Barcelona on a Backpacking Budget

barcelona on a budget

Barcelona, The City of Gaudi. Deeply steeped in history, seemingly every nook and cranny of this city has a story to tell.

From its Gothic Quarter to the sparkling structures of the modern waterfront, from the works of the genius architect Antoni Guadi to the boisterous atmosphere of Las Ramblas, Barcelona offers days, weeks, and months of adventure and exploration. We have never visited a city quite like it, and Barcelona ranks among out favorite European cities.

Not everything is all sunshine and roses, however. Barcelona is suffering from being TOO popular, and that has led to soaring prices, congested tourist areas, and some ill will from locals to visitors (read more about that here).

Ergo, you should visit Barcelona during is off-peak months. We recommend April through early may, or the middle of September to the end of October. The weather should be good, and the crowds greatly reduced. If you do go in high season, make sure you get out of the city itself for a few days to explore the beauty of Catalonia. Click this here link for few ideas on where to go.

La Cascada, Parc de la Ciutadella

Although it is not quite as expensive as Paris or London (yet) , Barcelona can be a bit of a bank account leech. Fear not, however. It IS possible to visit Barcelona on a backpackers budget. You just have to put in a little work.

Barcelona on a Budget

Hostels can get pricey even for a single dorm bed, and prices fluctuate according to season.  Expect to pay anywhere from $25.00 – $35.00 for a dorm bed during high season in Barcelona (May- early September). For help finding a great hostel check out our guide to the best hostels in Barcelona.

Webpage Images

For those traveling on a shoestring Workaway, Couchsurfing, and Airbnb can all be tremendous money savers. We recommend checking all those sites before committing to booking a hostel or hotel. If you want to visit Barcelona for more than just a couple of weeks Workaway is a no-brainer

barcelona on a budget

Eating out in Barcelona can be an expensive proposition. Tapas, appetizer sized portions of food, start at around €2.50 ($3.40) and only go up in price depending on location.  It’s very hard to feel like you have eaten a full meal even after a couple of tapas plates and you can quickly lose track of what you are spending to satisfy your hunger. Having access to a kitchen and cooking your own meals will save you tons of money in Barcelona and is therefore highly recommended if you are traveling on a budget. Have a look at the list below to get a grasp on how much things cost in a supermarket.

Taxi rides can sap the typical daily backpacker budget. You have options, however. The Metro is pretty efficient and much cheaper than cab fare. The city has also has plenty of bicycle rental shops for days you feel like you will be on the move quite often. Barcelona is a great city to walk around in, so using your feet is an extremely rewarding option. It might take longer but it is very much worth the effort. Don’t believe us? Take a look at our Barcelona photo gallery for inspiration.

Sagrada Familia

So, after all is said and done, what is the minimum daily expense for travel on a budget in Barcelona?

It’s hard to pinpoint exactly as there are a number of factors, but let’s assume you are Couchsurfing and your accommodations are free. Let’s also assume you can cook breakfast and pack a lunch, do groceries, and that you only have a couple of drinks during an evening out. There are also plenty of FREE things you can do in this wonderful city.

If all of that is true you can easily get by on $35.00 per day per person and see most of what there is to see in Barcelona. If you are not the Couchsurfing/Workaway type, tack on anywhere from $30.00 – $50.00 a day for accommodations.

Want to book accommodations in Barcelona, Spain? We recommend using the following sites:

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We hope the price guide below helps you plan the backpacking trip to Barcelona you always dreamed of!

Conversion Rate: €1.00 = $1.09

Red Price Guide

Budget Accommodations

  • Double Private Room in a Hostel – Starting at €30.00 per person

Budget Eating Out

  • Lunch at Macrobiotics Zen – Huge plate of macrobiotic vegetarian food for lunch €9.00
    ($12.24)
  • Lunch at Local Cafe – Falafel wrap €3.50 ($4.76), chicken kabob wrap €3.90 ($5.30), Vegan hummus Panini €5.00 ($6.80), Cesar Salad with chicken – €5.00 ($6.80), Ham Panini – €3.85 ($5.24)
  • Coffee at a Cafe – €1.20 ($1.63) – €1.50 ($2.04)
  • Menu of the Day at a Chinese Restaurant – €8.05 ($10.95) includes three courses and a drink (wine, beer or soda) or dessert
  • Dinner at Pura Brasa Restaurant – Pasta with Pesto €8.95 ($12.17), Pasta with langoustines €9.50 ($12.92)

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Budget Groceries

  • Baguette from a Bakery – €1.00 ($1.36)
  • Pastry – €0.75 ($1.02) – €1.00 ($1.36)
  • 6 Pack of Eggs – €0.95 ($1.58)
  • Tub of Hummus – €1.50 ($2.04)
  • Bag of Mixed Salad – €1.35 ($1.84)
  • 1 Avocado – €1.80 ($2.45)
  • 1/2 Kilo Carrots – €0.49 ($0.67)
  • Large Onion – €0.27 ($0.37)
  • Head of Garlic – €0.24 ($0.33)
  • Medium Tomato – €0.13 ($0.18)
  • Medium Red Bell Pepper – €0.77 ($1.28)
  • Medium Head of Broccoli – €0.99 ($1.35)
  • Bunch of Asparagus – €1.99 ($2.71)
  • Box of Spaghetti – €0.54 ($0.74)
  • 1 Kilo Rice – €0.71 ($0.97)
  • Large Can of Chickpeas – €0.47 ($0.64)
  • Small Bag of Cherry Tomatoes – €0.89 ($1.21)
  • Jar of Jam – €1.75 ($2.38)
  • Cherries 500 grams – €1.00 ($1.36)

Drinks

  • Bag of Coffee – €2.29 ($3.11)
  • Can of Gingerale from the Grocery Store – €0.66 ($0.90)
  • Can Coca Cola from the Grocery Store – €0.56 ($0.76)
  • Bottle of White Wine from the Grocery Store – €1.60 ($2.18)
  • Bottle of Red Wine from the Grocery Store – €3.30 ($4.49)
  • 12 Pack of Beer from the Grocery Store – €2.88 ($3.92)
  • Power-Ade from the Grocery Store – €0.99 ($1.35)
  • Bottle of Amstel at a Pub – €2.75 ($3.74)
  • Pint of Heineken at a Pub – €4.75 ($6.46)

Activities

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Budget Transportation

  • Metro or Bus – €2.15 ($2.94)
  • Airbus from Airport to City Center – €5.90 ($8.02) per ride
  • Bike Rental – €5.00 ($6.80) per day
  • GoCar Tours – Starting at €59.00 ($80.24) per day

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As you can see, backpacking and budget travel in Barcelona IS possible. It’s certainly not the easiest city in Western Europe to “do on the cheap”, but you CAN visit BCN and not go broke.

Expenses for activities you might want to partake in should not be factored into your daily budget. This becomes overly complicated. An easier way of going about things is to calculate your minimum daily expense and then set aside all left over funds you care to spend into an “activities” pool. Thus on a day when we went to a museum or had a few extra drinks in the evening we did not consider ourselves over budget even though we spent a bit more, we just subtracted it out of the “activities” pool.

You need to remember to set aside some money for things like taxis if you plan on being on the move at night. That aside, the above formula should be a great place to start when budgeting the trip of your dreams.

Also, be sure to check out our article Top Ten Things to Do on a Budget in Barcelona, Spain.

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Disclaimer – We have included a few handy little affiliate links in case any of our readers want to book accommodations. We receive a small commission for any sales made, without any additional cost to you, our dear reader.


6 thoughts on “Barcelona on a Backpacking Budget

  1. Yep, could not agree more, Barcelona is quite expansive, but if you know how to organize yourself you are able to see what you want and spent what you want 🙂 We spent 2.5 days in the city of Gaudi – loved every minute of it

  2. I’ve lived in Barcelona for two years and I have a few things to add:
    1. Airbnb is illegal in Barcelona, so be careful when booking accommodation using this site as the owner is taking a huge risk.
    2. Park Guell is free, but the Gaudi section requires an admission fee.
    3. You can buy a T-10 metro ticket for less than 10 euros, which gives you 10 rides for less than 1 euro each.
    4. There is a street called Carrer de Blai in the neighborhood of Poble Sec. The street is full of small pintxos restaurants (Basque-style tapas) where you can get pintxos for 1 euros and beer for 1 euro. Fun place to eat cheaply. 🙂

    1. Hey Allie, thanks for the feedback, and the information.

      Just to clarify something, however, Airbnb is NOT illegal in Barcelona. In an attempt to crack down on Airbnb rentals a rental owner now has to get a permit to do so, but once they have a permit it is my understanding that the rental becomes legal.

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