In case you weren’t aware, there is a reason why millions of people visit Barcelona every year and why I’ve named this city one of my top 50 places to visit in Western Europe!
Whether you want to marvel at the glorious architecture, take a deep dive into some rich history, try delicious food and wine, or simply lounge on beautiful beaches – Barcelona has it all.
And while you can certainly can splash the cash around in this wonderful Spanish city, it’s definitely not required if you want to get the best from this city.
Yup, music to all shoestring traveller ears’, visiting Barcelona on a budget is totally possible, because I’ve done it myself.
So, here to help you get the most out of this city for less, are my top Barcelona budget travel tips – including cheap eats, fantastic day trips and lots of activities you can do for free or next to nothing.
- One Day in Barcelona: How to See All the Highlights
- How to Travel from Paris to Barcelona by Bus or Train
- Ultimate 3 Day Barcelona Itinerary
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Getting to Barcelona on a Budget
Barcelona is so well-connected, that you really should have no problems travelling there on a budget.
With cheap budget airline routes across Europe, I always recommend checking out Skyscanner to find the best deals.
When it comes to trains, Barcelona is serviced by rail services from across Spain, as well as from France, Portugal and Italy.
But certainly, the cheapest way to get to Barcelona is by bus.
Flixbus offer many direct services to Barcelona, from as far afield Paris, that are both easy and convenient, especially as they have you arriving right into Barcelona Nord in the heart of the tourist area of this city – which saves you on transport costs of getting into the centre too.
Barcelona also has a port area with ferries coming from Italy, as well as Morocco and many Spanish islands such as Mallorca and Ibiza.
Getting Around Barcelona on a Budget
There are 3 excellent options for getting transportation tickets in Barcelona at cheap prices and each come with their own added benefits:
#1 T10 Transport Ticket
While it is totally possible to purchase individual tickets each time you need to take public transportation, the city has come up with this wonderful option to save some money during your stay.
The T10 Transport Ticket lets you purchase 10 trips for a total of €10 (essentially €1 per trip).
The price of a single ticket is €2.20, so for 10 individual tickets, it would be double the price of the T10.
You can use this ticket on any journeys made with the metro or bus services.
Drawback: Airport transfers are not included and would have to be paid for separately.
#2 Hola BCN Card
The amazing Hola BCN card gives you the option of unlimited travel for a daily price of €7.60, though the minimum purchase you can make is for 2 days/48 hours.
This is a great option for travellers that will be going from place to place using not only the metro and bus, but also the urban railway, TRAM and even the regional railway.
The best part is that your trip from the airport is also covered.
Bonus: You can receive an additional 10% discount if you purchase this card online. If you decide to go this route, the company will email you a voucher which you need to bring to any metro station to receive the actual Hola BCN card.
#3 Barcelona Card
The Barcelona Pass is for the serious travellers looking to not only go from place to place, but also see as many museums and exhibitions as possible.
Some of the benefits of this card include free transportation, free entry to the majority of Barcelona’s museums, options to skip the line at popular sites, plus tons of deals and discounts on tours, shopping and dining.
It also comes with a map and city guide (and its own set of coupons that you can use in addition to the other discounts).
The card can be purchased in increments of 3, 4, or 5 days and prices range from €46-€61 which, once broken down, is about €12-€15 per day!
There are discounted rates available for kids.
Drawback: La Sagrada Familia and Park Guel are not included in this offer. They do, however, offer a Gaudi bundle that gets you access to both attractions with the option to skip the line and an audio guide.
Free Activities to Enjoy in Barcelona
#1 Take a Stroll Through La Boqueria Mercat
Located right in the centre of La Rambla (Barcelona’s most famous street), La Boqueria Mercat is a large market that sells the freshest seafood, fruit and vegetables daily.
It is always jam-packed with people, but definitely worth walking through – if only just to see what is being offered that day.
Another great market that is free to check out and offers delicious local produce is Santa Caterina Market situated just off Av. de Francesc Cambo – a great place to grab an affordable lunch.
#2 Join a Free Walking Tour
I love finding Sandeman New Europe walking tours in any city I visit, mainly because their guides are always fantastic, super knowledgeable and so entertaining!
What better way is there to see a city?
The tours generally last 2-3 hours and are completely free – you just have to give your guide a tip at the end.
The meeting point is at Placa del Angel in a small square near the metro station.
You will recognize the guide by what they are wearing.
Top Tip: Sandeman’s also offers a fun paid tour that I took the last time I visited the city.
For €20 you get a tapas bar crawl that takes you to 4 bars where you can try wine or craft beer and various tapas at each location.
For an additional €15, you can see a Flamenco show!
I did it all for the €35 bundle and can honestly tell you, it’s so entertaining and totally worth it.
#3 Plaza Espanya – Las Arenas
Las Arenas was once a bullring that was turned into a huge shopping centre with 5 floors of stores, restaurants, a movie theatre and a magnificent rooftop outdoor terrace area.
While you can stroll through all the various stores, the showstopper is the rooftop area.
You can essentially walk the entire length of the structure in a circle while seeing the centre of Barcelona.
The sight is absolutely breathtaking.
Pro Traveller Tip: There is an elevator outside of the shopping centre that charges you €1 to head up to the terrace. Don’t do it!
Just go inside the mall, take the elevator up to the 4th floor and ride a small escalator up to the terrace (there is no direct elevator for this floor).
You will be able to get up there without having to pay the fee.
#4 Museums – Free Sundays After 3pm + 1st Sunday of the Month
Take advantage of the fact that museums are free after 3pm on Sundays (or all day the first Sunday of the month) to see your favourite exhibits in Barcelona on a budget.
Keep in mind that many people also wait until Sunday afternoon to head to museums for this reason, so plan accordingly.
My absolute favourite is the Design Museum’s fashion exhibition showing the history of fashion and how it has evolved from 1550 to today.
#5 Montjuic – Magic Fountains
If you’re lucky to be visiting Barcelona between April 1st and October 31st, you’re in for an unforgettable treat.
Each year, the city puts on an incredible show with the water fountains at the Montjuic Palace.
The fountains are larger than life, turn into different colours and play music that they move along to.
It’s breathtaking to see in person and while it gets very packed with people, it is so worth it.
Head there early for a good spot, even though you can really see it from anywhere – especially from the top of Las Arenas!
During the summer months, there is also a fireworks spectacle that starts at 9pm on Thursdays through Sundays.
#6 Arc De Triomf
It’s always interesting to see variations of this monument in different parts of the world.
In Barcelona, it is right in the centre of the city, just steps from the Gothic Quarter.
Built as the gateway to the Universal Exhibition in 1888, the Arc was used as a symbol of welcoming to the various nations that attended this groundbreaking fair.
It sits at the head of a delightful park area that is a wonderful place to stroll for free too.
On the weekends, there are always small events and festivals that take over the entire area, so be sure to check local event listings when you visit.
#7 Columbus Monument
At the lower end of La Rambla, you’ll find this impressive monument dedicated to Columbus’ first voyage to the Americas.
The best thing about this part of the city, also known as Port Vell, is that it is right on the water and makes for some incredible pictures!
Additionally, you’ll get to see many of the street performers in this area of La Rambla, which are always interesting to watch.
Finally, at the end of the port, you’ll see an enormous shopping centre that literally looks like it is floating on the water.
This is the Maremagnum Center, home to some of Barcelona’s most popular stores.
There are also boat rides and sky rides available for tours with their ticket offices located directly on the port.
Other Free Things To Do in Barcelona
– Stroll Las Ramblas
– Hit the Beach
– Chill in Ciutadella Park
– Marvel at Barcelona Cathedral
– Snap Placa de Sant Jaume
– Snap Gaudi’s famous La Sagrada Familia, Casa Mila and Casa Batllo from the outside.
Where To Stay in Barcelona on a Budget
If you’re looking to keep your budget for Barcelona in check, then my first tip would be to ensure you travel to this city at the right time of year.
This involves avoiding all European school holidays and the whole of the peak summer months of July and August.
Outside of these times, visiting Barcelona during the week, when many accommodation providers lower their rates, can be a great way to keep costs down.
And when it comes to actually knowing where to stay in Barcelona, VRBO can be a great option for grabbing a super accommodation deal in the expensive central districts of Barcelona, especially if you’re travelling as a couple, family or larger group.
Check out this top-rated and stylish example, which sleeps up to 5 people across 3 bedrooms at some amazing rates!
Alternatively, if you’re a solo traveller looking to meet others, then a well-located hostel can be a great option for budget travel in Barcelona.
And top of my list is the newly refurbished ANT Hostel.
Brilliantly located, just metres from Barcelona Nord station and minutes from the Gothic Quarter, with a bus stop right outside and a supermarket just around the corner, ANT Hostel is hard to beat for convenience.
With dorms, as well as private rooms, great staff as well as a clean and friendly feeling, this is certainly my top recommendation when it comes to Barcelona hostels.
Otherwise, if you’re wanting something more private as a solo or pair of travellers, then this beautifully designed and affordable family-run guesthouse, right by La Sagrada Familia, is another top option.
Where To Eat in Barcelona on a Budget
No trip to Barcelona is complete without sampling a bit of delicious food and here’s my pic of the bunch if you want to avoid blowing your Barcelona budget:
#1 Bar Celta Pulperia
A small place known for its delicious tapas and fresh seafood, the prices are great and the atmosphere is extremely friendly in this well-rated budget favourite.
Come to Bar Celta Pulperia on Carrer Simo Oller 3, for some of the best patatas bravas, grilled peppers and fried octopus in Barcelona.
My favourite Mexican restaurant located in the trendy Born area, Tlaxcal have a great selection of beer and of course – tequila!
Some of their specialities include tacos and homemade guacamole and I was delighted to find vegetarian options were available.
Be sure to make a reservation before going as it gets packed, especially on the weekends.
You can find them at Carrer del Comerç, 27, or give them a call on +34 932 68 41 34.
No Barcelona food post is complete without including this incredible burger joint.
Available at various locations within the city, Bacoa features delicious homemade burgers that you can customize to your liking.
And newly added to the list are some delicious veggie and vegan options – hoorah!
Best Insurance for Budget Travellers in Barcelona
Wherever in the world I’m heading I always make sure I’m well covered and highly recommend travel insurance from World Nomads, which I’ve used during my time backpacking in Spain and beyond.
Well-priced, with excellent policy coverage and a super easy online claim process, travel insurance from World Nomads is perfect for backpackers and those looking to get extra peace of mind when it comes to those notorious Barcelona pickpockets!
If you’re looking for travel insurance with Covid-19 cover, then look no further than Safetywing’s great Nomad Insurance policies.
These guys have you covered!
Affordable Day Trips from Barcelona
With so much to do in Barcelona, you could easily spend a few days (or more) enjoying all this city has to offer.
However, if you’re craving a bit of out of city action, then there’s also some great budget Barcelona day trips you can enjoy too.
If there is one place I recommend you don’t miss on your trip to Barcelona, it’s this.
An hour from the centre of the city, Montserrat is a jagged mountain that has breathtaking views at the top as well as an Abbey and a Monastery.
The Good News: entrance to the Monastery is free.
However, you have to pay for your transportation as it is not included in any of the city cards.
Getting to Montserrat is simple but has a few steps to it.
First, you need to get to Placa Espanya (the entrance to the station is literally across the street from Las Arenas/the bullring-turned-shopping centre mentioned above).
From there, look for signs to the R5 track.
The station is quite large, so it may be a bit of a walk.
Once you’re there, you’ll see machines with signs that say ‘Montserrat’.
From here, you have 2 options when it comes to purchasing tickets. You can either select to ride up to the mountain on a cable car or a funicular.
Once you purchase your tickets, a train takes you up to the base of the mountain; this ride takes about an hour.
From there, you go up to the monastery on either choice you made earlier (funicular or cable car).
The Cable car gets you there a bit faster and more comfortably while the funicular has absolutely incredible views as you head up literally hanging on a cable.
Return tickets up to the monastery are about €22.
Pro Tip: Bring your own lunch to save money as the restaurants at the top are expensive.
Otherwise, if you want to savour one of Monserrat’s most famous traditions, this highly-rated wine-tasting day tour from Barcelona builds vineyard time around your monastery visit.
A mere €4 train ride will get you to this historic beach city in 45 minutes from Barcelona’s Estacion Francia (France Station).
Known for its beautiful beaches, LGBT-friendly community and world-renowned film festivals, Sitges is the perfect day trip to take that won’t break the bank.
Walking through the small cobblestone streets and rows of colourful houses, you can see firsthand just how much history the city still holds.
Another thing Sitges is famous for: being the birthplace of Facundo Bacardi, aka the creator of the wonderful rum we enjoy today!
There is a fantastic tour through the Casa Bacardi that I highly recommend.
€10 will get you Bacardi’s full history, a walk through the entire house, samples of various versions of the liquor, as well as a mixology lesson with a Bacardi specialist where you will make 3 drinks that you can enjoy afterwards.
Check out this best-selling tour to Sitges and the ancient Roman Aqueducts in Tarragona if you’re looking to combine some culture with some rum drinking!
Alternatively, to make the trip to Tarragona independently, Kiwi.com can help you plan the journey easily and for the best price.
The highest point in all of Barcelona, Tibidabo is another can’t-miss experience while visiting this city.
To get to the top, you need to take a funicular up but you can first take a train up to Avinguda Tibidabo and walk to the funicular from there.
Be Warned: it’s a steep walk as many of the streets are very inclined.
The funicular ride is available every 30 minutes and is €7.70 for a return trip.
Note: in February, the funicular only runs on a very limited weekend schedule, while March-December it runs every day.
Once you’re at the top, be prepared to be blown away.
There is an amusement park as well as a beautiful church, Sagrat Cor, with a figure of Christ at the top which is said to be larger than the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.
For another €3, you can climb to the very top of the church.
Being a lover of heights I, of course, paid the extra fee and made the climb up.
Am I glad I did – the views of Barcelona from here are absolutely spectacular.
Example Barcelona Budget
And if you’re looking to get an idea of how much a budget travel Barcelona adventure might cost you, here’s some rough prices to give you some idea:
- 1x night in a dorm bed at ANT Hostel: €28
- Coffee or Beer: €2
- Lunch from a market: €6
- T10 Transport Ticket: €10
- Budget Dinner: €20
- Barcelona Day Trip: €110
And if you’re travelling to Barcelona as part of a longer trip to Spain and are wondering where to head next in this country, check out the 7 day Spain itinerary I wrote for some brilliant ideas.
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So there it is, my budget travel guide to Barcelona.
Hopefully I’ve shown you how many incredible things there are to see and do in Barcelona for less.
Which is your favourite on this list?
Tell me all in the comments box below…