There are many ways to enjoy Barcelona, even on a small budget. Exploring the city without spending much is possible and simply strolling through its most colourful neighbourhoods and most famous streets can be a great pleasure. This will give you a fantastic taste of this magical city and allow you to drink in its stunning architecture: both modern and Gothic architecture together with famous works from the 19th and 20th centuries by Gaudí and Miró.

    Barcelona is also a city where you can simply pause on your strolls to enjoy numerous street performances – it's not unusual to see musicians and mime artists. Read on for some ideas on how travelling on a limited budget in Barcelona can save you unnecessary expenses during your visit to the capital of Catalonia.

    1

    Join a free walking tour

    Immerse yourself in the city's history, at no cost

    By joining a free walking tour in Barcelona, you can learn about the city’s origins and visit places off the beaten track. A simple internet search will reveal a large number of companies and organisations that offer free guided tours of the city. Join the one you most fancy and discover Barcelona's history, with all its anecdotes, secrets and fascinating information that would be difficult to find out on your own.

    For example, explore Roman Barcelona from the time of Octavius Augustus and visit architectural remains such as the old city walls, the column of Augustus's temple and the Roman aqueduct. You will also be taken through the narrow streets of the Gothic Quarter and visit the Barcelona cathedral. A tour usually takes 2 or 3 hours, so wear comfortable footwear and prepare to unravel the city's secrets.

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    2

    Gothic and El Born Quarters

    Explore Barcelona's most picturesque neighbourhoods

    The Gothic Quarter is Barcelona’s oldest neighbourhood. Wandering through its streets is like taking a journey back through time – medieval churches, brightly coloured street stalls and restaurant and bar terraces which are full to overflowing in summer. Here you will find the cathedral, Plaza Real, Plaza del Pi and the Museum of the History of Barcelona.

    Crossing over Vía Laietana, you enter the El Born neighbourhood. Despite having an ambience that resembles the Gothic Quarter, El Born is more bohemian. It is full of great restaurants and charming shops and its streets are similarly labyrinthine, although a bit wider and tree-lined. Among its main attractions are the Mercado del Born market and the church of Santa María del Mar, made famous by the best-selling novel Cathedral of the Sea by Ildefonso Falcones.

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    Location: Barcelona, Spain

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    3

    Raval Quarter

    Explore all corners of a neighbourhood that never sleeps

    The Raval Quarter or El Raval is Barcelona's most multicultural neighbourhood that’s on the right-hand side of La Rambla as you walk down toward the sea. Its name comes from the Arabic a-rabal, which means "on the outside", as this area was outside the city walls that used to surround Barcelona. El Raval is a historic, lively and authentic area. This is a neighbourhood that became famous for its numerous art studios and galleries, modern bookshops and Barcelona's two main modern art museums – the MACBA and the CCCB.

    Getting lost as you wander around Raval's narrow streets has its charm as you discover small designer boutiques and bars with plenty of character. You can visit it at any time of day or night, as this is an area that seemingly never sleeps.

    Location: El Raval, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

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    photo by Alain Rouiller (CC BY-SA 2.0) modified

    4

    Montjüic

    Discover the incredible views over the city and out to sea

    At the top of Montjuïc in Barcelona at 175 metres above sea level is a military fort that offers a panoramic view of the city. This is an area that often has free open-air concerts, allowing you to watch the sunset over the city as you enjoy live music.

    As well as the spectacular views out over Barcelona, we recommend you visit the namesake castle, which houses a military museum and temporary exhibitions. You can get to Montjuïc by bus, on foot or by cable car from Avenida Miramar. If you choose the cable car, you will also have some incredible views of the city.

    Location: 08038 Barcelona, Spain

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    5

    Boquería Market

    Explore a haven for gastronomes

    La Boquería is one of the most popular covered markets in Europe and an iconic symbol of Barcelona that you shouldn't miss on your visit to the city. Covering 2,500 square metres, La Boquería stands on the famous La Rambla thoroughfare, with over 300 stands which offer everything from local produce to hard-to-find exotic fare.

    Gastronomes will love this market. As well as fresh fish, meat and fruit and vegetables, you’ll also find stands selling takeaway food from all around the world. It also has bars where you can have a beer and restaurants in which you can enjoy the produce on sale here. However, just walking up and down its aisles you can enjoy the friendly atmosphere.

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    Location: La Rambla, 91, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 8 am to 8.30 pm (closed on Sundays)

    Phone: +34 933 18 25 84

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    photo by böhringer friedrich (CC BY-SA 2.5) modified

    6

    Cathedral of Barcelona

    Admire the pointed arches and other delights in its interior

    Work on Barcelona cathedral in the Gothic Quarter began on 1 May 1298 on the site of a previous Romanesque church. It took 150 years to complete. Around 3 million people visit every year, admiring its treasures. Among these are the splendid Gothic and Baroque altarpieces, the silver-gilt throne of King Martin the Humane from the 14th century, the magnificent ceiling keystones, the stained glass, the choir stalls, the baptistery and the tomb of Saint Eulalia.

    The cathedral offers daily Mass, with Conventual Mass on Sundays featuring the famous Francesc Valls Chamber Choir. If you want to discover the hidden nooks and crannies of this magnificent building, guided tours are also available.

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    Location: Pla de la Seu, s/n, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

    Open: Daily from 8 am to 12.45 pm, 1 pm to 5.30 pm and 5.45 pm to 7.30 pm

    Phone: +34 933 15 15 54

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    photo by Jean-Christophe BENOIST (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    7

    La Ramblas

    The city's most famous street, full of flowers, music and mime artists

    Strolling down Las Ramblas completes every visit to Barcelona. This is one of the city's main thoroughfares and one of its most famous landmarks. The street is always lively, spans 1,300 metres and connects Plaza de Cataluña to the old port of Barcelona.

    At any hour of the day or evening, the street is full of street artists, flower stalls and visitors, many of whom are thankful for the numerous bars along the way where you can simply sit down for a drink and a rest. However, just walking up and down is an incomparable experience. Keep your eyes peeled – spot other notable landmarks such as the Teatro del Liceo, Palacio Güell and Plaza Real.

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    Location: La Rambla, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

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    8

    Font Màgica de Montjuïc

    An internationally known spectacle of light, music and water

    The Magic Fountain of Montjuïc, or Font Màgica de Montjuïc in the local tongue, is situated at the end of the Avenida de la Reina Maria Cristina and is one of Barcelona's most wonderful spectacles. Various nights a week, it is lit up with colours that create a choreographed light, water and music display that enchants everybody. 

    The installation has seven billion different combinations, making this a spectacle that is not to be missed. The fountain was built by Carles Buïgas for the 1929 Universal Exhibition and draws about 2.5 million visitors each year. Come to see the stunning display during your stay in Barcelona for free.

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    Location: Plaza de Carles Buïgas, 1, 08038 Barcelona, Spain

    Open: Hours vary by season

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    9

    Bunker del Carmel

    Enjoy one of the best panoramic views of Barcelona

    Bunker del Carmel or the Carmel bunkers on the Turó de la Rovira hill are an excellent lookout point from which to gaze down on Barcelona in all its splendour. As well as offering a stunning panoramic view and incomparable sunsets, this space also allows you to better understand first-hand an important part of the country's history – the Spanish Civil War.

    This anti-aircraft battery was built in 1938 and installed to defend Barcelona from Italian air force bombers. From here you can go back 80 years in time, although the city skyline has changed an enormous amount since then. Look down on the Sagrada Familia and the Agbar and Mapfre towers and enjoy a spectacular sunrise or sunset, with the Mediterranean as the backdrop.

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    Location: Calle de Marià Labèrnia, s/n, 08032 Barcelona, Spain

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +34 932 56 21 22

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    photo by Barcelonatips (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    10

    Passeig Marítim

    Stroll along the promenade for fantastic sea views

    Strolling along the Passeig Marítim seaside promenade is one of the simplest but greatest pleasures in Barcelona. The approximately 4 km-long promenade stretches from Port Vell to the start of the Rambla del Poblenou. Your walk can begin or end with a paella and, in summer, a dip in the sea.

    You can also cover the distance by bicycle – there are rental companies around. If you start in Port Vell, visit the monument to Christopher Columbus, the maritime museum or take a pleasure boat trip. In Barceloneta, don't miss the Hotel Vela and the Aguas tower. In the Villa Olímpica, or the old Olympic Village, you can see the Golden Fish by architect Frank Gehry and the Mapfre towers.

    Location: 08003 Barcelona, Spain

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