Our budget guide to three days in Barcelona is inspired by our own adventures to the Catalan capital.
With 32 million visiting the city last year it is undeniably a thriving hub of multiculturalism with a lot to offer!
The city of Barcelona was founded by the Romans and has since been conquered by Visigoths before finding itself under the rule of French kings:
Wilfred 1 the Hairy Count of Barcelona is a particular favourite of ours!
It was the Catalan capital and after the dictatorship of General Franco it has become so again.
Fast forward to modern day Barcelona, it has a wealth of modernist architecture, a vibrant food scene & everything from beaches to hilly hikes.
Arriving to and getting around Barcelona
The airport trains run every 30 minutes from the train station located at Terminal 2.
Budget Tip: Buy a T10 multi-trip ticket which gets you on the airport train and metro for cheaper!
Today’s Barcelona is incredibly busy and the underground metro system is the way to move around.
🚇 Find a 4 day travel card (Hola card) which includes unlimited journeys on Barcelona’s public transport over 4 consecutive days for €28.50pp online (a 10% online discount).
Accommodation in Barcelona
Firstly, if you can then book in advance for cheaper deals. We tend to use Air BnB which has lots of cheap apartments in Barcelona but we were a bit late in booking.
We used booking.com instead and found a three night/four day stay in a 4 star Catalonia hotel which included the most exquisite buffet breakfast (including a make your own Bloody Mary station), a rooftop pool and city centre location for less than 300 euros. They have hotels all over the city in various locations and offer modern rooms with some extremely comfy beds as well as complementary snacks and teas/coffees.
If a hostel is more your style or more within your budget then take a look at The Pars Teatro Hostel which is located in the neighbourhood of Poble Sec, within walking distance the Avenida Parallel – cabaret and theatre central. The renovated building is also full of theatrical delights!
Sightseeing in Barcelona
In the fear of this turning into an entire guide book to Barcelona we have to narrow this down to what we did in our time here and give you a couple of alternatives of things we want to do on our next trip.
Our first full day was actually Jen’s birthday so this day was entirely up to her. We started with a free walking tour with New Europe Sandeman’s, which was a riot from start to finish. Hilarious tour guide, a truly great insight into the history of the city, with an in depth look at today’s political climate and how the city looks today.
This mainly took place inside the Gothic quarter, Jewish quarter and there was even a stop for a pint and tapas in the middle! We decided to buy a package deal of tours for the rest of our stay which worked out at a very reasonable €45 each for another three tours.
That evening we met up with a fellow tourist who we met on the walking tour and joined in on the Tapas Tour of Barcelona which covered 3 great traditional tapas bars in El Born and Barceloneta, a lesson on how to pour traditional cider (of course Henry mastered this quickly), free drinks and tapas along the way and a stop at an award winning tapas restaurant with a lesson on how to drink wine from a traditional Spanish Porrón.
Tip: The free walking tour is free but expect to pay what you think the tour was worth at the end to your tour guide.
Today was dedicated to the Gaudí and Modernisme Tour, which turned out to be a great way to marvel at Antoni Gaudí’s masterpieces and the city’s architectural heritage.
The tour examines the roots of the Modernisme movement which includes Gaudí but also his contemporaries as they sought to breathe new life into Barcelona during the 19th and into the 20th century. Expect stops at Casa Batlló, Casa Milà (La Pedrera), Passeig de Gràcia, Casa Lleó-Morera and The Eixample district amongst others.
It is worth noting you do get on the metro for one stop to finish at the breath-taking Sagrada Familia Cathedral.
No words can truly replicate the feeling of absolute awe upon seeing this building in all its glory and its history bleeds into its present as they continue to build the cathedral, although they are looking to complete it by 2028. You can opt to stay and a go inside the cathedral at an extra cost, and it’s just as unique on the inside.
After a bit of dinner we joined the Forbidden Tour of Barcelona which is a relatively new tour for the group. If you can look past the architectural delights and delectable eateries you will see the darker side of the city.
Taking you through the Raval area of the city this is a tale of murder, torture, a notorious female vampire Enriqueta Martí, erotic shows and prostitution. Maybe this isn’t one for the kids!
We passed what is known as the oldest surviving bar in Barcelona, Bar Marsella reputedly opened in 1820 so of course we ventured in for a look. With its peeling ceiling and wooden walls this place certainly looks the part and you can find some pretty potent Absinthe behind the bar as well as cocktails and a delightful bottle collection to marvel at.
🎫 Sagrada Familia tickets are bookable online for after your tour and generally the opening times are 9am – 6/7pm dependent on when you go. Tickets for a basic visit are €15.
We started with a pre-booked trip to Park Guell. If you don’t pre-book you will not get in to see certain Gaudi features in the Monumental zone and please note that at the time of writing this the Nature Square is under restoration.
Located on Carmel Hill which is actually a part of a mountain range this gives you some incredible views across the Barcelona skyline. Gaudi had been commissioned to build houses and a series of private gardens for the owners of the houses but the project was never completed. Now it’s a public park which on the whole is free to walk around except inside the Monumental Zone and in Gaudi’s house.
Tip: Go as early as possible to miss the crowds and leave at least 3 hours to walk around.
🎫 The price for adults is €7.50 and children €5.25 and opening times are Mon-Sat 8AM–9:30PM & Sun 8AM–10PM
We then headed across the city to the world famous Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. Here you will find fresh food from local suppliers and some of the best tapas in the city. Also treat yourself to a glass of Rioja wine at one the many bars and eateries set up inside the market.
We hope you packed your swimming gear and beach towels as the best thing about Barcelona is that it has a beach!
Barceloneta Beach is very busy during the summer months but it is close to the city centre and offers beachside bars. This part of the city is also good for a night out outside of summer and if you’re like us beachy walks are great any time of the year!
Metro Stop “Barceloneta” on the Yellow Line L2 will take you almost all of the way. Walk for ten minutes and you will see the Marina on your right.
Here are a couple of alternative things to do in Barcelona or if you have more time than we had to spare!
Tibidabo Theme Park
This is a mountain overlooking Barcelona and is the only mountain we can think of with an amusement park! You can catch the ‘blue tram’ which has been in place since 1901 taking people up the mountain and you can even stop at a cafe half way up to soak in the Barcelona views. Ferris wheels and people roaming about in costumes – it feels very olde worldy!
🎫 Not the cheapest option at €28.50 for an adult and half that for a child ticket but a unique experience!
If this isn’t your bag there is the Temple de Sagrat Cor or Tibidabo church which is a Neo-Gothic structure with a statue of the Sacred Heart on top. There’s also a lift inside to the top of the church for a spectacular view.
Tip: Food is limited once you’re up here so we recommend taking a picnic!
🚌 You can take the Tibibus to the Amusement Park which runs from Plaça de Catalunya square. Tibibus timetable: Monday – Sunday: 10:00 then bus runs every 20 minutes when Tibidabo amusement park is open. Tibibus Single ticket: €3.00
Eating in Barcelona
This is going to be narrowed down as this is indeed the food capital of Europe if not the world!
A side of pancakes with your brunch? Yes please! Firebug was recommended by a friend and we have raved about it ever since to anyone that will listen. The star of the show is the Deviled crab (€12.50) with soft poached eggs, fresh crab meat, spicy hollandaise sauce, charred lime,micro greens all on organic sourdough bread.
Your choices for brunch include the old faithful Eggs Benedict, Turkish eggs, Shakshuka and a Mediterrenean Toast dish. Get a side of pancakes, a Bloody Mary and a coffee and you are all set for the day!
For lunch or dinner if you’re willing to delve into some Michelin star cuisine then from the creators of El Bulli comes Tickets – the hottest tapas place in town. Seriously you have to book months in advance but the prices aren’t as steep as we thought it would be and its innovative cuisine for real foodies. Perhaps not budget but if you splash out on one meal it’s worth it.
For something cheaper inside the Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria pay a visit to Bar Pinotxo and its charistmatic owner, Juanito. It serves some of the best and most typical Catalan food giving you some authentic flavour! Eat like a local and try the chickpeas and morcilla (blood sausage) dish.
Some things to look out for on your trip to Barcelona that won’t break the bank.
Street Art & The Raval
There is an abundance of street art across the city with some of the best in the Raval area, just off the Ramblas. On a Sunday most of the shutters will be down so you can see more and the Raval area also has loads to offer including a Contemporary Art Museum, bars and restaurants and is less touristy than the city centre.
Museu del Disseny
The stunning new Museu del Disseny (€5) puts on one site several museums that had been spread across the city. Everything from fashion collections to graphic art and the Encants market which sells all kinds of bizarre and obscure vintage wares.
We hope you find this guide helpful and please get in touch if you have any questions!
Next we take a train ride across Spain and venture into Porto, Portugal.
Hen and Jen x