Save money on your next trip to Barcelona with these tips provided by our resident local, Camilla Sheppard.
Barcelona is synonymous with the architect Gaudi and you don’t have to go far to see some of his beautiful buildings up close. Wander up the shopping street of Passeig de Gràcia and you’ll come across Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, otherwise known as La Pedrera. Gaudi was heavily influenced and inspired by the natural world, so be sure to look out for features on the buildings that look like recognisable shapes such as shells, bones and even the hexagonal shapes of honeycomb. Like his masterpiece, Sagrada Familia, you have to pay to enter these buildings, but admiring them from the outside for free is equally worthwhile. In contrast Parc Güell is a free sculpture park with mosaic style brick work and fantastical buildings. This magical park is not only a great place to see Gaudi’s work first hand, but if you walk to the top of the sloping park, you’ll be greeted with stunning panoramic views of the city skyline- the perfect place to stop for a picnic!
Most people regard the Sagrada Familia as the cathedral of Barcelona, but La Seu is a stunning gothic Cathedral in the city centre, which has earnt the true title. The Cathedral honours Santa Eulàlia, the patron saint of Barcelona, who was sacrificed by the townspeople in Roman times and now lies buried under the altar. Entry to the cathedral is free after 17.00 and if you’re visiting on a Saturday, the traditional Catalan dance the Sardana is performed outside the front from about 18.30.
You have to pay to enter the museums and galleries in Barcelona, but if you’re visiting on the first Sunday of the month, entry is free! The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya is located at the base of Montjuïc in a regal Italian style building with an impressive collection spanning from Romanesque to Modern Art. Highlights include Picasso’s ‘Woman in Hat and Fur Collar’, ‘Ramon Casas and Pere Romeu on a Tandem’ by Ramon Casas as well as works by the likes of Goya and Rubens. The Museu Picasso contains over 3,500 works by the artist and is one of the most extensive collections in the world including works from the Blue Period and his ceramics.
If you manage to get a good deal on your accommodation, you’ll have even more money to spend during you trip so be sure to search around for the best deal. Obviously the cheapest accommodation in the city is hostels, and unlike London there are lots very centrally located. If you’re visiting with friends you might even be able to book a whole dorm or private room for four all to yourselves and many come with free wifi and kitchenettes.
Self catered apartments are another popular option because you can save money on drinking and eating out, however during high season prices can soar which leaves many priced out of this option.
Another great way to save money on self catered apartments and hotels is to book a Secret Hotel through lastminute.com or Hotwire. Most are four and five star rated and up to 35% off their usual rate.
You only have to walk down the bustling street of La Rambla to be inundated with nightclub promotions and offers. Ladies especially will definitely get a good deal from these ticket touts, as most clubs offer free entry for females before a certain time and complimentary drinks. Alternatively, if you prefer to plan in advance, you can secure a free or reduced entry by signing up to the guest list of your chosen club online.
The Magic Fountains, on Avinguda Maria Cristina, have been entertaining crowds of people for free since 1929. Every Thursday-Sunday evening from 7pm the fountains come alive with lights and music all with the beautiful backdrop of the Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya. Grab a sangria or hot chocolate from the kiosk and enjoy the show!
With so many delicious Spanish delicacies to try you’ll need to be savvy if you want the cream of the crop for a fraction of the price! Your first stop should be the Boqueria Food Market located just off La Rambla. Not only is this one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, with displays of exotic fruits, mouth watering Catalan chocolates and homemade tortillas the height of a Victoria Sponge, it’s also got the freshest tastiest food in the city. If you’re staying self catered, you’ll be able to make the most of the incredibly cheap fish and seafood, but even if you have no where to prepare food there are plenty of ready to eat dishes for less than 5 euros, including empanadas (an Argentinian style pasty), the local delicacy salted cod balls and savoury and sweet crepes amongst many more. Dotted around the market you’ll also find a few tapas bars where you can get breakfast or lunch for next to nothing.
Many bars offer free tapas when you purchase a drink, and although they might not fill you up it’s a great chance to sample the local cuisine for free! Try Ambiente del Sur in Eixample, Ca’l Chusco in Barceloneta and Bar Mingus in the Gothic Quarter.
Finding cheap places to eat isn’t particularly hard in Barcelona, but finding cheap and delicious food is another story. Bo de B is a deli style sandwich bar in the Gothic Quarter, and the street long queues are a testament to how delicious these baguettes really are- oh and they only cost 4 euros! Using all fresh ingredients and the meats cooked fresh in front of you, this is the perfect place to stock up for a picnic on the beach. Another lunchtime favourite is Chulapio Bar a Crepes, which serves sweet and savoury crepes from just 4 euros.
Don’t waste your money on a tour bus, instead get yourself a T-10 metro card for under 10 euros which will give you 10 journeys (working out at less than 1 euro one way). The centre of Barcelona is fairly small for a city, so you’ll be able to wander round the sights here easily, before hopping on the metro to other destinations of interest such as Montjuic hill, Sagrada Familia and the pretty neighbourhood of Gracia.
Climb to the castle at the top of Montjuic hill and you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the city and coast. The beautiful gardens en route are also a great place to read a book or enjoy a picnic.
The Beach at Barceloneta is usually high up on most peoples list. Bring a picnic and a few drinks and relax on the sand, take a dip in the sea or try your hand at volleyball. At the end of the day, take the lift up to the bar at the W Hotel on the seafront where you can gaze out at the city from the viewing platform- if you’re feeling flash the cocktails here are to die for!
Spend the day at Ciutadella Park, with interesting sculptures, a boating lake and an incredibly elaborate fountain. This tranquil haven in the city is another great picnic spot and it’s also where the zoo is located.
La Rambla is Barcelona’s best known street and there’s plenty of things to see as you walk along it. Kids will love the pet stands located along here, with cute baby bunnies, tortoises and singing birds. You’ll also find street performers, artists and artisan stalls as well as some of the best gelato in the city!