Can you enjoy all the delights Barcelona has to offer and keep it cheap at the same time? At Wonderlust Europe, we have no doubts the Catalan capital can be relished without breaking bank. If anything, the city of paella, Gaudi and Picasso is the best place to stretch your Euro! From booking hotels to navigating the city’s tourist spots, we’ve got the lowdown on how to enjoy Barcelona at a bargain.
Where To Stay On A Budget
As with booking flights, always do your research when booking a hotel. Once you’ve found a hotel you like, compare the price on various different sites to get the best deal. Adding or including meals in your stay can bump the price up considerably. iI’s better just to book the room and save yourself some money. There are lots of great 3* hotels in Barcelona for around £60 per night, and they are even cheaper if you visit out-of-season. A great place to look for a decent hotel would be out of the tourist centre. The trendy neighbourhood of Sant Antoni comes to mind where the Market Hotel is a great option for those looking for a stylish stay that won’t cost an arm and a leg.
How To Get Around On A Budget
Barcelona airport have shuttle buses (bright turquoise buses with ‘Aerobús’ written down the side in a bubbly font) which will take you into the city centre. Especially on the way back, check which terminal you need as there are 2 different shuttle buses; the Aerobús A1 for terminal 1, and the Aerobús A2 for terminal 2.
During the daytime they run every 5-10 minutes and cost €5.90 each way. The two main stops in the city centre are Plaça d’Espanya and Plaça de Catalunya, although there are several other stops in between too.
Depending on how long you’re going for and how much public transport you intend to use, the Hola BCN! travel card can save you lots of money. It gives a single person unlimited travel on the bus, metro, tram and railway for 2, 3, 4, or 5 consecutive days. The travel card can be purchased online, and then collected at one of the metro automatic ticket vending machines- just make sure you have your booking confirmation number (or even better, a printout of the order confirmation in case you have any problems and need to speak to a member of staff).
If you won’t be using too much public transport, the T10 travel pass will be ideal. You get 10 trips in Zone 1 (the city centre) for just €9.95, and it can even be shared with the other people that you’re travelling with! Purchase from a ticket vending machine.
Food and Drink On A Budget
If you go to the right places, you can get a white coffee (un café con leche) for €1.30, an espresso for €1.20, or a small beer (una caña) for €1.80. Most cafés/restaurants do a coffee & croissant for around €2.20, a generous sized tapa for €2, and a serrano ham and cheese baguette for around €4.
There are lots of mini-supermarkets where you can get cheap bottled water and fruit, and you could even buy ingredients to make your own sandwiches and salads to take out with you during the day. You can save a lot of money by doing this instead of eating out three times a day!
Barcelona has plenty of markets but if you’ve only got time for one, the enormous Mercat de la Boqueria should be on your agenda. The market (which some say has existed since 1217) is where the locals come to shop. After all, where else can you find the best fruits, vegetables, seafood and tapas bars under one roof?
Don’t leave the market without trying some of Catalonia’s culinary specialties, some of which include peus de porc (pig’s trotters) cargols (snails) and bacallà salat (dried salted cod).
Sight-Seeing On A Budget
There are plenty of things you can see and do for free in Barcelona, but unfortunately, the Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and La Pedera are not amongst the free attractions on offer. Fret not! While you can’t avoid buying the ticket fee to see these architectural masterpieces, you can book online to get a better deal. This not only saves you money, it also saves you time from having to stand in queue!
Avoid getting a “Barcelona Card” for transport and sightseeing from the tourist office (starts at €45) unless you’re the type of tourist who likes to cram as many museums and tourist sights in a day! A better (and more affordable) option would be the Articket (€30) which allows you entry to six of the city’s best art museums. It’s also valid for a year so if you or your friends intend to visit Barcelona again, the Articket will sure come in handy!
Other attractions worth your time are Museu Picasso and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, both of which are free after 3pm. Wander around the streets yourself or opt for a free walking tour, most of which are very informative and last about 2 to 3 hours. Do this at the start of your trip to get a good feel for the area, and also to pick up some local tips from your guide.