Are you broke but would love to travel to Europe? If so, you are just like us and if you would like to know how we spent a week in Barcelona, in a luxurious penthouse that cost less than a Motel 6 in LA, keep on reading...
Guess what? If you're on a budget, you don't need to sleep in the cheapest hostel with shared bunkbeds. If you haven't heard about Airbnb yet, it's time to crawl out of your cave and come join the rest of us in the sunshine. Airbnb is a great website for travelers where you can rent houses, apartments and rooms for less than a hotel. It's easy to find a room for 2 people for an average of $20-30/per night and they usually come with all the basics like towels, toiletries (depending on the host) and other great amenities like a wash machine. If you are traveling for a long time, having a wash machine is a huge time and money saver. Why lug (and possibly pay for) a giant suitcase when you can just bring carry on and maybe do 1 or 2 loads of laundry while you are there?
We like Airbnb because it's secure and the hosts are typically very friendly and will give you great, off the beaten path tips about the city they live in.
We rented a beautiful, historical apartment in a heart of the city with 6 other friends for 5 nights at $250/person, or $50/night. Although this was more than we are spending traveling on the rest of our trip (we are averaging $10/person), it was a very luxurious place. We also saved money on cooking meals at home instead of going out all the time.
I still can't believe that we got to spend a week in Barcelona in this place! Check out the pictures.
If you want to stay here, this is the listing:
What to see in Barcelona on a budget?
Barcelona is a big city and for sure you won't get bored here. Since, Barcelona is such a popular tourist destination you will need to pay to see everything including churches, which was a bit unusual. All the activities add up fast, so you might want to think twice before forking out more cash to see your millionth cathedral or museum. This is a list of our favorite spots that we visited in Barcelona:
- Go see Gaudi. We love Gaudi. He was a very famous Spanish architect and an artist. His designs are nothing like you have ever seen before. There are a lots of buildings designed by him in Barcelona, so it can be overwhelming and costly deciding which ones to see. These were the ones we thought worth paying for:
Sagrada Familia - Make sure that you purchase the tickets before you visit this place. The tickets are limited.
Park Güelle - This is another great creation by Gaudi. The park is huge and most of it is free! It's actually only a small section that requires a ticket but we thought it was worth it. You can wander throughout the gardens admiring exotic plants and unique architecture. There is also a great view of Barcelona city from the top of the hill in the park (a bit after you pass the main gate). Tickets here are also limited.
Spain has an amazing food culture. Spaniards like to sleep in the mornings, work for a bit, take a siesta, drink some coffee, eat some tapas, eat some dinner, eat more tapas and drink sangria. Depending on who you are, there might be more the napping, eating and drinking ratio may vary.
So here is what we loved to eat in Barcelona:
Tapas for Dinner. Tapas are basically "small" appetizers, that you can share with others at the dinner table. It's a fun way to eat and talk with your friends. Tapas come in slowly, therefore, these dinners can last very long so set aside 2h minimum. Plus, if you are drinking incredible Spanish wine, you won't leave until walking is a serious effort. We tried tapas at "LA Esquina". L.E. is a cute restaurant with an excellent modern twist on tapas where the chef prepares the dishes in front of you. There is a small kitchen stand where where you can watch him concentrating on making the tapas. They are also very vegetarian and vegan friendly!
You can't leave Spain without trying the delicious rice dish called paella. There are many different varieties of paella: meat, sea food, vegetarian (sort of). Warning all vegetarians: although, many places offer paella with veggies, the rice is cooked with some type of meat stock. So, if you wan to make sure it is 100% veg. friendly and you speak decent Spanish ( we don't), ask first. Otherwise, assume it is cooked with meat broth.
We ate at "Cachitos". The restaurant had a very nice decor with a large selection of tasty sangrias! "Cachitos" http://cachitosbcn.com
- Food Markets
If you want a cheap, healthy and fast lunch, go to one of the many farmers markets while in Barcelona. Get some: olives, cheese, bread, veggies, sausages, wine or beer (of course) and head out to a park for a picnic. These markets also have fresh fish and meat that you cook at at home. We shopped for our picnic at "La Concepcio" market. http://www.laconcepcio.cat/en/home
If you visit Barcelona, you will most likely spend some time in the Gothic Quarter. Here you can explore the historical streets, cathedrals and churches. You will find many trendy people, gift shops, restaurants, and cafes here.
El Xampanyet , located in the Gothic Quarter is a cool busy caffe with charming decor. Try their own version of Sangria with soda (KAS). It was different but good!
Address: Carrer de MOntcada, 22, 08003, Barcelona, Spain
Any trendy neighborhood is full of tourists. So, if you want to escape the crowds and grab a bite to eat and relax with a glass of sangria, you don't want to miss Salterio. This place can be a bit hard to find through the small and windy streets of the Gothic Quarter, but it is so worth it. This little cafe with a dark and mysterious interior, serves excellent Spanish food with an Arabic twist. You can grab some lunch (tapas etc.) and drinks. We tried Turkish Coffee infused cardamon and a fresh sangria with fruit and mint. It was excellent!