Barcelona on a Budget: A Local’s Guide to Affordable and Authentic Experiences

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The Catalan capital Barcelona is probably the most expensive city you can visit in Spain. So you might wonder whether there is a way to visit Barcelona on a budget. Don’t worry – I’ve got you covered with some great Barcelona budget travel tips. After living in Barcelona for many years, I know many tricks that can help you visit Barcelona on the cheap.

A trip to Barcelona can actually happen without breaking the bank. In this article, you will learn how much a trip to Barcelona costs and how to travel cheaper in Barcelona by saving a lot of money during your Barcelona trip with a few simple Barcelona savings tips.

Don’t get demotivated by the Barcelona prices. We will give you some great insight into how to see Barcelona like a local and therefore spend as little money as a local would.

Trip to Barcelona Cost

In the following section, we have listed the approximate Barcelona vacation costs that await you on an average day in the Catalan capital. Of course, it depends totally on your personal travel style and how much you are actually going to spend in the end.

Barcelona Travel Cost Calculator

Barcelona Travel Cost Calculator

*excluding flight costs

Average Barcelona travel costs per day

The average traveler spends about € 150 per day in Barcelona. Those traveling on a smaller budget spend an average of around € 55 a day. Luxury lovers, on the other hand, can easily reach € 400 a day.

BARCELONA INFO BOX

Where to stay in Barcelona: Hotel Santa Marta (Great hotel in the center near attractions & beach) or W Barcelona (Luxury option directly at the beach)

The most popular activities & tours in Barcelona

Sagrada Familia Ticket – Skip the Line

Camp Nou – Barça Museum und Tour

Barcelona Card – More than 25 Attractions

Park Güell – Skip the Line

La Pedrera – Skip the Line

Getting there: Make sure to check for the best flight deals on Flight comparisons like Skyscanner

Transport: T-Casual Ticket (10-trips-Ticket for € 12.15) or Hola BCN Day Ticket

Want to rent a car? You can find great deals on RentalCars. It gets cheaper from El Prat Airport.

Barcelona Must-Have: Practical Spanish Travel Dictionary or Catalan Travel Dictionary and Barcelona-Guide

Barcelona Prices – How much do things cost in Barcelona

Park Guell, Barcelona, Catalonia, Gaudi
  • Budget Accommodation (Private Double Room for 2): from € 60 per night
  • Budget Accommodation (bed in a dorm): from € 20 per night
  • Lunch in a cheap restaurant (Menu): from € 10-12
  • Dinner in a cheap restaurant: ca. € 13
  • Dinner for 2 in a good restaurant: ca. € 50
  • 1,5 Liter Water in the Supermarket: from € 0.80
  • Kebab: ca. € 4.50 €
  • Bottle of Wine in the supermarket: € 3-8
  • 0,5 l bottle of local beer in the supermarket (e.g., Estrella): ca. € 0.60
  • Baguette in a bakery: ca. € 1
  • Baguette in the Supermarket: ca. € 0.40
  • A Portion of Batatas Bravas: ca. € 5
  • Warm sandwich (Bocadillo/Entrepa): € 5-6.50

Entrance Fees for Sights in Barcelona

Barcelona SightEntrance Fee
Sagrada Familiafrom € 30 (without towers)
Park Güell€ 10-12
Casa Batlló€ 35
La Pedrera€ 35
Camp Nou€ 28
Palau de la Música€ 16

Currency in Barcelona

In Barcelona, as in the rest of the European Monetary Union, you pay with euros. This means that you don’t have to exchange money before your trip to Spain when you have traveled or come from another EU member country using the Euro.

At the time of updating, one Euro equals about 1.06 US dollars.

In Barcelona, most places will accept payment by credit card. However, some local restaurants or bars might be cash-only. So if you are coming from the US or another state from outside the EU monetary union, make sure to exchange some money or withdraw Euros directly from the nearest ATM.

Visit Barcelona on a Budget – A Barcelona Budget Travel Guide

Now that you have a brief overview of how much things cost in Barcelona, in the next section, we’ll tell you how to save a ton of money during your Barcelona trip with a few simple tricks.

Barcelona Transport on a Budget

Barcelona Aerobus, Barcelona Airport transport on a budget

In the following section, you will find plenty of helpful Barcelona travel tips that will save you a lot of money on your way to and from Barcelona.

Getting to Barcelona

Before you even arrive in Barcelona, you can already save some bucks – because the journey is often one of the most expensive factors of a trip. The more flexible you are about the means of transport you choose, the more you can save. Try to compare different means of transport, different airlines, times and dates and decide in the end for the cheapest option.

Author’s note: Although flying is often the cheapest alternative, it’s more environment-friendly if you arrive by bus or train instead 🙂 (Of course, if you aren’t located in Europe, you most probably don’t have a choice but taking a flight)

Cheap flights to Barcelona

If you decide to take a flight to Barcelona, it is important to book your flight ahead of time and compare prices. For that, I prefer to use flight comparison sites like Skyscanner.

Cheap bus and train tickets to Barcelona

The sooner you book, the better. Spontaneous rides often cost twice as much as tickets booked a few days, weeks, or even months in advance. Compare different providers, departure times, and routes to find the best price.

From the airport or train station to the city/to your accommodation

Of course, when you finally reach Barcelona after a long journey or an exhausting flight, you probably only want one thing: to finally arrive at your accommodation. It seems like the easiest and quickest way is to get into the next taxi in order to get to your accommodation.

However, if you are going by public transport, you usually don’t need much more time than if you go by taxi – especially during rush hour. Moreover, you are saving a lot of money (we are talking about 30 times less by using public transport) but also nature itself will thank you for not using a private transfer. 😉

There are various ways to get to the city center. Some of them even cost as little as € 1.22. All options and prices can be found in our detailed Barcelona Airport Transfer Post here.

Metro

Within Barcelona, ​​the easiest and quickest way to get from A to B is usually by public transportation, in Barcelona’s case, that’s the metro or bus. In many places, you get a free metro map, so you can always find the fastest connection. But even without a map, the Metro system in Barcelona is very easy to use.

A single ticket for the Metro currently costs € 2.40.

T-Casual (10 trips Ticket)

You can save some money if you buy a T-Casual ticket instead of a single ticket. This one costs € 12.15 and can be found at the ticket machines of each (metro) station. The machines are also operable in English.

The T-Casual ticket comes with 10 trips within Barcelona by metro, bus, train, or tram. Even if you have to transfer between different means of transport within 70 minutes, you will not be charged a new fare if you use the same ticket. This ticket option is worth it, starting from 6 trips, which is good to know if you only spend a day in Barcelona.

Day Ticket

If you travel a lot during your time in Barcelona, ​​it is worth considering purchasing a day ticket (Hola BCN ticket) or the Barcelona Card. With these, you have free unlimited transport within Barcelona during the chosen time.

Later in this article, you will find a better overview of the differences between the two tickets and other alternative options.

By foot

Many Barcelona attractions are not far from each other. Generally, Barcelona is a relatively small city. So you can just walk from one attraction to the next. And the best? It is completely free.

It’s best to use a city map, Google Maps, or offline maps.me map to find your way around the city. Especially in areas like Barrio Gótico, where the small, narrow streets all look so similar, it’s easy to get lost (I still sometimes get lost after seven years of living here).

Discover Barcelona by bike

If walking takes too long, but the metro is too expensive, there is another great way to get around Barcelona: the bike. In Barcelona, there are plenty of companies from which you can rent bicycles. You also have the opportunity to join a sightseeing tour by bike. You can find some great tours here.

Barcelona Accommodation Budget Tips

Barcelona Accommodation on a Budget, Arc in Barrio Gotico

Accommodation is probably one of the aspects of your Barcelona trip which will cost you the most. Therefore, it is important to think about how and where you would like to stay in Barcelona. There are several tricks to help you save a lot of money on your accommodation.

Book in advance

If you start looking for accommodation early enough, you will not only have more places to choose from, but you may even be able to find some great deals. I usually use Booking.com to find the best accommodation. With Booking, you can find accommodation of all price ranges with numerous helpful reviews from other travelers worldwide.

Check for accommodation in Barcelona on Booking.com

Travel during the shoulder season

Those who have school-age children usually have no choice but to travel during summer vacations. However, if you have the opportunity, be sure to try out-of-season travel to get the best deals for your accommodation. In Barcelona, you will find sunshine most of the year. And even in April, September, and October, you can still be able to enjoy the beach and maybe even take a small refreshing bath in the Mediterranean Sea.

Find the right neighborhood for you

Barcelona has several neighborhoods that differ not only in terms of equipment and location. Depending on where you spend the night in the city, you can either find great deals or even pay more than you need to. In our detailed Barcelona Neighborhood Guide, you will find all the major neighborhoods and the best accommodations for every budget in each neighborhood. So you can easily save a few Euros for your place to stay.

Or not pay anything for your accommodation?

Update: A Couchsurfing membership now costs about € 15 per year.

There is another cheap option or even a free option to spend the night in Barcelona. This possibility is called Couchsurfing. We love Couchsurfing and have stayed in various countries on three continents and have only had great experiences. Note, however, that you should only do Couchsurfing if you plan to spend some time with your host and give them something in return (for example, you could help him learn your language, cook something delicious, etc.).

Please use Couchsurfing not only as a free place to stay but as an opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of the country and meet locals.

Barcelona Food Budget Tips

Best Tapas and Pinchos in Barcelona, Poble Sec, Tapasbar, Cheap Food in Barcelona

Avoid tourist restaurants

As in any tourist area, the prices of the restaurants can vary greatly depending on where in the city they are. Are you looking for a restaurant near Sagrada Familia? – Then you’ll probably pay twice as much as you would in a local neighborhood. In any case, as far as the food is concerned, you should not go to Las Ramblas. Because there you won’t only get extremely overcharged, but also the quality of the food is hardly reasonable.

Barcelona Budget Tip: Take a look around where the locals eat and compare prices. Instead of eating right in the tourist center, try out the side streets – because the prices are often quite different there.

Menú del Día

Many restaurants in Barcelona offer so-called Menú del Día, especially at lunchtime. These are menus, mostly with several courses in which already fixed dishes are included. However, you often have a choice of different dishes for each course. If you order such a menu, you usually save a lot of money compared to the other dishes on the menu.

Barcelona Vegetarian Tip: Note that not every restaurant offers vegetarian options. However, there are plenty of vegetarian restaurants in Barcelona that also offer a Menú del Día option and are not even that expensive.

Have lunch instead of dinner

During the day, many travelers are so busy with sightseeing that they hardly have time to eat. Therefore, they usually have just some snacks during lunchtime and, in the evening, have a bigger dinner by eating out. This is exactly what many restaurants take advantage of by making dinner more expensive than lunch. So if you eat lunch in the restaurant and instead have some sandwiches or yummy tapas for dinner, you can save another few bucks.

Buy in markets and supermarkets

Mercat de la Boqueria, Barcelona, Las Ramblas, fruits

If you want to save money on food, you should eat and shop there, where the locals do. Unsurprisingly, that’s not the tourist areas, of course, where everything costs a multiple of the normal price. Instead of eating in a restaurant two to three times a day, you may as well have a snack in one of the many traditional markets, e.g., in the Santa Caterina Market or a supermarket (for example, Mercadona). Make sure to try some fresh seasonal fruits and veggies.

The most popular market for tourists is the Mercado de la Boquería, which can be found on La Rambla. Even if you can find some good bargains here, the market is mostly overcrowded with tourists, and some of the stalls might overcharge you for being a tourist (No joke, I often pay more when I’m on my own than when I am with Eduardo just because I clearly look like a foreigner).

What about a picnic?

If you don’t want to miss out on a beautiful view while dining, you can simply purchase some delicious treats in the supermarket and then enjoy them at a picnic with a view of the Barcelona attractions or the beach. Get a small blanket, get some bread (it will be cheaper if you get the ingredients for it in the supermarket than a sandwich from the bakery), open a bottle of wine, and enjoy the view. Great places to have a picnic in Barcelona are, e.g., the various beaches of the city or the Parc de la Ciutadella.

Have Breakfasts in your accommodation

Many accommodations offer their guests breakfast. Often, this is already included in the room rate, some at extra cost. In many cases, it is worth accepting such an offer instead of having breakfast outside. If you have a breakfast big enough, a small snack is often enough for lunchtime instead of a whole menu. And so you can not only save one but two meals outside.

Cook yourself

One last option to save money on food in Barcelona is to cook yourself. Book accommodation where you have access to a kitchen (for example, on Airbnb). So you can prepare something warm in the evening instead of eating in an expensive restaurant. Everything you need can be found in the supermarket or one of the many markets.

Barcelona Cooking Tip: You can learn how to make a Tortilla de Patata, which is easy to make and a very typical dish here in Barcelona

Fill up your bottle

There are water fountains all over the city where you can refill your water bottle for free. With this method, you not only save money but also help the environment by avoiding plastic waste.

For this purpose, it is advisable to put a refillable water bottle on your packing list.

Barcelona Sightseeing on a Budget

Barcelona sightseeing bus from above, trip to Barcelona cost

As in any city popular with tourists, many attractions require admission fees – which, of course, is not different in Barcelona. It helps to think about what you would like to see during your time in the Catalan capital in advance and set a Barcelona Itinerary. On TripAdvisor and similar platforms, you’ll find a lot of helpful reviews and tips from other travelers about each of the city’s highlights. But there are many more simple tips to spend a lot less money on attractions and activities in Barcelona.

Look at the free sights in Barcelona

Not every tourist attraction in Barcelona has to cost a lot. There are even some attractions in the city that you can visit for free. Below are a few highlights in Barcelona that will not cost you a penny.

  • The beaches Barcelona, e.g.. Barceloneta
  • Parc de la Ciutadella
  • Arc de Triomf
  • Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
  • Mercado de la Boquería
  • Barcelona’s Gothic Quarter (Barrio Gótico)
  • Plaza Real
  • Las Ramblas
  • Magic Fountains
  • Tibidabo’s Sagrat Cor
  • Bunkers del Carmel

Visit attractions for free on the first Sunday of the Month

Sant Pau Hospital, Museum, Barcelona, visit free on sundays

Did you know that on the first Sunday of the month, you can visit many museums and attractions in Barcelona for free? The same applies to the annual museum night, which usually takes place in May when many attractions in Barna open their doors for you free of charge. Many great museums and sights in the city are included. Below, you will find an overview of the most important highlights that you can visit free of charge on the first Sunday of each month.

Keep in mind that it can get very crowded these days. Therefore, try to explore the museums and attractions as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

  • Montjuïc Castel
  • Picasso Museum
  • MNAC – Museum of National Art in Catalonia
  • Jardí Botànic – Botanical Garden
  • Music Museum
  • Barcelona Maritim-Museum
  • Palau Güell
  • CCCB – Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona
  • Museu Blau (Science Museum)
  • MACBA – Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona
Park Güell, Antoni Gaudí, modernist architecture, stairs, Barcelona

Visit Sagrada Família for free

Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Visit Sagrada Familia for free

Yes, this is not a clickbait headline – you can actually visit the famous Sagrada Família for free with a simple trick. Just visit the church service in the Sagrada Família. You can visit this without purchasing a ticket and without spending anything. The service takes place every Sunday at 9 a.m. and is held in different languages – also in English.

Since the seats are limited, you should get in line no later than 8.30 a.m. Please note, however, that this is a religious event, and you should act respectfully toward the people visiting the service.

Join a free Walking Tour

Do you take a city tour of all the places you visit? Of course, the amazing part about taking a tour is the interesting information you get about each of the city’s attractions. It’s a great way to get to know a city through the eyes of a local and get to know more about the history of a place. Such a free walking tour is, as the name suggests, completely free (but you should leave an appropriate tip after all).

Get discounts and free entries with Barcelona Tickets

Like most major tourist cities, Barcelona also offers some discounts and tourism tickets for sale. Below is a small overview of the most popular ones available.

Barcelona Card

From € 53

Pros

  • Available for 3, 4 or 5 days
  • Unlimited transport in Barcelona’s means of transport
  • Train, bus, and metro to El Prat airport included
  • Free admission to various museums and attractions in the city
  • Various discounts

Cons

  • Pass must be picked up at the airport or in the center
  • Not available as 1 or 2-day ticket
  • No free admission to major attractions such as Sagrada Familia included

Is great for

  • Travelers who want to visit many museums
  • Travelers  who need many trips
  • or travelers who are poor on foot

Is not suitable for

  • Travelers who don’t want to visit sights and museums
  • Travelers staying less than 3 days

Check more information & prices of Barcelona Card

Barcelona Art Ticket

€ 38

Pros

  • 3 Months validity
  • Entrance to 6 Art Museums

Cons

  • No transport included
  • Only art museums included
  • The ticket must be picked up at the airport or in the center

Is great for

  • Travelers interested in art
  • Travelers who have enough time to see the museums

Is not suitable for

  • Travelers with little time
  • Travelers who are not interested in art

Check information & prices of Barcelona Art Ticket

Hola BCN Card

From € 17.50

Pros

  • Available for 48, 72, 96 or 120 hours
  • Unlimited transport in Barcelona’s means of transport (except at night)
  • Train, public bus and metro to El Prat airport included

Cons

  • Pass must be picked up at the airport or in the center
  • Does not include discounts or admission to attractions
  • Not available as a 1-day ticket

Is great for

  • Travelers who want to visit a lot
  • Travelers who are poor on foot
  • Travelers who want to have unlimited trips

Is not suitable for

  • Travelers who are the city for only one day
  • Travelers who walk a lot

Check more information & prices of Hola BCN Card

Avoid Pickpockets & Tourist Scams

Pickpockets in Barcelona, money in pants

Barcelona has recently been proclaimed the capital pickpockets in Europe – a truly sad title. Try to avoid all pickpockets and tourist scams as much as possible … All right? Of course, that’s not as easy as it may sound. Therefore, check well before accepting any “good offers”, buying something on the street, or anything like that.

And never let your handbag or backpack out of your sight. Only carry the money you need for the day and leave your expensive jewelry at home. Many helpful tips and the most popular tourist scams can be found in our Barcelona Tourist Scams Post here.

FAQ for visiting Barcelona on the cheap

Is Barcelona cheap?

Barcelona is not considered a cheap city. However, it’s not very expensive either. Compared to many European cities in Central and Northern Europe, it can be seen as a rather affordable place to visit.

What are cheap things to do in Barcelona?

Barcelona has some great budget options for its visitors: like visiting the city’s beaches, Ciutadella Park, free walking tours, visiting the Gothic Quarter and the cathedral, and many more.

What is the Barcelona trip cost per day?

The average visitor in Barcelona spends about € 150 per day per person. The exact costs depend highly on your accommodation, itinerary, and travel style.

Which activity in Barcelona can be seen as not worth it?

Eating in a restaurant on Las Ramblas can be seen as a super overrated activity. The food here is more expensive, and the food quality is rather poor. Not recommended at all!


about-the-author

About the AuthorVicki

Hi, we are Vicki & Eduardo, an international travel couple on a mission to help you save money for priceless travel experience. Follow us through the miracles of this world and you will be rewarded with a bunch of practical travel tips.

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