If you don’t feel like burning a hole in your wallet yet still want to have an exciting, action packed day hitting the streets of Barcelona, you’ve got plenty of options. $50 USD (34 euros) can take you from sunrise to sunrise and leave you feeling like you’ve seen the very best the city has to offer.
Here are few ideas of how to maximize your pennies during a day in Barcelona:
Rise early, to avoid lineups and head towards the Picasso Museum (even if you’re not a Picasso fan this museum is worth checking out). Entrance tickets are 10 Euros ($14.5), which gives you access to the museum as well as any special exhibits that might be taking place at the time. On your way grab a croissant and a coffee at the local bakery (2.5 Euros or $3.6) for breakfast.
After visiting the museum stroll through Barcelona’s chicest neighborhood (the Born) window browsing and checking out the latest trends in designer clothes as you make your way towards the more rustic Gothic Quarter. Head to the famous Cathedral and if you happen to arrive while there’s a service going on, you can go in for free (typically early mornings and weekends are good times to try and get in for free). Otherwise, gawk from the outside at the incredible architecture of this medieval masterpiece.
Continue on foot walking through the Gotico exploring its narrow alleyways and hidden courtyards and out of the way niche places that give this neighborhood so much character. Walk down calle Ferran until you come to one of the world’s most popular walkways; La Rambla. This is probably one of the best ways to get the most ‘bang for your buck’ in Barcelona. La Rambla is completely free and eternally entertaining. There is always someone and something to watch, from street performers to vendors selling everything from magazines, to goldfish, to food and caged pigeons. Take your time soaking in the atmosphere and on your way up, stop at the the Boqueria market to browse or buy. One small tip: the further in you go the cheaper the food and drink.
Once you’ve finished with the market continue up La Rambla until you reach Plaza Catalunya and then walk towards Paseo de Gracia. This is where you can see some of Gaudi’s amazing architecture. As you walk up the street you’ll see La Pedrera, Casa Batllo amongst several other renowned works by Gaudi himself as well as by those of his contemporaries during the Modernist period. If you want to go inside the buildings it will cost anywhere from 8-15 Euros ($11.5 – $22). If you don’t feel like entering you can still gain a genuine feel for his work from the outside. Once you’ve had enough of Paseo de Gracia, hop on the metro and take the green line to Valcarca stop to see Park Guell (Gaudi’s Park).
Metro tickets cost 1.2 Euros ($1.7) for one trip. If you plan on using it a lot throughout your stay you can buy a pass of ten trips for 8 Euros ($11.5) and use them at any point. The park is free so you can spend a few hours walking around, checking out the longest bench in the world and strolling through the nature. There are places to eat in the park but if you’re on a budget the best thing to do is head back into town and get a Menu Del Dia at one of the more local restaurants.
Walk or metro back and try to stop in Gracia. This neighborhood has a local flair with tons of small, shops, wine and cheese bars and excellent outdoor patios. Find a place serving menu del dia for 10 euros ($14.4). This should include a three-course meal along with a drink and/or coffee and there are tons of places around town so it should be easy to find.
After you’ve finished lunch, either walk or take the metro to the Sagrada Familia (blue or purple line). Get out at the Sagrada Familia stop and spend some time appreciating Gaudi’s most famous building, which has yet to be finished. You can go inside which costs 12 Euros ($17.3) however the outside is equally as breathtaking and will give you a genuine feel for Gaudi’s magnificence.
Depending on the time and how tired you are, you can metro back to the hotel and get ready for a night out. At this point you should have about 10 Euros left in your pocket ($14.4) which is just enough to get you into a club for the night and buy you one drink. One club worth checking out is Magic, in the Born (entrance 10 Euros includes a drink) and it gets going around 2:30am. If you don’t feel like going to a club and want to combine drinks and dinner, go to the No Name Cafe on Passeig Del Born. Every night after 8pm, you get free tapas when you buy a drink. Drinks are a bit pricier than other places but all you need to do is buy one and you are able to eat as much as you want for free. A glass of wine ranges from 3-5 Euros ($4-7), beer between 2.5-4 Euros ($3.6-6).
If you’re still kicking into the wee hours of the morning and don’t want to spend any more money, walk to the beach where there’s sure to be something going on and watch the sun come up!