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Budget-Friendly Barcelona: Top Tips to Save on Your Trip

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If you’re traveling to Spain, be sure to check out the capital city of Catalonia. But, don’t travel there unprepared. Sure, it’s considered a modern, industrialized, country, but there is a lot to see and the merchants there can haggle you right out of a deal.

Travel Smart

Use websites like Hipmunk to find great deals on flights, hotels, and other travel accommodations once you’re in Spain. Travel is important, because taxis are expensive. So, you’ve got a few options.

You can rent a vehicle or take public transport. For hotels, you’re probably better off skipping the tourist traps and staying in a hostel or renting an apartment. Of course, some hotels are cheap, you just have to shop around.

Get Your Own Apartment

Apartments are a big deal in Spain, and they’re getting cheaper by the minute. Hostels are trendy, and it’s the traditional way for travelers to save money. Basically, a hostel is like a community apartment. Everyone is crammed into one room and you sort of just sleep there and do nothing else.

Hostels are cheap, which is their main selling point. But, they’re only cheap when you consider the cost of sleeping. When you consider total living costs, they’re actually pretty expensive. With an apartment, you get your own little kitchen and you know what that means – you can cook your own food.

Cooking “at home” of course will save you a lot of money, more money than you would save by staying at a hostel or hotel and eating out every day.

La Boqueria market is the place to shop for local ingredients, but there are also chain stores around if you want to shop somewhere more familiar or “big box.”

Go Big At Lunch

Eat a huge lunch. Seriously. Go nuts. Unlike many parts of the world, lunchtime is the main event in Spain. Dinners are usually light and sometimes rather expensive. Keep an eye out for small restaurants or cafes that offer set menus and prices.

You shouldn’t have too much trouble picking up something to eat for between €12 and €15. This is so much cheaper than what you’ll ever get at dinner. When dinnertime does roll around, just snack on tapas and keep drinking. That’s what the locals do. And, even though you’re not in Rome, the cliche still applies.

Drink A Lot Of Vino

So, there’s one thing about Spain that’s really cool and it’s that the drinking culture is really relaxed and open. The police don’t necessarily like seeing your drink in the streets, but if you’re not bothering anyone you’re not going to bother you.

You can pick up cheap beer, like Estrella Damm for about €1 each or a bottle of vino for €4 and keep yourself happy all night long.

Use The T10 Ticket

Don’t use taxis. No really. They’re expensive. The metro and train systems are super reliable and cheap. A T-10 ticket costs €8, and will give you 10 rides on the metro or bus. That gets you into the city where you belong and, more importantly, it gets you out when it’s time to leave and you don’t have to set money aside for taxi fare and a tip.

When you’re going through the turnstiles, don’t be surprised by people who slip in behind you when you’re getting on the train. It happens all the time. You won’t get into trouble for it though (as long as you’re not obviously aiding and abetting). Just let them do their thing and when they get nipped, it’ll be on them, not you.

Just make sure you watch your possessions on the yellow metro line as this is where pickpockets make a lot of money. Don’t be one of their victims.

Skip The Day Trips

Skip day tripping. There are a lot of places to see, but also a lot of costly tourist traps. If you do travel outside of the city, watch the ticket prices and make sure you’re getting a return trip. Prices fluctuate a lot.

Stay Off Of Las Ramblas

Las Ramblas is a strip of shops and touristy stuff. It’s mostly overpriced and inauthentic fare. Yeah, you can try it out if you want, but walk into this with your eyes open – you will pay a lot of money and it will be nothing like what you’ll get anywhere else in Catalonia.

Go To The Club Early

If you’re going out at night, go early. Most places charge a cover, but if you’re in before 11:30pm (which is still early in Spain), you’ll avoid the €15 cover and you can party all night long.


Fiona Moriarty is employed as a content strategist at Hipmunk. She likes to write about what works for her financially. Look for her articles on many money and finance sites.