No Cash? No worries.
It’s no secret that while Barcelona is one of Europe’s most popular and fascinating cities, it’s also one of the priciest… But that doesn’t mean you can’t see Barcelona on a budget! We know that not everyone is ready to flash the cash while backpacking, so here’s Marion’s guide to doing the Catalan capital on the cheap…
Get to know the city
The best starting point for seeing Barcelona on a budget (after your Euroventure travel pack, obviously) has to be a Use-It map. If you’ve travelled to any major European city before you’ll probably have heard of Use-It, but in summary, they are free pocket-sized fold out maps which include hidden and unusual spots, tips from locals and recommendations for food, drink, sightseeing and nightlife, as well as all the major tourist attractions.
You can download and print one before you go, or pick one up for free at one of the listed suppliers (check the website for these, but most hostels will have them on the front desk.) The best thing about these maps is that they often have an agreement with some of the local independent businesses they mention. If you show your map at the location you might find yourself in for a treat – on a recent visit to the city I got a free beer, nifty keyring and half price burgers just by flashing my map!
What about food?
As a city that has become a must-visit destination for tourists all around the world, inevitably ‘real’ Catalan cuisine has become something of a gimmick, with every other restaurant or bar offering up ‘authentic’ paella and average tapas at inflated prices. I’m not saying it’s impossible to find good food at a good price, but it’s definitely a bit of a gamble…
Your best bet to save those precious Euros is to seek out places that might not be typically Spanish. For example, El Club de Hamburguesa (Carrer de Valldonzella, 3) and Betty Ford’s (Carrer de Joaquín Costa, 56) do amazing burgers for a great casual lunch or dinner; Bicioci Bike Cafe (Carrer Venus, 1-3) will knock you up an amazing pizza or salad; Brunch and Cake (Carrer Enric Granados, 19) is a real treat for a New York-style mid morning feast.
When you’ve got nothing left in your pocket but the last scraps of your holiday money, Mexican food seems to be the best option – look out for Tacos Tacos (Carrer Tapioles, 9) or El Tianguis (Villarroel 42) where you’ll be able to get a tasty taco for the princely sum of 1 euro.
It’s no secret that Barcelona’s residents enjoy a drink, but steer clear of Sangria jugs for a more authentic experience. Locals view sangria as a drink for tourists and teenagers; instead, why not give vermouth a try. This local fortified wine is sweet and flavoursome, often served with an olive or a slice of orange (depending on if you get the sweet or dry variety); plus, it’s cheap, refreshing and readily available in pretty much every bar in town.
If vermouth isn’t to your taste, keep an eye out for Moritz beer. Founded in Barcelona in 1856, it is the only beer company which uses the Catalan language exclusively in all its labelling. Forget Estrella, this is the true beer of Barcelona. If you like a taste of history, the original factory is now open as a bar and restaurant, beer museum, brewery and shop (Fàbrica Moritz Barcelona, Ronda de Sant Antoni); but arguably the best thing about this delicious beer is its availablity in most supermarkets and corner shops for less than 1 Euro a bottle. If you’re really trying to do Barcelona on a budget, we recommend stocking up on these babies before hitting the city’s best bars!
The Best City Views
You can find them at Bunkers de Carmel – C. Maria Labernia. Not one for the faint of heart, be sure to set aside a good chunk of your day (preferably not in the midday heat) for the hike up to the Bunkers de Carmel. It’s tricky to get to, but this makes it even more rewarding when you reach the top and find a pleasant lack of tourists. Originally built to defend the city from aircraft attacks during the Civil War, the bunkers themselves have now fallen to ruin, but serve as a beautiful and unique spot to survey the entire city from its highest point. Pack plenty of water to sustain you for the hike, and a picnic to enjoy when you reach the summit. The best part is it’s totally free!
For another stunning view with a fraction of the effort, head to the Barcelo Raval Hotel (Rambla del Raval 17-21, 08001). It doesn’t matter if your chosen accommodation is a hostel, put on your fanciest garms, stroll through the lobby and take the lift to the top floor. At the top of this impressive hotel is a roof terrace – complete with bar and pool – with a 360 view of the city. It’s especially impressive in the late evening, when the entire skyline is lit up with twinkling lights and there’s no glare of the sun to bounce off your binoculars.
Barcelona might be notorious for it’s sky high prices, but there are definitely plenty of ways to dodge the tourist traps and save yourself some dolla. Hopefully these tips will show you that cashflow is no excuse to miss out on this gem! Why not combine it with some of Southern Spain and Portugal for a true taste of Iberia.
Words: Marion Collishaw