Barcelona… the vibrant and youthful city that is home to Gaudi’s quirky and eccentric architecture, the Sagrada Familia, Barcelona football team and world recognised as the cultural hub of Spain, this is one city that should be on your wish list.
The city dates back 2000 years and walking around the gothic quarter at night evokes a town from another time. Barcelona is Spain’s second largest city in Madrid and belongs to Catalonia. This beautiful, historic city is situated between the beach and the mountains and offers the best for both city lovers and nature lovers alike.
In recent years, due to an increase in tourism, prices have also increased, but Barcelona can still be enjoyed on a shoestring, with the average daily budget of around 50 to 75 euros per person per day for food, drink and sightseeing.
Visiting Barcelona has so much to offer in terms of culture, food and nightlife that you can easily spend 4 or 5 days there as well as a short weekend break.
Here is the ultimate budget travel guide to Barcelona. This Barcelona travel guide will show you our hottest tips on budget travel, sights to see in Barcelona, things to do in Barcelona and sooooo much more!
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The Best Time to Visit Barcelona
Barcelona is busy with tourism all year-round, however, travelling in the off-season provides fantastic weather and shorter queues to visit monuments and landmarks. The summer season can be hot and humid in Barcelona with temperatures soaring about 30 degrees centigrade, making it exhausting for sightseeing and walking around the city.
The best times to travel to Barcelona are in the springtime, around April or May and again in September to October. Room prices are cheaper, there are fewer crowds to enter museums and landmarks, and the weather is usually excellent with sunny days and warm weather. This also means that you can enjoy the beaches without having hordes of people flocking to the beaches in the summertime.
If you want to experience a spectacular event, you can travel to Barcelona between February 28th and March 6th 2019 to witness Castellers, a festival where people climb upon each other’s shoulders to form human towers in a heart-stopping competition. This tradition dates back 200 years and has been passed down from generation to generation, it has been recognised by UNESCO as an event of Immaterial Cultural Heritage. The swaying towers reach heights of 10 stories and children often climb to the top to complete the human “castle”. Best of all, this event is free! Find out more here.
Budget things to do in Barcelona
There are so many free activities and things to do under 10 euros. Here are the top 10 budget things to do in Barcelona:
Admire the psychedelic mosaics in Park Güell
Antoni Gaudi is the artist that comes to mind when you think of the vibrant city of Barcelona, the expansive grounds are home to his colourful mosaics and entrance to the park is free. The escalators and stairs to the Park are a short distance from the Green metro line. Nearest metro: Green line (L3) Lesseps or Vallcarca station.
Plaça de Catalunya
The beating heart of Barcelona and the start of La Rambla, this is the perfect place for a stroll in the city centre. Fountains and sculptures adorn this area, and it is the ideal place to grab a coffee and watch the hustle and bustle of the locals and tourists passing through. It is also the heart of the shopping district, and four major shopping zones are accessible from this plaza.
Visit the Picasso Museum for free.
Did you know that the Picasso museum is free the first Sunday of every month? From 3pm to 7pm you can access over 4,000 works of art from Spain’s master of modernism of the 20th century. But be sure to go an hour or two in advance so you can be first in line to beat the queues or get a cheap early entry ticket. Another good (and cheap) option is taking part in walking tours, I’d recommend the “Picasso Museum and Gothic Quarter Walking Tour in Barcelona“.
Enjoy a beach day
Barcelona has a long stretch of beach, which makes a perfect place to catch some rays, take a stroll or cool off in the sea. If you keep walking along the beach, you can find some quieter areas where you can avoid the majority of the tourists. Though the Barceloneta is not the most beautiful beach in Catalonia, you can jump on a train to nearby Sitges, home of the Sitges film festival, and visit the beautiful beaches there. Sitges is just a short 35-minute train ride from Barcelona on the R2 train which you can catch from Sants or Passeig de Gracia station.
Stroll around the Passeig de Gracia
This neighbourhood is one of the most beautiful to stroll around in; Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, designed by Gaudi are nestled among a shopping district with designer labels. The best time to go is early in the morning or early evening to avoid the crowds.
Encants Barcelona Flea Market
Who doesn’t love a bargain? Drop into Barcelona’s flea market with its offering of fantastic deals on crafts and antiques. The market dates back 600 years and was reopened in 2013 and now boasts more than 500 stalls selling all kinds of bargains.
Explore the Mercado de la Boqueria
The markets in Barcelona are well worth visiting. One of the most famous, the Mercado de la Boqueria is crammed full of stalls selling high-quality seafood, jamón, olives and local products. It’s best to visit in the morning to avoid the tourist crowds. It is quite touristy, but there is a hidden secret in this market. If you enter from La Rambla and walk through to the other side, you will find a loading bay with mobile canvases and Barcelona street art.
Discover the street art of Barri Gòtic
If you’re a fan of street art and historic architecture, the Barri Gòtic (Gothic Quarter) is a must-visit. This is one of the oldest quarters of the city and curiously, where you can find examples of Barcelona’s best street art. The doors of houses, shopfronts and garages offer some of Barcelona’s newest street art, and it is worth getting lost wandering through the meandering streets to discover new artistic gems.
The Chocolate Museum – Museu de Xocolata
Five hundred years ago, cocoa beans first made their way to Europe through the ports of Spain. Hernan Cortes and his conquistadors brought back this delicacy from the Mayan and Aztec empires of Central America. If you are looking for something offbeat, you can wander around the Chocolate Museum for the small fee of 6 euros per person and marvel at lifesize replica sculptures of La Pieta and models of Sagrada Familia made entirely out of mouthwatering chocolate. The entry fee includes a bar of chocolate for all patrons.
The Labyrinth Park of Horta
This park is a perfect place to escape the noise and pollution of the city into a green Eden. It is home to a hedge maze and is the oldest garden in the town, dating back to 1791. The garden was part of the estate owned by the Desvalls family, and the estate is inspired by Italian architecture and neoclassical design. The maze has over 2,000 feet of twists and turns to lose yourself in, and at the very heart of the labyrinth, if you manage to get there, you will discover a statue of the Greek God of Love, Eros. The entrance will set you back a little €2.23. Passeig dels Castanyers, 1, 08035 Barcelona.
Where to eat in Barcelona on a budget
If you are looking for budget eats in Barcelona, one of the best tips and tricks is to keep an eye peeled for menu del dias, a set menu at a fixed price which usually includes a starter, main and dessert and a drink and can cost around 10 to 12 euros. Menu del dia is usually on offer between 13:30 to 15:00pm and will save you lots of money on your trip to Barcelona.
I have also compiled a short list of some budget gems around the city.
This restaurant offers excellent quality food at a pinch, only 11.50 euros for a menu del dia with a mix of Spanish and international food situated near the marina. Delicious and cheap! Carrer de la Marina, 114, 08018 Barcelona
El Rincón del Cava
This restaurant in Poble Sec is an exception to the rule that you can’t find good inexpensive Spanish food. The restaurant offers tapas and cheap cava which means that you can enjoy a meal and leave slightly tipsy. C/Blasco de Garay, 53
Bar La Plata
This tiny corner restaurant nestled in the Gothic Quarter has been serving the same Catalan delicacies since they opened in 1945. The menu consists of four dishes. If you want to sample Catalan cuisine, be prepared for whole fried tiny fish, tomato and onion salad, Catalan sausage and anchovies in vinegar served on slices of baguette. It may not be ideal for picky eaters! The highlight is the excellent beer and house wine, and you can eat elbow to elbow with the locals at the narrow bar and experience the authentic Spanish eating experience. C/Mercè, 28
Carrer de Blai
This is a collection of small tapas bars in Poble Sec that serve Basque style pinchos, or small tapas speared onto a slice of bread with a wooden toothpick. The pinchos cost a few euros each and are perfectly accompanied by a glass of wine. This is budget eating at its best. C/Blai
Where to stay in Barcelona on a budget
Barcelona can be a pricey place to stay, luckily there are some great budget options for those on a backpacker budget which include hostels from 30 euros a night to cheap rooms at around 80 euros per night. It’s always worth checking out Airbnb for rooms and apartments from approximately 80 to 100 euros per night. We have written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Barcelona.
The Generator Hostel – this fun and youthful hostel is situated just a stroll away from the Gaudi Cathedral. Dorm beds cost around 18 euros in mixed dorms, 27 euros for a 6-bed dorm (female or male only) and private rooms from 99 euros per night.
Black Swan Hostel – this is another backpacker bargain with dorm beds ranging from 29 euros per night, and within walking distance of all the essential sites, Barcelona has to offer.
Praktik Garden – This little luxury find offers double rooms at a steal, from 89 euros per night. The Barceloneta beach is just 15 minutes walking distance from the hotel, the major tourists’ sites are situated only 10 minutes away. They also have another hotel, which is a little further out in Eixample neighbourhood with rooms from 74 euros.
How to get around Barcelona on a budget
Aside from walking there are other ways to get around the city.
The Barcelona card is an excellent deal and will save you a lot of money on Public transportation. It works on the metro and bus, and you can purchase cards for 2, 3,4 or 5 days of unlimited travel starting at only 18.20 euros for a 48-hour card.
The Barcelona card also gives you free access to the CCCB (Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona), Fundació Joan Miró which is a fantastic museum on the hills of Montjuïc housing more than 10,000 pieces from his collection and the MACBA (Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona). Order your card online here and start saving!
Alternatively, if you want to keep fit while on your holidays, you can rent a bicycle. There are many bike rental places all over the centre of the city and bikes cost from 5 euros per day. Barcelona is relatively flat and cycling around the city is a real joy.
Cheap tours to do in Barcelona
There are free walking tours around the city with guides that speak every language. You can find them around the centre near tourist sites. The walking tours are free, but it is customary to leave a tip to the guide at the end of the tour.
If you want to explore a different side of Barcelona, you can join some locals on a photo walk around the city. This is the perfect way to get to know the locals and to discover new areas of the city off the beaten track.
To find out when the next scheduled photo walking tour in Barcelona will take place we recommend joining www.meetup.com and checking out the Photography in Barcelona group.
Recommend budget tours in Barcelona:
- Barcelona Kick-start Private Tour
- Columbus Monument Ticket with Upgrade Wine Tasting in Barcelona
- Free Bike tour Barcelona
- Port Vell and Barcelona Skyline Catamaran Cruise
- The Magic of Gràcia – Private Evening Tour
- Barcelona Guided Tour of The Basilica del Pi and its Bell Tower
- Barcelona Port-Skyline Pirate Boat Trip
- Monastery of Sant Benet de Bages Guided Tour
Get your guide is a Great company, that often offers heavily discounted tours! Check out a few options below: