Barcelona, the capital of Cataluña is everything you could possibly want in a Spanish city, a city of contrasts and endless possibilities. For me, it has been a personal pleasure to visit Barcelona on not one, but two separate occasions. Let me tell you, I couldn’t get two more unique experiences even if I tried. While you may think that Barcelona is likely to get a bit repetitive after two visits, you’d be making a wrong assumption.
Here’s how I got the most out of my visit to Barcelona on a budget and how you can too!
Barcelona Budget Accommodation
On my both trips to Barcelona, I decided hostels were the best accommodation option for myself and anyone else doing Barcelona on a budget. Aside from being the cheapest accommodation option available (hostel prices vary from $12-$30 per night), it also turns out that most hostels in Barcelona, unlike airbnb apartments, are closer to everything you want to see as they tend to be more in the center of Barcelona.
So, my first time in Barca (as the locals like to call it) I stayed at the Diagonal House Hostel, a lovely hostel just a 5 minute walk from Plaça de Catalunya (the large square in the centre of Barcelona and the place where the old city meets the 19th century built Eixample). For my second trip, I wanted something closer to the beach and so I booked a bed at the Safestay Barcelona Sea Hostel, a vibrant hostel with waaaay too many guests running around. Overcrowding aside, here I got to see the sunrise and sunset every day so I was happy enough.
Cheap Eats In Barcelona
Refreshing and yummy dishes are easy to find in Barcelona and every turn you take leads to a new restaurant menu rich in seafood, pasta dishes and of course the famous traditional tapas! As a personal lover of tapas, I took my appetite across Barcelona and discovered several great spots to eat at.
Blue Beach Bar – A lovely seaside bar, just along Barceloneta beach. Enjoy nutritional and mouth-watering dishes such as a shrimp salad and an avocado-salmon toast, which I personally adored and it only cost me around 5 euros, coffee included. So if you’re doing Barcelona on a budget then you should put Blue Beach Bar on your list of places to try.
Moma Beach Bar – Opposite my hostel and down the beach boardwalk, I found this open bamboo-decorated bar, serving seriously delicious fries for just 3 euros, and the freshest Estrella I have had in a while.
The Streets – In my opinion the best food in Barcelona is served at the street fairs which are a frequent occurrence in Spain’s most vivacious city. Street fairs mostly happen on the weekends and here you will try some of the most authentic burritos, éclairs, pies, and a great draft beer selection. You should be able to fill yourself up for less than 10 euros which is a pretty fair price to pay for delicious and authentic cuisine.
Barcelona Things To Do and See
Trust me when I say, there is sooo much to see and do in Barcelona and most of it can be done for free or very cheaply if like me you are doing Barcelona on a budget.
Barceloneta Beach – This long man-made beach called Barceloneta is more than just a popular swimming and sunbathing spot for locals and tourists. In fact, most of the magic of Barceloneta goes down during the evenings and into the nights with music playing in the background and delicious snacks served up by the sea. The best thing about Barceloneta? You don’t have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy Barcelona’s beach life!
Park Güell – If you’re on a tight budget, feel free to explore Park Güell on your own. A ticket will give you insights to all the Park’s top spots, but even without it, you can photograph basically anything and experience the park’s beauty by taking a long stroll… for free.
La Sagrada Familia – Probably the most impressive cathedral in Barcelona, making it’s citizens proud since 1882. The cathedral still remains unfinished but Barcelona has set a completion deadline on the historical monument. Make sure you really want to get up close to it because te queue to do so will be long and slow. I recommend skipping the hustle, bustle and chaos and admire La Sagrada Familia from a distance… away from the crowds.
Arc de Triomf – I skipped this marvelous landmark the first time I travelled to Barcelona, but boy, did I make up for it the second time! The Arc de Triomf is the unofficial entrance to a wide square, intended for Sunday get-togethers and other Spanish shenanigans. Again, a no-spending activity that offers a massive park, sitting spots and of course the Barcelona Zoo!
Barcelona Port – Yet another cost-free activity to take on if you’re doing Barcelona on a budget. The port is a massive complex of marinas, the popular Barcelona Aquarium, as well as an endless line of local bars and pubs where you can watch the sun go down and feel carefree at the same time.
Las Ramblas – The most famous street in Barcelona is called Las Ramblas and connects the upper and lower part of the city. Don’t be surprised to find Barcelona alive and kicking even at 3 a.m and rest assured there will still be plenty of people roaming up and down Las Ramblas at all hours of the night too!
While wandering down this atmospheric street, treat yourself to some gelato, watch the street performers, pop into the famous Boqueria fruit and vegetable market to soak up the bustling Barcelona market ambience and dive into any of the busy bars and restaurants as you make your way to the end of Las Ramblas where you reach the beach.
Other top things to do in Barcelona include visiting the entire Gothic Quarter and getting lost in it’s secret alleyways, visiting the Montjuïc Castle, as well as Casa Batillo and it’s surroundings.
Barcelona travel tips
Here’s a few things that I would have found useful to know before I visited Barcelona on a budget for the first time;
- You’ll find the cheapest restaurants and gift shops on any street below Park Güell.
- If you’re planning on visiting any of the popular landmarks, always purchase your entrance ticket in advance and be there an hour early to avoid wasting time in the long queues.
- Save money at the hostel by bringing along your own lock and key, as hostels charge to provide a set and keep your things protected.
- Pack a pair of hotel slippers, especially if you are staying at a hostel. With so many tourists going in and out, the floors get pretty messy!
- You HAVE TO find a subway/metro map and carry it on you at all times. Barcelona’s underground railway system is one of the biggest and most impressive I’ve seen in Europe, and a detailed map here never goes to waste.
I’d like to get the chance to explore Barcelona for the third, fourth and even fifth time. There is so much to see there no matter what your budget is. Barcelona has such a special energy about it and there are so many precious memories to be made here. Oh, Barcelona! So thoroughly Spanish, but so authentically unique. I love you!
Have you visited Barcelona on a budget? Share your own recommendations, tips and travel hacks for what to eat, see and where to stay on a shoe-string budget in the comments section below.