From Gaudí to picnics: Unlocking the best of Barcelona on a budget

Posted on 15 September 2023 By Tsoku Maela

Barcelona offers an extensive array of activities catering to a wide range of travellers. While it’s often hailed as the “City of Gaudí,” there’s a wealth of experiences beyond this iconic association.

Here we share a list of affordable things you can do in this beautiful city.

Explore the CCCB (Centro de Cultural Contemporanea de Barcelona)

Nestled right beside the contemporary MACBA museum in the Raval district is the CCCB, which stands for Centro de Cultural Contemporanea de Barcelona. Unlike the MACBA, the CCCB boasts a dynamic and ever-changing program. Every weekend, it hosts a variety of different activities, and there’s almost always something intriguing happening here that won’t cost you a dime. To ensure you don’t miss out on art festivals, open-air cinema events, or multilingual poetry slams, keep an eye on their schedule. This place is a treasure trove of ideas for affordable things to do in Barcelona!

Embark on a Montjuic Adventure

Just a brisk ten-minute walk from the city centre, Montjuic is a splendid outdoor haven teeming with Barcelona’s best-kept secrets. Begin your journey at the base of the hill near the Parallel metro station and start your ascent. Meander along the winding roads to uncover not only breathtaking vistas but also museums, gardens, and even a castle. While the Montjuic Castle used to offer free entry until March 2014, the five-euro admission fee is still quite reasonable. However, even strolling around the perimeter without charge offers an impressive experience.

Indulge in Pintxos Delights in Poble Sec

Although tapas are eternally delightful, it’s sometimes refreshing to switch things up. Enter pintxos, originating from the Basque Country. These delectable treats typically consist of slices of bread topped with various Spanish delicacies, all secured with a skewer or toothpick. You can find pintxos at numerous bars and eateries across Barcelona, but consider exploring the unassuming streets of Poble Sec, a neighborhood nestled at the foot of Montjuic, which boasts a burgeoning gastronomic scene. We highly recommend a visit to Rosal 34 (Carrer del Roser, 34). Sit at the bar and savor pintxos at your leisure, but don’t forget to keep those skewers as souvenirs!

Hop on a Bicycle

Barcelona is a superb city to explore on two wheels, and it’s also one of the most economical activities to enjoy. You’ll find countless rental shops that can set you up for as little as five euros per day. Once you’re pedaling through the city, the possibilities are endless. Aside from the obvious coastal routes and visits to various beaches near Barcelona, you’ll discover charming boulevards like Passeig de Sant Joan and Gran Via that are best experienced from the saddle of a bike. Poble Nou, the former industrial district, offers a serene and level terrain, making it an ideal destination for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path cycling adventure.

Discover the Maritime Museum

One of Barcelona’s often-overlooked gems is the Maritime Museum. Housed within the last remaining section of the city’s ancient walls, the museum features a replica of an enormous royal galley and an extensive photography collection chronicling Catalonia’s maritime history. Admission to the permanent collection is a mere 5 euros, and on Sundays after 3 pm, it’s absolutely free. After your visit, unwind with a drink on the tranquil terrace shaded by trees, and you’ll forget that you’re just a stone’s throw away from the bustling Las Ramblas.

Enjoy a Picnic in Ciutadela Park

Ciutadela Park offers an enchanting glimpse into Barcelona’s bohemian spirit. Pack a picnic or, if you’re staying in a hotel, grab some delectable takeaway dishes from Pim Pam Plats (Carrer del Sabateret, 4). Find a sunny spot to people-watch on a leisurely afternoon. Local markets are also excellent places to source fresh, seasonal fruit—ideal for your picnic spread.

Explore Gaudí’s Masterpieces on a Walking Tour

Artist, visionary, architect, genius—these descriptors all capture the essence of the incomparable Gaudí. When in Spain and Barcelona, his creations are must-see attractions, likely topping your list of things to do in this vibrant city.

To embark on a Gaudí adventure, you have a few options. Download the free BCN app from TripAdvisor or stop by any hotel’s front desk to acquire a city map. With these resources, you can craft your own self-guided Gaudí tour.

Alternatively, you can join a guided tour led by a knowledgeable local guide. A quick Google search for “free walking tours Barcelona” will yield numerous results. However, it’s important to note that these tours, while labelled “free,” typically expect a tip at the end, typically in the range of 5-10 euros per person.


Museum Delights If you’re a museum enthusiast planning to explore several cultural institutions in Barcelona, the Articket is an excellent deal. For just €30.00, you gain access to six museums, including the renowned Museu Nacional D’art De Catalunya and the somewhat underrated Museu Picasso. This pass provides a cost-effective way to appreciate the city’s rich artistic heritage.

For more information, visit the Articket website.

Nightlife in Barrio Raval and the Marsella Absinthe Bar Barrio Raval

The former red light district of Barcelona boasts a multicultural and vibrant community. Its narrow, winding streets come alive at night, teeming with bars and restaurants that exude an atmospheric charm. However, it’s wise to remain vigilant, as crime rates have seen an uptick in recent years.

Within the Raval district, not far from Las Ramblas, lies a fascinating piece of history—Marsella Absinthe Bar. Established in 1820, this establishment has reportedly been frequented by legendary artists such as Picasso, Hemingway, and even the contemporary speculative fiction writer George R.R. Martin. The bar’s all-wood interior transports you to another era with its weathered mirrors, dusty decor, timeworn furniture, and no-nonsense owner/bartender. The ambience at Marsella is unlike any other bar, especially after savouring your first glass of absinthe.

Ascend The Three Crosses in Park Güell Park Güell

A Gaudí masterpiece offers a delightful escape within the city. As you wander through the park, don’t miss the Gaudí House, a noteworthy attraction in itself. For panoramic views of Barcelona, make your way to the highest point in the park known as “Tres Crues.” It’s an ideal spot to capture the sunset’s beauty, so bring some snacks, and your camera, and relish the moment.

While the park itself is free to explore, a visit to the Gaudí House-Museum will cost you €7.00.

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