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!

Europe 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.

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If you want to experience Barcelona like a pro and get the most bang for your travel buck, you’ve got to plan ahead to avoid the tourist traps and keep on a budget.


Here are a few essential tips for traveling Barcelona on a budget.

Travel During Shoulder Season

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.

Shoulder seasons are April through May and September through early December. 

My favorite time to travel to Barcelona is in early to mid September. The crowds are starting to cool down and so is the weather.

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 and have a better time across the board.

This means, booking your flights far in advance. You will see the best prices more than 80 days out for International travelers. So, if you are looking to travel to Barcelona in May, you should start watching prices after New Years, January 1st and purchase before March 1st.

Budget for Flights

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 FlightsSkyScanner 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”.

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.

Where to Stay

If you want to travel Barcelona Spain on a budget, you must book a cheaper hotel. It’s plain and simple. Besides for airfare, your hotel is likely to be the second most expensive budget item.

Think about it for a second… how much time are you really going to spend in the room and at the hotel in a beautiful city like Barcelona?

If I had to guess, you probably will be spending time wandering the streets of the Montjuic National Palace (pictured above) or the Gothic Quarter, joining a Paella Cooking Class or attending a Flamenco Show!

Here are a few affordable places to stay in Barcelona that I love:

pool at Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona SpainHotel Ciutat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain

Hotel Ciutat de Barcelona

Hotel 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.

Centrally located near Ciutadella Park, Picasso Museum, Estación de Francia train station, Arc de Triomf, Sagrada Familia and much more!

Oh, and if you fancy a nice little rooftop pool and lounge area, this one’s for you. Great value!

Budget Stay in Charming Eixample

Hostal Absolut Centro is set in a restored building in Barcelona’s Eixample district, near Barcelona University. It offers air-conditioned rooms with a TV and free WiFi access.

This value guest house is within a 15-minute walk of the famous Ramblas and the Gaudi buildings of Passeig de Gracia. Plaça Universitat Metro Station is just 1,950 feet away, and the airport bus also stops nearby.

Rooms at Hostal Absolut are functional and bright. They have central heating and some rooms have a small balcony. Rooms with private or shared bathrooms are available.

Hotel Catalunya

Hotel Catalunya features free Wi-Fi and is centrally located in Barcelona’s Gothic center, just off of La Rambla, 150 feet from Plaça Catalunya. It has air-conditioned rooms with satellite TV.

All rooms at the Catalunya come equipped with a fridge and a safe. The private bathroom has a hairdryer. Breakfast is served in a café 100 feet from the hotel.

Barcelona Cathedral is just a 5-minute walk from Catalunya Hotel. The famous Gaudi buildings of Passeig de Gracia are only just over a quarter mile away.

The hotel is near Plaça Catalunya Train and Metro Station. The airport and sightseeing buses also stop in this central square.

Hotel del Mar

Hotel del Mar is set in a listed building just 2,650 feet from the seafront and Barceloneta Metro Station. It is a 5-minute walk from the trendy Born neighborhood and Ciutadella Park.

The air-conditioned rooms at Hotel del Mar have flat-screen satellite TV. There is a private bathroom with a hairdryer and amenities, and some rooms have a private balcony. A safe is also available with a surcharge.

Hotel del Mar has a 24-hour front desk. Barcelona’s França Train Station is a 5-minute walk away, and you can walk to Barcelona Cathedral and Maremagnum Shopping Center in 10 minutes. Parking is available 5 minutes’ walk from the property.

Barcelona Hotels, Hostels & Apartments

Use this unique map to find hotels, hostels and apartments spread across various sites like, VRBO, Expedia, Agoda, Trivago and

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 17€. 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.

Rent a Vespa!

Or, if you’re feeling adventurous and have experience on two wheels, I highly recommend going on a Vespa tour! Renting a vespa is so much fun and super easy. It makes parking a breeze and hopping from location to location quicker. 

For around 60€, you’ll have the freedom to roll with the wind in your hair. Hit the open road or explore lesser known parts of town and spaces throughout the city. 

Adventures & Attractions

Surprisingly, there are a lot of things to do for FREE in Barcelona, Spain.


If you’re in Barcelona on the first Sunday of the month, hit the museums. 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.

Some city-run museums, including the Museu Picasso and MNAC, have a late afternoon or evening each week when entry is free.


  • Thursday afternoons from 4.00pm to 7.00pm
  • First Sunday of each month
  • Open Door days: 
  • 12th ans 13 th February, 18th May and 24th September

Limitations of capacity during free-of-charge opening times: the days when the opening times are free-of-charge, it is necessary to purchase a ticket from the official website. So as not to miss out on getting a ticket, we recommend in-advance ticket bookings (tickets available 4 days in advance of the free-of-charge day)

There are also two excellent galleries nearby La Rambla that host changing exhibitions with free entry: the Centre de la Imatge in the Palau de la Virreina near the top of the boulevard, and the Centre d’Art Santa Mònica toward the bottom.

Traveler Tip: Wherever possible, book tickets online (including free tickets) to guarantee entry.

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 & Beaches

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. 

Traveler Tip: 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!

Speaking of parks, the Magic Fountain and the surrounding area of Montjuic National Palace (pictured above) is wonderful, even if the fountain is not putting on one of its spectacular nightly shows!

The lush green hill of Montjuïc rises up from the port and is surrounded by quite a few museums, gardens and important sights, as well as incredible city views. Note, you will have to pay for the museums, but the sights and gardens are free. Wander around gardens such as the Moorish-inspired Jardins de Laribal with their elegant fountains, sculptures and steep tiled walkways; then take a jaunt around the grand Olympic Stadium, which played host to the 1992 Summer Olympic Games.

When you’re done exploring the gardens, take the bus (or walk if you need to get your steps in) right to the top, where you’ll find the Castell de Montjuïc. You have to pay a fee to enter, but you can still wander around its walls and gardens for free while admiring the astounding views.

Enjoy the best view of the city from the Bunkers del Carmel

They might take some leg power to get to, but the Bunkers del Carmel offer the best view in the whole of Barcelona, a 360-degree vista with the city and all its iconic monuments on one side and hills and the town of Sant Cugat on the other. You can also climb down into the bunkers, where you’ll find a free small museum telling you about the role they played as an anti-aircraft battery during the Civil War and later as a shantytown housing over 3000 people during the 1940s to 1960s.

Starting Tuesday May 2, 2023 the Carmel Bunkers on Turó de la Rovira Hill will close at 1930 [7:30 PM]. Summer hours : 0900-1930. Winter hours : 0900-1730 [5:30 PM]. This measure is to prevent the Civil War remnants from further damage & to help prevent noise from disturbing nearby residents. The bunkers are a popular location for large crowds gathering to watch sunsets, listen to music, eat & drink. Guàrdia Urbana will clear people from the area, close the access points at 1930 & will be monitoring the area. A 2 meter high fence has been erected at the site. These measures will be evaluated in October by the city council and if necessary they will adjust the measures.


Barcelona has some wonderful beaches perfect for resting feet that ache after days of sightseeing. Barceloneta is the most popular, with its lovely sweep of golden sand and promenade backed with restaurants; for something less crowded, walk further north towards the Fòrum area.

Beach lovers can swap always-busy Barceloneta to bask in the beauty of beaches further out of town, such as those along the Costa del Garraf or the Costa Maresme, both easily accessible by public transport.

However, you really have to be aware of pickpockets and bag snatching on the beaches!

Free Walking Tours

I love free and the best free thing to do in Barcelona is a walking tour, in which you can do in many different areas of the city.

Pictured above is the inside of Cathedral of Barcelona in the Gothic Quarter. The 14th-Century Neo-Gothic Cathedral in Barcelona was constructed between 1298 – 1448 by architects Josep Oriol Mestres and August Font I Carreras. Various types of sandstones and granite were used to build the Barcelona Cathedral, as well as reinforced concrete for the naves. Thin masonry timbrel makes up much of the vaulting.

Barcelona Cathedral is one of the largest and most impressive churches in Catalonia. It is also known as the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and Saint Eulalia. Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barri Gotic) is the oldest part of town and the most popular area to stay in.

The Gothic Quarter is my favorite area in Barcelona and you could spend hours getting lost in the maze of little streets and alleys. 

Another great walking tour is an 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, 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.

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

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, ahead of time!

The always popular (except in the early morning) Las Ramblas is always a great time for people watching or grabbing an overpriced bite to eat.

You see what I did there? Just making sure you are paying attention.

Do not eat on Las Ramblas and if you are saving your budget, do not stay on Las Ramblas either.

Speaking of eating…

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.

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”.

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.

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!

Drinks in Barcelona

Most drinks are relatively cheap in Barcelona compared to the Western 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.

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

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.

Book Your Trip Now!

Below are my favorite companies I use time and time again when I book my travel. 

  • Travel Coupons & Discounts – Get Cash Back at places like, Expedia, Travelocity, Priceline and many more with Rakuten. Sign up today & get $30!
  • My Favorite Travel Credit Card – Chase Sapphire Prefered. This is by far the best way to book travel and earn miles/points while doing so. Use the Chase Sapphire Prefered for booking 3x travel, 3x dining and 3x on streaming services
  • My Second Favorite Travel Credit Card – In my opinion, the second best travel rewards credit card, the Capital One Venture. Use the Capital One Venture card for 2x the rewards on everyday purchases.
  • Rental Cars – Search, compare and save on the best rental car company brands all in one place using DiscoverCars.
  • – Booking has the widest selection of budget accommodation in the world. In our studies, they constantly found the cheapest rooms. I also like their easy-to-use interface and no-money-down policy.
  • – is my second choice for finding hotels. I love their selection and easy to navigate website. Use it often for free hotel stays with OneKeyCash.
  • VRBO – The most popular vacation rental site in the US. ✓+2 million rentals worldwide ✓19+ million reviews ✓Secure online payment
  • Selina Hostel – This is the best hostel accommodation in the world. Their unique CoLive stays, artwork and location are the best. Not to mention, they are a great value travel brand!

For companies, check out my favorite travel companies section that includes even more of my favorite travel companies that will help you value travel!

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