Barcelona is an incredible city, but it has become one of the most expensive cities in Spain and can cost a pretty penny. So we’ve put together seven awesome ways to save money and enjoy Barcelona on a budget.
1. Buy a T-10 ticket and take the train from the airport.
A taxi from Barcelona airport to Plaça Catalunya in the city center can cost over €30. The cheapest way to get downtown is to buy a T-10 metro ticket from the train station at Terminal 2 of the airport. Take the train to Sants or Passeig de Gracia station, then the metro to the stop you need. This whole journey will cost you just over 1 euro. The T-10 ticket costs €10.20, and is valid for 10 journeys of up to 1 hour and 15 minutes each, including changes onto metro, bus, and tram lines within zone 1. You can also use it for multiple people, so if there are two of you traveling, you can take five journeys together.
2. Buy food at the local markets.
Every neighborhood in Barcelona has its own market full of stalls selling fresh produce and tempting snacks. The Boqueria Market on La Rambla is the most popular with visitors, and is worth a look — but if you want to buy anything here, explore the stalls towards the back to find cheaper prices. Alternatively, check out the other local markets of Santa Caterina near the cathedral, San Antoni, or Gracia to find cheap and delicious fresh fruit, vegetables, meat & fish.
3. Eat where the locals do.
Avoid La Rambla, and the busy Passeig de Gracia streets; instead head to the more “local” neighborhoods like Poble Sec, Sants, and Gracia to find some of the best restaurants in town at much cheaper prices than the Gothic Quarter and el Born. My personal favorite is Carrer del Blai (Blai Street), which is full of Basque-style pintxo bars (mini tapas on sticks), which start from €1 each.
4. Visit on the first Sunday of the month.
Many of Barcelona’s museums are free to enter all day on the first Sunday of the month so you can visit the Picasso Museum, the Museum of Catalan History, the Hospital of Sant Pau, the MNAC National Museum of Catalan Art, and the Barcelona History Museum, among others, for free! Reserve your tickets online for the Picasso Museum in advance, as it is very popular. They also have free entry from 6pm to 9.30pm on Thursday afternoons.
5. Check out Gaudi for free.
Most of Gaudi’s architectural works, from his first commissioned work in Plaça Reial (funky lampposts) to Casa Batlló and La Sagrada Familia, his magnificent unfinished masterpiece, are all worth admiring from the outside. Some museums, such as Palau Guell (the townhouse Gaudi designed for his patron Eusebio Guell) have free entry on the first Sunday of the month, but make sure you reserve your ticket online to guarantee entry. Most of Parc Guell is open to the public, so you can still walk around the park and see some of the designs, as well as spectacular views of the city, for free. However, the most famous lizard statue and mosaic terrace are in the paid section.
6. Take a free tour.
There are tons of tours available in Barcelona, and some carry a pretty hefty price tag! However, there are several free walking tours in the Gothic Quarter and around some of Gaudi’s works, and there is even a free bike tour around the city. Although the tours themselves are free, tipping your guide is recommended.
7. Look out for free events in Barcelona.
There is usually some kind of special event going on in Barcelona, especially during the summer months, from free cinema on the beach to live jazz and street parties. Each neighborhood hosts its own “Festa Major” street party festival, one of the best is in Gracia in August when residents decorate their streets according to a specific theme, and host live concerts, dance classes and dinners in the street. Other major festivals include La Merced in September with live music stages around the city, Las Festes de Santa Eulàlia in February, and San Joan in June when everyone heads to the beach for fireworks.