Whether you’re a budget traveler or like to live (and travel) in luxury, there’s always value in spending your money wisely, especially when you’re in a new and unfamiliar place. But when is it time to dole out the funds for that extra special, one-of-a-kind experience, and when should you pocket that cash for later? To splurge or not to splurge, that is the question.
Fear not, because we’ve compiled a list of the top splurge-worthy occasions in Barcelona, along with the things you can enjoy without spending a dime (or at least dropping big bucks).
Barcelona is not necessarily a very expensive city (especially compared to its European neighbors like London), though it is pricier than cities like Warsaw. Costs for meals can vary widely, of course, depending on your tastes and preferences, but a typical tapas-and-wine situation with friends will run you around 20-30 Euro minimum.
In terms of housing, it is also relevant to note that Airbnb still manages to operate in Barcelona, despite heavy restrictions in the last few years. You can expect a stay at a hostel to start at 19 Euro.
Now that we got the basics out of the way, check our list for everything else to do while visiting this charming Spanish city:
Take tapas to another level
Take tapas to another level
Spain is known for its cuisine, and chief among their dishes are the famed tapas, small appetizers that are usually shared over drinks with friends. Our advice: don’t just eat tapas, go to one of the top tapas bars in Barcelona, and taste the avant-garde art of culinary masters. At Bar Cañete, the experience is as local as it can get, despite being one of the most popular (and touristy) places in the city. Think: pulpos (octopus) with green salsa, fluffy spinach donuts… it’s a foodie’s delight. Come early and bring a big group to make sure you get a seat. Bar Cañete, Carrer de la Unió, 17, Barcelona, Spain 08001
Splurge on a Day Spa
Sometimes you just need a break from the hustle and bustle, and what better way to escape than a relaxing spa day? Splurge on a trip to Aire de Barcelona, an underground spa that offers thermal pools, massages, and other treatments in a candle-lit setting. It’s a warehouse-turned-spa that was built at the end of the 17th century and the became a temple of well-being for anyone seeking a bit of calm in the big city. Come here after a trip to El Parc de la Ciutadella, one of the largest and most popular green spaces in the city. Bring snacks for a low-cost picnic, and there are plenty of playgrounds, ponds, historic buildings, even a zoo – nevermind various street performers and a waterfall. Trust us, there are plenty of free and cheap options to enjoy here. El Parc de la Ciutadella, Passeig de Picasso, 21, Barcelona, ES 08003; Aire de Barcelona, Paseo Picasso, 22 08003 Barcelona
Time your visit around a Free Festival
Festivals are the number one way to enjoy parties for FREE, with the least amount of effort. Luckily, Barcelona is regularly home to festivals throughout the year, where you’ll find free outdoor concerts and street parties that will make you want to join in on the fun. The Festa Major de Gracia and La Merce are some of the more famous summertime festivals. But if you’re here in winter, don’t despair: there’s at least one popular festival in the Sant Antoni district that takes place every January.
Feast on Local Art
If you’re an art lover, you’ll be awed at the different independent art galleries on view in the El Born district – you’ll find a range of artworks, from classic paintings to more contemporary finds – plus you can stop by a couple of free galleries nearby. The Centre de la Imatge and Centre d’Art Santa Monica are both on La Rambla, just a few minutes’ walk away.
Speaking of art, we recommend you drop the bills for Barcelona’s homegrown hero Joan Miró at Fundacio Joan Miró, or admire the artist’s sculptures for free at Parc de Joan Miró (where you’ll find the famous 22 meter tall Woman and Bird sculpture).
Don’t forget about graffiti- it can also satisfy your artistic cravings. Best spots for new street art include El Raval and Poblenou neighborhoods. While you’re at it, there’s plenty of street sculptures on view too: take a peek at Fernando Botero’s enormous cat sculpture on the Rambla in Raval.
Finally, we suggest taking advantage of the free entry days at popular museums, which usually offer at least one free day a week or a month to visitors. Museu Picasso is free every first Sunday of the month, as well as on Thursday afternoons, for instance. Check calendars for the Museu Nacional d’Art Catalunya (MNAC) and the Museu d’historic de Barcelona (MUHBA) for their free days and times. Museu Picasso de Barcelona, c/ Montcada, 15-23 – 08003 Barcelona, Fundacio Joan Miró Parc de Montjuïc, s/n, Barcelona, ES 08038
Put on your walking shoes
There is so much to discover on foot in this Spanish city. Explore the winding alleyways and tiny boutique shops in La Raval and La Boqueria neighborhoods: take in the delights of this Spanish city, all without spending a dime.
Barcelona is home to churches, cathedrals and castles galore. It’s almost impossible to avoid them, so when you’re here we recommend a visit to La Catedral in the Gotic neighborhood. It’s stunning inside and out, and if you pop in early morning or in the evenings, you can avoid the entry fee. La Catedral, Pla de la Seu, S/N, Barcelona, ES 08002
See the City from the Sea
Rent a private sailboat for you and your favorite people, and another side of the city. If you’re in Barcelona in the summertime, don’t miss out on the chance to cruise the harbor and catch a glimpse of the flashing lights from afar. Dive in the water, enjoy your own music and get tipsy with your buddies while the captain navigates you safely home. Barcelona Sailboats offers trips starting at about 240 Euro per group.
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