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Sometimes traveling requires counting the pennies and keeping an eye on your expenses, although this doesn’t always mean having to miss out. With the help of our guide, get to know the endless opportunities Barcelona has to offer for those traveling on a budget.
Three basic rules can help you cut expenses; wander, prepare and picnic. The streets of Barcelona have so much to offer for those on foot. Explore the idyllic streets of Barri Gotico or Gothic Quarter, stroll along Las Ramblas, find a perfect spot on a bench on one of the squares and watch the buzzing crowd pass by. Take your time to relax and enjoy the Mediterranean scenery. Plan a beach picnic, instead of spending your entire budget on eating out.
Try to avoid Barcelona supermarkets located near typical tourist attractions, as they are both crowded and have significantly higher prices. Opt instead to shop at one of the smaller independent food shops you can find on nearly every corner of the city, where they sell fruit and vegetables at bargain prices. The other option is to head to one of the local markets, known as mercats in Catalan, and get the full experience of shopping like a local. If the crowds of the world-famous Mercat de la Boqueria are too much, opt instead for the lesser well-known Mercat de Santa Caterina or Mercat de Sant Antoni.
As a small city, Barcelona offers lots of creative and sustainable means for traveling. We recommend seeing as much as you can by foot, or renting a bike at Green Bikes Barcelona for just € 1.50 per hour or € 10.00 for a full day. Public transport is also well-organized and truly affordable. Buying a ten-way ticket is the best option if you intend to use public transport over five times during your stay. These T10 transport tickets are available at every metro stop.
Sunday is the choice day for culture, as from 3pm to 8pm all city-run museums are free to enter. This includes the magnificent Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona, MUHBA Museu d’Història de Barcelona, Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya and Museu Picasso. Barcelona is crammed with architectural gems and although many have entry fees, the attractive facades are free to admire. Visit Gaudí’s impressing pieces of workmanship on the Passeig de Gràcia or the ever enchanting La Sagrada Familia. Movie fans may want to visit one of the top film-sets that will take you beyond the city’s beautiful veneer.
Culture does not stop at film-set admiration, as Barcelona has a range of cinemas to experience. Phenomena provides the ultimate movie experience, screening modern blockbusters as well as classic you may have missed. The Short Cut Cine Barcelona is a weekly social event for both locals and internationals. Every Thursday they show the best short films and animations from around the world, with films in English, Spanish and Catalan with subtitles. The event costs five euros, making it a good choice for a quiet night out.
Tapas is an ideal solution for travelers with a small budget and a large appetite, and can suit both those travelling on their own and with a group. Charming tapas bars can be found in every part of Barcelona. The beloved Carrer de Blai in the neighborhood of Poble Sec, with its terraces in the middle of the long pedestrian road, is home to many affordable tapas and pintxos bars. Most restaurants close after lunch for a siesta and reopen for drinks and dinner around 7pm.
Barcelona’s bar scene has something for everyone, ranging from the popular cervesa artesanna or craft beer to Mexican restaurants like Rosa del Raval, serving two for one cocktails. In the heart of the city, El Raval and the Gothic Quarter are two of the neighborhoods with bars and clubs offering great value for money. Arriving early (before 1am) and well dressed to the clubs on the Barceloneta boulevard will usually allow you free entry. Look out for club promoters during the day, as many hand out flyers for free entrance or drinks.
The neighborhoods of Barcelona are one big gallery for contemporary art and street artists have formed the face of today’s streets. The Barcelona Street Style Tour is a ‘pay what you feel’ walking tour, where the guides are paid through tips from attendees. Their local knowledge will take you through the alleys of various districts, as well as recommending galleries, boutiques and local bars with strong ties to Barcelona’s street art scene.
The RAI – Recursos d’Animació Intercultural cultural center for performing arts shows local art and theater for just a few euros. Shows are performed in Spanish or Catalan, although even a non-Catalan audience are likely to be able to follow along. The ultimate local and low budget theater experience.
Barcelona is one of few cities to offer city-wide free WiFi, signified by W signs at access points throughout the center. The online guide to free events in Barcelona provides a great starting point and is split into culture related categories. Check out the exhibitions, screenings, music related topics, performing arts events, outdoor activities, and workshops.