I had quite a complicated experience with parking a car in Barcelona, so I decided to resume all my research into one nice article on where to find free parking in Barcelona for the ones affected!
Except the recommendation of not coming by car to Barcelona - since the traffic is more than chaotic, parking spots are scarce and the public transport is very well organised, day and night - or using a scooter instead, these are the main points you should pay attention to.
First of all, there are 2 different paying parking zones in Barcelona, a blue and a green one.
The green zone is intended for inhabitants of the neighbourhood, so as a tourist you can only park in some of them - more specific, the non preferent ones, who are for inhabitants only at all times - for max. 2 hours. There are 2 types, A and B, and the rates vary from 2.75 - 3 € / hour. Also, these parking spots are free betzeen 20.00 and 8.00, with the only practical problem that it's almost impossible to find a spot in that timetable. You can always try of course, but especially in the city center this is 'Mission Impossible'.
The blue zones are mostly in commercial zones, near schools, hospitals, ... They intend a higher rotation of parked vehicles, so more people can use the surrounding services and park their car meanwhile, for up to 4 hours. There are 4 different types, A, B, C and D, and the price per hour varies from 1 - 2.50 € / hour.
So now, the more interesting information: Where to park for FREE?
Of course, this depends on the time of the day, and the duration that you need, but here are a few alternatives and own experiences:
1. In La Maquinista, a big shopping center that is near the 'Torres y Bagues' metrostop on the red line, there is a free unlimited parking. The inside one does close for the night though, but there is also an open air one that is open 24/7. I did read some issues about safety with the outside one, but depending on the car you have - and if you're making the effort to look for free parkingm I suppose you're not a proud owner of a Bentley - it should be a good option. Make sure to not leave valuables in sight - as always though, and everything should be just fine!Actually, besiddes the free parkings in the higher zone of Barcelona (see point 2), this is the best option if you're looking for a parking in the daytime.
2. In the higher area of Barcelona, like Sarria, Pedralbes, ... are many streets without green or blue zones, you just have to drive around a bit in the small streets, and you'll certainly find a spot - which you can occupy for as long as you want, day and night. If this sounds to vague for you, here are a few streets in where you surely can find free parkingzones: Carrer Manuel Ballbe in Pedralbes, and in Sarria you have Carrer de Císter and Carrer d’Almaden. Most of the streets near these ones are as well free parking zones, so just drive around in the neighbourhood and you'll surely find a spot!
3. En Montjuïc, cerca del MNAC (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) there is a parking that is controlled 24/7, and that is totally free. To get back to the city, you'll have to take a bus to Plaça Espanya. Other shopping malls that offer free parking are Glories and Gran Via2, but only for 2-3 hours. Therefore, this could come in handy if you want to visit something nearby, but otherwise la Maquinista is the best option.
4. Near the Heron City cinema, more specifically in the Carrer Pintor Alsamora, there is an unguarded free space to park your car. If you can't find a free spot there, try nearby at Plaza Soller.
5. In the area of Tibidabo, there is a street with lots of free parking spots - at least for sure in daytimes - Carrer Eduard Fontserè.
6. Try zones near the city edges like Sant Andreu, Badalona or Sant Adria de Besos.