Since Barcelona hosted the 1992 Summer Olympic Games, the Spanish coastal city has morphed into the country’s international gem, attracting visitors from around the world to soak up its unique mix of ocean, food, art and Catalan culture (and, of course, one of the world’s best soccer clubs in the form of F.C. Barcelona).
With a temperate climate all year round and a much more laid-back feel than most other sites on the typical Eurotrip, Barcelona is the kind of place that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go. Of course, many have decided to stay, pushing real estate values higher and adjusting prices to meet tourist demand.
Still, the city by the sea can be unbelievably fun and ridiculously cheap if you know where and when to go. Here are a few ways to discover the jewels of Spain’s hippest city, cheap and deep.
Bike yourself clean
Barcelona has an extensive and easy-to-navigate metro, but why hide underground in this sunny metropolis? With over 125 miles of marked bike lanes and a relatively flat downtown, Barcelona is the friendliest bike city in Spain.
Rent your two-wheeled chariot from Mattia 46 for a whopping five euro (about $6.50) for the day, lock included, and get pedalin’.
Embrace the menu
No, we are not talking about that piece of stiff cardboard. “Menu” is actually a multi-course lunch that comes with a starter, main dish, drink (think sangria or fresh juice) and a dessert for no more than 10 euro.
Get your seafood fix at Perucho near Sagrada Familia, where a lunch of Peruvian fish ceviche, steak and tres leches cake will cost you a 10 spot.
Kick the views old school
Between Montjuïc and Parc Güell, there is no shortage of good views in Barcelona, but the best vista in town surrounds the Bunkers del Carmel. Once used to defend Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, these decommissioned bunkers are now the gathering place for young Spaniards and internationals to watch the sun dip over the hills.
Offering 360-degree views, the ruins have plenty of spots to plop down on and enjoy some vino with new friends, and best of all, the price of admission is as low as it gets: free.
Speaking of Parc Güell …
Barcelona is known for its most famous architect, Antoni Gaudi, and his zany projects around the city, most notably the forever-under-construction Sagrada Familia cathedral.
Skip the craziness downtown and head to his other masterpiece, Parc Güell, in the hillsides behind downtown, for a true taste of Gaudi, and if you want to avoid the 8-euro admission fee (and, more important, the lines), entrance before 8 a.m. and after 6:15 p.m. is free. Que bien!
Welcome to Tapas Town
Who goes to Spain and doesn’t indulge in the finger-food delight that are tapas? Not us.
Nestled in the heart of Plaza del Sol, one of Barcelona’s most popular plazas, Sol Soler is all that and a bag of patatas. Featuring a patatas bravas that will haunt your dreams (picture fried potatoes with garlic aoli and a spicy tomato sauce), this corner restaurant serves up tapas at super-reasonable prices both indoors and out.
When you’re done, grab a beer from a street vendor and soak up the nightlife in one of Barcelona’s most authentic hangout spots. Who needs the club anyway?
Jazz up the night
Embrace Barcelona’s multicultural melting pot at JazzSí Club in the heart of the city. This small-scale concert hall is intimate in every sense of the word, so expect to bump up against some strangers while listening to some of the best music in the city.
Every Thursday night features a live Cuban ensemble that gets the crowd rowdy for 8 euro. Seem a little expensive for this list? Don’t worry — the price of entry includes a drink on the house.
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