Barcelona is a city in north east Spain and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, attracting over 30 million tourists a year.
To put this staggering statistic in perspective the residents of Barcelona only make up 1.6 million people. It’s no surprise that this sun soaked city attracts so many tourists. With it’s cheaper costs and beautiful sights alongside desirable weather conditions for much of the year it’s the perfect getaway location. Whether you’re planning on staying for a long weekend or several weeks you can do it on a budget if you plan ahead.
This article covers extensively the main drains on funds and how to counter these, here is Barcelona on a budget – the tips and tricks travel guide.
Barcelona on a budget - Flights
If you are planning on trying to visit Barcelona on a budget then it’s probably a good idea to make sure you pick the right time of the year to go. There’s different pro’s and cons for various times of the year. The cheapest times of the year to fly generally are January and February along with September also being a cheaper month.
May is the most expensive month to travel according to Skyscanner’s Barcelona’s flight report. As a general rule, towards the end of the summer season see’s the price of flights decrease slightly but allows you to enjoy the warmer weather also.
The lower cost of flights also coincide with lower hotel and accommodation costs as it is towards the end of the season.
Booking cheap flights – tips
If you keep looking at flight prices your information is logged and prices tend to go on. Only every so slightly but still up never the less.
Cheap flights – Days, Weeks and Months
As mentioned earlier in the article the month can seriously impact your flight cost. It makes sense then that, the day of the week and the week in the month can also impact the cost of an airline ticket. The great thing though? Many flight comparison websites allow you to pick your flight and then compare the cost across the upcoming months, it is worth taking this into consideration as it can greatly reduce the cost of tickets.
Internationally, the best days to fly, in general are Thursdays and Fridays. Though it is best to check as this can change depending on your local airport. The end of the month usually tends to be more expensive but again, this changes depending on what airport you’re looking at.
If you implement all these tips then you can get some serious discounts. Being in Europe tickets were already quite cheap as it was. However with all of these tips and tricks i was able to find a return ticket to Barcelona from London from just £78.
Barcelona on a budget - Where to stay
One of the biggest drains on your adventure fund is where you choose to lay your head. One thing i say time and time again is that your budget for accommodation is as big or small as you want it to be. Hostel, hotel or private accommodations.
Tips and tricks can help you get it cheap. Barcelona is no exception to this and accommodation can be found on a budget.
Hostels in Barcelona
Hostels can be a way towards super cheap accommodation whilst travelling. They can seem a little bit intimidating to the novice traveller and therefore be off putting.
Hostels have come a long way over the years. With the introduction of online hostel comparison sites you are able to compare hostels and see reviews which means, subsequently the quality of hostels have begun to improve. This means you are able to find the perfect one for you. Super clean, close to the city centre, both? You can find budget accommodation that suits all your needs.
You’re not the first
Barcelona on a budget – hostels picks
Ok so hostels start from as low as $10 a night which is pretty good. As always though, price tends to reflect quality, not always, but usually. That being said you could spend $20 a night and it doesn’t automatically mean that it’s going to be twice as good as one half the price.
Below are a couple of picks that I suggest looking at. The factors I’ve used to make my recommendations are based on a central location, a high level of cleanliness and atmosphere as a whole.
Hostel Casa Kessler
Rooms in their 8 person dorms start at around $25 a night and have a fantastic boutique look about them. They’re stylish and up to date and clean. staff are extremely helpful and you feel really relaxed at this place, the only downside is it’s a little bit away from the centre of town. The trade off though? It’s one of the most beautiful hostels I’ve seen in Europe
The rooms at Harmony Hostel start at around $23 a night and are a little bit closer to the town centre. I love this place as there’s a really nice relaxed coffee house type of feel in the communal areas. The beds have little pull around curtains which give a bit of privacy and it’s also very clean.
Whatever hostel you decide on going for I suggest picking somewhere in a good location and that is ranked high for cleanliness. Almost all of the sites have safes you can use as standard but it’s always best to check before hand. Booking in advance can sometimes save you some money also as you get discount for multiple days.
Be aware that there is sometimes tax added on top of the price of the room which is charged upon arrival, so be mindful to check the hostels official policy before hand.
It’s always worth looking at hotels as an alternative to hostels. If you’re just not comfortable with a hostel or you just fancy a bit more privacy then this is a good alternative. ‘Cheap’ is a subjective term. What I think is cheap and what someone else thinks is cheap may be completely different. That being said the same tips and tricks can be used when finding a hotel on a budget.
Compare and contrast
Last minute and mystery deals for budget hotels
AirBnb and alternatives
Another good alternative to hotels is AirBnb. Due to the rise in popularity over the years owners have had to come up with more ways to bring in custom. These has come in the form of cheaper prices as well as more care taken to make the property seem as luxury as possible. As with hotels, those renting out rooms or whole apartments still need to make money.
Rooms start from around $30 a night. Having the entire place to yourself will obviously cost more averaging $80+ a night. If you trade off location and travel further away from city centre you can find rooms starting from $10 a night and entire places from $30 a night. But these may mean having to pay for transport into the city centre. You need to work out what will work for you.
Couch surfing is a free alternative if you really are trying to tighten the purse strings. Of course there is a proper way of doing it. I strongly suggest staying away from newspaper and online ads and instead go through an authentic website. Don’t trade off safety to save money.
If you are looking at free accommodation i suggest you look at couchsurfing. This website lets you look for vacant places to stay in the area you intend on looking at. Alongside this there are reviews from other people, with ratings for the host. This way you are able to check out your host and make informed decisions based on where you would like to stay based upon information gathered from others.
Barcelona on a budget - Where to eat
Barcelona has an amazing food scene. From teeny tiny tapas to ham and wine tasting sessions there is food everywhere. Fresh ingredients shower local markets in colour and inspire you to explore new tastes. Cheap food is in abundance here if you know where to look. Food vendors sprinkle the streets and cafes and family owned restaurants can be found on every corner.
Here are my tips to eat in Barcelona on a budget.
Tasting, tasting 1..2..3
The great thing about Barcelona, one of many that is. Is that the markets here are amazing and really quite extensive. This tip is a bit cheeky but is a good way to eat and also taste the local produce. This doesn’t make up a full meal but you won’t be going away hungry. As you venture around the markets you will find that a lot of the stalls encourage people to try before they buy. This can be used to your advantage. As you make your way around the markets feel free to ask to try different things.
Spark up a conversation and ask about the vendors produce, the majority are very friendly. As i said it is a bit of a cheeky way to fill yourself but there has been many times where I have walked around a market and came away full.
Included in the price?
One thing I always try to do when looking for accommodation is to make sure breakfast is included in the price. When I search hotels I can find dozens which come under the same price bracket. While 60% of the hotels you have to pay extra for breakfast, the other 40% have it included in the price. If you have set yourself a budget for accommodation and are happy with that price then why not get the most for your money.
Getting breakfast included in the price of your hotel can save you around $50 a week per person.
Eat like a local
The thing is, with the locals in Barcelona, eating is a social affair. Eat late and stay later. This is a very typical and therefore deals are tailored to popular times of the day which just so happens to be late evening.
Take a walk around the afternoon before and get an idea for the prices and deals that are on. Some deals are conditioned to be at certain times of the day. Much like afternoon deals tend to be around about 2 – 5, many dinner deals are from 6 / 7 pm onwards. Therefore it can benefit you to eat like a local to benefit from the deals.
where to eat?
Bar Santa Fe
Bar Santa Fe is authentic in the feel and atmosphere as it is in taste. Great food, amazing prices and a light laid back cafe feel is what this place has to offer. Located in the city centre this place is perfectly located and can easily be located due to it’s location as well as catchy sign. The owner is very friendly and is passionate about food. This can be shown by the quality of what is produced. For the price you get very generous sized potions and will not be leaving this place hungry. For around about 10 euro’s you can get a steak lunch with drink and dessert. That is what I call a bargain.
Narciso is best known for being a sandwich bar. But i feel like i’m not selling it enough by just saying that. It is a sandwich bar that works out. They are authentic and use fresh ingredients and make something which is not only beautiful to look at but beautiful to taste. They also have a range of tapas on offer as well as cold-cuts and cheese boards amongst other dishes.
If you’re in Barcelona you have to try this place. It’s great on a budget with really good prices and has a really nice vibe about the place.
La Terraza Miro
How to travel around barcelona on a budget
Getting around Barcelona isn’t difficult, there are lots of different transportation options to suit just about anyone and any destination, they’re all relatively cheap so pick the one that best suits you.
The metro is a pretty good option, gets you from a to b pretty quickly. Normally runs on a pretty good time. If you’ve missed one train there will be one along pretty soon after. I just love how convenient the Metro is. There are 12 lines and over 160 different stops so you can get pretty close to where you need to be. Your best bet ticket wise is to grab an all day ticket.
City bus and Trams
The city bus is really easy to use and stops are everywhere. There are over 100 routes in every direction so wherever you need to be there’s a bus that goes there. A single ticket will set you back about 2 euro. The tram consists of two lines that go through the city centre, it’s a bit slower than other methods of transport but if you aren’t in a rush just hop on and enjoy the sights.
Budget travel – best bet
Free and cheap attractions in Barcelona
If you’ve stuck around this far into the guide, thank you. I know this guide is a little long winded but i’m trying to write something that’s fully comprehensive. So you’ve got tips on where to stay, where to eat and how to get around. Thats great, that’s the most important things taken care of. Now what about things to do. It’s not much of an adventure if you don’t get out there and take in the sites. Site seeing can be expensive but it doesn’t have to be. Here if a list of a few things that should keep you busy on your travels through Barcelona without breaking the budget.
Whether you’re a fan of art, history and speciality museums, there’s plenty to see in Barcelona. The great thing about museums is that many of them are free. The ones that aren’t free are pretty cheap anyway. If you plan your day right then you can make it into an all day event. Barcelona is known for it’s great architecture so it should be on your list of things to see.
Walking tours are another great way to see Barcelona. There’s no better way to learn about the history of the town and the culture than from one of these tour guides. The great thing about walking tours is that the guides are local. They know the best places to go and what to see. They are full of knowledge and usually extremely friendly. There is a Free walking tour that i suggest you see. It leaves from 11 am and 3pm daily and is the best way to see the city. The duration of the tour is around about 2 to 2 and a half hours long and can be booked in advance.
There are English Spanish and Italian tour guides and can be see in their distinct purple tops which show their umbrella logo. The tours are free and although they do not ask for tips, these guys are really nice and deserve something. So if you can spare anything at all it is all greatly appreciated and they really do go above and beyond.
Going out and exploring is the best way to see the city in my opinion. You can take things at your own pace, stop when you want and take breaks along the way. There’s no set structure and it’s a really relaxing way to take in the sights. If this seems appealing to you then I really think you should take a venture around the Golden Quarter. This area in Barcelona city centre can be spotted by its unique architecture dating back to the late 19th century. There’s plenty going on in this area and small shops and cafes are dotted about. It’s worth taking a stroll around here to take in the views
Markets in Barcelona
Markets in Barcelona are fantastic. One of my favourite things to do. From produce markets to flea markets you can find anything here. Local crafts and produce are on display in every corner of these markets. There’s an abundance of markets in this place so you don’t have to venture far to find them. If you’ve looked into any markets in Barcelona then the one that you probably keep on seeing pop up is Mercado de La Boqueria. It’s reputation is well founded. It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Barcelona and it is absolutely massive! you could really spend all day here if you wanted. Fish, fruit, meat and olives are just a few of the things on offer.
Fresh food is also being prepared to order here so tapas is made on order and can also be enjoyed here. I love this market and can’t rave about it enough. Go and see it please!!
Things to take away
There’s so many things to see and do in this amazing city. It is full of culture and you get an amazing feeling when walking around the streets here. It can be easy to spend money if you’re as impulsive as I am (who wants to buy everything I see).
It doesn’t have to be that way of course as proven with the tips and tricks above. You can implement all or a few of these and save some money and take care of your budget. The most important thing though of course is to have fun and stay safe.
If you’ve enjoyed this article then please comment below on what you’d like to read next. Feel free to share this article if you’ve found it helpful in any way and check out my last article about the ultimate backpacking checklist