The end of this article was going to be a call to reflection. We were going to ask ourselves, we were going to ask you, is it worth to look for free parking considering that parking for free in Barcelona will mean moving to areas far from the city center? This approach acquires more sense if we take into account that in areas not so far from the center we can find some guarded parking at € 7.50 per day (such as Parking Viajeros) or even in towns bordering Barcelona and with close access to the network of metro, at € 49.00 per week (for example Car Park Promoparc Cubics). But it is understandable that on a trip we want to save the most money, and parking in Barcelona is not cheap, although there are parking options for days in the center of the city that have cheapened the cost of parking. But now it's about totally free, so let's go back to the initial approach, where to park for free in Barcelona? Is it possible? ... Yes, it is. In some areas and spaces 24 hours a day and others in limited hours. Let's see where:
Free parking areas in Barcelona
Seven are the areas of Barcelona where you can find parking for not spending money: Montjuïc, the University Zone, the quarter of Pedralbes, near the beaches, La Maquinista, La Segrera and Vall d'Hebrón - Guinardó..
Parking for free in Montjuïc
NOTICE: according to the website of the MNAC, this area of Montjuïc would no longer be free.
Montjuïc is a mountain in Barcelona that is part of the Sants-Montjuïc district and which can be accessed from Plaça Espanya, Lleida street and other streets of Poble Sec, Mèxic street and the Passeig de la Zona Franca as main access points. Montjuïc is an area full of parks and gardens, museums, cultural centers and sports facilities. There is no parking time limitation area and the MNAC has a free unguarded outdoor parking.
- It is the option closest to the center if you find a place in the parking lot of the MNAC or in nearby streets.
- It is an area where there are no houses so at night it is quite deserted, although also for the day is not characterized by having much traffic and many areas do not pass many people.
- There is no public transport at night and it depends on which area of Montjuïc you have parked, it will cost you more time and effort to get to the center.
- In the Olympic Stadium and in the Sant Jordi Pavilion large concerts can be held and Montjuïc is partially closed to traffic.
Park for free in the Zona Universitaria (University Zone)
The University Zone is located at the east access of Barcelona, on both sides of the Avinguda Diagonal and around the Palau Reial. It is an area that you will find if you come to Barcelona from the A2 motorway.
- It has two metro stations very close (Zona Universitària and Palau Reial, both of the L3 line).
- Being in one of the eaccess of Barcelona is easy to find for those who arrive in Barcelona through that access.
- Useful for weekends and during holidays.
- Being parking spaces located around the universities, it is very difficult to find a car space during days and taught hours.
- It is an area with few homes and therefore at night and in non taught periods there is not much movement of vehicles and people.
- The Camp Nou is not far away so the days of the FC Barcelona match may have some streets cut and finding a free place to park can be a very complicated task.
Free parking in Pedralbes
Part of the University Zone is located in the Pedralbes neighborhood (the other in Les Corts). In this neighborhood in the upper part of Barcelona there were few green areas, but they have been increasing. However, you can still find some areas with free parking spaces, such as the side of Avinguda Diagonal from John Maynard Keynes street (see map below) or a section of Alfambra street.
- It is a more secure residential area than other areas far from the city center.
- There is hardly any nightlife so at night it is a very little frequented area.
- The area next to Avinguda Diagonal has 3 metro stations of the L3 line nearby but the rest of the quarter is not well connected to the center by public transport.
Find free parking near the beaches of Barcelona
Speaking about parking next to the beaches of Barcelona, we must first differentiate the beaches of Barceloneta from the rest of the beaches, those that start from Marina Street and go to Barcelona north. In the narrow streets of the Barceloneta quarter you will only find areas reserved for neighbors so forget about that area. In the other you will first find a blue paid parking area and later you could find parking on a lot by the sea (see the street viwe below), but it is currently closed because it is going to be converted into a park (the works will start from June 2023).
In a nearby area, specifically on street Llull 358, you will find another lot where you can park for free for the time being.
- If you have booked a hotel or apartment very close to the beaches of Barcelona it can be a parking option.
- The L4 metro line connects the beaches with the center of Barcelona.
- It's hard to find a place
- It is not asphalted and it is very chaotic.
La Maquinista: a shopping center with free parking spaces
La Maquinista is a shopping center in the Bon Pastor quarter of the Sant Andreu district. It is located on the outskirts of Barcelona, very close to Santa Coloma de Gramenet, in a semi-industrial and residential area. This shopping center has two underground parking floors and one outside, all of which are free. It also has special spaces for the disabled, families, XXL spaces and spaces for electric charging. You can access these car parks from República Dominicana street and Paseo de Potosí.
- You can park without a time limit.
- On weekends it is very crowded and in general it is somewhat chaotic.
- It is no longer open 24 hours (hhe hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, and from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 a.m. on Friday and Saturday).
Other areas to park for free
A little further south of the La Maquinista shopping center area we find the La Segrera quarter, a zone that we could define as similar to Bon Pastor. Here you can search for car park spaces in the street. From the La Segrera metro station you can reach the Sagrada Familia in 20 minutes.
Other aspects that you must take into account when parking on the streets of Barcelona
The green areas (àrea verda)
The so-called green areas cover a large part of Barcelona. There are two types, which are reserved exclusively for residents and mixed areas that can be used by non-residents with limited hours. In the mixed ones you can park for a maximum of 1 or 2 hours depending on the area (this information is indicated on parking meters and signs) and the price ranges from €0.50 to €4.25 per hour (cars with a 0 emissions label pay less and those without a label pay more). The operating hours of the mixed green spaces are from Monday to Friday or from Monday to Saturday, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Outside of these hours and days you can park for free. The places reserved exclusively for the neighbors work from Monday to Sunday and holidays, from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (old town of Gràcia, old town of Sarriá, Camp de l'Arpa, El Carmel and district of Ciutat Vella, except Barceloneta), or from Monday to Sunday and holidays, from 00:00 to 24:00 (quarters of Barceloneta and El Born).
The blue areas (àrea blava)
All vehicles can park in these areas, with the corresponding time ticket issued by the parking meter, for the maximum time indicated by the sign. This time can be 1 or 2 hours. The price ranges from €0.00 for zero emission cars to €3.75 an hour for cars without badges. The majority of the operating hours of the Blue area coincide with the busiest time in the city, from Monday to Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.. However, in the center of the city, this schedule is also extended to Saturdays and, in the beach area, it also applies to Sundays and holidays. As in the green zones, in the blue zones you can park for free outside the zone's operating hours.
The loading and unloading areas
Loading and unloading zones are everywhere and can be recognized by the zig-zag yellow line drawn on the asphalt and by the vertical prohibition signs. Be careful not to park in one of them because a fine and a tow truck are likely. And how much does a tow truck cost in Barcelona? €173.00 (+ 2.50 per hour deposit, €25.00 per day and €250.00 per month) and this without counting the fine for bad parking that can be up to 200 € depending on severity. Keep in mind that the amount can be reduced by 50% if the payment is made in the voluntary period. However, vehicles registered outside of Spain must pay the fine in any case.
What is the amount of the fine for parking in the green area without ticket?
€ 100.00 approximately and 50% reduction paying in voluntary period
And for parking in blue zone?
The same. And can the car be towed in the green and blue areas? As well.
Do not leave anything inside the car
If you park on the street do not leave anything inside the car, and much less things in sight, because anything you leave can make thieves think that there may be more things inside.
The google maps app is beginning to help drivers find free parking on the street. When doing a search, show a letter P indicating wether it is easy or not to find parking in that area. However this functionality of the app is more useful for those who seek parking for hours and obviously does not take into account aspects such as security.
This is a truism, but better to remember it. The longer a vehicle stays in a free parking area away from the center of Barcelona, the more likely it is that something will happen. And if our intention is to use the car or the motorbike during our stay in Barcelona, we will waste time looking for parking. The parkings in Barcelona by hours or by 24 hours with normal rate are expensive but fortunately there are options to park for days at interesting prices, and very possibly near the hotel or apartment that you have booked.
Conclusion: It is possible to find a free space for your car or motorcycle in several places in Barcelona. The decision will depend on what you are going to do in Barcelona, the time you have, your budget, if you want to move the car or not during your stay, where you are going to stay and other considerations. But one thing, do it at your own risk!