Barcelona remains a huge draw for tourists globally, which is to be expected from a city that boasts fabulous food, atypical architecture and an intense sense of identity. It’s even gone and got itself a beach. For somewhere that has so much going for it, one who asks “Is Barcelona expensive?” or “What will a Barcelona trip cost?” may prematurely jump to the wrong conclusions.
Most places are as expensive as one chooses to make them, and Barcelona is no different, however, the city and its many highlights should be accessible to most and with a bit of work, won’t leave the finances looking Messi…
While Barcelona can be expensive when compared to other Spanish cities, at an average cost of €90-120 per person per day you’ll likely still find it more affordable than many other Western European cities if travelling on a mid-range budget.
So if the capital of Catalonia is a potential destination in the near future, then the following article, broken down into tapas-like servings, should give a general idea as to the average cost of the key ingredients that go into a trip away with a few pointers on how to save a few euros. Prices are in constant flux and can change according to the time of year, or if a particular event is being hosted so do bear that in mind and take the numbers stated as average or ballpark figures.
Barcelona Trip Cost Guide
There are five main factors that one needs to consider when planning an average cost of a trip to Barcelona. These include the cost of accommodation, transport, food, activities, and entertainment in Spain’s second-largest city.
Accommodation Prices in Barcelona
The all-important flights are booked, so the next component to look at when working out one’s Barcelona trip cost is accommodation. With it being such an attractive city for tourists, there are plenty of places to stay — it just depends on how much you’re willing to spend.
The usual candidates are widely available, from hostel beds to rooms in 5-star hotels. Some gems are to be found if one wishes to experience an abode that’s a little more authentically Catalan such as a room in a house or apartment.
Even though the summer months of July and August are the busiest, with so much accommodation available, supply should be able to cope with demand. It’ll probably be better to book that little bit earlier if thinking of visiting during the peak months to widen the pool of potential possibilities. Be aware though that accommodation prices will be higher at this time of year. Using Airbnb as a gauge, prices in Barcelona between May and August rise by roughly 10-12% per night.
Starting with the budget end, the city offers rooms in shared dormitories, some of which such as Fabrizzio’s Petit are very near the city centre, for around €20 a night. It is also possible to get a private room in a hostel for around €70 a night.
For mid-range hotels such as Hotel Condado, expect prices, on average to be in the region of €110 per night for a double room. If one has a bit more to spend or fancies splashing out on somewhere more high-end such as Room Mate Anna, then expect to say goodbye to approximately €200 (and beyond) for each night’s stay.
Transportation Prices in Barcelona
Because of Barcelona’s layout, in that some of the main areas/sites one is likely to want to visit may be a fair distance apart (or outside of the city altogether), there will probably be a need, at some point, to incorporate a bit of public transport. Even the avid walker may find the combination of heat and hills gets a touch too much.
The city’s metro and bus services are frequent and serve the key areas. A single journey costs €2.15, but better value comes in the form of travel cards/multi-trip tickets. With more passes going around than in the Barcelona FC midfield, it might be a good idea to have a rough plan of what you want to do or see and when in order to purchase the best pass and to make the most out of it.
For a weekend visit, the T-10 card may just do the trick. Priced at €10.20, this card allows 10 trips on the metro, bus, tram and local train services with the added benefit of allowing the holder to travel to/from the airport by train or specific airport buses. It can also be used by two people (5 journeys each) so is perfect if travelling as a couple.
Much can be visited on foot, particularly in the central areas. For example, one can take in Casa Batlló (a residential building remodelled by Gaudi), Plaça de Catalunya, La Rambla, Boqueria Market, the Gothic Quarter (including Barcelona Cathedral) and the seafront without a sniff of a metro line or bus. I’d recommend a food and drink stop or two along the way, though.
Bikes can be hired for as little as €2.50 for an hour, but as it’s unlikely you’ll want just the single hour, most places offer a range of pricing structures and time (and bike) frames.
Taxis start with a €2.50 charge on the meter then expect around €1.10 per kilometre thereafter under a standard tariff.
Food Prices in Barcelona
The usual template for most big European cities remains true of Barcelona. At the tourist traps – quaint squares with a central statue or fountain outlined by shaded restaurants; the waterfront – expect to pay a bit more as one always does at these types of location.
But better prices for no loss of quality and arguably, a more genuine experience, can be found if one is prepared to venture, well walk, just a little. Of course, the usual fast food chains do have their outlets if one just wants to eat cheaply without bothering to try something different.
Tapas are, ironically, big, with many restaurants offering a wide selection of plate types at a range of prices, but budget at around the €4-€5 mark per plate to be on the safe side which is pricier than other Spanish cities such as Seville or Granada. Handy if one just wants a quick Spanish style snack or a more substantial meal packed full of variety.
Restaurants do offer set lunch menus at fairly decent prices. A meal for two, with three courses, in a typical mid-range restaurant will cost in the region of €40, although a decent dining experience can still be had for €20-30, again for two people.
One can always pick up a pastry or snack in a market or bakery for a few euros at most if wanting to eat on the go, or if you’re just not that hungry.
Activities Prices in Barcelona
Although sights and sounds of the street cost nothing and some attractions are free, more of the major points of interest – the bits Barcelona is known for – will likely command an entry fee, or at least, an entry fee to see parts of them.
Some museums and attractions offer concessions for students and the elderly etc. so it’s always worth checking websites or asking at the ticket desk to try and save a few euros. Pre-booking online will come with the added benefit of avoiding queues, being able to pick a timeslot (if necessary), plus the possibility of a discounted price.
Park Güell, famed for its Gaudi created architecture and excellent views of the city, can be explored without paying (95% of it is free), however, if one wants to see the ‘Monumental Zone’ that is, the main entrance, terrace, and mosaics, it’ll mean spending some euros – ten of them to be exact. Gaudí’s House Museum (Casa Museu Gaudí) is a separate entity and will cost another €5.50.
Entry to the ticketed part of Park Güell can be purchased at the gates, but is only advised if one lists queuing as a pass time. Booking in advance allows for use of the bus that runs from Alfons X metro station to the park entrance (and back). This not only saves paying to get up there but saves one from doing the march uphill, which varies from a slog to a modest survival situation.
The Sagrada Familia, ‘Gaudi’s Cathedral,’ arguably Barcelona’s most famous icon, which to some is a thing of splendour, to others, some kind of harrowing sandcastle, can be enjoyed or if you take the latter view, endured, from the park area surrounding it. Prices to enter the cathedral itself vary from €17, up to €32 for an accompanying audio guide and tower visit.
As an alternative (or in addition to), Barcelona Cathedral is free to enter at certain times with a €3 fee for a lift to the roof and views of the city or for €7, one can get to see a bit more of the cathedral’s innards. Some museums, including the Picasso museum, can be explored for free on certain days, so check beforehand if a museum is likely to appear on the itinerary. La Rambla Boulevard, Boqueria Market and Casa Batlló are all big Barcelona draws that won’t cost a cent.
With Barcelona FC having achieved much success in recent years, they are now a globally recognised brand, so unsurprisingly, their home ground, the Nou Camp, has become a big tourist attraction. Tours range in price but start at €26 for the basic package. You can click here and book your tour online.
City tours come in all shapes and sizes covering a variety of subject matter- food and drink, ‘top sites’ and partying/nights out. Prices are equally variable, but perhaps a better option is a free walking tour. Although as the title suggests, one is under no obligation to pay, but it’s usually the done thing to hand the guide a few euros at the end (or whatever you felt the tour was worth).
Bike tours follow a similar format and again, some are ‘free’. Bus tours are popular in most major cities and Barcelona is no exception. Many run hop-on, hop-off formats with the usual candidates in terms of tourist attractions, but if you’re prepared to walk a little and use some public transport, I’m not sure there’s a real need to go on one.
Tourist passes like the Barcelona Card, for example, allow free entry to certain venues, discounts, shopping benefits and public transport deals. These are usually only cost-effective if you know exactly what you’re going to do and are likely to buy, in order to make the necessary price comparisons.
Entertainment Prices in Barcelona
With food having been taken care of earlier, what about the basic cost of an alcoholic drink? Using beer for comparison purposes, a standard draught lager (which comes in at a little under half-a-pint glass worth) at the tourist hotspots will cost in the region of €4.50, which for the size, is actually quite expensive, but you’ll be paying mainly for the location.
A little way outside the centre towards the residential areas, prices come down as bars become smaller and tailored towards their locale. Here, €3 will buy two beers and you’ll even get a little change to put towards the next round.
Beyond the intake of alcohol, or if wanting to combine it with something else, how about a night of flamboyance in the shape of flamenco dancing (that’s watching not taking part, though what one gets up to in their hotel room is up to them…)? Enjoy the spectacle in one of Barcelona’s intimate venues for around €17-35 a ticket, depending on your seat selection. Basic options usually come with a free drink, but tickets can cost more if food is also on the agenda. Probably best not to dance on a full stomach…
For concerts at Palau de la Música Catalana, tickets are priced according to the nature of the event itself and also seating category. Some start at under €20 and rise to over €100, but can be purchased, and therefore budgeted for, in advance, online.
For those wanting to see Barcelona FC play a live game at the Nou Camp, La Liga tickets go on sale around 4 weeks before (this is different for other competitions and the visit of Real Madrid). Prices again vary according to seating category. A spot in one of the upper corners of the ground for a Sunday evening La Liga game can be as low as €29 but realistically, expect to pay around the €49 mark and beyond.
Is Barcelona Expensive? Average Barcelona Trip Cost
So then, is Barcelona expensive? Well, Spain is not considered to be in the bracket of most expensive countries to visit — not even in Western Europe. With Barcelona being one of the bigger cities though, prices are naturally higher.
To help you better plan, here is an average of what you should expect to spend in Barcelona per person per day if you’re travelling on a budget.
Accommodation: €35-55 / night in a private room in a hostel or a mid-range hotel split between two people
Transportation: €4 / day if using a T-10 ticket for two and you’re prepared to walk
Food: €20-€30 / day for one sit-down meal and two cheaper meals per day
Activities: €22 / day for a couple of sites or museums per day paying for basic tickets
Entertainment: €6 / day for a drink or two and excluding a concert or FC Barcelona tickets
All in all, you should expect to budget an average daily spend per person of €90-120. However, this will increase if you plan on staying in hotels, eating out more frequently in restaurants or taking day trips to places like Montserrat.
This also doesn’t include any pre-trip expenses such as flights or travel insurance. World Nomads is a popular option for travellers looking for travel insurance – click here to get a quote from World Nomads.
Accommodation in terms of finding some, shouldn’t really be an issue even though the price of dorm rooms in decent locations may seem a touch expensive compared to other places. With a little forethought and a willingness to walk, transport costs can be kept to a minimum with good value to be found in the travel cards, especially for couples. Food and drink prices are also reasonable, particularly if avoiding the aforementioned tourist traps.
Museums and some sites/attractions can be made into something prohibitively expensive, especially for families, if looking at all the extras they offer in terms of guides and access to ‘bonus’ areas. Opt for the basic tickets or free periods if you intend to keep your trip to Barcelona cost down. Budget/purchase in advance if likely to indulge in a night of flamenco or an FC Barcelona match — the latter could cost far more otherwise.
For Spain, Barcelona is a pricier destination, with its popularity part of the problem. However, as I hope has been demonstrated, it should still be a plausible, fulfilling destination within a reasonable level of expenditure compared to other cities of a similar stature.
Are you wondering “Is Barcelona Expensive?” Have you got tips for saving money? Let us know in the comments below!