While it may only be a short break away, a city break can often work out as an expensive option.
Barcelona is less than two hours from the UK, but with so much to see and do your itinerary is often jam-packed to try and squeeze everything in over a weekend.
From the famous Gaudi buildings to Las Ramblas, the beach and an iconic football stadium, the city really does have something for everyone – skint or not.
Here are ten ways to save the pennies … or should that be Euros!
1. Go in winter.
From the flights, to accommodation and restaurants, everything will be cheaper. It’s also worth avoiding weekends when big football matches are held. The city will be heaving for El Classico (Barcelona v Real Madrid) for example.
2. Avoid pricey hotels on Las Ramblas.
If you do want to stay in a hotel, opt for a base slightly out of town. The price will come down considerably if you are prepared to walk into town or take a taxi. I last stayed at reasonably-priced Vincci Maritimo which was 5 minutes from the port area and 10 minutes to the Ramblas.
3. Try holiday rentals.
Why not try Airbnb? The holiday rentals website is rapidly growing in popularity and it’s not hard to see why. With rooms available in Barcelona from £8 a night it’s a real steal. Just do your research in advance to make sure you know exactly what you’re buying into as the accommodation ranges from apartments, hostels to a room in a local’s house! A base with a kitchen obviously gives you the option to make your own meals, should you really want to keep costs low.
4. Check out the free attractions!
Las Ramblas and parts of Parc Güell are two of the city’s most famous haunts and what’s more they won’t cost you a thing. The Ramblas is a very lively tree-lined street which connects the beach (Port Vell) to the main Catalunya Square and is always filled with performers, buzzing cafes and restaurants.
Parc Güell – created by Spanish architect Gaudi – is a beautiful open space where you can walk around and admire the gardens, cavernous spaces and mosaics. You should also take time to check out the beautiful Gaudi buildings along elegant boulevard Passeig de Gracia – just try and avoid all the shops!
Museu Picasso, which houses one of the best collect of Picasso works, is free on the first Sunday of every month too while the Chocolate Museum is free on the first Monday of every month! If you visit in September you also might be lucky enough to attend a free concert during La Mercè music festival. Primal Scream even performed once.
5. Research your dining options.
Barcelona reportedly has the most bars and restaurants per capita in Europe. But like choosing your hotel, it’s a good idea to swerve any of the tourist hotspots along Las Ramblas and in Catalunya Square. It’s a fact you can get a coffee or paella for half the price if you’re prepared to walk ten minutes away. Pollo Rico in Raval and Blai Tonight in Poble Sec are good options.
6. See Sagrada Familia from the outisde.
Don’t worry about going inside the Sagrada Familia, another building masterminded by the prolific Gaudi. This stunning church is still under construction but tourists flock there every day to visit. Many would say it’s best viewed from the outside so save yourself the 15 Euro entrance fee.
7. Drink where the locals drink!
Once again, avoid pricey nightspots geared for tourists along Las Ramblas and Port Vell and head to the Barrios Barceloneta area. Many of the bars also do free tapas so you can fill up at the same time! You can get bottles of pink cava from as little as 3 Euros at Can Paixano a.k.a. La Xampaneria.
8. Follow the tourist bus route… but on foot or by bike.
Now this is a bit cheeky, but track down a leaflet with the bus tour information and then follow it yourself. There will be information on all of the sights and you can pick and choose the ones you want to do. Green Bikes offer bikes from 1.50 euros per hour. The only real point of interest that is a taxi ride away is Camp Nou – home to the Barcelona football team.
9. Kickstart your day with a big breakfast.
Most of the hotels offer a buffet service which should fill you up until dinner time. If you’re worried about feeling peckish later you could always sneakily take a banana or a croissant with you to eat later in the day.
10. Hit the beach!
While you don’t normally go on a city break to sit on a sun-lounger, why the hell not. The weather in Barcelona is generally good for most of the year, so sit back, relax and enjoy the sound of the ocean.