How to Travel Barcelona Spain on a Budget

If you’re considering making Barcelona, Spain, your next destination, use these tips below to save on some cash!

Overall, you’ll have a few big items you need to worry about when planning your trip. Flight, Accomodation, Transportation and Adventure.

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How to Budget Flights to Barcelona

When you can, it makes sense to use points and miles for your flight. When I traveled to Spain, I used my CapitalOne Venutre cards to get us across the Atlantic for free. While I understand not everybody uses travel reward cards, it does significantly save on your budget.

If you have not done so already, read through My Favorite Travel Rewards Credit Cards.

 

Other ways to save on flights include: Google Flights, SkyScanner and Hopper.

Skyscaner is a great website to browse destinations that inspire you. Skyscanner check’s 1,200 travel companies, so you don’t have to. Sign up for Price Alerts and we’ll tell you as soon as prices change on a flight you like. Then you can decide whether to book — or not.

Hopper is a unique app that predicts current and future flight prices. It’s unique algorithm helps us travelers get a beat on when a flight price may jump. Hopper sends you alerts from your tracked flights that suggest “buy now” or “wait for a better price.” Their slogan is “never overpay for travel again”.

Park Güell just after sunrise in Eixample, Spain

When to Visit Barcelona to Fit Your Budget

Spain is jam-packed with travelers in the summer. Particularly in July and August, the crowds in Barcelona are huge and the prices are sky-high. While a lot of travelers come to Barcelona in the summer to enjoy the great weather and plazas, you can get good weather throughout much of the year.

A great time to travel Barcelona Spain while on a budget is visiting during the shoulder seasons of April, May, September and October.

Barcelona is best enjoyed during the summer season, but shoulder season is a great way to save a ton of money. Starting in April, afternoons get up to 20 degrees C (68 degrees F) and they stay there until well into October. Winter months are colder for the Mediterranean city of Barcelona, be prepared with jackets, gloves and a hat.

To maximize the weather while minimizing prices and crowds, opt for the couple of months on either side of summer. You’ll save some serious cash on your Barcelona budget.

How to Book Budget Accommodations in Barcelona Spain

Location, location, location!

First off, location will always be your most important decision when planning where you are going to stay in Barcelona, Spain.

You should base all your plans around the location you want and then start picking out your accommodations and narrowing down your list.

If you’ve been reading the blog for some time, pick a place that is of great value but don’t blow your budget. Let’s be real, you’re not going to stay in the hotel all day, are you?

Forget about staying in Las Ramblas unless you love overly crowded, expensive, and a bit generic. This popular pedestrian street is worth a stroll but it’s not a good place to stay or eat. Expect sky-high prices and a lot people.

Barcelona Neighborhoods

Gràcia is where you can find budget accommodations and hostels. You will find mostly locals here, as its the business district of Barcelona. It’s a great value if you’re willing to travel into the city center. The vibe is casual and relaxed. Attractions include: Park Guell, Mt Tibadabo and Casa Vicens. Gracia is a great place to stay but it’s far from the beach.

The historic center of Barcelona is Barri Gòtic, the Gothic Quarter, featuring the oldest buildings in the city. Most of the buildings in this area are neo-Gothic, the result of a massive 19th-century restoration project. Fine examples of original Gothic architecture can be found in the interiors of La Catedral and La Llotja de Mar. The Gothic Quarter is the best neighborhood for history and culture enthusiasts. 

La Barceloneta is a triangular piece of land that cuts into the sea boats in the old harbor. Barcelona’s Port Vell, on one side, and sandy beaches on the other. The neighborhood, with its narrow, rectilinear streets, was built on a military grid structure to provide accommodation for the former inhabitants of La Ribera who had lost their homes due to the construction of the citadel. The houses were low-rise and small in scale so as not to obstruct views of the city. Barceloneta is the best neighborhood for visiting the beach.

El Raval is a vibrant multi-cultural neighborhood in the heart of Barcelona. The part closest to the old port was also known as Barri Xinès or Barrio Chino (Chinatown). Famous for it’s edgy and bohemian vibe, it has some of the city’s top museums and restaurants. It is surrounded by the neighborhoods of Sant Antoni, the Gothic Quarter and El Poble Sec. Stay in El Raval if you like street art and the hustle and bustle of Barcelona.

The Sagrada Familia, is the single most visited monument in Barcelona. The neo-gothic church is jaw-dropping. Inspired by nature, Gaudí created new shapes and structures, which made others see it as a laboratory of constructive experiments. The exterior of the building depicts religious and natural themes while the inside presents awe-inspiring views filled with stained glass windows and colossal columns. Stay in L’Eixample if you want to be as close as possible to this historic

El Born of Barcelona has all the beauty of the Barri Gotic… but is just far enough removed from the beaten track to maintain a little more calm, charm and dignity. Despite popular tourist attractions like the Picasso Museum and Ciutadella Park (which is also home to the city’s zoo), the area has maintained a high degree of local life. Stay in El Born if you want a little local charm but still near a few tourist attractions.

For more in-depth information about the different Barcelona neighborhoods, check out The Ultimate Barcelona Guide.

Barcelona Hotels That I Recommend

BEST VALUEHotel Ciutat de Barcelona, while not directly in the Gothic Quarter, is just a couple blocks East. So, you stay in roughly the same location, but at half the cost. Also, if you fancy a nice little rooftop pool and lounge area, this one is for you. It’s rare to get a rooftop pool in Barcelona. Overall, this hotel is a great value!

CHEAPEST – Just 3 minutes’ walk from Barcelona’s famous Ramblas, Hostal Levante Barcelona offers free WiFi and a 24-hour reception. Air-conditioned and heated rooms have a private bathroom, fan and work desk. Best for backpackers, couples, or group of friends looking to save on their budget.

LUXURY – Situated just 650 feet from Barcelona’s famous Sagrada Familia, this design hotel offers a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Gaudís famous basilica. Rooms at the Sercotel Hotel Rosellon include flat-screen TV and free Wi-Fi.

All air-conditioned rooms at Ayre Hotel Rosellón feature stylish, modern design. A free bottle of water is provided in the minibar on arrival.

The Sercotel Hotel Rosellon has an elegant restaurant and a café. A varied buffet breakfast is available each morning.

The hotel is a 3-minute walk from Sagrada Familia Metro Station, which offers direct access to Barcelona city centre. City tour buses stop within 800 feet of the hotel.

Barcelona Public Transportation

This one is pretty easy. Almost always, public transportation is the way to go in Barcelona, Spain. You can even get an Hola Barcelona Travel Card for roughly 30€. It entitles you to unlimited travel across the city’s metro and bus network, as well as the RENFE suburban trains network.

You can get these cards for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours, and they’ll give you the freedom of the city.

You can even use this card to get to the airport. It’s a major savings over hiring a taxi or bus driver.

Or, if you’re feeling adventurous and have experience on two wheels, I highly recommend renting a Vespa from Via Vespa! Renting a vespa is so much fun and super easy. It makes parking a breeze and hopping from location to location quicker. For around 35€-45€, you’ll have the freedom to roll wherever you want for the day. Hit the open road or explore lesser known roads, towns and spaces throughout the city.

Barcelona Free Things To Do

Surprise, there are a lot of things to do for FREE in Barcelona. That’s right, no strings attached, absolutely free.

Museums

If you’re there on a Sunday, hit a museum, like the Picasso museum. You will wait a good amount of time in line, unless you get there early, but it will b worth it!

All-day on the first Sunday of each month, and every Sunday between 3-8 pm, the majority of the city-operated museums are free.

Mercado La Boqueria

The “Goat Market” is an organized chaos of vendors selling smoothies, fresh meat, baguette’s and produce. It’s America’s version of a fresh market fruit stand in a giant tent. It’s the perfect place to find inexpensive local veggies, fruits, cheese, and ready-made snacks to pack for a picnic. Once you are all stocked up, head over to one of the stunning local parks. Great spot for some classic instagram pics and good eats!

Barcelona Parks

Parks like Ciutadella, Cervantes, and Palau Reial are must-visits in Barcelona. My favorite park in the city was Ciutadella Park and it was only two blocks away from our hotel, Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona. If one were to make an argument, Park Güell is also free. However, the famous tile wall and overlook is not free. That is extra, and speaking of extra, I want to introduce….

Bonus: If you travel outside the city to Mt Tibadabo, it’s free to walk around and get amazing views of the city of Barcelona. On clear days you can see all the way to the Mediterranean!

Antoni Gaudi Free Walking Tour

I love free and the best free thing to do in Barcelona Spain to help your budget may be the Antoni Gaudi walking tour. You could do one of two things here. You can map out your favorite Gaudi architecture and make a day of it and walk yourself- Places like La Sagrada Familia, Casa Batlló, Casa Mila and Parc Güell are picture-perfect from the exterior.

Or you may join a free walking tour already designed for you. There are tons of them all day and night. Led by a local at, https://freewalkingtoursbarcelona.com/. These tours are not just limited to Gaudi architecture, so if you’re not really into architecture, no worries they have something for everybody planned. While the tours are free, tips are usually appreciated for a locals hard work.

Travel Tip: If you want to see more of Gaudi and don’t have a problem spending a little money, I’d suggest buying your tickets online, way ahead of time!

If you want to discover some places in more detail, I’d suggest hiring a trained guide like the options below.

Cheap Eats

Spain has some of the greatest food in the world—you’ve just got to know where to look! As discussed earlier, Mercado de La Boqueria is one of the top spots to grab a bit on the go or for cheap. I’d highly recommend getting over to Mercat de Santa Caterina or Mercat de Sant Antoni as well to shop like a local.

Traveler Tip: Some of the stalls are cash only or have a surcharge for using cards. Be sure to arrive with at least a few euros in your pocket.

The big thing in Spain is Menu del Dia or Menu of the Day! Every day from roughly 1pm to 4 pm, you’ll find deals on lunch from 9€ – 14€. We are talking about a three course meal. That means you can save or skip dinner and snack on some tapas later that evening, making is a “cheap eats”.

Lunch is traditionally the biggest meal of the day in Spain so you are probably looking at a three-course meal with wine.

Usually the lunch consists of soup or salad, bread, main course with a side dish, dessert, and coffee. Wine or water is normally included as well. The Menu del Dia was invested to help the hard working and local people but its a saint for travelers too!

Cheap Drinks

Most drinks are cheap in Spain compared to the rest of the world. Wine, especially is very cheap. Spain is one of the biggest wine-producing countries on earth. That means the wine is not only world-class, but cheap! Cava and vermut are the typical drinks of choice. While you will find sangria, it’s better and more popular in the Andalucia region and southern Spain.

Traveler Tip: You can bring along an empty water bottle (they charge by the liter so make sure it’s at least that size) or you can grab a refillable bottle for a small price. More often than not, they are happy to give you samples directly from the barrel so you can get an ultra-affordable wine tasting on the fly.

If wine is not your thing, have a locally brewed cerveza (beer) for a few euros or less. Salud!

Feeling inspired? Check out everything you need to know for a great Spain trip!


 

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