We’ve all been there, one minute you’re sipping champagne sangria, rolling out 50’s like there’s no tomorrow. Except, there is a tomorrow and a next day and a day after that. You’re down to using smash and there’s far too much month left at the end of your money.
So what do you do? Sit in your hotel, abuse the free wifi and eat a pot noodle made with the travel kettle in the room, that you were dubious about anyway as you read recently that people have been boiling their knickers in them?
Ignore that last tangent (you can see that this has deeply disturbed me) No, you get out there, armed with screen shots of this post and you explore.
But lets be real, Barcelona as gorgeous as it is, is huge and can be expensive. So unless you want to spend your day hopping on and off the metro, try and explore the areas by neighbourhood.
Your fitbit will be thankful for it and you won’t feel guilty for putting away another Magdalena.
What is the old town and how can you get there?
Old town is one of the oldest and most extensive medieval areas in the whole of Europe. The area itself is split into the following neighbourhoods;
The most famous avenue, in Spain, perhaps even in Europe is “La Rambla” and contrary to the advice given by Ed Sheerhan I will not “La Ramblas, I’ll meet you” because its 0.7 miles long and packed with people 24/7.
Anyway, I digress.
Here’s my guide on how to spend less than 10 euros in the Old town in one day.
You will need the following;
A portable charger (your phone will die, from taking gazillions of pics)
An outfit that covers your shoulders and your knees (bring a scarf if you’re not about that)
A bottle of water
Talcum powder (for the chub rub)
Also, to be able to take advantage of all the freebies, make sure your visit incorporates the first Sunday of the month when the majority of attractions are FREE. Top tip right there, yano.
The Spanish are not early risers, it’s a fact. However, by getting out a little bit earlier, you can get some beautiful pictures before the hordes of people arrive and ruin your Insta-shoots.
Head to We Bistrot on Ronda Sant Pere, It’s at the north of the neighbourhood itself and can be accessed from a short walk from the Arc de Triomf Metro.
We Bistrot opens at 8am on a Sunday so you will be able to pick your seat in this small but stylish café/ restaurant. There is seating outside, wide enough across the street that you can people watch but never feel that your space is invaded. The staff are warm and hospitable, happy to take pictures for you and if your Spanish or Catalan isn’t great, were happy to meet you half way with their English (please do try to order in Spanish or Catalan though) The food and drinks are very reasonable, with a coffee at 1.50, which considering where you are in Barcelona is very reasonable.
They offer vegetarian and gluten free options, with a vegan chocolate cake that is amazeballs but you are on a budget here, so perhaps opt for something that is more filling and will set you up for the day. Remember to order your coffee as “caffe con leche” if you like your coffee with milk. They’ll serve it without as default otherwise.
Cost of Coffee with a sandwich (think a 6 inch sub size) 6 euros
An hour and a half for a coffee and a sandwich seems long, but in Barcelona it’s all about taking your time and enjoying the good life. Mañana, mañana isn’t just a phrase, it’s a way of life.
From here, head to the Arc De Triomf, its approximately a 30 second walk from breakfast and you can’t miss it. Many countries have an arc de triomf, Paris and London spring to mind. However, Spain’s addition is notably different.
It was constructed in 1888 for the universal exhibition held in the park.
It is constructed in the classical shape and is momentous in its proportions but Josep Vilaseca decided to build the arch from brick and decorate it with Spanish Moorish style friezes.
Side note, a frieze is a posh word for a border. It’s used in architecture to describe a broad horizontal band of sculpted or painted decoration on a wall near to the ceiling. Extra side note, the one you had in 1998, from the bang on the door brand, doesn’t count.
If you look closely, then you can see that the frieze overlooking Passeig de Sant Joan shows Barcelona welcoming all nations to Barcelona #feels.
The frieze facing the park depicts the city presenting medals to those who participated in the exhibition. At one end is illustrations of agriculture and industry with the opposite symbolizing commerce and art.
It is a truly breathtaking spot and costs absolutely nothing to marvel at its architecture and snapchat to your hearts content (check your roaming though!)
It is also wheelchair accessible for those who need it.
Take a stroll down through to the Park de la Ciutadella. It is popular with locals and tourists alike. It was once the site to a huge Citadel which was built for Felipe V intended to house soldiers. It was never actually used for this purpose and became a prison during the Napoleonic occupation. The city of Barcelona hated this site and it was eventually pulled down by General Prim in 1878 and the park was given to the city.
Once you are in the park marvel at the entertainers who gather to perform musical styles from across the globe. Head to the bandstand situated near to the fountain. The bandstand was erected in memory of Sonia, a transexual woman who was brutally murdered by neo-nazis for her gender identity in 1991. The city of Barcelona condemned this horrific crime and erected this bandstand in her memory. Not only is this a beautiful and thoughtful thing to do, the bandstand brings true joy as music plays and couples dance salsa in the sunshine. Feel free to participate or just enjoy the beautiful moment.
This again costs nothing, but the bandstand is elevated. The park is wheelchair accessible but the bandstand is not.
Cost absolutely nada.
Right next Sonias bandstand is a magnificent fountain. It was designed by Josep Fontsere assisted by a then young Antoni Gaudi. It isn’t wheelchair accessible but it is very beautiful from ground level. You can spot some of Gaudis beloved dragons in the fountain and it is thought to have been inspired by the Trevi fountain in Rome.
Continue to walk around the park, enjoy the orange groves and the boating lake. There is plenty to see and do in the park for all price brackets but if you want to, you can enjoy this beautiful space without spending a cent.
You may be starting to feel a bit peckish at this point, but wait, you only have 4 euros left (I apologise in advance that I keep typing the word euros, but i’m not sure how to insert the symbol haha) Do not fear! Leave the park and head to La Ribera. Its only a few minutes away and its full of winding streets and brightly coloured murals and art.
Head specifically to Carrer del portou nou, and marvel at the locals hanging their washing from the gorgeous balconies. About 100 years down on the left stop at Forn De Pa Maria Martos. It’s a small little bakery with a whole lot of love.
“Abuela” the Spanish word for grandmother will be working behind the counter. Stopping here for a bite to eat is like stopping at your own nans house. She tells you, that you look hungry, laughs and jokes whilst introducing her family or showing you pictures. I select the ham and cheese pizza which is served whole, its about 4 British slices in size and she wraps it in tin foil, before warning you that it’s hot. The cost of this pizza is 2 Euros and it is out of this world!
You can take up a seat and chat away to “Buela” or sit out the front and people watch. I personally like to keep on the move as there’s so many independent art stores, or beautiful bars to explore and discover.
Money left- 5 euros
Start to walk to the Gothic quarter but take your time, stop to take countless photos. Drift in and out of small independent shops and soak it all up. Barri Gotic, is the heart of Barcelona. It is the oldest part of the city and dates back to 27BC. Placa de sant Jaume is now the seat of Catalonia’s government but was once where the Roman forum stood. This part of the city effortlessly blends the old with the new. The medieval architecture juxtaposed with people on Segway’s, taking in the vibes.
The walk itself is a ten minute walk but with all the shops and stores you will want to discover, I would allow yourself an hour and a half to do this comfortably and at leisure. You can of course do it quicker but remember nothing here is rushed.
Take yourself to Placa de la Seu and marvel at Barcelona cathedral. People often mistake La Sagrada Familia as Barcelona Cathedral but they are two very different things.
Barcelona Cathedral dates back to 1298 when work began on the foundations of a roman temple and a Moorish mosque. The cathedral was not actually finished until the start of last century when the central spire was finished. Free entry in the afternoon begins at 17:15 but by arriving at 16:30 it gives you a chance to take pictures without hordes of crowds and to be at the start of the queue.
It is absolutely breathtaking inside and in the crypt lies the body of St Eulalia who was martyred by the romans in 400 AD.
The heat is cooling off but it’s still buzzing in La Rambla, head to here to take in the atmosphere but do not eat or drink directly on La Rambla. It is ridiculously expensive and the quality of food isn’t the best. This connects Placa de Catalunya to Port Vell. The name comes from when it was once a dried up river bed which in time was turned into convents, monasteries and universities. Enjoy the crowds of people, watch your purse and get caught up in the buzz before heading to Barceloneta.
It is approximately a ten minute walk but with all the buzz allow yourself 30 mins. Stop in a supermarket and pick up a bottle of cava for 2 euros, yes 2 euros and a selection of crisps or nibbles for the remainder of the money. Do not worry about not having a bottle opener, every bar I visited was happy to open it for me. If you’re too shy to ask, cap bottles can be opened using one of the benches or if it’s a bottle with a cork, push down really hard with your thumb until the cork drops in the bottle. Top tip there from my Ozzie girl, Kira- Lee, hey boo!
Head to Barceloneta and stop in a supermarket on the way. Pick up a 2 euro bottle of wine, yes I know that is crazy cheap, but I’ve had worse. Pick up some nibbles and make your way to the water. Depending on the time of the year you will be about half an hour away from sunset.
If it’s a beautiful day you can of course get there earlier, the beach is always free! It’s perfectly accessible for those with wheelchairs, it has toilets and showers in case you do fancy a dip and is quite possibly one of the most vibrant, well kept beaches I have ever been to.
La Barceloneta was once only home to fisherman and those who worked in the metal trade, it was regenerated for the 1992 Olympics which has undoubtedly helped put Barcelona on the map as not only a city break but a beach break also. It is a bustling beach with people peddling all sorts, from drinks, to bikinis, to massages. However it doesn’t cost you a thing to sit there, take in the views and enjoy the sunset.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful. This of course isn’t a definitive guide, there are far more places to see and visit but, if you are on a budget and still want to get a good vibe for this beautiful slice of history than please feel free to share away.
You can of course follow me on all the social medias and that, all your comments and feedback are always gratefully received.
Lot of love,