Barcelona on a budget!

Posted on 22/06/2015 by Eleanor Morley

Despite Barcelona quickly becoming one of the more expensive cities in Europe, it can still be done on a budget, without sacrificing experience. Don’t get me wrong, eating in the finest Michelin Star Tapas bars and having rooftop cocktails is quite an experience, but let’s face it, you’re on a road trip, you probably don’t smell good enough to go into these places. So let’s get down with the locals, and have an authentic and reasonably priced experience instead!


Let’s start with the obvious, don’t go for dinner on the main strips. If you see hordes of tourists, then it’s probably over-priced and not necessarily a traditional restaurant. Try going down one of the many quaint side streets where you’ll find no shortage of good food. For example, whilst La Rambla is a tourist essential and filled with appealing food stops, the side streets offer a wide variety of small café and bars, and with fewer tourists, the prices drop. Go for the restaurants that have locals in, that way you can be sure up to traditional standards! One great restaurant that’s moderately priced is Llus de les Moles near Plaça Catalunya. This lunchtime restaurant is hidden away with a potato and sausage pie that’s to die for! If that doesn’t take your fancy something else of the very comprehensive menu will! Also keep an eye out for set menus. Usually these will include a start, main, dessert and coffee, all at a reasonable price!


Secondly, getting around. If you plan to make the use of the extensive transport system in the city, then get a T10. This card allows you 10 trips on the TMB (including the metro, tram and buses) within zone 1-6. A single ticket costs €2.15, whereas the T10 costs €9.95, so a big saving! You can pick these up at any metro station or the train station of the airport’s T2. Another way to get a good deal on transport is by purchasing a Barcelona card (only valid for free transport on 3days+). For the 3 day Barcelona card, the cost is €45. This gives you free transport within the city, as well as discounts to over 80 of the great attractions in the city. For more information on this check out this link: This company, TicketBar, also provide que jump tickets and discounts to some of the biggest attractions in the city, which you can all find on the above link!


Now onto the really good stuff- free activities. Like any major city, Barcelona is no different in that it has no shortage of free fun to be had. You just have to do some research or know a local, and luckily for you I’ve done the research and I am local, or at least work with many locals. Firstly, my favourite free activity has to be the abundance of free festivals with in the city.  Barcelona is a hub for new and upcoming artists, so you won’t be short of good talent to watch. Through June- August you have Musica als Parcs, which have free gigs in various parks around the city, including Jazz and new young musicians. Another great free festival is SoundEAT! This free festival is in Jardins de Pedralbes on 27th June, noon – 10pm, and hosts some happening DJs. Just by googling “free festivals in Barcelona” a huge variety of options will appear.


Another top tip for freebies is how to avoid admission fees. All city-run museums, including the Museum of History of Barcelona and Museu Picasso, are free on Sundays between 3pm and 8pm. Often city-run museums will also have a free day during the month, either the first Wednesday or Sunday of every month (check individual website for specific information). Another opportunity to fare dodge is when going to the great architectural sights of the city. Luckily for us, when the great architects of Barcelona set to work on these fabulous buildings, they didn’t neglect the outside, and thus, you can simply see these places for free whilst walking around the city. For example, just on the Passeig de Gràcia alone, you can see 3 wonders of modernism, the Casa Lleó Morera, the Casa Amatller and Gaudí’s Casa Batlló. You may miss a few things inside but it’s too hot to be inside anyway! A similar affair is instead of paying the admission of the Joan Miró’s Museum, although well worth a visit, you can see much of his work on the streets. For example you have Parc de Joan Miró which has a 22ft tall woman and bird sculpture, or on La Rambla you have a mosaic. Another opportunity for free sight-seeing is the neo-gothic La Catedral which is free early morning and late afternoons.


What about a romantic evening watching a movie? Head down to Sant Sebastià beach where Cinema Lliure host an outdoor cinema on Thursday and Sunday evenings showing independent movies. Or you can try The Centre of Contemporary Culture of Barcelona (CCCB) who have their own festival, Gandules. They play short movies and documentaries in their courtyard, for free!


Timing your trip with local festivals is also a good idea. For example, Barcelona has La Mercè in September, which showcases over 600 events during this festival, from street parties to human towers to music recitals. Another not-to-be-missed festival is The Correfoc which is an event where groups of people run and dance wildly through the streets, devilishly horned, whilst waving a trident shooting fireworks. Who’d want to miss that? A more tame festival is that of summer solstice, or as known in Catalan, Sant Joan Festival. This is on the evening of the 23rd  June, and marks the beginning of summer and the longest day of the year on the 24th. Friends and families gather on beaches for food and fireworks. If you have no friends and family (boohoo) then just rock up to your local beach, and you will find no shortage of festivities to get involved with, and you can watch as the fireworks happen around you. If you prefer a slightly less crazed atmosphere then head up the mountains and watch over the city as it lights up.


The list of great free activities in Barcelona goes on. I could write more, but I have a free Sardana (traditional Catalan dancing) class to attend! However, if you want to see more, a great website for free things in the city, including exhibitions, performing arts, book readings etc is This gives you up-to-date events so it’s best to check this closer to your trip. Below I have included a couple of useful links that you may find interesting! Enjoy the free fun! Adios! Free walking tours Guide to bars, restaurants and activities in Barcelona, “Like a Local” Barcelona on a budget