Barcelona on a budget: a guide to seeing the city on the cheap

by Jules on March 15, 2013

If you’re dreaming of having a cheap city break and are wondering whether Barcelona is a viable destination to choose, I can tell you that it is. Like most cities, there are attractions, accommodation options and restaurants to suit most budgets, so you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Barcelona without breaking the bank.

Here are a few top tips to help you make the most of your time in Barcelona if you’re a little tight on cash.

Where to stay

Accommodation is usually one of the biggest expenses on a trip away from home, so do some research to minimise this cost as much as possible before you travel. There are a host of cheap hotels in and around the city – if you don’t mind being a bit further out of the centre you could save yourself a bit more cash.

If you’re wondering where to start your search for a hotel, you’ll find some examples of affordable accommodation here.

How to travel

The next issue with visiting a large city like Barcelona is usually getting around. After all, there may be quite big distances between one attraction and the next that means walking isn’t the most practical option.

If you’re happy to be active during your trip, one of the best options is to hire a bike and take to two wheels. There are numerous cycle hire companies in Barcelona and the city is well set up for cyclists, as there are dedicated bike paths and various parks that you can pedal through.

Should you want to cover longer distances – or just get around a little quicker and with less effort – the public transport network in Barcelona is good and affordable. There are several travel passes on offer that are integrated across the metro, tram and bus services, so look for a ticket that suits your needs.

What to see

Narrowing down Barcelona’s attractions can be tricky as there are just so many, but the best way to go if you’re on a budget is with anything that’s free. That doesn’t restrict you in any way, as many of the city’s cultural, historical, artistic and natural sights don’t cost a penny to visit! Here are just a few that you might want to add to your itinerary.

• Gothic Quarter - This is the ideal place for history buffs to spend a few hours, as this part of the city dates back to the Roman and medieval eras. Explore the network of narrow streets and alleys, keeping your eyes peeled for striking Gothic churches and picturesque squares.
• Park Guell - Gaudi is a name synonymous with Barcelona and thankfully it’s free to view one of the architect’s best-known works. Park Guell is a great way to combine seeing his artistic talents with a bit of time in the fresh air. Within the park are amazing installations – like a flight of steps with a dragon design made from broken pieces of ceramics – as well as a museum dedicated to Gaudi’s work.
• La Rambla - La Rambla is one of Barcelona’s most distinctive streets. It was laid in 1766 and follows the line of the medieval city walls. This wide pedestrianised street is lined with trees and even features a large, colourful pavement mosaic created by artist Joan Miro. If you walk the full length of La Rambla (1.2 km) you’ll pass buildings like Barcelona’s opera and the bustling Boqueria Market.

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