Ultimate Guide to Barcelona on a Budget | Tips & Tricks 2024

Barcelona, the Catalonia region’s capital, is probably Spain’s most popular destination. This second-biggest city in Spain prides itself on mindblowing architecture, an artsy scene, and museums of world-famous artists that bring hoards of tourists, raising prices for its attractions and sights. However, there are tips and tricks on how to visit Barcelona on a budget that I provide in this post.

Barcelona is like an open-air museum; you must be careful while strolling its streets to avoid missing something unique and beautiful. Despite being overcrowded, it’s absolutely worth visiting and adding to your bucket list! 

I have spent almost a week in Barcelona and mastered a few tips and tricks on making it a budget-friendly city thanks to my extensive and in-depth research. Therefore, I cover everything you need to know about visiting Barcelona on a budget and enjoying your time here without spending too much money. 

This detailed Barcelona travel guide provides information on how to get there, preferred hotels for staying in Barcelona on a budget, where to eat, and the cheapest time to visit Barcelona, to name a few.


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Quick tips before visiting Barcelona on a budget

Be aware of pickpocketers. They aren’t violent but are very quick! Have your belongings and valuable items always on your site, especially when walking through touristy places and at the cafe’s outdoor seating areas. You can’t be safe even in the early mornings!

Barcelona is always crowded with tourists all year round! If you are like me and don’t like crowded places, wake up early and walk peacefully to those famous districts and sights.

Visiting some of Gaudi’s breathtaking architectural landmarks is possible with discounted tickets, free entrance days, or buying a city card. Purchasing tickets online gives you access without waiting in line, and trust me, lines at these museums are insane! 

If you are a museum fan, schedule your trip on Sundays or the first Sunday of the month. This is the day when over a dozen museums have free entrance. Other museums also offer free entrance on different days.

Although the architectural marvels of Gaudi, such as Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Casa Vicens Gaudí, or La Sagrada Familia, are rarely free, but you might be able to get discounted tickets. 

Like many other cities, there are many free walking tours, and joining one is the cheapest way to see Barcelona. However, remember that they are not entirely FREE and depend on donations. 

The number of days you’ll spend in Barcelona depends entirely on your finances. However, if you meticulously plan the trip, you can efficiently spend 2 or 3 days in Barcelona on a budget and see most of its iconic landmarks.

Where to stay in Barcelona on a budget

I have a separate post on where to stay in Barcelona with neighborhood and hotel recommendations, but I’ll summarize it here. Those who want to save money on lodging should stay outside of the historic city center. For instance, Gràcia, Poble Sec, or Poblenou neighborhoods offer budget accommodation in Barcelona. 

Consider further-out areas like Sants, Les Corts, or Clot for even cheaper accommodation options. However, note that it will take longer to get to the city center and you’ll need to use transport. However, it might be worthwhile with the unlimited public transportation of Hola Barcelona Cards (Hola BCN Card)

Toc Hostel Barcelona is a stylish hostel near Pl. Catalynia that offers private and dorm rooms. The bunk beds in dorms are comfortable and budget-friendly, while private rooms provide a touch of luxury.

Urbany Hostel, located near La Sagrada Familia, has funky murals and colorful details that create a vibrant atmosphere, and the rooftop terrace with city views is perfect for sunset drinks. It also has a second branch, Urbany Hostel BCN GO!, in the Eixample neighborhood, a few minutes walk from La Rambla and the Gothic Quarter. 

Sant Jordi Hostels is practically Sagrada Familia’s next-door neighbor, boasting a modern design with bright and airy dorms, some with balconies and city views. The shared kitchen is perfect for whipping up budget-friendly meals, and the rooftop terrace offers a glimpse of the iconic basilica. 

→ None of them suit your budget? Check out more hostels and hotels in Barcelona

Travel tips to plan a Barcelona budget trip

Plan your trip ahead of time

Deciding on your Barcelona itinerary and the sights you’d want to visit can save you a lot of money. Look at my itinerary post and make a list of all the landmarks and activities you’d like to see and do. This will help you identify what you can afford and where to extend your budget. And if you prefer reading classic guidebooks, consider purchasing Lonely Planet Barcelona

Often, booking activities in advance will save you money, as sometimes Get Your Guide or Viator offers promotional sales. Moreover, several museums have free entrance days (more on this below). And even if you can’t find discounts, purchasing tickets to attractions online will be cheaper than showing up at the ticket office. Plus, there will be a huge line! 

Know what to pack for Barcelona 

Nothing is worse than realizing that you forgot something at home that you must buy in a new city, which adds to your unexpected expenses. 

I have a dedicated post on what to wear and pack for Barcelona for every season that also includes some essential items, such as a universal plug adapter, external power charger, etc. 

Travel off-season to visit Barcelona on a budget

To make the most value for your buck, avoid visiting Barcelona in its peak seasons – June and August. From May, the city starts seeing tourist crowds, which eventually increase and at least triple over the summer months. 

Therefore, the cheapest time to visit Barcelona is during the off-and-shoulder seasons – roughly from late September to early May. Prices drop during winter and early spring, and while you might not be walking in T-shirts and summer dresses, you can take advantage of underrated winter in Barcelona and experience seasonal traditions and festivals that most doest. For instance, the Llum annual lights festival occurs in the Poblenou neighborhood every winter. 

Alternatively, plan a trip in April-May or late September-October to experience pleasant weather and affordable prices. 

Book tickets early to travel to Barcelona on a budget

Being one of the most visited cities in Spain, Barcelona is well connected with the rest of Europe and other continents. You can find cheap round-trip airline tickets if you are already in Europe. The key to visiting Barcelona on a budget is flexibility when planning the trip and looking at the tickets at least four months ahead

I typically use Skyscanner to monitor the flights and get price alerts. If you are a frequent flyer, look at the WayAway program, which also offers cashback to its members. 

Barcelona is also well connected to European or Spanish cities by train if you prefer other transportation methods. For trains and buses, and sometimes even flights (well, I love comparing prices), I use Omio search aggregator that shows all the best, shortest, and cheapest options from A to B.  

How to get from Barcelona airport to city center

A direct Aerobus bus stands at every arrival hall of the Barcelona airport and departs every 5 minutes. A one-way ticket costs 5.90 EUR. However, if you purchase your return ticket (valid for 15 days only), the price will be 10.20 EUR instead of 11.80 EUR. 

The bus stops at Pl. Espanya, Gran Via-Urgell, Pl. Universidad, and Pl. Catalunya, it takes around 30-40 minutes to reach the center. You can buy tickets at the stop via a machine that accepts only credit/debit cards or at the driver with cash.

Barcelona can be both expensive and cheap

The most frequently asked questions when discussing my trips to Spain, especially Barcelona and Madrid, are – is Barcelona expensive to visit – followed by – what’s the average cost of trip to Barcelona? 

This obviously depends on various variables – where you are flying from, what season you are planning to visit, what you want to see, which Barcelona neighborhood you want to stay, whether you eat out or prepare meals at home, etc. 

Your Barcelona budget per day highly relies on your activity and spending behavior. That said, if you want to visit all the major sights of Gaudi and other historical and architectural marvels, ticket prices only will comprise at least 200 EUR of your Barcelona trip cost. 

That said, several museums in Barcelona have free entrances on specific dates you can take advantage of. I’ll cover them more in depth below. 

You can undoubtedly find budget accommodation in Barcelona if you travel off-season. Average prices range from 30 EUR to 50 EUR for a hostel or cheap hotel. 

Regarding food and eating out, you can lower your Barcelona costs by indulging in tapas culture, savoring some affordable Spanish food, benefiting from lunch menus (Menu del Dia), or shopping at supermarkets.

As you see, you can make your trip to Barcelona cost-effective or as expensive as you want. 

Buy combined transport tickets to get around on a budget

Even though Barcelona is big, it is a pretty walkable city, with most attractions reachable on foot. However, consider the Barcelona hop-on hop-off bus tour if you prefer to avoid walking.

The metro has ten lines, each with a different color, making it easy to remember. Since I stayed near Placa Catalunya, I only used the subway a little and walked almost everywhere.

If your accommodation is slightly off the center and you’d need public transport in Barcelona, buy two, three, four, and five-day Hola BCN Cards. They give you unlimited access to any transportation within Barcelona and its suburbs. 

Otherwise, one journey costs 2.55 EUR. Alternatively, you can purchase a T-Casual Card for 12.15 EUR, granting you ten journeys around the city, making it the cheapest way to travel in Barcelona. 

Grab free entrance tickets to several museums

If you have the flexibility of timing your Barcelona trip to include Sunday or the first Sunday of the month, you’ll have a chance to enjoy free entrance to various museums. 

Picasso Museum (has free entrance on Thursdays, too), Palau Güell by Gaudí, the National Art Museum of Catalonia, MUHBA, the Museum of Urban History of Barcelona, Montjuïc Castle, and many others open their doors for free entrance on either every Sunday after 3 pm or the first Sunday of the month. 

Tip: You may need to pre-book the ticket online for some of these museums when they offer free entrance. The personnel will only let you inside if you show up with the spot booked. 

Take advantage of the menus of the day

If you are looking for different ways of eating in Barcelona on a budget, consider “Menu del Dia” or the lunch menus many eateries offer customers. 

The menu typically includes two dishes, a drink, and a dessert, and depending on the restaurant, the price ranges from 10 EUR to 20 EUR. 

Note that portions are slightly smaller than the set menus, but you get more variety and enough food to continue sightseeing in Barcelona. 

If you are after affordable and cheap food in Barcelona, it goes without saying to avoid cafes and restaurants close to major attractions, like La Rambla and Sagrada Familia. 

Consider a Barcelona travel card

Purchasing a travel card that includes discounted tickets to various landmarks and public transport tickets is another way of exploring Barcelona on a budget. 

Even though these cards are sometimes pricey, they are convenient for seeing the most iconic sights during a short stay. 

The Barcelona Card costs around 60 USD for a three-day ticket, granting you free access to over 25 top attractions and museums with skip-the-line entry, free and unlimited public transport, a guidebook in 6 languages, and a Barcelona map. In addition, you can get up to 50% off admission to other sights and activities, such as Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà, flamenco shows, etc. 

Barcelona Express Card offers unlimited public transport tickets for two days and discounts of up to 60% on more than 100 Barcelona landmarks and activities. 

If you need only a budget-friendly transport card, consider the Hola BCN Card, which has 48, 72, 96, and 120 hours of unlimited use. 

Alternatively, if your budget allows, you can opt for a GoCity pass to visit unlimited Barcelona attractions during the chosen time. For art lovers who want to visit top museums and galleries, pre-purchase skip-the-line entry to 6 top art museums combo tickets to save some money. 

However, don’t worry if none of them suit your budget. I have included many cheap and free things to do in Barcelona in my itinerary

What to do in Barcelona on a budget

If you’ve looked at my Barcelona itinerary, you would have noticed plenty of ways to see this vibrant city for free. I won’t mention the same things here below but instead will list more exciting activities you can enjoy without spending too much money. 

Have a picnic at Ciutadella Park or Bunkers del Carmel

When the weather is nice, locals enjoy the sunny day as much as possible. This means they are out and about getting Vitamin D at every green space or viewpoint spot. 

Grab snacks, jamon, or any other Spanish food on the go, and head to Parc de la Ciutadella in the city center for a lovely picnic surrounded by lush greenery and the local atmosphere. 

For those who’d want a 360 panoramic view of Barcelona, head to Bunkers del Carmel. It’s usually a perfect sunset viewpoint, but it can also be nice during the day. However, remember to protect yourself with sunscreen as there is no shade. 

Indulge on tapas 

Unlike Madrid and other cities in Spain, you won’t get a tapas appetizer plate at bars in Barcelona when ordering a drink. However, depending on the eatery, the market, and the ingredients, the tapas cost between 1 and 5 EUR. 

La Boqueria market at La Rambla has touristy prices, so local markets such as De Sant Antoni or De Santa Caterina markets will have lower prices. You can also pop into one of the tapas bars to experience the tapas culture. Alternatively, check out my guides to restaurants and the best places for paella in Barcelona. 

Enjoy a free concert

Barcelona has a lively nightlife that you can enjoy without going to the club. A few bars offer live free concerts, and one of the best is the Jamboree bar. Located near Placa Reial, the bar has jazz, blues, and rhythm concerts. 

Watch the light show at the Montjuïc fountain

Every night on Fridays and weekends, the fountain at Montjuïc comes alive with a beautiful, colorful light show that’s absolutely worth seeing for free. 

Explore Gaudi’s buildings with a free tour

Gaudi’s impeccable works are the reason to visit Barcelona. The interiors of these buildings are stunning but costly. However, the exteriors are as pretty and worth a visit. Luckily, a few free Gaudi tours will guide you to his famous and little-known sites across the city.

Check out Gaudi Free Tour, Gaudí, Sagrada Familia and Modernism, or Modernism and the Masterpieces of Guadì tours. They all have similar spots but run on different dates, times, and languages. Remember that they are not precisely FREE and run on donations! 

Visit the majestic church on the hill 

On top of the Tibidabo hill stands the gorgeous Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which took 60 years to build. It has a statue of Jesus at the top, which looks like a mini version of Christ the Redeemer’s statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

It is another great vantage point if you want panoramic views of Barcelona from the city’s highest point. 

You can take the Tibidabo funicular or a Tibibus from Plaça de Catalunya (in front of Caja Madrid Bank) to the Tibidabo amusement park.

More Barcelona travel guides:

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