In order to save some money or avoid overpaying for entertainment and traditional cuisine on your trip, being able to discern between tourist and authentic places can make a big difference. It is not that difficult to save money in Barcelona while on vacation if you develop your plans thoroughly (including visits to major landmarks), purchase your tickets in advance, and inform yourself on the city’s public transportation options.
One of the most important mistakes to avoid is paying too much for a hotel in Barcelona. The capital of Catalonia has hostels and 3-star hotels of such high quality that you will not be disappointed. Almost all of these options lie in the heart of the city, and those situated slightly farther away are sure to offer their guests attractive price policies. Hostels in Barcelona resemble designers’ boutique-hotels with creative furniture pieces and bathrooms adorned in the pop-art style. Moreover, affordable hotels offer the same range of services as the most renowned luxury hotel networks, yet they are significantly cheaper. Another way to save money is to rent an apartment. Often, it is possible to rent a cozy apartment with a kitchen at the same price as, or even cheaper than, a double bedroom in a cheap hotel. If your priority is proximity to a beach, another option is to settle on the outskirts of Barcelona by renting a place in Badalona, for example. Considering that you will have access to the cleanest beach in the area, affordable accommodations, and a quick, 20-minutes metro ride to the city center, this option is really worth the savings.
The first rule of thumb about Barcelona is to forget about restaurants on Passeig de Gràcia and eating establishments located on hotel roof terraces. While it is quite possible that you will find tapas and paella listed on the menus of these establishments, it is even more likely that you will not encounter the traditional taste of authentic Spanish cuisine here. By contrast, any of the tiny places on the narrow streets of Born, the Gothic District, and Raval provide better opportunities for a genuine introduction to Spanish cuisine. On La Pau street in Poble Sec, small locations featuring basque pinchos can taste much better than the dishes served in a Michelin restaurant. At the same time, in Antoni and Santa Caterina markets, you can order dinner with a glass of wine at a much lower price than in the majority of the touristic restaurants located on the Rambla.
If you love seafood, make sure to pay a visit to one of the Pulperia cafes. (There are several in Born and Eixample. In an environment that resembles a fisherman’s tavern, you will have a chance to savor the freshest seafood at the lowest prices in Europe.
If you plan to use public transportation, you are welcome to take advantage of the Barcelona city pass that allows guests to use all kinds of transportation, including travel by bus to the airport, and also allows free entrance and discounts to the major museums and galleries of the city. Remember that it is much cheaper to buy the pass online. Another great pass is the Barcelona Travel Card – a tourist pass that allows its holder to use public transport and RENFE trains. It is a good idea to buy this card beforehand to help you save some money.
If you are planning to travel out of the city a lot, you should be informed about economy car rentals in Barcelona. You can choose from numerous options on economycarrentals.com. On the other hand, if you plan to leave the city, you can take a bike as well. There are plenty of bike rental centers in every district of Barcelona.
When visiting the key landmarks in Barcelona, the same Barcelona City Pass will become extremely handy. The pass provides discounts to Sagrada Familia and Güell Park and enables the holder to enter almost all museums and galleries in the city without waiting in line. Keep in mind that some museums allow free entrance on the weekends. Accordingly, you can visit the National Museum of Catalonia totally free of charge every Saturday after 15:00 and every first Sunday of the month; the Museum of History of Barcelona every Sunday; the Picasso Museum every Friday after 18:00; and the Museum of Natural Sciences every Sunday.
Among the best free options on the list are the parks of Barcelona. Ciutadella park and Parc del Laberint d'Horta always offer their visitors free entrance. In these parks, you will see more activities taking place than in the main squares of the city, including yoga, ping-pong, boat rides, strolls around the English park and the pond, picnics, and pétanque. Every guest to Barcelona is welcome to take advantage of these experiences.
Is there any way to avoid going bankrupt when buying all kinds of cute souvenirs and shopping in the most touristic Spanish city? First of all, you should choose the places far away from Plaza Catalunya and the Rambla Boulevard. The prices will be considerably lower in the small shops of Gràcia and El Clot when compared to the popular tourist destinations. An added advantage is that the small bodegas and champagne boutiques in Born and Gràcia often offer great gift sets of vermouth and cava at very attractive prices that are strikingly different from those in the big supermarkets.
We should also mention discounts: it is possible to find discounts in Barcelona even out of season, as the shops sometimes announce discount days at their own discretion. This is especially typical among small local brands of apparel and shoe-wear; you can always find a corner with discounted items at any time of the year.
When you plan your trip, take advantage of INEEDSpain’s services. We are always here to provide you with valuable tips and recommendations from the inside about life and leisure in Barcelona and Catalonia in general.