You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy a trip to Barcelona. However, there are ways to experience the renowned sights, delicious food and amazing architecture without leaving empty-pocketed.
Here’s how to get the most out of Barcelona, for less:
The geographic expanse of Barcelona begs for visitors who share a passion for walking. Much of Barcelona's must-see destinations are accessible on foot, so grab your sneakers and step onto the magnificent streets of this bustling city. For newcomers, locals or anyone in between, free walking tours are led by professionals every day. This is by far the best way to discover the winding Gothic Quarter alleyways or the magnificent Modernist buildings of the Eixample.
If you happen to travel farther than your feet agree to take you, definitely consider purchasing a transport pass. Not only are the metro, tram and bus services, reliable and convenient, but you can buy a variety of passes to fit the duration of your stay. We recommend getting the T10 card for just under 10€ (or the Hola BCN card). This pass gives you ten rides, but also allows you to swap and change transport as many times as you want in an hour and 15 minutes, without using another up another ride.
When you think of Barcelona, your mind immediately jumps to Gaudí. As such an influential architect of the city, Gaudí's work is everywhere. Though some of his most well known spots require an entrance fee (like the Gaudi House Museum), there are plenty areas of Gaudí's work that can be seen for free or at a discounted price. You can try purchasing a ticket through a company like GetYourGuide for cheaper tickets when you book online. Or, take an afternoon walk around Passeig de Gràcia towards La Pedrera and Casa Batlló, to see two of Gaudí's most well respected pieces, and the only price you'll pay is on an afternoon snack!
Because this city is split into its sunny beaches and its hilly mountains, there are exquisite views that provide natural photo-ops. One of the best city-viewing spots is the Bunkers del Carmel. A short walking distance from the famous Park Güell, which requires an entrance fee, Turó de la Rovira, as this spot is also known, offers breathtaking panoramic views of the city, completely free of charge, besides the bus ride up the mountain (which can alternatively be hiked). The Bunkers del Carmel are historically a military base, and now offer 360º views of the entire city. Bring a picnic and watch the sunset or sunrise at this incredible spot.
Culture vultures know that Barcelona offers an extensive variety of museums to fit any visitor's interests. Though the admission fees can get pricey at times, you'll be glad to know that there's free entrance to certain museums on particular days of the week. For example the MNAC, CCCB and the Picasso Museum are all free on the first Sunday of each month, in addition to every Sunday afternoon.
Barcelona's beaches, always open to the public, are amongst the many landmarks of the city. On a sunny afternoon, nothing feels better than to relax shoreside. Take advantage of the Spanish weather and enjoy a few hours on one of Barcelona's many admired 'playas'.
You don’t have to pay through the nose to enjoy some quality Spanish cuisine. A restaurant that is particularly successful in providing value for money is Bormuth, in Plaça Comercial. Here, you won't feel guilty trying multiple tapas dishes, as the food is extremely well-priced. However, if you're really trying to watch your spending, consider visiting a few bars that offer free tapas when you buy a drink. Ca'l Chusco, located in Barceloneta, is famous for upholding this tradition.
In Barcelona, bars are as common as motorcycles. It can be extremely difficult to determine how expensive and well worth it some of these bars are. We have a couple bars that provide the fun and flirty cocktail you're looking for, without the exaggerated pricetag. The Limehouse in El Born is a youthful favorite, as it has delicious cocktails for limited expense. Be sure to try their famous mojitos for only 3,50€. And if you're looking for shots, definitely check out one of Espit Chupitos' locations. A unique bar, this one offers 500 different types of shots, each with an intriguing name and liquor combination.
The strip along the beach of Barcelona's hottest clubs can seem a little intimidating at first. You've probably heard rumors of outrageous cover charges, but there are actually ways to party in these spaces for no cost at all. Promoters for most of the beach clubs like Opium, Pacha, CDLC and Shôko hand out flyers along the Port Olímpic strip that can be exchanged for free entry.
You don’t have to fork over a fortune for accommodation in Barcelona. One of the cheapest and most comfortable ways to stay in the city is to rent an apartment. Sharing between groups means you can all stay together under one roof, and split the costs at the same time. If you’re travelling alone or as a couple, you can save money on eating out every night by making the most of your own kitchen. We recommend heading to the Boqueria Market (also free entry), picking up some fresh, local ingredients and trying your hand at some Mediterranean recipes.
If you're planning on doing a lot of touring and sightseeing, then it may be worth getting the Barcelona City Pass, which includes free public transport, a harbor cruise and admission to museums and special discounts.
Tip: Book your accommodation in Barcelona in advance as hotels can full up quickly! Read our extensive Barcelona Accommodation Guide if you're looking for somewhere to stay while in Barcelona!
Travel tip shared by Sophie Cheston
Photos courtesy of Flickr: FufeFufe, AstutoRoedor, Angel García Huerta, Matt Adams, Claire Poisson, Guillem Ferran
Runner Bean Tours, The Lime House