The beauty of Barcelona holidays is that there are so many attractions and amusements to be found by just walking through the city, you can experience the culture and atmosphere without breaking the bank! Here’s our guide to the best ways to see Barcelona on a budget.
Exploring the city can take up half your holiday by itself, as the numerous districts all have their own distinctive styles and landmarks to see. The Gothic Quarter is the centre of the old Medieval city and one of the most popular places to stay in Barcelona. Much of the architecture remains, including remnants of the Roman city walls. La Rambla is nearby, a famous boulevard of shops, cafés and street performers, as well as plenty of side streets to discover. The Eixample district is just as rewarding to explore, containing a number of modernist buildings, including the famous Sagrada Familia Cathedral, built by world-famous architect Antoni Gaudi.
The parks of Barcelona are equally worth seeking out, as many of them have been influenced by the Modern-Gothic architectural styles of the city. Parc Guell is a bizarre but beautiful park designed by Gaudi, featuring colourful mosaic walls, extravagant stone structures and magnificent water fountains. The more traditional Park de la Ciudadella can be found in the Gothic Quarter, and houses inside its grounds a number of museums, as well as Barcelona’s Arc de Triomf.
Barcelona is a city of culture, famous for its designers and artists. The museums are inexpensive, and an Articket pass, which will set you back around €30, allows you into seven of the top attractions, including the Picasso Museum and the National Museum of Catalonian Art. Guided city tours of Gaudi’s major buildings can be found for as little as €12 from the information centre.
On the first Saturday of every month, the Maritime Museum and the History Museum open their doors for free. The Maritime Museum offers a fascinating look at Barcelona life during the 12th-century, while the History Museum of Barcelona takes you back even further, to the 2000-year old excavated Roman ruins buried deep beneath the city. You’ll also find some completely free museums, including the Ethnological Museum, dedicated to the research and findings of a number of social and cultural studies both in Catalonia and across the world, and the Museum of Textiles and Costume, which documents the significance of the textiles industry in Barcelona’s history.
Barcelona holidays are ideal for beach lovers, as the 4 kilometres of coastline offers something for everyone. The bustling beach of Barceloneta is ideal for those who love to people-watch; as the closest beach to the city centre, it’s invariably packed with tourists, locals, street food stalls and performers. For a quieter afternoon by the sea, head out to Ocata Beach – a half hour train journey, but a peaceful and pristine shore to stretch out on for the day. Other top beaches include Mar Bella, famously LGBT-friendly and known for its excellent water sports facilities, and Bogatell, a clean and calm beach attracting a trendy crowd until well after the sun goes down.
A Barcelona holiday on a shoestring needn’t be at the expense of quality; in fact by heading off the beaten track you can find some excellent hidden gems among the side streets and less touristy areas. In the Santa Caterina Market in the El Born district you can find a two-course meal for under €20, while just outside La Rambla you’ll find Boadas, Barcelona’s oldest cocktail bar, a luxurious art-deco spot where you can mingle with the locals and get a made-to-order martini for less than €10. With so much in the city for even the most seasoned traveller to enjoy, you may find you don’t want to leave!