National art museum Barcelona

Barcelona is a hotspot of Spanish and Catalan heritage, so much so that it can be hard to fit everything in. Thankfully, cultural Barcelona breaks don’t have to break the bank, as with this handy round up you can find the right time and place to see the top museums completely free!


Maritime Museum

First Saturday of every month

Barcelona’s Maritime Museum, at the bottom of Las Ramblas, is built into the Drassanes Reals, in the old city walls, and houses a number of exhibitions throughout the year. Originally the royal shipyards of the city, the museum holds some fascinating models and installations depicting life during the time the dockyards were active. You’ll also find artifacts brought back to Europe from the first voyages to the Americas, and the centerpiece of the museum, a full-size replica of Juan de Austria’s galley boat.

History Museum of Barcelona

First Saturday of every month

In Barcelona’s medieval Gothic Quarter, the History Museum of Barcelona is a fascinating exploration of the excavated chambers and corridors buried deep beneath the city. Underneath King’s Square you’ll find yourself in Roman-era Barcelona, complete with the walls and pillars of a 2000-year-old city and the Roman streets laid out in front of you. Above ground, the building housing the entrance to the ruins is just as impressive, encompassing the magnificent former Royal Palace and the King Martin watchtower.

Ethnological Museum

Free entry

The Ethnological Museum, on Paseo Santa Madrona, showcases a wide variety of social and cultural studies and artifacts, and is widely considered to be one of the city’s best collections of ethnic pieces. These pieces tell the story of the origins they are connected to, such as the Catalonian musical instruments, the ancient Moroccan ceramics, and even the historical and contemporary artwork of Japan, all under one roof. The exhibitions serve as a fascinating insight into research and fieldwork, and the museum also offers workshops and concerts, promising a unique free attraction during even a short break to Barcelona.

Art and Design

Picasso Museum

Free entry

The Picasso museum is a must for art lovers on a Barcelona break, as it showcases a huge collection of the artist’s early works, all the way up to the “Blue Period”.  The museum focuses on Picasso’s deep affinity with Barcelona, which was so strong that the museum itself was built to fulfil his wish to leave his finest art in the hands of the city he loved best. Here you’ll find a full biography of the artist’s life, interpretations of his work, and several guided tours and events, as well as specialist exhibitions which change every 3 months.

Museum of Textiles and Costume

Free entry

Inside the Palace of the Marquis de Lilo is Barcelona’s Museum of Textiles and Costume. The museum reflects the significance of textiles in Barcelona’s history, focusing on its importance as a major export and showcasing the designs and styles of fashion and costume throughout Barcelona’s history. The building itself is beautiful to explore, with much of its 13th-century architecture still visible, and the range of textiles dating back as far as the Arab conquest of Spain are a fantastic way to discover the city’s past. The more recent exhibits display beautiful 17th-century Baroque fashions, a real delight for fashion lovers and a great place for inspiration!

Finally, if you have time, make sure you head to the Barcelona Chocolate Museum on the first Monday of the month. Discover the history of chocolate through the ages as a medicinal drug, an aphrodisiac and a necessary nutritional food, and watch chocolatiers at work as they create huge chocolate structures right before your eyes – a treat for the whole family during your Barcelona holiday!

About the author

Written by S.Gibson, part of the easyJet holidays travel writers team.