A compelling mixture of imposing Gothic and Art Nouveau style architecture, Spanish cuisine, sangria, sunshine, beaches and chilled vibe make Barcelona one of the greatest getaway cities at any time of year.
Summers here can be humid, but not blistering hot, while winters very pleasant compared to much of Europe. Money wise, Barcelona is still relatively affordable, however the main attractions such as the grand Casa Mila or a visit inside the Sagrada Familia, can set you back over €20 per person.
Budgeting for Barcelona’s attractions
There are so many things to see and do in Barcelona. Depending on your budget, you can spend an entire weekend doing fun things around the city. However, if you are on a tight budget, select the attractions you definitely want to see and stick to those.
For example, both Gaudi apartments, Casa Mila (La Pedrera) and Casa Batllo are extremely expensive to visit. So maybe choose just one of them to go inside and admire the other from the outside.
From our own experience, Casa Batllo always has the longest queues. If you want to skip the line, you can purchase a ticket for €27.50 per person, otherwise it will cost you €22.50 for the regular line.
This Gaudi masterpiece is a joy to look at from the outside so if you are short on cash, you can always appreciate the exterior from the street level for free.
Casa Mila (La Pedrera) on the other hand, is an excellent choice for discovering the life and work of one of the greatest Catalan architects, Antoni Gaudi. Even though sometimes lengthy, the queueing is much faster than at Casa Batllo.
At €20.59 per person you get a sneak peek into the amazing courtyard, the apartments, the attic and the fascinating rooftop maze. It’s very cool up there with fabulous panoramic views of the city and Sagrada Familia. Otherwise, you can budget €34.00 per person for the spectacular night show after dark.
Unless you are a massive Gaudi fan, think twice whether you want to spend €15 for a wander inside the famous Sagrada Familia. Of course, it is an amazing piece of architecture, however, if I am completely honest, the inside somehow doesn’t feel as grand as the exterior. But if you love stained glass windows and complex constructions, go ahead.
Gaudi Park (Park Güell) is a fun place to visit. General ticket costs €7 per person and gives you access to one of the most charming and unusual parks in the city. The park is overflowing with colourful details put together from broken tile shards and gingerbread like houses.
This delightful and slightly elevated zone will also allow you to have a glimpse at the azure Mediterranean sea glimmering in the distance. Take your time to explore this fairy tale like playground and absolutely bring your children here, they’ll love it.
Bear in mind that the access to the Monumental Zone of Park Güell is limited to 400 tickets every half hour due to its size, so it’s best to purchase tickets online prior to your visit. It’s a time saver!
While visiting Barcelona, we highly recommend taking a trip to Montserrat, a fascinating monastery perched on top of the famous mountain overlooking the city. Though you will need to factor in additional cost of around €22-29 per person for a round trip, it’s truly worth it.
Free things to do in Barcelona
You will be hard pushed to be bored in Barcelona even with a limited budget. So don’t worry, there’s plenty free stuff to do and see and that is one of the reasons why Barcelona is such a great destination for a quick break.
Having said that, I can guarantee, you will want to stay here longer and leave the city wanting to come back here again and again. Now lets look at all the cool and free things to do and see in this loveable capital of Catalunya.
Familia Sagrada at night. You will probably be heading to look at the cathedral in the day time, but remember to come back here later in the day and see how stunning it looks at night. Also, less touristy, big bonus!
While Las Ramblas isn’t something to rave about too much, but it’s still a nice pedestrianised street to stroll through while hiding from the sun. Although, due to the high volume of visitors, the stroll might be somewhat stressful.
But there’s something very amazing hiding just across the road from Las Ramblas. It’s a hidden pot of wonderful smells and tastes, La Boqueria, one of the best food markets in Europe.
Pop in here to grab some refreshments or just for a wander. The market is jam-packed with fresh and beautiful produce to suit everyone’s taste. Great photo opportunities too for those into food photography.
Don’t miss the gorgeous Gothic Quarter and its narrow charming streets, beautiful balconies and windows with colourful shutters. For extra ambience come here early in the morning at sunrise to see the city waking up. For a softer light in that picture-perfect snap, come back here at dusk, just before the sunset.
The quarter is especially atmospheric in the darkness, so come here late and have a wander through the winding streets. While the place is buzzing with visitors, make sure you stay alert in the later hours, pickpockets are reported to hang around here, but it’s generally a pretty safe area.
As you wander through the Old Quarter, visit Barcelona Cathedral, a wonderful Gothic style monument open for everyone. The dimmed interior complete with shimmering gold chandeliers and a faded light coming through stained glass windows creates an eerie, but rather enchanted atmosphere.
To escape the city center, head to the green space of Parc de la Ciutadella on the northeastern edge of Ciutat Vella area. It’s a tranquil oasis from the hustle and bustle of the historic centre and has a lot to offer. Enjoy the walk along flower beds and palm fringed promenades or hire a rowing boat if you have a few pennies to spare.
Check out The Cascada on the northern side of the park, sculptures and museums such as the Natural History Museum of Barcelona.
For a chilled walk, head to Port de Barcelona and have a refreshing stroll along the waterfront.
Explore the details of The Arc de Triomf located in Passeig de Lluís Companys in the Ciutat Vella area. It’s a 30 meter tall structure adorned with stone carvings, statues and beautiful ceramic tiles.
It’s not very often you get everything in one city, the culture, great food, and the beach! Barcelona really has it all. Pack your swimwear, a little picnic and you have your afternoon sorted.
Conveniently located just 10 minutes away from the city centre, Barceloneta Beach is great for a fun day out or a chilled sunset walk. A little further away from the centre, towards the Olympic Village, you will find the Icària and Marbella (nudist) Beaches. The Sitges Beach is located approximately 30 minutes outside Barcelona so you will need to either rent a car or catch a train.
Take your time to explore the Parc de Montjuïc and hold your breath while looking down to the magnificent Plaza Espana framed with the Torres Venecianas. A spectacular view that will not cost you a penny!
The Olympic Park is a fun place to visit and relive those emotions of the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. Hear the powerful ‘Barcelona’ by Freddie Mercury as you walk around and see the Paralympic archer Antonio Rebollo lighting the Olympic flame cauldron by a flaming arrow.
Located in the Montjuïc neighborhood, the Magic Fountains is a must see show and it’s free! A wonderful setting with fantastic panoramic views makes this place a highly visited spot in Barcelona. But don’t fear, there’s plenty of space for everyone to watch the spectacular show of light, music and colour.
The fabulous display takes place from Thursday to Sunday in the summer months and every Friday and Saturday during winter, but check the official website for exact timings and any changes, just in case.
Food and drink recommendations in Barcelona
If you find yourself hungry in between visiting La Pedrera and Casa Batllo, a few blocks away you will find Cerveseria Catalana (Carrer de Mallorca, 236, 08008 Barcelona, Spain). It’s a walk-in restaurant, but don’t be put off by the lengthy queue. Just leave your name and be patient, it will be worth it in the end!
We waited for around 20 minutes to get a table and I am so glad we did. Their patatas bravas are to die for. There is no queue for the bar, so if you just want a quick drink and some tapas, don’t hesitate. Although all seats were taken when we were there. But, a busy place means a good place, right?
Another great place and a favourite of ours was Euskal Etxea in the heart of El Born (Placeta de Montcada 1, 08003 Barcelona, Spain). Definitely the best and very reasonably priced pintxos, great atmosphere and friendly staff. During our visit we found ourselves coming back there again and again.
For good times in the evening head to the H10 Montcada Boutique Hotel (Via Laietana, 24, 08003 Barcelona). Enjoy lovely panoramic views and a refreshing cocktail from their Sunset Lounge Bar. The bar is open from 12pm till midnight (April – October).
What are your favourite things to do in Barcelona? Let us know in the comments below…