As the capital of Catalonia, Barcelona is the most important city in Spain’s wealthiest region. That doesn’t make it off limits to budget travelers, though. Its ever-increasing popularity and immense size grant you loads of options in both accommodations and dining. Where there are choices, there are opportunities to save.
We’ve already covered some ideas for where to sleep and eat to save money during your stay. Now, learn how to see the best of Barcelona for as little dough as possible.
No trip to Barcelona is complete without seeing the unmistakable works of Antoni Gaudi. The imaginative designs of this modernist architect are sprinkled throughout the city, and a self-guided walking tour of the highlights can easily fill a day’s itinerary.
Start your morning by booking tickets online for the Sagrada Familia. Gaudi’s internationally renowned and yet unfinished church is the most popular of all his Barcelona designs, and you’ll save time by reserving your entry early. As an added bonus, the church’s online booking engine will show you if there are any discounts available. You might log in to find that visiting an hour before closing will cost you half as much as a visit at noon.
Casa Batllo and Casa Mila, or La Pedrera, are two Gaudi-designed houses within walking distance of each other on the Passeig de Gracia. Once homes to Barcelona’s wealthiest, most influential families in the early 20th century, both now serve as museums. The admission to Casa Batllo is very steep, but if you love art and architecture, the exceptionally creative exhibits and informative audio tour are worth the splurge.
A bit more off the beaten track is the Parc Guell. Most visitors will make a beeline for the candy-colored mosaic playground that plays so prominently in photos of the Barcelona skyline, but the rest of the park is a splendid natural oasis with no admission fee.
Select one or two of the sights that most interest you, and simply enjoy the facades of the rest to stretch your budget further.
Barcelona’s Best Walks
Barcelona is absolutely massive, and each neighborhood has its own distinct personality, making the city ideal for a long afternoon walk or two. This makes it easy to enjoy the culture and atmosphere of Barcelona at no cost.
The Barri Gotic was practically designed for awe-stricken visitors to get lost in. Its tangled web of narrow streets will delight you for hours, and there are plenty of shops and cafes for when you need a break. The intricate bridge over Carrer de Bisbe is the perfect spot for a photo op, and the city’s striking Catedral lies just around the corner. You may also enjoy exploring the neighboring Ciutat Vella, where Roman towers and fortifications are as common a sight as the street art that adorns the doors of closed businesses.
Montjuic is a popular day’s itinerary for visitors thanks to its wealth of both free and paid attractions. Most tourists will get off the funicular railway, whose cost is included in your metro ticket, and hop right on a pricey cable car. Consider saving that 12 euro for an inexpensive meal out and hiking up to the Castell de Montjuic instead. You’ll pass through numerous parks and gardens that all the other folks visiting miss out on, and there are a few snack stands where you can take a break. Art lovers may wish to add a stop at the Fundacio Joan Miro or the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, and work those ticket prices into their budget.
Finally, Barceloneta is a must-see for summer visitors. When you need a night to just unwind, take the L4 metro to the Barceloneta stop and as soon as you reach the top of the station’s stairs, you’ll feel like you’re in a different city. Do your best to wave off the eager servers at the tourist trap restaurants lining the boardwalk and enjoy a peaceful walk beside the beach. Pack yourself a picnic or pick up an inexpensive sandwich or tapas at one of the beach bars before a moonlit stroll through the surf.