Barcelona is one of the best cities in Europe to visit for any backpacker on a budget. There’s so much to look at on the streets, you can pick up tapas for cheap and the beach, combined with the weather, gives hours of free entertainment.

Getting around on the Barcelona Metro keeps the cost low, or you can just get lost walking the streets of the Gothic Quarter. Here’s how to see Barcelona on a budget.

Free things to do in Barcelona

Begin your cheap trip to Barcelona by taking a free walking tour with Sandemans. Weaving through Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter and El Borne you’ll get history, insight into Catalonian culture and insider tips. It’ll help you understand the layout of the area a bit better, and give you the chance to clock the best shops and bars for later too.

All that walking requires some downtime and you can find that at the city’s beach in Barceloneta. Relaxing on the sand is free, and the area has some of the most cool and quirky things to see in Barcelona, including well-known sculptures Peix Olímpic Frank Gehry and L’estel ferit.

La Sagrada Familia Barcelona

Back in the city centre, walk up Passeig de Gracia to take in some of architect Antoni Gaudí’s greatest work. He’s a Barcelona legend, having designed many of the city’s most loved buildings, including Casa Batlló and La Pedrera, both found on this main strip. From there, walk along Carrer de Provenca to see the infamous La Sagrada Familia in all its glory. Work started on the church in 1886 and is predicted to finish in 2026, although I’ll believe that when I see it.

More free things to see in Barcelona include climbing Tibidabo Mountain or heading to Placa Espanya for the Magic Fountain Light Show in the evening. Take a few cans or a bottle of wine and enjoy the show.

Keeping it cheap (under €15)

Barcelona on a budget doesn’t mean never spending any money – alongside the free attractions there are plenty of things to see for a small amount.

Parc Guell is another of Gaudí’s creations a botanical garden that offers walks with impressive views over the city below. Much of the park is free to access, but if you want to see Gaudí’s famous mosaics at its centre you’ll need to pay €7.

Parc Guell view Barcelona

From one viewpoint to another, you can take a cable car up Montjuic hill for €11.25. Aside from getting great photos on the way up, you’ll then be treated to cool views from the top, as well as the medieval Castle of Montjuic.

If you’re looking to escape the city, a train from Passeig de Gracia to the seaside town of Sitges costs only around €8. The 40-minute journey will bring you to a much calmer beach area with cobbled streets and cute boutiques. While shops are usually out of bounds for budget backpackers, lounging by the beach and exploring the town certainly isn’t.

Cheap places to eat in Barcelona

One of the main cost factors on any trip is food. Keeping that belly full day and night means money, but when you visit Barcelona there are plenty of options to keep it on the cheap side.

Barcelona burrito cone

Known for their fresh bread and sweet pastries, Forn de Pas bakeries are everywhere in Barcelona. Stop by your nearest to grab a morning croissant. At lunchtime, it’s all about La Boqueria: located just off Las Ramblas, this food market has been around since the 1200s and is packed full of fresh food. Nibble some free samples and indulge in some fruit, meats and bravas for a relatively cheap price. For an al fresco option, take your purchases to the Parc de la Ciutadella, where you can row it all off on the lake afterwards for €6 per two people.

If you prefer more of a sit-down affair, you’ll find 100 Montaditos in a few locations like Rambla de Catalunya and Placa Urquinaona. These traditional eateries serve Spanish-style mini sandwiches in a variety of flavours for less than €2.50 each.

Cheap places to stay in Barcelona

Sitting at the top of Passeig de Gracia, Casa Gracia hostel is in a perfect location for access to the more traditional Gracia district, while also within easy reach of the likes of Las Ramblas. There are dorm rooms starting at €55 a night, which includes free breakfast, 24-hour beverages, WiFi and towels. Other great hostels with a lower nightly price include Placa Reial’s Kabul at €22 or The Garden House Hostel for €16.

If Airbnb is more your thing, expand the search to the districts of Horta, Poble Sec and Sant Antoni. All are within walking distance of Barcelona’s attractions but, being a little bit further out, prices dramatically reduce.

Getting around Barcelona

Barcelona Metro sign

Barcelona is not too big a city, so most attractions are within walking distance (we recommend pre-loading a map on your phone). If you’re not able to walk longer distances, Barcelona Metro and the bus network are your friends. You can purchase a T-10 ticket from any station for under €9.95, giving you ten trips on either Metro or bus to anywhere in the city.

There’s no Uber in Barcelona, but taxis aren’t too expensive for short journeys. Just avoid them for airport runs as they can end up costing €35. Take the Aerobus from Placa Catalunya for €5.90 or opt for the train leaving from Passeig de Gracia every half hour for around €4 instead.