Barcelona on a Budget: Best Cheap and Free Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

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I still remember my first trip to Barcelona when I was in college. I was enamored by the the magic of the city: the unique architecture, the pristine beaches, and the vibrant food scene. Since then, I’ve visited Barcelona more than 5 times and always manage to find something new and exciting to do while there. However, because I return so frequently, I tend to keep an eye on my budget in Barcelona, splurging on a few activities I really want to do.

Despite being in Spain, Barcelona is distinctly international, with its large expat population, Catalonian culture, and bustling global businesses. Even so, Barcelona is a bucket list destination for many and due to its popularity, theres’s a common misconception that Barcelona is an expensive city. And although it’s not as cheap as, say, Andalusia, it’s definitely doable (perhaps even easy) to visit Barcelona on a budget.

So, now that I’ve visited quite a few times and seen pretty much all the popular highlights in the city, I’m sharing the best things to do in Barcelona on a budget.

When to Visit Barcelona for Budget-Friendly Prices

Although most people choose to visit Barcelona in the summer, heed my warning and avoid it at all costs. Barcelona gets around 32 million tourists per year, and after traveling there during every season, I can confidently tell you that the city is brimming with tourists during the summer months. Plus, it’s really hot.

More tourists mean more crowds and much higher prices, so if you want to have a good time and save money, plan your trip during spring or fall. Even winters in Barcelona are relatively mild, although you won’t be able to enjoy any of the beaches during this time. The below are the absolute best times to visit Barcelona.

  • March – June: The weather starts to warm up in March into April, making spring one of the best times to visit. May is the best month to visit for optimal weather and prices (as is September).
  • September – October: September, like May, is another great month to visit: the weather is still nice but most tourists are gone. Weather starts to cool down somewhat significantly in October. By November, you can expect solid winter temperatures (at least by Spanish standards).


How Long to Visit Barcelona

You could easily spend a week in Barcelona without running out of things to do. There are countless landmarks, beaches, and museums to visit. However, most first time visitors to Barcelona spend 4-5 days there depending on what they want to see. That’s a great amount of time to get acquainted with the city.


How to Get to Barcelona on a Budget

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank!
Use Omio to find the best way to reach Barcelona!

If you live outside of Europe, flying into Barcelona is the way to go. Traveling during low or shoulder season can save you hundreds of dollars on flights. I use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights and you can check out my step-by-step guide on getting the cheapest flights here.

If you live in Europe or if you want to visit more than one city during your travels, then I highly recommend using Omio to plan your trip. Simply enter your departure city and destination to see the smartest, cheapest, and fastest way to get from place to place. You can see train, bus, and flight costs all in one place and even pre-purchase transportation tickets ahead of time. I’ve used this site a countless number times to plan trips within Europe, and I’ve saved a ton by strategically planning how and when to travel to various cities. It’s an awesome tool!

Oh, and be sure to get your Aerobus airport transfer ticket ahead of time to get you from the airport to the city center – beats having to wait in line when you arrive!

Psst: planning on getting a SIM card in Barcelona? You can actually get one at the Barcelona airport! This guide will show you how. 


Best Cheap Things to do in Barcelona 

Now that you have your flights and transportation options figured out, you want to know what to do once you arrive in Barcelona, right? Good news: there are plenty of cheap things to do in Barcelona that won’t kill your budget!


Go on a free walking tour

Did you know that most major cities in Europe offer free walking tours? All you have to do is tip the tour guide. I try to do one in every city, as it’s a great introduction to the history and sites in each place. I still vividly remember my Barcelona walking tour of the Gothic Quarter with Sandeman’s New Europe. My tour guide, Andy, was a Barcelona-based artist and had so many fascinating stories about art in Barcelona. Make a walking tour one of the first things you do upon arrival. Note: the reason this isn’t under the free things to do in Barcelona section is because you have to tip the tour guide but the tour itself is actually free. 


Explore the gaudy buildings of Gaudí

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
Inside La Sagrada Familia

If there’s one person that defines Barcelona, it’s Antoni Gaudí, the architect behind the famous La Sagrada Familia and nearly a dozen other buildings in Catalonia. With 11 Gaudí buildings in the city alone, you could easily spend a day walking around the city and marveling at each one.

So here’s the thing: technically, it isn’t super cheap to enter the different Gaudí buildings. All of them have entrance fees, which can add up quickly. Instead, I recommend marveling at these buildings from the outside (still quite impressive) and picking a couple you’d really like to enter. In my book, the one you absolutely can’t skip is La Sagrada Familia. Tickets cost €15, but the inside is just as mind-blowing as the outside. Do yourself a favor and include this entrance fee in your budget.

Although you can pay to enter several of these buildings, the one you absolutely can’t skip is La Sagrada Familia. The inside is just as mind-blowing as the outside. Do yourself a favor and include this entrance fee in your budget. Also, be sure to get your tickets ahead of time by purchasing online – these buildings are all incredibly popular and lines can get crazy! I’ve included links to tickets for the most popular of Gaudi’s attractions below.


Marvel at Park Güell (for free!)

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
Park Güell

If you love green spaces, then Barcelona is the city for you. Despite its urban landscape, the city is dotted with a plethora of public parks and gardens. One of my absolute favorites is Park Güell, which combines lovely walking paths with some truly spectacular architectural design, courtesy of Gaudí. Normally, tickets to access the balcony area cost around €10.

So here’s a budget travel secret for you. If you’re willing to go to the park before the offical opening time or (one hour) after closing, you can go in for free. The gates are just open. Pretty sweet, right? Just remember to check the Park Güell website for the official opening and closing time because it changes by season. If you’d rather not wake up early or go later, then you should definitely purchase your tickets online ahead of time to avoid long lines. Get your ticket here.


Check out the views from Montjuïc Castle

Parc de Montjuïc is located atop a large hill on the edge of Barcelona and consists of a castle, botanical garden, cable car, and fountain, amongst other things. The Montjuïc Castle once served a defense fortress in various wars and battles, but is now a site where you can get some seriously stunning views of Barcelona.

The fun way to access it is via cable car, but the budget way to arrive is via bus or a steep climb. Entrance costs €5 or is free on Sundays (which is when I recommend going). Either way, it’s an interesting place to explore and soak in some great views to boot!


Attend an FC Barcelona game

Did you know you can get a ticket to see FC Barcelona play for as little as €9? Obviously, those aren’t the best seats or anything, but it’s a super fun and cheap thing to do in Barcelona, especially for soccer lovers. Even if you aren’t a big fan of soccer, the atmosphere in the stadium is exhilarating, to say the least. You can get tickets here or here.


Best Free Things to in Barcelona 

What’s even better than cheap things to do in Barcelona? Free things to do in Barcelona! Here all the fun activities and places you can experience in the city for €0.


Meander through the neighborhoods

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona

One of the coolest things about Barcelona is the distinctly different neighborhoods that define the city. There’s nothing quite like strolling through each neighborhood, noting the changes in architecture, decor, and people. Here’s a quick guide to the different areas:

  • The historic Gothic Quarter (Barri Gòtic) is home to intricately designed buildings, the Cathedral of Barcelona, and the famous pedestrian-only La Rambla street. Check out this guide to The Gothic Quarter for all the cool things to do in this area.
  • The artsy and trendy El Born has cool street art and delicious cafés and markets, including Santa Caterina.
  • The slightly seedy and multicultural El Raval is where you’re sure to spot some strange characters and even stranger shops.
  • The upscale L’Eixample is the largest neighborhood in Barcelona, and it’s sub-divided into smaller neighborhoods.
  • The hillside neighborhood of Gracia is where shopping and people watching go hand in hand – and it’s quite a popular place both to soak up local culture (probably since there aren’t a ton of tourist attractions here).
  • The bohemian Poble-Sec is home to some of the coolest tapas bars, and it’s just far enough away to avoid hordes of tourists.
  • The beachside town of La Barceloneta rarely offers a quiet moment between the bustle of seafood restaurants and the crowded boardwalk.


Get your tan on at the beach

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
Image via Flickr by plb06

Barcelona is famed for its nightlife and beaches, and what better way to experience it than by visiting Barceloneta Beach? Although locals will tell you that the best beaches in the region are located outside of the city, Barceloneta holds its own as one of Spain’s best urban beaches. It has lifeguards, changing rooms, beach umbrellas, and biking facilities. Not only is it located just 10 minutes outside the city, but it’s also home to tons of great beachside restaurants.


Delve into art at any of the art museums (for free!)

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
MNAC in Barcelona

There are tons of amazing museums in Barcelona, especially for lovers of art. But did you know that most of the museums in Barcelona actually offer FREE admission every Sunday from 3-7pm, and all day the first Sunday of the month?! It’s the best time to see your favorite art exhibitions in Barcelona on a budget. Just be sure to get in line early – most people know this hack and plan museum excursions on Sundays. Some of the top museums in Barcelona include The Picasso Museum, MNAC (The National Art Museum of Catalonia), the Joan Miró Foundation, and MACBA (the Museum of Contemporary Art). If you aren’t in Barcelona on a Sunday, be sure to purchase your tickets ahead of time to avoid long wait times.


Watch the spectacular water show at Montjuïc Fountain

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona

The water show at Montjuïc Fountain is a must-see for Barcelona visitors. Taking place every Wednesday to Sunday in the summer months and Thursday to Saturday during the winter, this free show is a true delight. The giant fountain comes alive with colorful lights, dancing water, and accompanying music. It’s a blast! Be sure to arrive early to snag a good visual spot – it always gets packed! There are multiple shows per night and you can check out showtimes here.


Marvel at Barcelona from above at The Bunkers

For the best panoramic views in all of Barcelona, head to the Bunkers del Carmel. This area was once used to defend the city during the Spanish Civil War. Although the guns are no longer there, the concrete structures still remain. Nowadays, people live in the surrounding neighborhood and locals and tourists alike come for the spectacular views.

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a trek to get here depending on the mode of transport you use. Some people recommend taking the metro to Guinardo / Hospital de Sant Pau and walking from there, but bus V17 actually takes you closer to the top of the hill – just take it to the last stop (Pl de la Mitja Lluna). From there, it’s a short, 10-15 minute uphill walk to the top. I recommend going for sunrise or sunset for some seriously dreamy vibes.


Explore the yummy food markets 

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
La Boqueria

One of my favorite things about Europe, especially Spain, is the plethora of fresh food markets that can be found in each major city. Barcelona is no exception and two of the most popular markets are La Boqueria and Santa Caterina. Both of these bustling markets are a fun place to walk through and learn more about the sort of food locals eat and even sample some stuff for yourself! I’m a huge foodie and eating and trying new foods is one of my favorite things to do in a new city. As a bonus, markets usually have a variety of fresh options at really reasonable prices. In Barcelona, they’re tourist attractions in and of themselves!


Visit the (former) Barcelona Bullring

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That architecture though <3

Catalonia is the only province of Spain that has banned bullfighting. So what did they do with the giant bullring in the city? Oh, just casually transformed into a huge 5-story shopping center with everything from a movie theater to shops to restaurants. The architecture is seriously spectacular but the best part is easily the outdoor rooftop terrace, where you can see beautiful 360 views of the surrounding area.

Barcelona on a budget tip: Instead of paying €1 to go up to the terrace using the outside elevator, use the elevator inside the mall to get to the 4th floor, then ride the escalator up to the terrace. You’ll get the same view without having to pay for it.


Meander down La Rambla

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona

This ultra-popular pedestrian-only street is probably the most famous street in Barcelona. Yes, it’s definitely a bit touristy but don’t let that stop you from taking a stroll down the street: it’s lined with outdoor markets, shops, restaurants, and cafes and cuts through several, popular neighborhoods. It’s a fun street to wander through and people watch.


Picnic at Ciutadella Park

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel Guide to Barcelona
So gorgeous!

Ciutadella Park is Barcelona’s answer to Madrid’s Retiro Park. Located near El Born and Barceloneta, this 44 acre green space is more than just a huge expanse of grass. Once an 18th century fortress (there seems to be a trend here), this spot has been converted to an awesome green place to explore, boasting a waterfall, lake, museum, walking trails, and so much more. It’s a fun place to walk around, chill, or even have a picnic. It’s conveniently located near multiple restaurants as well as the bustling Santa Catarina Market for those that prefer that option. I’m pretty obsessed with green spaces in cities (probably because my city doesn’t have a central park) and I love that there’s this beautiful option for people to explore Barcelona on a budget.


Shop for souvenirs at the Els Encants Flea Mrket

If bargain hunting and quirky souvenirs are your calling, then you’ve got to visit the Els Encants Flea Market, one of the oldest running flea markets in Europe! Unlike many flea markets, this one is housed in a beautiful building with a mirrored roof, with 500+ vendors distributed across several floors. It’s designed in a way where you can’t miss anything and vendors sell pretty much everything from clothing and jewelry to food and drinks. The market opens on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 9am to 8pm.

Note: remember that this is a crowded place and you should keep an eye out on your valuables to avoid getting pickpocketed. I always pack and use a lockable purse and secret pocket scarf. It’s still a great place to pick up souvenirs or just “window” shop, but keep that tip in mind.


Cheap Food in Barcelona: Best Budget-Friendly Barcelona Restaurants

In Barcelona, you can eat well for less than €10 during both lunch and dinner, which is pretty impressive in my book. Here are a few tips you should know to get the best cheap eats in Barcelona.

  • Spanish mealtimes and customs are a tad odd, so before you visit Barcelona (or any other Spanish city), know this: breakfast is usually light – think a piece of toast or a pastry with coffee. Lunch is the heaviest meal of the day and is eaten around 2 or 3 pm. And dinner is a lighter meal of tapas and pintxos, usually eaten around 9 or 10 pm.
  • To get the best cheap food in Barcelona, order the menu del día (menu of the day) at lunch. In Barcelona and all of Spain, most restaurants offer a 2-3 course menu of the day for a set price, usually between €10 – €15. It’s the best time to fill up on a budget and an excellent opportunity to try a nicer restaurant without breaking the bank.
  • If you aren’t staying in accommodation where breakfast is included, consider finding a cafe that offers a breakfast deal. Many cafes / breakfast places usually offer some sort of coffee and pastry combo for a few euros.
  • Grab snacks at the supermarket or fresh food market. Groceries in Spain are really cheap and there are tons of high-quality snacks (and even meals) you can buy at the various supermarkets that won’t break the bank. You can easily grab things to fill up on between meals or even purchase a pre-made meal and have a little picnic somewhere!
  • Don’t purchase bottled water. Water in Barcelona is safe to drink and there are public water fountains all over the city. If you’d like to be extra cautious, I recommend packing this filtering water bottle with you. Not only does it reduce single-use plastic usage but it’s a great way to make sure the water you drink is always safe. It’s worth its weight in gold!

Okay, now that I’ve shared my best tips for how to eat in Barcelona on a budget, I’ve listed a few of my favorite cheap places to eat in Barcelona below.


La Boqueria Market or Santa Caterina Market

If you're planning a trip to Barcelona on a budget, click to read this comprehensive travel guide so you can enjoy your trip without breaking the bank! | Budget Travel in Barcelona
Fresh juices at La Boqueria

One of my favorite things about Europe is the abundance of food markets in most major cities, and Barcelona is no exception. Not only do the markets offer the convenience of countless fresh ingredients in one place, but they’re also an inexpensive place to sample multiple foods at once. Head over to La Boqueria Market on La Rambla or Santa Caterina Market in El Born and pick up fresh cheese, bread, and meat for a DIY picnic. Alternatively, visit one of the cafés inside the markets for some delicious local food.


El Casal

If you’re craving a proper breakfast or a light lunch in a lively atmosphere, El Casal is the place for you. I love breakfast and find that Spain’s quick toast and coffee combo just doesn’t cut it for me. For €6, you can get a tortilla (a Spanish omelette with potatoes), tomato toast, coffee, and fresh juice for breakfast. For lunch, you can get a three-course meal for under €12. Did I mention all the food is delicious?


Bo de B

Spanish people love sandwiches (called bocadillos), especially as a snack. But who says you can’t eat them for a meal, too? Some of the best, inexpensive bocadillos in the city can be found at Bo de B. The sandwiches are giant, delicious, and all cost less than €5. How’s that for cheap food in Barcelona?


La Taqueria

As much as I love Spanish food, sometimes I just need some Mexican in my life. I’m a bit of a snob about Mexican food, but La Taqueria is an excellent fix when I’m far from home. Three tacos under €8? Yes, please!


Carrer Blai (Blai Street)

This is not a restaurant, but an entire street located in the Poble-Sec neighborhood. While Carrer Blai is a bit out of the average tourist’s way, it’s the BEST place to go for delicious and cheap tapas in Barcelona! Most of the restaurants here have tapas and pintxos that cost just €1-€2 apiece, so prepare for a fun night of eating and bar hopping. I particularly enjoyed my meal at La Tasqueta de Blai but you can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants. Just pick the pintxos you like and just pay at the end for the number of sticks. Fun, easy, and inexpensive!


Mustà Shawarma

This small hole in the wall restaurant is home to the BEST place for shawarma in Barcelona, hands down. Delicious, inexpensive, and open late. SOLD.


Bar Velodromo

Spacious and reasonably priced, Bar Velodromo will fulfill your craving for virtually anything. This bar has the classic Spanish dishes such as tortilla, patatas bravas and entrecôte, but they also make a mean pastrami sandwich if you’re craving American food. Plus, the full menu is available all day, which is a rare find in most cities in Spain!

Need even more food ideas? Check out this list for the best tapas in Barcelona.


Where to Stay in Barcelona on a Budget

The biggest tip I have for accommodation in Barcelona on a budget is this: avoid peak travel time. Seriously. The price differences between visiting in the spring / winter / fall compared to the summer or during holidays is significant. Keep that in mind!

I listed all of the neighborhoods above so you can definitely choose to stay in whichever neighborhood suits your style. Most things in Barcelona are easily accessibly by foot or metro, so it’s okay to stay a bit further if there’s a significant price difference. However, for first time visitors, I recommend one of three neighborhoods: The Gothic Quarter, Gracia, or L’Eixample. L’Eixample is my top pick for the best neighborhood to stay in Barcelona for first timers and more specifically, the Barcelona Central Garden Hostel if you’re in Barcelona on a budget. I’ve included a more detailed description as to why below.

Cheap Hostels in Barcelona

My #1 pick for a cheap and amazing hostel in Barcelona is Barcelona Central Garden but if it isn’t available or doesn’t suit you for some reason, I’ve included e a couple of other cheap hostels in Barcelona that are still central.

Barcelona Central Garden Hostel

This hostel is a 10 minute walk from Passieg de Gracia, the heart of the city, making it easily accessible from both the airport and most other stations. Additionally, BCGH offers private and shared rooms, a beautiful outdoor terrace, and a friendly staff. I have had the pleasure of visiting Barcelona several times now, and this was by far my favorite affordable accommodation in the city.

Read Tripadvisor reviews | Book a Stay

Factory House Hostel

Located on the edge of Gracia near Park Güell, Factory House is a boutique hostel with a homey vibe. It boasts strong Wi-Fi, comfy beds (with curtains! and lights! and plugs!) and a friendly staff.

Read Tripadvisor reviews | Book a Stay

The Hipstel Paseo de Gracia

Like Barcelona Central Garden, The Hipstel is located just off Passeig de Gracia, in the heart of Barcelona. This hostel offers a variety of rooms depending on your budget, and has an action-packed activities calendar that’s perfect for those looking to socialize. Plus, they offer a nightly €5 dinner so you can really stay on budget. Win!

Read Tripadvisor reviews | Book a Stay


Cheap Hotels in Barcelona

Admittedly, my mid-range hotel of choice in Barcelona is actually Aparthotel Silver, due to its amazing location and incredibly comfortable rooms. However, if you’re looking for cheap places to stay in Barcelona that are a bit more bare bones, my recommendations are below.

Hostal Girona

Just a short walk from Passeig de Gracia, Hostal Girona offers bright, comfortable rooms for those on a budget. Breakfast is included at this boutique-style guest house and common areas make it easy to socialize with other guests. It’s an unbeatable “Barcelona on a budget” experience.

Read Tripadvisor reviews | Book a Stay

Guest House Center Inn

For a centrally-located, value-for-money hotel, look no further than Center Inn. Rooms are furnished simply, but comfortably, and breakfast is delicious. The staff here goes above and beyond to make you feel at home and you’re definitely getting a good bang for your buck by staying here.

Read Tripadvisor reviews | Book a Stay


Transportation in Barcelona: How to Get Around on a Budget

Barcelona isn’t too large but it’s a tad spread out, so more likely than not, you’ll need more than just your legs to get around the city. Luckily there are plenty of budget-friendly modes of transportation to get you from point A to point B.

  • Foot: Walk! It’s a great way to explore the nuances of each neighborhood and stumble upon places you might not otherwise see.
  • T10 Ticket for public transport: You’ll definitely want to purchase some kind of transportation card – which one will depend entirely on how often you use it. However, keep in mind that it’s much more economical to purchase a T10 Ticket than a single-ride ticket. Why? Because single ride tickets cost €2.20 each but you can get a 10-ride pass for €10. Pretty much a no-brainer, right? Plus, you can use your tickets on the metro or the bus – just remember that airport transfers aren’t included.
  • Hola Barcelona Travel Card: This amazing public transport card offers unlimited access to the transportation networks in the city and its suburbs. This includes not just the metro and bus, but also the tram and urban and regional railway. You can get this card for 48, 72, 96, or 120-hours depending on how long you’re in Barcelona, and it works out to be super economical if you use public transport more than a few times per day. Purchase it ahead of time for a bit of a discount here
  • Barcelona Card: If you’re looking to bundle both unlimited public transportation as well as deep discounts on museums, consider getting a Barcelona Card. Some of the benefits include free entry to over 25 of Barcelona’s top museums and attractions, free and unlimited access to public transportation, skip-the-line privileges at certain landmarks, and more! Depending on how much you use it, this can be a serious money-saver and great way to explore Barcelona on a budget. Get your card here.
  • Bike: Although Barcelona has a well-connected electric bike rental system, it’s only available for Barcelona residents at this time (unfortunately). That being said, there are a lot of companies that offer inexpensive bike rentals that you can pay for by the day or hour if this is your preferred mode of transportation. Your accommodation should be able to help you find a rental place!

Note: Taxis are also available in Barcelona but they’re on the pricier side and there’s really no reason to use them (except to and from the airport if you have a ton of luggage). 

How Much to Budget for a Trip to Barcelona

How much to budget in Barcelona depends a lot on your travel style. I’m a budget traveler but no longer much of a backpacker. I typically choose to stay in hostels, but in rooms with fewer people. More often than not, I eat both lunch and dinner out. I’m a bit picky about where I spend my money in terms of attractions. So overall, I end up budgeting about €75 per day in Barcelona (including accommodation). However, it’s worth nothing that this is an average. You can easily be extra frugal and spend as little €40/day if you see the city the cheapest way possible. A lot depends on your travel style!


Other Budget-Friendly Tips for Barcelona

  • Be wary of pickpockets anywhere, anytime. I’m not saying this to scare you but I’ve seen multiple people get pickpocketed in front of me in Barcelona. If you look like a foreigner, your chances of being targeted are quite high. I always carry a lockable purse with me and strongly recommend that or a secret pocket scarf to store your valuables.
  • Walk as much as possible. Barcelona isn’t really that large, and a lot of the neighborhoods are quirky and better explored on foot. If you don’t want to walk, buy a Metro card. The 10-ride pass is €10 and saves you money and the hassle of buying a ticket every time. Or consider getting the Hola Barcelona card if you think you’ll be using transport fairly frequently.
  • See what cool (free) events might be happening when you’re in town! I find that Time Out is a good resource for this.
  • Whenever possible, buy tickets to tourist attractions online to avoid lines.
  • Take advantage of free museums days: all day the first Sunday of every month and 3-7 PM all other Sundays.
  • Head to Park Güell either before opening or an hour after closing for free admission.
  • Don’t forget travel insurance because you never know might go wrong! I recommend World Nomads.


So there you have it! Barcelona on a budget. With at least a few days in the city, you can easily get a taste of budget travel in Barcelona and leave the city eager to return for more.

More Spain Resources

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28 thoughts on “Barcelona on a Budget: Best Cheap and Free Things to do in Barcelona, Spain

  1. Stephanie Rose says:

    I’m torn, as a teacher I have two months off in summer, so it makes sense to go then. But I dream of visiting Barcelona during the offseason. Maybe one year it will work out. For now it looks like I will have to find a lot of free things to do. I am definitely looking forward to the food the most.

    • Sally E says:

      The food is to die for! Definitely worth visiting for the food alone. But yeah that’s a tough call. It’s still doable in the summer but I agree that offseason is best! Maybe you can go during a spring break or something? But yes, add it to your list for someday!

  2. Jenny Muter says:

    How did I not realise that Barcelona had a beach? It’s one of those cities I’ve somehow never made it to – definitely need to arrange myself a little city break here once I’m back in Europe!

  3. Sally says:

    When I was there last I tried to go to La Boqueria but I didn’t have any luck finding it unfortunately. I would have loved to pick up some fresh fruits and juices there. I always think of Barcelona as quite expensive but I forget there are these things you can do for very little money or even free. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Oh no, that sucks! Hopefully you found some good eats somewhere else instead. And yes, it can definitely be pricey but I enjoy people watching and parks and stuff which are super fun and free! Happy travels 🙂

  4. Nicki says:

    Barcelona is also one of my favorite cities in the world. I am completely fascinated b Gaudi and his work throughout the city. I went during an off season month and found it to be completely affordable and there was not a lot of people either. I was able to go to La Familia and there was barely anyone in there.

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      GAUDI. I am OBSESSED with his work! Next time I go, I’m planning on doing a little self-guided Gaudi tour haha. And yesss it’s so much cheaper during the off season – I went in November one year and was surprised by how affordable accommodation was compared to the summer! The weather isn’t as nice but still beats the crowds 🙂

  5. stephaniestraveldiary says:

    A few years ago I visited Barcelona for a day but did not like it so much. Since then I want to go back to give it another chance. Until know I havent been there yet, but its on my list LOL.

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Haha sometimes some cities just don’t jive with you. That’s how I feel about Paris. But yes, you should definitely give it another chance – maybe for longer than a day next time 🙂

  6. aparnakris says:

    Great post! I loved Barcelona when I visited, and agree that La Sagrada Familia is not to be missed. I made the mistake of going to La Boqueria on Sunday (when it was closed) but enjoyed santa Caterina (which was probably also less crowded!). I need to go back to Barcelona!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Thank you! Oh no! I feel like so many places are closed in Spain on Sundays but I’m glad you got to visit Santa Caterina! Barcelona always a nice city to revisit 🙂

  7. Candy says:

    I have been wanting to visit Barcelona, but have been a little afraid of the pickpocketing. I heard it is pretty common in this area. BUT I shouldn’t let something like that stop me. So great to hear your suggestion to visit in the winter instead of the summer. And coming from someone who has gone during both seasons, I will definitely take that advice 🙂

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Yes it definitely can be an issue there! But of course, if you’re cautious and keep an eye on your stuff, it should be a non-issue. Winter in Barcelona is pretty mild so it’s still a good time to visit if you’re considering it 🙂

  8. Tara Schatz says:

    I visited Barcelona in the winter when I was in college. Loved it! I’m not much of a beach bum, but I loved exploring the city.

  9. Paige Brown says:

    I’ve not been to Spain. In fact, I’ve been avoiding Europe the last couple of years trying to be more budget-conscious, but clearly, I was just waiting for the perfect budget guide. It’s high on the Europe list, though, for sure. I’m not big on beaches because I get antsy, but I will have a great time exploring the city and I will have one of those fresh juices in hand!

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Hahah fair point! Europe can definitely get expensive but if you play your cards right, it can be okay! And of course, avoiding most of western Europe will help too. Barcelona is a great place to just take in the vibe of the city with a few paid activities here and there. Hope you get a chance to visit soon!

  10. Vyjay Rao says:

    It is always a pleasure to travel when you know you aren’t going to get broke. The travel becomes all the more amazing when you actually explore a city rather than just visiting it. Your photographs were amazing. I loved the beaches and the houses, the streets, everything was lovely and with lesser tourists and a happy budget Barcelona seemed incredible!

    • Sally E says:

      LOL this is true! And I agree wholeheartedly. Exploring > visiting is the way to go! If you plan on going, the winter is the way to do it 🙂

  11. Andreea Bujor says:

    I love Spain and especially Barcelona, i like how you wrote the cheap things to do there, such as visiting the parks, people often forget about this free, quality placere where they can spend time. I like your photos as well, you brought nice memories to me.

    • Sally E says:

      Thank you! And yesss it’s so easy to spend a ton of money on the road, but you can totally appreciate the city on a budget as well. Thanks for reading!

  12. Hannah Cochran says:

    I’m going to Barcelona in October. Thanks so much for sharing all you great tips!!


  13. Karlie V says:

    This is a good guide! The first time I went to Barcelona I didn’t make it into La Sagrada Familia, but this time I’m planning it as part of my trip.

    • Sally E says:

      Thanks Karlie! It took me several trips to actually go inside but it’s totally worth it. I highly recommend it!

  14. Tracy Schwartz says:

    I am going to Spain in a few weeks and spending a day or two in Barcelona! Thank you for this great guide. I am eager to visit the places listed above as well as a muesum or two.

    • Sally from Passport & Plates says:

      Awesome!! You’re going to love Spain, especially Barcelona. I have tons of posts about it on my site if you want to browse around. Have an awesome trip 🙂

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