Gaudi architecture throughout Barcelona makes this city stand out from all other European cities. Antoni Gaudi was a Catalan architect and his works have highly individualized designs. The unique Gaudi designs are found all throughout Barcelona and are a hallmark to many of the iconic sites. Likewise, the food in Barcelona–including pinchos, fresh seafood, speciality cheeses, etc.–does not disappoint. Also, a visit to Barcelona does not have to be expensive and can be easily be explored throughly on a budget. We recommend spending at least 3 days here. Here is our guide for visiting Barcelona, Spain on a budget.
Note: This guide is written on a trip taken in early March
What to do in Barcelona on a Budget
This public park in Barcelona composed of colorful Gaudi architecture and beautiful gardens. Park Guell is really a photographer’s dream. You can access most of the park for free but the most iconic area requires a ticket after 8:30am
Tip: Go here in the morning before admission is charged, ideally around sunrise.
At dawn, the lighting here is perfect and you can access the park for free without the crowds at this time (most people think it is not open before 8:30am). We initially had planned to go to Park Guell in the afternoon but tickets were sold out and the girl selling tickets at the desk told us if we came before 8am, we could access the ticketed area for free and without the crowds. The next day, when we ran up to the park for sunrise, we had the park nearly to ourselves and the lighting was spectacular. We highly recommend going at this time!
Free Gaudi Walking Tour
We would highly recommend this tour (website linked below). On this tour, you learn about the architect, Antoni Gaudi, behind the prominent Gaudi architecture style seen everywhere throughout Barcelona. You also visit some of his most iconic Gaudi buildings, going beyond just Sagrada Familia and Park Guell. This tour is free but be sure to tip your guide well if you enjoy it.
Tip: Do this at the beginning of your trip to get a sense of where everything is in the city. This tour ends at Sagrada Familia but does not include a tour here. Make sure to book a separate tour to see the famous Basilica, potentially right after you finish the Free Gaudi Walking Tour. This tour does not go to Park Guell either so make sure to visit that separately.
La Familia Sagrada
This basilica is quite spectacular to see in person and much different than any other church you will have ever seen, on both the inside and outside. Every detail on the outside of the church is intentional and rich with meaning. La Familia Sagrada has been under construction for over 135 years and is expected to be completed in 2026. Make sure to take a tour here to really appreciate all the details and history of the church.
Tip: Go around sunset for amazing colors through stained glass. Evening tours, around sunset time, are also ½ price. Make sure to book this far in advance as slots tend to fill up quickly.
Mercat de la Boqueria
La Boqueria is a large public market right off of the bustling La Rambla boulevard. This area was one of our favorite places to wander around and sample different foods. The market is vibrant with a lot of different colorful, fresh produce and the most delicious fruit smoothies. Natalie loved taking pictures here too.
What/Where to eat in Barcelona
On the food tour we completed, we tried a wide variety of traditional Spanish food. Samplings included ham, cheese, olives, fish, and bunyols (lenten dessert). Our favorite part of the tour was when we stopped at a local market, picked out some fresh fish and then went to a cafe within the market where that food was freshly prepared for us. On this food tour, we also explored several neighborhoods in Barcelona where tourists were absent and we really felt like locals.
Pinchos are a small portion of food typically served on a piece of bread with a cocktail stick to be eaten in a couple bites. Think of them as tiny tapas but always served on bread. Different Pincho Bars are all over Barcelona and it is easy to stop in, get a drink and order a couple pinchos (typically displayed behind a glass counter). We ate several of these pinchos in place of a meal many times while in Barcelona. Pictured here are some of our favorites.
This seafood restaurant was one of our favorites. Here you choose from an array of fresh seafood at the counter and pay for what you pick by kilogram. The fresh seafood is then cooked, exactly as you like it, before it is served to you in a casual dining room.
This area is a grouping of several restaurants/bars, where you can try different traditional Iberian peninsula recipes, all under one roof. No matter what type of food or atmosphere you are feeling, El Nacional likely has it.
Where to stay in Barcelona on a Budget
This accommodation is an adorable little hotel, less than 5 minutes off of La Rambla, but on a quiet little square. The rooms here were comfortable and came at the right price. Our room also had an adorable balcony. The breakfast included with our stay consisted of different breads and yogurts.
We hope this post helps you plan what to do on your trip to Barcelona on a budget. Make sure to visit Madrid and Toledo while you are in Spain (see Visiting Madrid, Spain on a Budget guide). Anything else you’d add to our guide on visiting Barcelona on a Budget? We’d love to hear your feedback and questions. Leave us a comment!
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Planning a multi-city trip to Europe? See our How to Plan Your First Europe Trip on a Budget guide for more tips on how to do this.