It's easy to be overwhelmed by Barcelona's long list of museums and architectural delights - here are 9 free things to do in the Catalonian capital to get you started
1. Take a stroll
Only in Barcelona can strolling the streets be a highlight – walking down La Rambla you can see anything from living statues, bird markets, fire eaters and even the occasional nudist. Cafés and bars line the busy pedestrianised boulevard creating a vibrant atmosphere.
Beware: watch out for pick-pockets.
2. Walk among the dead
A block east of La Rambla lies a sunken garden of 95 exposed Roman tombs and mausoleums. The burial ground stretches along either side of the road and is filled with flower beds. Most of the tombs are 'cupae', a simple funeral monument – the necropolis lies outside the Roman wall, as the law prohibited burials within the city.
3. Meet a dragon
Gaudi's Parc Guell, world famous for its extravagant ceramics, is perfect for lazy strolls in the shade of leafy trees and arty photographs of fairy-tale houses. Get lost on one of the park's many trails, gaze at the roof of the marketplace and say hello to the friendly dragon guarding the main staircase.
4. Head back in time
The Museu Barbier Mueller d'Art Precolombí is free on the first Sunday of every month. The museum hosts a selection of masks, jewellery and textiles from the Amazon, Andean and Meso-America. Pieces date back as far as the second millennium BC.
5. Feet in the sand
Rebecca Horn's quirky Homenatge a la Barceloneta and Frank Gehry's spectacular, glittering gold Fish are only two of the attractions to draw you to the beach of La Barceloneta. Sand sculptors, volleyball games and sumo-wrestlers also occupy the sea-side. Grab a cerveza and enjoy the fun.
6. Creep yourself out
Barcelona's most obscure museum, set in the basement of Ajuntament's funeral service, is a splendidly shudder-some display of funeral carriages and hearses dating back to the 18th Century. The dummies who man the steering wheels have a way of following you with their eyes, while you peer into the back of Buicks and landau carriages - you'll be glad of the security guard in the corner.
7. Free walking tour
Runner Bean Tours offer free daily walking tours of both the old city and Gaudi's Barcelona. Meeting at 11.00 and 16.30 at the Plaça Reial, a guide will reveal hidden secrets behind Gothic walls or take you on a trip through Gaudi's eccentric life. www.runnerbeantours.com
8. Get away from it all
Idyllic and green, the Parc de la Ciutadella is a natural haven in the centre of the metropolitan city. Covering 30 hectares, you'll never run out of room to explore – wander in the shades of the Castle of the Three Dragons, lounge in the shade near La Cascade or listen to local bongo players congregate here on weekend afternoons.
9. Magic Fountain
Font Magica, a dancing, brightly lit fountain in the centre of Placa de Carles Buigas – which dances to ballroom, latino and pop music in half hour sets – is one of Barcelona's most impressive attractions. Join the cheering crowd from eight through to midnight every night.
And one to break the bank
From €112 per person, hire a skipper and luxury yacht for the day from The Barcelona Adventure Company. Lounge on deck sipping wine or an ice-cold beer whilst watching the Catalonian coast drift by. The perfect chilled out day!
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