Traveling on a shoestring? Down to your last cents? Worried you’re going to miss out on the best of what Barcelona has to offer? Fear not! There are endless possibilities in the Catalan capital for all budgets, and plenty to do for free! So drop down your backpack and get your exploration mode switched on – it’s time to discover what this epic city has on offer! And with these top tips, you’re in for an unforgettable time which moreover, won’t break the bank!
For the Wandering Soul…
Barcelona’s incredible climate is a massive bonus for shoestring travelers, as those endless sunny days combined with awesome architecture and quirky neighborhoods mean that simply wandering the streets is a fantastic way to spend time in the city. There is so much to see, to discover, to stumble upon that you can easily spend a few days just loosing yourself in this fascinating place:
Take on the Gothic Quarter and El Born and uncover the history of Barcelona with roman ruins and incredible medieval constructions. Be sure to stop by Santa María del Mar basilica (free entry) for some awe-inspiring architecture.
Head up sensational Passeig de Gràcia and do some window shopping in the swanky boutiques that line this brilliant avenue. You’ll also get to see Gaudí’s mesmerizing Casa Batlló and La Pedrera which are just as fascinating from the outside and don’t come with a price tag. The streets leading off are equally beautiful and well worth browsing. Make sure you check out the wonderful façades of the buildings in this area – spectacular!
How about discovering the bohemian neighborhood of Gràcia with its cute squares and arty vibes? The cool atmosphere can be felt just walking the streets or by sitting in one of its many pretty squares – Plaça Virreina, Plaça del Sol and Plaça de la Vila de Gràcia being particular favorites.
Want Some Company?
Alternatively, if you’re worried about actually ‘losing’ yourself in the big city, there are some great free walking tours available. Sandamans Tours and Feel Free Tours offer great some options for the Old Town covering some of the most important sights. Runnerbean offer two free choices, again a tour of the old town or alternatively a Gaudí tour which includes a stop off at the famous Sagrada Familia where you can enjoy the incredible façade without spending a penny. Or if you’re up for something a little different, Travel Bar Barcelona run a great Alternative Barcelona Tour which explores squat houses and street art amongst other things.
A City with a View!
The guide books will tell you that Park Güell and Tibidabo offer spectacular views over Barcelona, which is completely true. However, these come with a price. Yet the price doesn’t mean getting the very best, for there are equally spectacular views available for free!
Trek up to the top of Montjüic Hill, a lengthy but beautiful climb, and you’ll be rewarded with some incredible panoramic ‘vistas’ of just about every angle of the city. And while you’re up there, you can pop into the old Olympic stadium for free too!
If you’ll feeling active, there is an even better option. Heading up to the very top of the Carmel neighborhood to the old Civil War bunker you’ll be greeted with perhaps the best view of Barcelona around. The vista is simply awesome and with the whole city and Mediterranean seemingly at your feet you’ll feel on top of the world.
A visit to Barcelona wouldn’t be complete without sampling some of its delicious tapas, but giving into the helpless temptation of these tasty treats can often mean a hefty bill at the end. However, there are some sneaky locations around the city where you can actually get your hands on some tapas for free!
There are a number or bars that offer free tapas with very drink, but some of the best are Papa e Citti, an Italian-themed bar, and lively Cervecería de Dues, both located in the Gràcia area. Alternatively, down in the Barceloneta area, you’ll find Café de los Angelitos and Cál Chusco, both happening places popular with locals. Or head over to Ambiente del Sur for an Andalusian inspired evening in Eixample.
How About Some Culture?
A great tip to remember is that museums in Barcelona offer free entry the first Sunday of the month, so you can enjoy some great places such as the Museo Picasso and the MNAC without having to dive into your wallet. Or how about checking out one of the city’s main spectacles, the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc? Held at weekends, this wonderful exhibition of lights, water and music really is one of the highlights of Barcelona. Sit at the top of the steps outside the MNAC and look on at the wonderfully artistic show below. And this inspiring performance won’t cost a thing!
Sun, Sea and Sand!
Barcelona’s spectacular location right on the Med does of course give it a real edge. With 5km of beaches to choose from this really is the perfect place to combine the urban with the surf! Start off in the Barceloneta area and walk the promenades all the way along the city’s 10 beaches whilst taking in the cool beach vibes; hit the waves for an invigorating swim; or even simply chill out and snooze in the sun. You won’t need to worry about spending a fortune here, just focus on relaxing by the shore!
So despite Barcelona’s reputation as a city high up the swanky rankings, there are plenty of options for the shoestring traveler, and sticking to a budget is more than achievable in the Catalan capital. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to hit the road!
Laura Jenkins is a travel writer originally from Wales, but now happily settled in Barcelona. She currently writes for Apartment Barcelona, a tourist apartment rental agency based in Barcelona. You can find more Barcelona advice and information on the Apartment Barcelona blog.