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You haven’t lived until you’ve been to Barcelona. An enchanting cultural oasis on the Mediterranean Sea, this cosmopolitan Catalan capital is a mecca of eye-popping architecture, tantalizing gastronomy, fiery flamenco, beautiful beaches and non-stop partying—with a peek into centuries-old history everywhere you turn. Of course, like any European adventure, a trip to this trendy city can get expensive—but it doesn’t have to be. From reasonable hotels that look otherwise, to cheap must-eat foods, sights and more, here’s how to do Barcelona on a budget.

RELATED: Tapas are Spain’s tastiest free dining tradition—here’s how to best enjoy them

WHERE TO STAY

It’s easy to stay in a nice place, in a good area for a great price in Barcelona—no hostel required. Priced between $70 and $200 a night, these highly-rated hotels make for the perfect home base while exploring the city. For an even  better price, be sure to check CheapTickets.com for the latest promo code and other deals.

OD Barcelona hotel

Photo courtesy of OD Barcelona

OD Barcelona

Under $200 per night
Just steps from Passeig de Gràcia, the vein of Barcelona’s main shopping neighborhood, this modern, boutique newcomer is a hidden gem. OD Barcelona‘s 98 rooms and suites can often be found for less than $200 per night, which is a steal for what you get. Accommodations are spacious (tough to find in Europe!) and have modern appliances and huge windows overlooking the charming neighborhood. This is a place you want to both sleep and hangout: There’s a rooftop pool and solarium, the seasonal OD Sky Bar, cooking classes, live DJ events, and Thursday Night “Burger Meets Gin” parties with some of the juiciest burgers and most inventive gin and tonics you’ve ever tasted. Speaking of food, the no-name restaurant at OD Barcelona is reason enough to stay featuring everything from traditional Spanish tapas to imaginative desserts.

Within walking distance: Sagrada Familia, Plaça de Catalunya, L’ Aquarium de Barcelona and Passeig de Gràcia

Vincci Bit hotel

Photo courtesy of Vincci Bit

Vincci Bit

Under $100 per night
At the fun-and-funky Vincci Bit hotel, every floor features a different theme. Renowned illustrators, designers and graffiti artists from around the world—like Alex Trochut, Matthey More, Yoshi Sislay, Christian Gastaldi and Lorenzo Petrantoni—painted eye-popping murals to go with each theme, and on the bottom levels, guests will find a mini gallery of Mathias Martín’s works and an outpost of the Russian design studio Dopludo Collective. You can get bright, air-conditioned rooms for less than $100 a night, which come with a custom pillow menu, a minibar and even free Wi-Fi. This hotel makes guests feel like jetsetters with an in-house sauna, gym, rooftop terrace and plunge pool. Adding to its allure, the surrounding neighborhood, the former industrial district of El Poblenou, intrigues with its hip cafes and tapas bars.

Within walking distance: Plaça de les Glòries Catalanes, Els Encants flea market, the Barcelona Design Museum, Bogatell Beach, Diagonal Mar Shopping Centre and Parc del Fòrum

Hotel 4 Barcelona

Photo courtesy of Hotel 4 Barcelona

Hotel 4 Barcelona

Under $75 per night
If you’re looking for a really great value, Hotel 4 Barcelona in the trending 22@ tech district delivers. This modern property puts you close to Barcelona’s beaches and offers amenities you wouldn’t expect with a budget hotel, including a sauna, fitness center and Turkish bath; plus, an on-site restaurant and bar; and free Wi-Fi. The hotel’s 12 Superior rooms also offer extra space, as well as impressive city or sea views. With one of the hotel’s rental bikes, the 2.5-mile trek to Sagrada Familia and 2.8-mile trek to Casa Batllo are a breeze.

Within walking distance: Bogatell Beach, Mar Bella Beach, Parc Zoologic

ALSO: Save even more on your Spain travels when you sign up for CheapCash—it’s free to join!

WHAT TO DO

Barcelona has something for everyone, from beautiful beaches and influential art, to fantastic people-watching, a Gaudi-filled outdoor park and marketplaces that will make your jaw drop.

Barceloneta beach ariel view

Barceloneta beach aerial  view

Go to the beach

Free
The calm, blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea are as lovely to set your eyes on as they are to swim in, thanks to warm temperatures from about June through October (winter, not so much). For a free activity that lasts all day, head to Barceloneta Beach to lay out, splash around and people-watch among the throngs of locals and tourists dining along the promenade.

View of colorful ceramic mosaic bench of park Guell, designed by Antonio Gaudi, in Barcelona, Spain

Walk around Parc Güell

Free
Sitting in Barcelona, this park is decidedly cool for all ages. Designed by the famous Antoni Gaudí, the whole park feels like Alice In Wonderland come to life. Modeled after English gardens, this 42-acre park is filled with wavy benches, vibrant tiled mosaics, picturesque pathways winding through overgrown vegetation, and topsy-turvy buildings reminiscent of a Dr. Seuss book. Bring a picnic or just relax and take in the ocean views. While there, be sure to check out Sala Hipóstila (a marketplace-turned-installation with stately stone columns and beautiful mosaic works), Casa Museu Gaudí and Turó de les Tres Creus, a lookout point with impressive views of the city. Note that while entry to the park is free, entry to the Monumental Core (where the Guard Museum, Gardens of Austria, Hypostyle Room, Nature Square and other attractions are located) requires tickets, which are limited to 400 people every half hour. To skip the lines, purchase advance tickets here.

Spain Majorca, beautiful city street avenue La Rambla in Palma de Mallorca

Wander down and around Las Ramblas

Free
Everyone knows about Las Ramblas. This mile-long city street is the heart of the city! Join the throngs of tourists wandering down it at any time of day, and eat at one of its streetside cafes, watch street performers, meander into one of its plazas, pick up local art from street artists or hit a bar. It’s good at night, too—after the sun goes down, Las Ramblas is just getting started.

The historic Mercat de la Boqueria or Sant Josep Mercat (Boqueria market) in Barcelona, aside the Rambla. A view on the top selling product: fresh juices of fruit.

Visit the Mercat de la Boqueria

Free
This famous indoor market hall has everything you could ever imagine. Sitting in what looks like a huge open-air warehouse, colorful stands line up end to end, overflowing with fruit, vegetables, meat, seafood, cured jamón, fresh spices, herbs, salsas and, wait for it… even edible insects. If you’re craving something hot, there are tapas bars, pizza stalls, sandwich stands and more. Just wandering through the long aisles offers a taste of the local culture.

street art in barcelona

Trover photo by Travelholic Path

See the city’s street art

Free
These days, every city has an artsy neighborhood corner; and in Barcelona, that’s Poblenou. Walk around this hipster area and check out the professional graffiti art covering its buildings. For a full art tour, explore the whole city and take in the murals, sculptures and Gaudi buildings scattered throughout. Passeig de Gracia has a decent amount of Gaudi architecture, the giant “Peix” fish sculpture by Frank Gehry overlooks the beach, Roy Lichtenstein’s giant Barcelona Head sits in the middle of Port Vell, and Fernando Botero’s enormous cat is perched on the Rambla del Raval.

Sagrada Familia Barcelona Spain

Trover photo by Sandy Smith

See the famous Sagrada Familia

Less than $20
La Sagrada Familia is famous for two things: first, for being a quirky, iconic church designed by Antoni Gaudí, and second, for always being under construction. Started in 1882, the church has never been completed. Some say it’s Gaudi’s best work of art. Its vaults reach as high as 230 feet, its Nativity façade and Crypt of La Sagrada Familia are both on the UNESCO World Heritage list, and it has five aisles, spiral staircases, seven chapels where you can go to mass, stained-glass windows, Gothic architecture, images of heavenly angels and even a Sagrada Familia museum. A basic ticket costs 15 euro (about $18), but you can also opt to skip the line with fast-track tickets and a guided tour (available at a discount here).

WHAT TO EAT

In Barcelona, or actually Spain in general, eating is all about sharing good food with people you love—and not breaking the bank to do it. Because good, local food and wine is the norm in Spain, you can eat a lot of it for surprisingly cheap. For added savings, do as the locals do and spend your trip feasting on tapas-style dishes, where you get smaller portions for significantly less money (sometimes free) and can try multiple local dishes at once.

Spanish bocadillos of cured ham

Munch on bocadillos

Between $5 and $10
Spanish sandwiches, or bocadillos, are similar to a sub sandwich. Served on a soft but crispy baguette and stuffed with almost anything, they can function as a meal on-the-go or be served as smaller sandwiches and enjoyed tapas-style. Get them filled with Spanish chorizo sausage, cured meats, tuna, shrimp, pork or even a Spanish omelet. Unlike sub sandwiches, however, Spaniards are not big on condiments, so other than a couple slices of tomato, it’s just the good stuff.

Family eating Paella and seafood. Top view.

Paella is life

Less than $20
Paella is an art, and in Spain, it’s a popular one at that. Originating in the Valencia region, this enviable rice dish is prepared in a large shallow pan and filled with vegetables, paprika and saffron. Then add seafood, meat or just vegetables; some popular varieties have shrimp, clams or even rabbit. Preparing it is an all-day affair, and no matter what you get, portions are huge and designed for two or more to share.

Tourists in Barcelona eating tapas in a typical restaurant in the Barri Gotic. On the table a travel guide of Spain and a smartphone.

Top it off with tapas

Free to $5
There are fried potatoes… and then there are patatas bravas. The latter of the two is a Spanish specialty. For this dish, potatoes are cut into wedges, fried to perfection and served tapas-style with house-made spicy sauces or creamy aioli. You’ll also want to try the croquetas. These hot, oblong-shaped treats are worth every calorie. They’re breaded rolls typically stuffed with chicken, jamón Iberico and cheese, and are great as tapas, an appetizer or even just as a “siesta” snack. For a guided taste of these delicious snacks, sign up for an tour like the Barcelona Evening Food Tour, which focuses on traditional Catalan tapas. Many bars offer free tapas during happy hour (provided you drink).

Spanish sliced cheese with nuts

Get your jamón—and Manchego on

Less than $15
Coming from the La Mancha region of Spain, Manchego is a hard, aged sheep’s milk cheese, and you’ll find it on most charcuterie boards in Spain. Also on that board? One of Spain’s most delectable products: Iberico ham (or jamón Iberico, as the locals call it). This is Spain’s version of prosciutto, and it’s made from Black Iberian pigs that are only fed acorns.

Family having fun and toasting with drinks at dining table

The vino is fino, and totally affordable

Less than $5 per glass
Spanish wines are renowned the world over, so you’ll want imbibe in its many varietals—Rioja, Ribera del Duero, Penedés, Navarra, Rueda, Cava, Rias Baixas, Jeréz and La Mancha. Expect a lot of full-bodied red blends, like Tempranillos, and sparkling white wines that pair with almost any tapas. Added bonus? Because wine is so prominent, a glass is usually cheaper than a bottle of water. It’s not uncommon to see a glass of local wine on a Barcelona restaurant menu for less than 3 euro ($5), or even a bottle for around 8 euro ($10). Tours of local wineries are available, including the Montserrat & Codorníu Winery Small-Group Tour, which explores the winery, as well as the pilgrimage site of Montserrat monastery where you’ll listen to an angelic boys’ choir before being treated to a glass of the locally made vino.

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Tagged: City, Destinations, Types of Travel

Jennifer Agress

Jennifer Agress

Jennifer is a Miami-based writer and editor who loves good food, a better martini and traveling every chance she gets. She writes about luxury travel, dining and lifestyle for Travel Weekly, Private Air Luxury Homes, Preferred Travel, Modern Luxury Weddings, INDULGE Miami, Thrillist, NUVO Magazine and more. When she’s not on a plane, she’s likely plotting her next adventure—follow @JenniferAgress on Instagram to see where she lands.

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