The throbbing heart of Catalunya, Barcelona has always been a super-cool city, with legendary nightlife to match. But what will $10 (€8) get you in the home of Gaudi? Answer: some far more interesting sights than your average tourist trail!
Check out these tips from fellow backpackers, and then follow our pick of things to do…
1. Entrance to the Miro Museum (€8)
Most people head straight to the Picasso Museum, which is excellent, but always overcrowded, with lines forming hours before it opens. Abstract artist Joan Miro was fiercely Catalan, and in 1975 he founded his own museum in his home town. The Fundació Joan Miró holds more than 11,000 examples of his work – a surreal collection of bright paintings, colourful sketches and sculptures.
2. The Other Cathedral (€5)
The architect Antonio Gaudi has definately left his mark on the city, and his unique and highly individual designs can be spotted all over Barcelona. Tourists flock to his unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia. It’s pretty expensive to go inside the temple, so why not check out Barcelona’s real Cathedral for less?
In the heart of the atmopsheric Gothic Quarter, Barcelona Cathedral dates from 1298, and the cavernous cloisters inside are breathtaking. Despite the imposing Gothic facade, the cathedral is actually a fascinating blend of architectural styles, each dedicated to a period in Spain’s religious history.
3. The Beach
With all that art and architecture, it’s easy to forget that Barcelona has a great beach. It’s free to wander along the front, but you could make a day of it at the Club Natació Atlètic-Barceloneta (Plaça del Mar). This pool/health club is right on the beach, and for about €8 you get access to the indoor and outdoor pools, fitness center and a private sun deck. For an extra €5 you can access the spa room with salt water pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam rooms…
4. Ping Pong
Barcelona is blessed with good weather for most of the year, and the city is filled with parks and open spaces for enjoying the great outdoors. A recent trend is to play a game of ping-pong in the afternoon, and there are ping pong tables dotted around the city center. Buy a ping-pong set (around €3-5 for 2 rackets and a ball) from one of the supermarkets and join the locals in Calle Floristes de la Rambla, a pretty shaded square behind La Boqueria market!
5. Tapas and Vermouth
If you want to eat well on a budget, the ‘Menu del Dia’ is always a safe bet at most Barcelona restaurants, where you can often get several courses and some wine for around €8-10.
But for truly Catalan fare, get yourself to a Tapas Bar. To really impress the bartender, order Vermouth, a sweet fortified wine popular with the locals. Avoid the tourist traps in the city center and head to The Electricitat (Calle Sant Carles, 15) in La Barceloneta, an old fishing neighborhood. This noisy bar has bags of character, with dark wooden tables, wine barrels lining the walls, and old waiters joking with the customers. You can get a plate of tapas and some Vermouth for €7.
6. Unusual museums
Most of the main sights in Barcelona charge a hefty entrance fee, and that’s before you’ve added all the extras like audio guides and souvenirs. Far cheaper are the quirkier museums that most people never knew existed in Barcelona.
For €5 you could visit the Perfume Museum (Passeig de Gràcia, 39) or the Museu del Calçat (Museum of Shoes, Pl. Sant Felip Neri, Barri Gòtic). If you run out of cash, check out the ghoulish Museum of Funeral Hearses (Carrer Sancho d’Avila, 2, Poble Nou) for free!
7. Boqueria Market
Located just off the Ramblas, this market is arguably one of the most beautiful in the world. Its endless array of colourful stalls a feast for the senses. This foodie paradise has been a local favourite since medieval times, and is also one cheapest places to eat in the city.
You might not be able to take the fresh fish home, but you can sample the homemade pizza and freshly-squeezed juices on the spot, or head to the mini tapas bars for a quick snack. From typical fruit stalls to vendors selling edible bugs, you could buy a feast for that €8 – stock up on local delicacies Jamon Iberico and Manchego cheese.
8. A Chocolate Feast (€4.50)
We realise alot of our tips are food related, but we aren’t just being piggish – there are so many good things to eat in Barcelona it would be a shame to miss out! Start off at the Museu de la Xocolata, or Museum of Chocolate (Comerç, 36, 08003). Highlights include a recreation of Gaudi’s Parc Guell dragon, crafted entirely out of chocolate.
Afterwards treat yourself to a typically Catalan sweet treat – hot chocolate with churros (light doughnuts dusted with sugar). Hot chocolate in Barcelona is incredibly dark, thick and bittersweet – you’ll need to eat it with a spoon. Try Cacao Sampaka (292 Consell de Cent) or Escriba (La Rambla 83, 08002) – a cup will cost around €3.
9. A Cable Car up Montjuiic Mountain
For stunning city views, swallow your fear of heights and take a cable car ride to the top of Montjuiic Mountain. Suspended across two 400m high towers, it’s one hell of a ride. Take the newly renovated Telefèric de Montjuïc, starting at Castell, and a one-way ticket will cost you €6, a round-trip €8.
10. An Alternative Night Out
Nights out in Barcelona are typically wild, with most clubs really kicking off around 2am. But with top clubs come crazy cover charges – some are around €15. For cheaper evenings out, stick to live music venues – The Big Bang Bar (Botella street 7, El Raval) is an indie dive bar that puts on live gigs for €3. Or try Jazz Sí, (Calle Requesens, 2, El Raval) a great venue that’s always crowded. Entrance is €5, and there’s something on every night, from jazz to flameco.
If you’d rather stick to a bar crawl, try Casa Almirall (Carrer de Joaquín Costa 33, El Raval) where an Absinthe is €4.50, or Shango Bar in the Gothic Quarter (Carrer d’En Groch 2). Beers are €2.50, there’s a cocktail happy hour from 9-11pm, and salsa lessons from 11-12pm!
Any more cheap tricks for Barcelona we’ve forgotten? Let us know below…
Thanks to Oh-Barcelona.com, Javi Vte Rejas and icanteachyouhowtodoit for the excellent images from Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at the time of publication according to the Creative Commons License.
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