How to visit Barcelona on a Budget – A Local’s Guide to drastically reduce your Barcelona travel cost

How to visit Barcelona on a Budget – A Local’s Guide to drastically reduce your Barcelona travel cost

Affiliate links
This post might contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through this link I will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Vickiviaja.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com and Amazon.de Thank you so much for your support.

Apart from Madrid, the Catalan capital Barcelona is probably the most expensive city you can visit in Spain. Nevertheless, 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 visit Barcelona on a Budget by saving a lot of money during your Barcelona trip with a few simple Barcelona savings tips. We will give you some great insight into how to see Barcelona like a local and therefore spend money as a local would do.

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 how much you are actually going to spend in the end.

Average Barcelona travel costs per day

The average traveler spends about 110 € per day in Barcelona. Those traveling on a smaller budget spend an average of around € 45 a day. During our first trip, my friend Alina and I were able to stay in Barcelona for just under € 15 * a day. In this article, we will show you how we managed to do so and how you can do it too easily.

* This is related to my very first trip to Barcelona before I lived here

Barcelona Prices – How much do things cost in Barcelona

Park Güell, Barcelona, Gaudí, catalonia, Barcelona on a budget

  • Budget Accommodation (Private Double Room for 2) from 35 € per night
  • Private Double Room Airbnb (for 2): from 25 € per night
  • Budget Accommodation (bed in a dorm): from 8 € per night
  • Lunch in a cheap restaurant (Menu): from 6 €
  • Dinner in a cheap restaurant: ca. 10 €
  • 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: 2 – 6 €
  • 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 €

Barcelona on a Budget

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.

Barcelona arrival

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 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 the 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 few as € 1.02. 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 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 2.10 € (as of October 2019). You can save some money if you rather buy T-10 tickets instead of single tickets. This one costs 10,20 € and can be found at the ticket machines of each (metro) station. The machines are also operable in English. With the T-10 ticket, you have 10 trips within Barcelona by metro, bus, train or tram. Even if you have to change between different means of transport within 70 minutes, you will not be charged a new fare if you use the same ticket. Besides, you can share the ticket with a partner or even a group, so it’s even easier to make sure to use all the 10 rides, especially if you only spend a day in Barcelona (The T-10 ticket is worth it from 6 trips!).

If you travel a lot during your time in Barcelona, ​​it is worth considering to purchase 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 the 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 almost 4 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 in 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

The accommodation is probably one of the aspects during your Barcelona trip, which will cost you 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 of 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.

Use Airbnb

airbnb app, renting apartments in barcelona

Especially if you spontaneously go on vacation and all good accommodations are already booked by other travelers, it can be helpful to look for a suitable place to stay at Airbnb. Here you will find many locals who rent their guest rooms. Especially if you are traveling as a couple or in a small group, Airbnb often offers a lot of great rooms for a small price. What’s even better is that Airbnb gives you amazing insights into the culture of a country, since you are staying at home with locals. Your hosts can also give you the best insider tips for Barcelona and answer many of your questions.

Important: To support the locals, please only rent rooms in a local’s flat and not a whole apartment. Renting out flats to tourists raises rental rates throughout the city, driving local people out of town who can no longer afford to stay in their homes. But if you stay overnight in a guest room of locals, you help them to pay their rent and benefit from tourism in their city.

Check for rooms in Barcelona on Airbnb

Or simply not pay anything for your accommodation?

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.

Check hosts in Barcelona on Couchsurfing

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: Just 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 sandwich 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 that 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 picknick?

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 it at a picnic with a view on 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
  • Parc Güell (The park itself is free to visit, you just need a ticket for the small part with Gaudí’s art)
  • Arc de Triomf
  • Basilica Santa Maria del Mar
  • Mercado de la Boquería
  • 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 on these days. Therefore try to explore the museums and attractions as early as possible to avoid the crowds.

  • Hospital Sant Pau (Vickiviaja Tip!)
  • 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

Visit Park Güell for free

Park Güell, Antoni Gaudí, modernist architecture, stairs, Barcelona

As already mentioned in the free attractions in Barcelona, you can visit the Park Güell completely for free. A ticket is needed only for a pretty small part of the park. But did you know that you can also visit this part, filled with Gaudí’s beautiful artworks, free of charge? The trick? Just come in the morning before 8 am before the security arrives. So you can just go through to the highlights of Gaudí, without standing in line and without having to purchase a ticket. Don’t be surprised though – this trick is well known and you will probably meet surprisingly many people who want to shoot some nice photos here at sunrise.

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 am and is held in different languages – also in English. Since the seats are limited, you should get in line not later than 8.30 am. Please note, however, that this is a religious event and you should act respectfully towards the people visiting the service.

Join a free Walking Tour

You take a city tour at 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 a tip after all).

Get discounts and free entries with Barcelona Tickets

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

Barcelona Card

From 46 €

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 iVenture Card

Ab 85 €

Pros

  • 7 days validity
  • at least 2 free entries to attractions of your choice (2, 5 or unlimited attractions depending on your choice)
  • various discounts throughout the city
  • Many important attractions such as Sagrada Família & La Pedrera included

Cons

  • No Transportation included

Is great for

  • Travelers who want to visit at least 2 or more attractions

Is not suitable for

  • Travelers who want to visit only a few or only free attractions and museums

Check more information & prices of Barcelona iVenture Card

Barcelona Art Ticket

From 35 €

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 15,20 €

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 was recently 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 that easy as it may sound like. 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.

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.

More about us

Subscribe!

Leave a Comment

 

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.