1. Don’t Lose Yourself
If you arrive on the scene clueless, you’ll have to shell out some serious dough to get yourself on the level. Unnecessary cab rides, tourist trap restaurants and munchies-inducing stress can all be avoided with a little preparation, and with a cornucopia of smartphone apps and maps free to pluck from the trees, your personal navigation budget can be completely eliminated; if you won’t have service, at least make sure you have the latest Google Maps app. AND as a backup, never underestimate the convenience of having a paper map tucked into your wallet/ purse/ satchel/ camera bag.
2. Book an Apartment
Surround yourself in luxury when you stay at Le Meridien, Arts Hotel or Majestic Hotel in the heart of central Barcelona. OR save enough cash to buy a new car and still get an even bigger, better and more convenient apartment to call home. CheapApartmentsBarcelona.com offers dozens of options in great neighborhoods around the city, and if you go in with a few friends the prices really start to limbo. Many units have kitchens for home-cooking, as well as hotel-like amenities (think towels, linens, cable TV) so the only thing missing is that stolid porter in your door waiting for a tip.
3. Hop in the Saddle
Perhaps Barcelona’s devout Catholicism has blessed the city with its great weather, but its awesome bicycle infrastructure is all man-made. Together, these two characteristics make Barcelona one of the world’s most bikeable cities, and you can get anywhere on two wheels most of the year. Besides offering autonomy and speed, cycling can save you the hassle of figuring out transit schedules and #obvy it’s a lot cheaper than taking taxis. Your best budget option for bike rental is, appropriately, BudgetBikes Barcelona, where you can get a slick, Dutch bike for an affordable price.
4. Get Tapas
You’ve probably been to tapas bars in your own country once or twice, so you know what I’m talking about: tiny appetizer-type dishes that seem cheap but once you realize you have to eat 10 of them to get full it really adds up. Not in Spain! The idea is the same, but the price is reduced to absolute nil. Tapas in Spain are meant to keep the stomach lined while you drink, so your tolerance stays up and you can buy more drinks. When an establishment upholds tradition, tapas are free with any beverage. Barcelona, being the tourist center that it is, doesn’t always stick to the “free” idea, but you can still find some traditional strongholds among the sellouts.
5. Save on Sights
You can marvel at the legendary gothic quarter, or the virtuosic Modernista architecture of Antoni Gaudí and his cohorts for free if you’re willing to stay outside, but if you want to truly appreciate the wealth of culture and history that’s developed in Barcelona over the centuries, you might want to opt for the Barcelona Card. Enjoy free unlimited use of public transport (including the airport train), free entry to the city’s best museums and exclusive deals and discounts.