Barcelona on a budget is certainly possible, I mean Barcelona isn’t an incredibly expensive city in the first place, or at least I personally didn’t find it to be during my short 3 night stay there. But if you are looking to take on this Catalonia wonder over a few nights, but whilst at the same time keeping one eye on the purse strings, there are a couple of tips/tricks/sights/service providers you may wish to consider or explore. I’ve done my very best to detail a few of them to you below.
Barcelona on a budget
I am sure there are more than the below, but these should provide you with a good start to exploring Barcelona on a budget.
Lets begin …
Aerobus – coach to/from the airport
It starts with getting from the airport to the city. The Aerobus is a modern transport system that can take you from either T1 or T2 of El-Prat airport, to central Barcelona in around about 35 minutes.
The buses are big and comfortable, and appear to run every 10 minutes or so from around 5am to midnight.
Sadly there is no discount for booking in advance, but there is a slight discount for booking a return ticket. FYI a single ticket is €5.90, and a return €10.20. Tickets can be bought from the driver, or from kiosks at the airport.
Official website –> Aerobus
Metro tickets – buy in bulk
Once you reach the city, its more than likely that you’ll need to transfer by metro to another stop before you reach your hotel or apartment. I liked the metro, a lot. It was clean, not overly bus, efficient and pretty damn cheap. The key to making it value for money was buying a bulk ticket (just like on the Paris Metro). An individual journey/ticket will set you back €2.15, but if you buy a 10 journey ticket, it will only cost you €10.30. That’s a saving of €11.20 vs buying individual tickets.
Rent an apartment
I guess this isn’t exactly a unique tip, but its still work putting out there as a good idea. There are several companies who deal in apartment rentals now, and having worked with a few of them in the past, I would happily arrange a stay through Wimdu, Roomorama or Airbnb again. On this occasion, the gf booked our little studio apartment without my knowing, as a surprise for my 30th. Let me tell you, the girl did good!
La Sagrada Família – Book online
Potentially Barcelona’s most popular attraction. The queues for this unique looking Roman Catholic church can stretch around the block, so unless you’re a fan of queuing for hours, booking in advance is highly recommended. Those hours spend standing in line out in the hot Spanish sun could well be worth it, La Sagrada Família is a UNESCO site after all, but why wait in line when you can go straight to the front of the queue.
OK OK so this one wont save you any money, but it will save you a LOT of time … and time is money right? Maybe not, but trust me and just book online.
Official Site –> La Sagrada Família
Park Guell – Book in advance
Just like with La Sagrada Família, you can expect queues and waiting times if you choose to purchase your Park Guell tickets on the day of your visit. That’s what we did, and we had to wait 2 hours before we could enter another of Barcelona’s UNESCO sites. It wasn’t a major hardship, as there was plenty more park to explore over those 2 hours, but had we known that visitor numbers were restricted to 400 tickets per half hour, we would have purchased in advance, or as soon as we reached the park, NOT having sat down and had lunch first. Ah well, we know for next time.
Lastly, booking online does equal a discount. For an adult ticket you save €1 by booking online – €7 online vs €8 booking at the park.
Official website –> Park Guell
Labyrinth Park – free on certain days
No queues or crowds here, and an adults admission only costs < €3 anyway, but still, if you plan your trip to the Labyrinth Park right, you can actually get in for free. Wednesdays and Sundays are what you should aim for if you want to pay zilch, and that’s a decent price. Having conversations with a local is also an enthralling thing to do. The interaction would be so much better if you know how to speak Spanish and you can learn how to with the help of curso de subjuntivo.
Official website –> Labyrinth Park (although, you can just turn up and buy a ticket on the door/get in free, rather than take the advertised tour)
Montjuic – cable car or free to walk
Giving you some of the best views over the city, a ride (or two) to the top of Montjuic is highly recommended. There are a number of ways in which you can reach the top, the most energetic and budget conscious of you probably choosing to walk for free.
We took a slightly different route though, first using 1 journey on our T10 metro card to travel by funicular from Paral.lel metro station to the base of Montjuic, and then boarding one of Barcelona’s two gondolas to complete the journey.
Booking online will save you 10%, bringing an adult return ticket down to under €10.
Official site –> Montjuic Cable Car
The Olympic Stadium – Free entry
If you’re a sports buff, or even just a fan of the Olympics, its well worth stopping off to take a peak inside the Olympic stadium whilst exploring Mountjuic. Just a short 10 minute walk from the Cable Car station, the gates to the stadium are FREE to walk through.
OK so you cant go down to the track, and the stadium looks a tad dated when compared to some of the monstrous stadia that are springing up over the globe at the moment, but it is still a place of significant sporting history that will cost you nothing to have a look around. Lets not forget that Barcelona 1992 was the first Olympic games without boycott since 1972, and their awarding to the city of Barcelona helped regenerate the city and turn it into the destination so many now love. Without the games, would I even be writing this article? Maybe not.
So, if you’re walking down from the Montjuic Cable Car station to the Magic fountain (see next paragraph), there is nothing to stop you having a quick look inside. As a sports fanatic, I loved looking around the stadium and surrounding grounds. An amazing experience.
Magic Fountain – Free show
What better word to accompany ‘budget’ than ‘free’?
Get the times right and you’re in for a treat, and the best part is that it will set you back absolutely nothing! Yep, another free attraction. We are totally winning at this Barcelona on a budget thing!
Located at the base of Montjuic lies the Magic Fountain (it sounds much better in Spanish – Font màgica de Montjuïc). Come evening time, crowds will gather, music will play and the water of the fountain will dance. It sounds pretty simple, but the scale of the fountain, and of the show is not to be underestimated. As the water shots up out of the fountain high into the night sky, it is illumiated in a series of different colours to ‘ooohs’ and ‘aahhs’ from those gathered to watch.
Its pretty spectular, and really quite relaxing, and again, what have you got to lose when considering it is FREE? Just keep in mind that timings are seasonal, and after that you’re in for a treat.
Official site –> Font màgica de Montjuïc
Ah, free wifi, a bloggers best friend. Throughout most of the above you will find scattered the odd FREE wifi spot. Its not life changing, but great for those of you that love a selfie, or need to have a quick look at Google maps to see where you’re heading next. Again, FREE. Win!
Official site –> Free Barcelona Wifi
€1 euro beers
After exploring those all those green areas, no doubt you’ll have built up a thirst. Your first instinct may be to head for Las Ramblas, but if you head east from Las Ramblas to a street named Pararrell, there are multiple restaurants selling 1 euro bottles of local beer. Granted the road isn’t as glamorous or interesting as Las Ramblas, but in the interesting of saving cash the 5 minutes walk and quieter surroundings is worth it.
Beach – Use the supermarket rather than bars
Whilst we’re on the subject of beers, and food, and other bits and pieces that you may wish to take to the beach, my advice would to be to buy all of these from a nearby supermarket if you’re looking to do Barcelona on a budget. Naturally, those items bought at the beach bars will be way more expensive. But its up to you, the beach bars did actually look quite nice, so maybe splashing out that bit extra will be worth it.
So there you have it, by no means is the above comprehensive, but its a good enough start if you’re looking to visit Barcelona and save a few euro. If you visit the city in the next few months, let me know how you got on.
And that is how you do Barcelona on a budget.
Happy travels :)