater-Museum in Figueres, Spain. Read about that amazing museum here.
As slow travelers, we stayed more than a month in Barcelona, but we could have spent a year there. There’s so much to see and do in Barcelona, and also in the region. It can be tough to fit it all in, but it’s worth the travel planning challenge.
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