A Budget-Friendly Barcelona Itinerary

A Video version of our itinerary
At the Magic Fountain at Montjuïc

I took a trip to 4 countries in May of 2018 after graduating with my Master’s Degree from the University of Michigan. It was a way for me to celebrate and also a way to start pursuing my passion for traveling. The first stop on my trip was Spain. A place I have wanted to visit for over 7 years after taking a Spanish class about the beauty of the country. I could not visit all the places in Spain I wanted to but I still got the opportunity to visit Barcelona which was top on my list. 

We flew out of Chicago and flew into London and then took a flight from London to Barcelona. In total our flights there were around $250. Flying out of Chicago instead of Detroit saved us a lot of money and so did flying into London first because it was the cheapest Europan country to fly into. Generally, once you are in Europe flights between European countries are always super affordable.

I stayed in an Airbnb for 3 nights and it cost us a total of $190.67. We had access to a kitchen, Wi-fi, a bedroom with a lock and two bathrooms. There were others staying in different rooms in the Airbnb but we barely saw them. That is a total of $63/night for two people, so roughly $31 per person. I honestly think this was a bit too pricey because we could have just found a hostel for half of this price. Many hostels also provide free breakfast. So if you are planning a trip to Barcelona check out hostelsworld.com to find a hostel. Please make sure you read the hostel’s reviews thoroughly before booking.*

*Some hostels could be a nightmare, I know from experience, so please read the reviews.

The one benefit from the Airbnb was that we got the opportunity to cook breakfast every day.

To get around, we ended up walking a lot! By a lot, I mean A LOT!!!!! On our first full day, we took over 25,000 steps. Besides walking we also utilized public transit, mainly the bus and the metro. We bought Hola Barcelona Travel Cards for 48 hours. These allow you to use the bus, metro, train, and other public transit for an unlimited amount of rides within a 2, 3,4, or 5-day period. A 2-day card cost us 15 euros per person. Trust me it is definitely worth it. We did not have to use any taxis, or Ubers while we were there because of these cards. You can also use this card to get to the airport from the city center. To buy your Hola Card, click here.

The maps on our phones came in handy because they work offline. Map.me is an app that allows you to download an offline map for any city. ** Citymapper is an app that helps with public transportation in major cities. You type in where you want to go and it will give you the quickest and cheapest route to get there using public transportation or ride share. This app also works offline.

**You must download the map before you lose access to Wi-Fi.

The great thing about Barcelona is that depending on what street you are on there might be open Barcelona Wi-Fi. It was not necessarily the fastest but it allowed me to upload stories to Instagram and also get in contact with my family.

Below is an outline of our itinerary:

The first place we visited was Montjuïc. This place was gorgeous and it gave us a great view of the city and it was nice to start our morning with a long walk up and around the hill. The main attractions are really the castle and the museum. There is also a fountain and lots of greenery and of course the view of the city from the very top. Instead of walking, you can take a cable car to see the castle of Montjuïc or you can take the number 150 bus that takes you to the castle as well. The cable car gives you a fantastic panoramic view of the city. We did not buy tickets for the cable car because we were trying to be as frugal as possible.

Buy tickets for the cable car.   

Picture taken in front of the Montjuïc Museum

This was on the way to Parc de la Ciutadella, so we decided to stop by for a photo op. This arch is similar to arches in other cities like Arc de Triomphe in Paris and Soldiers and Sailors’ Arch in New York.

Arc de Triunfo de Barcelona

Parc de la Ciutadella is considered one of the greenest places in the whole city. It has a lot of attractions like a fountain, zoo, a lake where you can rent a boat, zoology and geology museum, Castell dels Tres Dragon building and more.

This place was so beautiful and super relaxing. There were people playing music so this was a great place to have a picnic.

So I forgot the name of the restaurant we went to but all I remember was that it was by the water and we got some Paella. A trip to Spain is not complete without getting some Paella. Paella is a rice dish from Valencia filled with meat, seafood and or vegetables. It was so delicious! So please find a restaurant and get some Paella. I have listed a few restaurants with some great Paella below.

Xiringuito Escibà
7 Portes
Can Reixas
Restaurante Arume
Gaudim Restaurant
Catalonia Restaurant
Micu Maku
Guell Tapas

The Sagrada Familia is a large uncompleted Roman Catholic church designed by Antoni Gaudí. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can go inside the church for around 17 Euros. To buy tickets, click here.

I did not go inside but I did get to see the outside and it was so beautiful.

Sagrada Familia

We met up with a few friends at Bunkers del Carmen. From here you can see a view of the entire city. Here we saw some many people having picnics, drinking wine and chatting with friends. The best time to go here is right before sunset, so you can actually see the sunset at the top. It is gorgeous. The only downside of this site is the long walk to actually get there. It took us over 45 minutes from Sagrada Familia and it is basically all uphill, so wear comfortable shoes. But it is only a 16-minute drive if you just want to opt for a Taxi.

A view from the top of Bunkers del Carmen

After this, we walked back down and by this time it was already dark so we got Tapas and Sangria from a Tapas bar. Tapas are appetizers in the Spanish cuisine and they can be served hot or cold. Not only are they delicious but they are also super cheap. We stayed in the bar for most of the night and talked to a few locals.

The rest of the list was from our second day exploring the city. But if you plan strategically enough, you can get this whole itinerary done in a day.

My boyfriend loves football so throughout the time we were in Europe we made sure to visit any football stadium we could. While in Spain, we visited Camp Nou (FC Barcelona’s Stadium). Going inside the stadium cost money so we just stayed on the outside and took pictures. If you do want to go inside and do a tour, you can click here to buy tickets.

Camp Nou

Las Ramblas are pedestrian streets in Barcelona that are surrounded by trees, shops, restaurants, and cafes. There are a lot of performers as well. If you’ve ever seen Cheetah Girls 2, they were in Las Ramblas at the beginning of the Strut video. But in their video, there was barely anyone there which is super inaccurate cause Las Ramblas was super crowded. There were other things inaccurate about the Strut video because they went from Las Ramblas to Monjuic and to Parc Guell like they were all next to each other, and let me be the one to tell you they definitely ARE NOT. Las Ramblas to Montjuic is at least a 45 min walk but I guess that is the power of movie magic.

We got ice cream at a place called Gelats Maximum Rambles (they have amazing vegan ice cream) but after that, we ended up leaving because it was way too crowded and being there gave me a lot of anxiety. But right before we left we actually ended up seeing Dwight Howard. 

Finally, we got the opportunity to go Park Güell, which is also one of Gaudi’s works. There is a part of the park that you do not have to pay for but it does not have the tiles on the building or structures. But if you want to see the famous structures with the tiles then you will need to buy a ticket to get in. This is one of the only places we actually bought a ticket for. I think it was worth it for the IG pictures and also, of course, the beauty of the tiles. But there were way too many people inside.

To purchase a ticket for Park Güell, click here.

Park Güell

I loved Barcelona because I got to fulfill my dream of being a Cheetah girl and going to all the places they went to. Besides that, it was also super walkable, with great public transportation and Wi-Fi and it was extremely clean. Barcelona is a big city and there is so much more to do than what we did! Below is a list of other things you can do while you are there.

Casa Milà
Casa Batlló
La Boqueria
City Beach
Barcelona City History Museum
Palau de la Música Catalana
Fundació Joan Miró
Museu Picasso

Thanks for reading!


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Bisi is a data engineer by day and freelance writer and travel blogger by night. She enjoys exploring the world on a budget. She hopes to visit every country in the world especially all 54 African countries. She is happiest when she is eating well-seasoned food.

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