Located around two hours North of Barcelona and just half an hour from the border with France, you’ll soon discover the quaint town of Figueres. Best-known as being the birthplace of Dalí (and where his world-famous Museum-Theatre is now to be found), here’s a free and self-guided Figueres walking tour to help you make the most of your visit!
Free Figueres Walking Tour (with Dalí attractions): Practical Advice, Tricks, and Tips
Though you’ll soon find that many people (especially those working in the tourism industry) speak English, it’s only polite to learn a few words of the local language, which in this case is Spanish. Though the Spanish you were probably taught at school is Castillian, that spoken in this area of Spain is Catalan. Due to Figueres’ close proximity to France, many more people in Figueres speak French as opposed to English.
This self-guided walk is best attempted on a sunny day when the streets are warm, a summer vibe is in the air, and the city looks its best. You’ll want to bring along a camera to snap some of the best of Figueres and so here are some of my very best travel camera recommendations!
Although the majority of the tour is on level roads (with a few cobbled hilled lanes thrown in), I highly recommend shoes that are comfortable to walk in like these ones. Otherwise, it’s worth noting that Barcelona can become incredibly hot (especially during the summer months) and so you’ll want to bring a reusable water bottle like this one with you.
Though the city of Figueres can be visited as a day trip from Barcelona, I highly recommend making the most of your time there (as well as being able to escape the crowds) by opting to stay overnight. This will not only allow you to see the city without the rest of the tourists, but also allow you to capture golden light pictures. It’s also worth noting that accommodation prices are generally much cheaper than those of the Catalonian capital. Check the best places to stay in Figueres here.
Walking Time: 34 minutes
Distance Covered: 2.5 km
Technical Museum of the Empordà
This tour begins on the outskirts of old town Figueres. The town expanded in such a way as to not hinder the fort of Sant Ferran and its defences during the 18th-century, and so this is why the newer parts of Figueres are stretched East and South of the town, as opposed to the North and to the West.
The Technical Museum of the Empordà boasts no fewer than 3000 technological instruments, mainly dating from the 18th and 19th-centuries. Among some of the gems within its collections, visitors will soon discover vintage typewriters and some of the first sewing museums. Find full details on opening times here.
Casa natal de Salvador Dali
From the Museum, you simply need to retrace your steps towards central Figueres and carry on along the same road down which you arrived at the Technical Museum. On the left-hand side, a few hundred metres down the street, you’ll soon spy the birthplace of Salvador Dalí.
You should know before you go that you can’t go inside, but merely admire the residential house via its beautiful external façade. There are a couple of larger than life photos on display there, as well as a brief history of the building itself (all in Spanish).
Museu de l’Empordà
Just a block or two away from the birth house of Dalí, the other main museum of the town of Figueres (after the Dalí Theatre) is the Museum of the Emporda. Constructed in 1946 to showcase artworks from across Catalonia and beyond, the building has been open to the public since the 1970s.
It’s also worth noting that this museum is at one end of La Rambla, a long high street of sorts, with a central grassy area (between two lanes for cars) where trees grow, benches are dotted about, and where festivals are held at various times of the year. Though certainly less busy than La Rambla of Barcelona, this is where many of the boutiques, hotels, and eateries of Figueres are to be found.
Teatre Municipal El Jardi
Situated in a pretty square just off La Rambla, the town theatre is where performances and concerts are held on a semi-regular basis throughout the year. Thanks to its stunning façade, partially hidden behind swaying palm trees and some particularly contemporary sculptures, it’s easy to see why the theatre and cinema building is now classified as a National Historic Monument.
In the very same square (Plaça Josep Pla), the best coffee and cakes in town are to be found in the form of La Pau CAFETERIA LLIBRERIA. Part coffee shop, part bookseller, this well-reviewed welcome break offers a wide array of fresh smoothies, fresh from the oven cakes, and a large selection of hot and cold beverages. If you’re feeling peckish on this Figueres walking tour, then this is the place to stop!
Duran Hotel & Restaurant
One of the most frequented sites by Dalí in town was the Duran Hotel and Restaurant, making it something of an institution in Figueres. In fact, step inside the lobby at any given moment and you’ll soon find a full-sized bust of Dalí welcoming you into this Figueres hotel.
Located just off La Rambla and incredibly well-reviewed, this three-star hotel now boasts fairly modern rooms (at a selection of price points), as well as one of the chicest restaurants in town. There’s even a little museum inside dedicated to the history of Figueres, as well as some of the hotel’s most famous guests (as well as Dalí, Josep Pla was also once a hotel resident).
Museu del Joguet de Catalunya
One of the quirkiest things to do in Figueres is to venture inside the toy museum, which is never very busy and hardly ever has a queue to enter! Full price adult tickets are €7 and audio guides can be hired for the cost of an extra euro.
From the ground floor, you’ll soon head upstairs to be transported back in time through the history of toys in Catalonia. Between puppets and board games and whimsical dolls, many will enjoy a trip down memory lane in this cultural hub. The entrance to the museum holds free-to-visit temporary exhibitions every once in a while.
Sant Pere de Figueres
Romanesque in style and simple in design, the Saint Peter Church is one of the oldest buildings in town. Dating all the way back to the 14th-century, though there has probably been some form or another of ecclesiastical building on site since the 10th or 11th-century.
Set right beside the Dalí Museum, this Figueres landmark is hard to miss and its elevated tower is elevated well above the rest of the town. The church is free to visit (though, of course, donations are always appreciated) and highlights include a Gothic choir and several stunning rose stained-glass windows.
Of course, the main attraction of Figueres is the Dalí Theatre-Museum. Since this most recent visit was actually my third time in Figueres (having visited on a school trip and then again with my parents a little over a decade ago), I actually forwent a visit to the Theatre on this particular occasion, not wishing to stand around for several hours in the rain.
If you have limited time in Figueres (yet another reason to instead overnight in the town!), then you should know that you simply must book your tickets to the fantastical museum in advance. Not doing so can see you waiting in a queue upwards of an hour. Even if you do have a ticket, you’ll often be waiting for a couple of hours to even be let inside the museum, often well past your allotted time slot.
Castell de Sant Ferran
Though a little way out of the town (around a twenty-minute uphill sloping walk from the Dalí Museum), the Sant Ferran fort is one of the best-preserved, and arguably one of the most important, in all of Europe. Presiding over the rest of Figueres and offering breathtaking views over the surrounding countryside, as well as onto the mountains beyond, this truly is one of the best-kept secrets of the Girona province.
Entrance costs just €3,50 (and even less for those entitled to concessions) and will take you on a whirlwind self-guided tour of the fortifications and the Casemates which lie beneath the thick stone walls. You begin the walk with a video introducing the property and giving you a brief overview of its history. Then it’s onto exploring at your own pace and I highly recommend setting at least an hour or two to soak up the entire castle grounds!