Budget Friendly Things to Do in Barcelona

Admire Gaudí

La Sagrada Familia

La Sagrada Familia

You don’t have to go inside many of his buildings to appreciate them. People crowd on Passeig De Gracia outside Casa Milà ‘La Pedrera’. The city feels dedicated to his work, always popping up. Go to Parc Güell and you can see an elevated view of the city or listen to street musicians. And you can’t forget Sagrada Familia. Inside or out, you can marvel at his achievements that have lasted centuries. Take a picture of before and after the cranes come down, the cathedral-like building still not complete.

Peruse the Mercat de la Boqueria

Chocolates at La Boqueria

Chocolates at La Boqueria

Off of La Rambla, this market is a farmer’s market that demands all your senses and takes them to the limit. As soon as you walk in, stands are painted in bright colors with chocolates and candies and fruits and vegetables. Take a journey to the back and look at all the fresh varieties of seafood. It may be full of other tourists that have been told to take a visit, but it’s worth it to experience local Catalan culture.

Wander Barri Gòtic

Gothic Quarter Alleyway

Gothic Quarter Alleyway

The Gothic quarter of Barcelona feels like a walk back to the very distant past of medieval times. The stone and tight alleyways are full of hole in the wall shops and eateries that are even fun to pass. It’s confusing like a maze, but enjoy the possibility of getting lost.

Do the Beach

Sand Sculpture at Barceloneta Beach

Sand Sculpture at Barceloneta Beach

Part of the draw of Barcelona is its perfect weather. Why not take advantage of it with the beaches at the edge of the city? Just take off your shoes and walk on, enjoying the options of beach bars and refreshments.

Get off at a Random Metro Stop

Barcelona Metro Map

Barcelona Metro Map

Barcelona has a great metro system and makes it easy to follow and connects to anywhere. It makes the city less daunting and accessible. Get off somewhere you are unfamiliar with and maybe you can find your own special something. Although the metro isn’t technically free, a one trip ticket is only about 2 euros.

Hike up Montjuïc

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya (MNAC) at Plaça d'Espanya

Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya (MNAC) at Plaça d’Espanya

All of Plaça d’Espanya offers plenty to do. The Magic Fountain at night has showings of a colorful water show. Or climb up the steps and see another aerial view of the city. Keep wandering back and you can see part of the Olympic village architecture and even catch some of Barcelona’s other famous son, Joan Miró, and a museum of his art.


What are some of you favorite, free things to do in Barcelona?

Souvenirs to Bring Back Home from Barcelona

Catalan Cava

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Similar to French Champagne, but generally cheaper, the most well known brands of Cava are Freixenet and Codorniu. From Barcelona, there are a variety of wine and cava day tours you can choose from online if that is that type of thing that interests you.

Barça Gear

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Jerseys, socks, shorts, hats, bags. You name it, you can buy it with the FC Barcelona logo on it. Barça gear makes the perfect gift for the soccer fan, or just general sports fan in your life. If you’re not really into wearing sports paraphernalia, like me, you can always try to score tickets to the big game and keep your tickets as a memento. If that’s not enough, check out the FC Barcelona Museum located next to Camp Nou.

Unique Holiday Paraphernalia

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The elfish looking thing pictured above is the Caga Tío (Cacka-tee-oh), translates to “poo log” and I guess can be considered the Catalan equivalent to Santa Claus. The idea behind the Caga Tío is kind of long and complicated, so to make it short the log is kept by the children of the household throughout December. They hit it with a stick and sing to it so that it will defecate Christmas presents. Sounds fun, right?

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The Queen on her throne, if you will, is another holiday tradition referred to as caganer (as if one poop reference wasn’t enough for one holiday). These porcelain poopers come in many forms, from the more traditional peasant to the Queen of England or Obama. They place these somewhere in the nativity scene for the children to find (maybe pooping in the manger?). It’s seen, though, as a sign of good luck rather than of disrespect to any certain religion.

Camper Brand Shoes

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Camper shoes are pretty cool. I had never heard of them or seen them until visiting Barcelona and, in fact, I’m not really sure if they’re considered cool in Barcelona. What I do know is that, whether they’re considered cool or not, they must be pretty comfortable or something because they are literally everywhere in the city. And even though I only have women’s shoes pictured they make shoes for men too!

Porró

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Porrons are glass wine pitchers that, to me at least, kind of look like a mix between an Erlenmeyer flask and a watering can. I don’t know too much about their anatomy except that the top can be sealed with some type of cork and the spout is tapered so that the wine will have minimal contact with the outside air. The goal is to get the wine in your mouth and not all over your face like the guy pictured, but whatever works.

Books and Roses

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If you happen to be in Barcelona on April 23rd, you’ll be lucky enough to experience La Diada de Sant Jordi (St George’s Day). It’s celebrated similarly to how we might celebrate Valentine’s Day in the U.S. Thousands of stands line Las Ramblas as well as other streets selling books and roses. Historically men gave women roses and women gave men books, but a mutual exchange of books or roses is also common.

WARNING: Don’t Buy The Sombreros!

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If you visit Barcelona, the chances are that you will walk down the famous Ramblas as least once. Not only is this crowded webbing of streets creeping with pickpockets, but it’s also lined with vendors that sell some really weird or just generally crappy stuff. Most of them sell things like Gaudí magnets, which is fine if you’re, say, a magnet collector, but the most annoying thing that they sell on Las Ramblas are the SOMBREROS. Like think about it. Not only are sombreros not Catalan, they’re not Spanish either. They’re a Mexican hat and Barcelona isn’t anywhere near Mexico. So, don’t be the fool walking down Las Ramblas in a sombrero.

So let me know…What do you think are the best souvenirs/gifts from Barcelona?

The Definitive Ranking of Barcelona’s Grocery Stores

7. Dia

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Dia kind of reminds me of a gas station convenience store in that it’s fine to grab a candy bar and a beer there, but you probably want to head to a bigger market for your eggs, milk, cheese, etc. Undoubtedly the cheapest on the list, you get what you pay for with Dia.

6. Carrefour

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I don’t know what I have against Carrefour. Coming from the US, you’d think I’d love it since it’s practically a Super Walmart, but I don’t know it just doesn’t seem to fit.

5. Suma 

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Some might argue that Suma and Carrefour should be switched on this list, but I have  developed a soft spot for Suma given that I lived above one for 6 months. Similar to 7/11 in the US, I spent many nights grabbing a bag of these bad boys on my way back from night class from my friendly Suma cashier:

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4. Mercadona

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I went to school near a Mercadona and as obnoxious as it was to lug my groceries on the metro, I loved this place because it had like a giant conveyor belt that transported you between floors and it played this crazy jingle on repeat:

3. Bonpreu

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Something always seemed so fancy about Bonpreu… like even the name. It was just like a really bougie Mercadona. Each Bonpreu has two separate entrances: one for regular shopping and one for their fancy bakery. They even have a gluten free section, so I guess this place is comparable to a Wegmans and I like Wegmans.

2. El Corte Inglés

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So what you’re looking at is a department store with I think 7 stories. Pretty much every floor sells something different and in the basement is an amazing grocery store. It’s pretty pricey, but it also has an international foods section, pretty upscale meats and cheeses, and other impressive options.

1. Mercat de La Boqueria

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It would probably be a crime not to put this at #1. Although it’s closed on sundays, this huge public market off of Las Ramblas has an extremely diverse selection of fresh foods that you will have trouble finding elsewhere. I had my first experience with dragon fruit here!

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