Barcelona on a budget

  • Ask anyone who has been to Barcelona, and they’ll tell you its one of the best places in the world. But what makes this Spanish city just so special? Well, aside from Gaudi’s impressive architecture, the world-famous football stadium Camp Nou and a modern beach-filled harbour, Barcelona is also a city that can be done on the cheap… if you know where to go.

    La Rambla: Beware the tourist trap

    Stretching 1.2 kilometres from Plaça de Catalunya to Port Vell, La Rambla is Barcelona’s main thoroughfare. However, it’s widely considered as a bit of a tourist trap, so be warned! “It’s a den of overpriced sangria, microwaved tapas and lowlife pickpockets,” warns Matt Goulding from Roads and Kingdoms blog. If you’re after some locals-only restaurants, he recommends heading to Suculent, El Quim de la Boqueria and Somodó.

    Attractions for free

    There are loads of free activities and sites to experience in the city, which have all the trimmings of a fun cheap holiday. Of course, you can’t visit Barcelona without seeing Park Guell, Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera. While you have to buy tickets to enter these architectural masterpieces – book online to not only get a better deal, but also avoid the queues – you can still admire Gaudi’s superb design from the outside for free. There are also some other hidden treasures that are worth a look. For example, Museu Picasso and Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya are both free after 3pm on Sundays. Meanwhile, you could visit the neo-Gothic La Catedral for free in the morning and late afternoon, then wander around the streets in the popular Barri Gotic area. Last but not least, there’s the Gracia Street Festival. This week-long fiesta sees each street and neighbourhood in Barcelona compete for the prize of the best decorated street – a must see.

    Browse the markets

    Barcelona has plenty of markets, including the huge Mercat de la Boqueria. Overwhelm your senses with the rows and rows of colourful fruit and vegetable sellers, gourmet delicatessens, and butchers selling meats you never even knew existed. Stop in at one of the local tapas bars and buy a local Estrella beer for a couple of well-spent Euros.

    Soak up the sun

    One of the best parts about Barcelona is its long stretches of sandy beaches, right in the heart of the city. They’re all free to use so just bring a towel, a good book and your swimming costume! Barceloneta is the most loved, although if you keep walking along the harbour, you’ll find some more secluded spots. Be careful though – you may also stumble across a few nudist beaches along the way!

    Check out the skaters

    Barcelona is largely recognised as a skater’s paradise. As Matt outlines: “Barcelona is one of the skateboard capitals of the world, a playground of smooth ledges, steep handrails, and bizarre cement structures that allow for all types of impossible body and board contortions. Best of all is the square in front of MACBA, the contemporary art museum in the Raval district, which attracts the biggest names in skating year round.” Try visiting on Tuesday afternoons, when the museum closes.

    There are plenty of other free activities – the Spanish love their festivals and you’re sure to find one any time of the year. Book your holiday to Barcelona today and find out what all the fuss is about!

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2 Responses to “Barcelona on a budget”

  1. BrianT February 22, 2015

    Buy a Barcelona Travel card online and pick it up at the airport (tourist information desk). With one card you can use it for buses and the metro (within most zones for the centre of Barcelona). It pays for itself if you’re there for 3 days or more. Watch for handbag snatches on the Ramblas (just carry Euros in your pocket, they are very very good pickers!). It’s safer elsewhere and watch for taxis taking you the scenic route (most taxis are around 10-15 euros for city centre destinations). The tourist bus is worth the money if you’re only there for a day (30 euros I think now, but get the Barcelona Travel card if you want several days of ticket free hassle) as you can get on and off at different tourist stops ALL of which are worth seeing, but try to get to only 2-3 in a day as there’s too many to see in one day. The Olympic Stadioum is a bit of a distance, but there are buses or a nice LONG walk up through the park. Aerobuses look different to the standard Barcelona TMB buses. Getting to and from the airport I use the Aerobuses for Terminal1 9T1) and Terminal 2(T2) are light and dark blue and have ‘Aerobus’ written down the side in a bubbly style of writing and are very cheap (~5 euros) and reliable. I find it easier to use them than the trains. They stop in the centre at Place de Catalunya and pick up from there.

    • Catrionna Grant February 26, 2015

      Hi Brian, thanks so much for your really helpful tips, there are a lot of great money-saving ideas in there. I’m sure these will come in very handy for our readers!