barecelona guide

How to do a Barcelona city break on a budget

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  • Bon dia!

    Words by Charlotte Burns from LottyEarns

    There is so much to do in Barcelona, with it being the perfect choice for a budget traveller. You can sit on its beautiful beaches, take in a healthy dose of culture, get thrills on some of the world’s biggest roller coasters and eat in the best restaurants in the world.

    If you don’t have a huge amount to spend, it’s fine in Barcelona because what makes the Catalan City ‘special’ doesn’t cost a penny. It’s completely free to stroll around the medieval streets, down the famous Rambla boulevard (though be aware taking pictures of the living statues is not free). Everywhere you turn you can admire (and Instagram) the exteriors of the many incredible buildings of Gaudi and of course – the beach is totally free too.

    Cheap flights to Barcelona

    With lots of competition from the budget airlines, flights to Barcelona are pretty cheap. For the best prices, try to avoid booking last minute and book at least three months in advance.

    Ryanair, Easyjet and Monarch operate cheap flights all year around from Birmingham, London Gatwick, Leeds Bradford and Manchester airports and are around £40 one way. It’s also worth looking into the best Black Friday holiday deals available, since travel operators are going to be massively slashing their prices for the shopping festivities.

    From Barcelona’s main airport, the cheapest way into the city is by train. Buy your ticket at the airport train stations and the journey will cost less than a quid each way, rather than organising expensive transfers.

    barcelona airport


    Affordable hotels in Barcelona

    Accommodation can be pricey in Barcelona, but there are ways to stay in wonderful places for around 50 euros a night.

    If you’re keen on staying in a hotel, make sure you check TripAdvisor to know what the top rated hotels are. It’s worth signing up with because not only do they often email out discount codes, but after your 10th booking, you get a free hotel stay.

    Airbnb is always a good option and a brilliant way to get a boutique feel, but without paying boutique hotel prices if you’re looking for a cheaper alternative.

    If you plan on going to Barcelona during the school holidays, consider staying in university halls. It certainly won’t be glamorous, but the locations are excellent and odds are you’ll be out exploring what Barcelona has to offer anyway.

    How to eat cheaply in Barcelona

    When it comes to eating in Barcelona, the cheapest option is to cook for yourself if you’re staying somewhere with a kitchen.

    This doesn’t have to the chore, because Barcelona has some of the best food markets in the world, with incredible fresh produce you’ll want to cook with – such as La Boqueria, which is located in Ramblas and has stacks of cheap fruit, meat and fish.

    If you don’t fancy cooking, you’ll find you can’t turn a corner in Barcelona without passing an amazing looking restaurant. Traditionally, Catalans eat their main meal at lunchtime, so if you want to eat cheaply, that’s when you need to eat out too. Prices for the same food can double in the evening because that’s when the tourists eat.


    Barcelona entertainment and theme parks

    The main tourist attractions are Le Pedrera (where you can see Gaudi’s work), Casa Batllo and the Sagrada Familia cathedral. Consider booking tickets to these popular attractions via Viator, which offers special deals and discounts (and currently 10% off trips if you sign up to its newsletter).

    Many people do not realise that some of Europe’s best theme parks are just outside of the city and give Disneyworld in Orlando a run for its money.

    Ferrari Land, is a super slick theme park has recently opened just outside Barcelona and draws in racing fans and thrill-seekers alike with its Red Force roller coaster that is 112 metres high and goes from 0 to 180 km/h in 5 seconds with a force of 1.3g.

    Next door is PortAventura Park used to be owned by Universal Studios – it has the same quality but is a fraction of the price of the parks in Florida. There is also a waterpark – Caribe water park and themed hotels where you can stay in a 5* hotel from just 125 euros per night.

    If you book in advance or choose a combo deal, you can get super cheap tickets to the parks. As a standard, two days between Ferrari Land and Port Aventura Land will set you back 60 euros – although keep an eye out for extra discounts on its promotions page.

    barcelona guide

    Ferrari Land/REX/Shutterstock


    You can easily spend hours wandering Barcelona’s winding medieval streets with its Moorish palaces and Roman remains – people watching and window shopping (it costs nothing to look!)

    If you’re in the know, you can also get into places tourists pay for, for free. If you turn up to the Pablo Picasso museum on Carrer Montcada on Sunday after 3 pm you don’t have to pay. Also on the first Sunday of each month, everyone gets in free all day – which saves you 11 euros (which gets you an extra cocktail or two).

    What trip to Barcelona would be complete without a trip to the beach? Barceloneta is the most popular and is the perfect place to cool down and people watch.

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