How to have a city break in Barcelona on a budget with kids!

If you’re wondering how to have a city break in Barcelona with the kids on a budget then you’ve definitely come to the right place! We’ve had some fantastic family adventures in Europe over the last few years exploring cities like Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Paris, and Interlaken – and it’s easier to do on a small budget than you might think!

So, here’s how to have a budget friendly city break in Barcelona with the kids – I’ve included money saving tips to help you to cut costs on travel, accommodation, excursions, transport and food. And, have a browse around my website for more money saving travel tips, and lots of travel reviews too – family travel on a budget is my thing! 😍

So here are 10 ways to have a city break in Barcelona on a budget with the kids…

1. Set a budget and be prepared

When you’re planning your family holiday to Barcelona, think about what you’re able to spend and then take out the main expenses to see how much spending money that will leave you. You’ll need to price up the big things like accommodation, travel costs (ferry, tolls, fuel, flights etc) and food.

Cities can be extremely expensive to visit if you’re not careful, so pre-planning, being well-prepared and knowing what your daily spending limit is will be the best way to stick to a budget and keep your spending on track.

Whatever’s left in the kitty will be your spending money for excursions and days out. Thank goodness for the internet, it’s actually really easy to find toll costs and predict fuel usage nowadays and you’ll be able to find the cost of things you’d like to see and do too. Being organised and planning everything properly is the best way to make sure that your city break with the kids is affordable.

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, frugal mum photo castle


2. Pick your travel dates wisely

There’s a good chance of sunshine in Spain, but hot weather is definitely less important for a city break – in fact you don’t really want to be exploring a city in the sweltering heat – so it can be a great type of holiday for avoiding peak summer dates. If you’re able to travel during the off-peak season then you’ll most certainly save money on both flights and accommodation.

If you need to travel within school holiday dates then you’ll likely find May half-term, Easter and the October break cheaper than the summer holidays. Hotels and other accommodation options are also usually cheaper during the week, with more inflated prices at the weekends, and flights often follow this pattern too! So if you’re able to have a midweek family getaway, and avoid weekend dates, then that can be a great way to save money on your city break even if you’re holidaying when the kids are off from school.

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, frugal mum photo cable car


3. Stay outside of the city centre

The best way to keep costs down on your budget Barcelona break is to look for accommodation outside of the city centre. Staying centrally can be really expensive, but picking somewhere slightly further out will be an instant money saver. We do this a lot, as we love exploring cities with the kids, and not only is it cheaper, it’s also nice to come away from the city when we’re finished and have other elements to the holiday too.

When you’re choosing your accommodation, looking for somewhere to stay that charges per party rather than per person is also a great money-saver. And, Eurocamp campsites are a fantastic way to plan affordable family holidays – we’ve had most of our European adventures hopping between Eurocamp sites and it’s enabled us to travel more often, for longer periods and on a small budget.

Eurocamp accommodation options title image, mobile home, frugal mum review

Eurocamp have several Costa Dorada and Costa Brava based campsites within about an hour of central Barcelona – perfect for a combination of beach fun and exploring the city. These options will typically cost for a week what many hotels in Barcelona will charge for a night or two.

Travelling into the city to explore via public transport is a great way to keep things on budget – and look for family tickets on Barcelona’s metro system to save some money there too. Here are some of the Eurocamp campsites available within easy reach of Barcelona. Plus they come with swimming pools, activities, entertainment and everything else that makes a good child-friendly family holiday.

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, eurocamp deal one

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, eurocamp deal two

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, eurocamp deal three

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, eurocamp deal four

Click here to take a closer look at all of Eurocamp’s Barcelona campsites.


4. Look for cheap travel options

If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you’ll already know that we’re obsessed with road trips! 😂 But I honestly do believe that travelling by road is a brilliant way to explore Europe on a budget with the kids. Calais to Barcelona is about a 12 hour drive, so it would be best broken up into two 6 hour stints with a stop off along the way if you’re opting to drive, but it’s definitely do-able without too much bother.

When I contacted Eurocamp recently for up-to-date prices, though things fluctuate slightly, the cost of a return trip on the ferry was around £120, whilst Le Shuttle was £250. It does add an extra hour onto your journey to opt for the ferry over the Channel Tunnel, but it’s around half the cost so it should definitely be considered if you’re trying to travel on a small budget. (And booking directly through providers like Eurocamp when you book your accommodation will usually be at a discounted rate too.)

For more info on European road trips, check out my article: How to road trip on a budget around Europe – the ultimate family guide!

How to road trip on a budget around Europe, the ultimate family guide, frugal mum tips

If you need to fly then use Skyscanner to compare flight prices, check the budget airlines, opt for hand-luggage only if you’re not visiting for long, and look at flying at anti-social times. Flights to cities can actually be pretty affordable – they generally have so many flights going in and out each day that it keeps costs down. Barcelona is a busy airport with budget airlines like Ryanair and Easy Jet flying into there, so it’s definitely possible to find some good deals on flights if you’d prefer to fly.


5. Book self-catering accommodation

If you do want to stay in the middle of the action in Barcelona city centre, and enjoy the hustle and bustle, then look at booking an Air Bnb rather than a hotel. Not only is it likely to be cheaper if you’re staying for a few days or more, but you’ll also have more space to spread out and hopefully some cooking facilities to avoid the high costs that come with eating out. Visit local city markets for fresh affordable ingredients, or head to a budget supermarket to stock up.

You could even book through Trusted Housesitters to get your city getaway accommodation for free. In exchange for looking after someone’s pet, you can stay in their home – making travelling to your favourite places so much more affordable. A bonus of using Trusted Housesitters is that lots of people will want school holiday dates, to fit around their own trips away, so it can be a good way to travel during peak dates. For the yearly membership fee of £99, you can book a stay through their website as many times as you like.

If you’re booking a Eurocamp accommodation, slightly further out from the city centre, you’ll be pleased to know that their holiday homes come with full kitchens, decent sized fridges and a dining area for meal times. Take a look at my Eurocamp accommodation guide for more info.

City break in Paris on a budget with kids, travel guide, france, family holiday, budget travel tips, frugal mum photo eurocamp accommodation


6. Plan your excursions wisely

Of all of the cities in Europe that we’ve visited, we found Barcelona to be more expensive to explore than some other places – particularly in comparison to Italy. So, pre-plan your excursions to fit around your budget. When we visited, the train journey from Salou to Barcelona took about 90 minutes, and cost around €60 for the four of us for a return trip – €15pp. It was a simple journey and the trains ran every few hours.

costa dorada, spain, frugal mum review, photo, barcelona on a budget, with kids tips, sagrada familia

A lot of the attractions in Barcelona are fairly expensive so consider before you visit which you’ll want to see inside. We went to have a look at the infamous Sagrada Familia – designed by Gaudi, it’s still being finished 140 years later!

Though we didn’t go inside, it was still magnificent to view it from the outside and we walked all the way around to appreciate it, as it’s different on every side. (Adult tickets are around €30 each and kids under the age of 11 can enter for free.) There are also lots more Gaudi buildings – so much of Barcelona was designed by Gaudi and it’s all so unique!

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, barcelona, spain, budget travel tips, frugal mum

We decided that our one paid activity would be a trip on the Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car which offered us fab views over the city – though it was a bit pricey for what it was (€52) as the journey was actually very short. We did have a nice wander around the castle at the top though (although we didn’t go in – as that was another extra cost) and we enjoyed looking at the views over the port.

view of Barcelona Port, photo from cable car

We always try to balance out paid activities with freebies – so wandering around the parks, and taking in the city sights from the outside is a great way to experience what Barcelona has to offer without spending a fortune. We visited the infamous Las Ramblas area, and had a walk through the Parc de la Ciutadella.

City break in Barcelona on a budget with kids tips, family holiday travel tips, Spain, Parc de la Ciutadella photo

For another free activity, take the kids to one of Barcelona’s beaches for a day playing on the sand and paddling in the water. And, when the drought isn’t causing a bother, you can also watch the infamous light show at The Magic Fountain.


7. Be prepared to avoid fines

If you’re taking a road trip, prep your car properly with the mandatory things that you’ll need for driving through France and into Spain, as well as the documents you should carry too. You’ll need to carry your driver’s license, car registration certificate and insurance papers if you’re driving in Europe. Plus breakdown cover and travel insurance are a must! (We get an annual European policy so that it covers all of our trips in one swoop!).

If you’re driving within Barcelona, check the low emissions requirements before you travel to avoid any issues whilst you’re on your trip. And, check your route so that you’re prepared for the cost of any tolls and fuel, and aware of speed limits. The rules for driving in Europe also insist that you have mandatory items in / on your car (like reflective jackets, a UK sticker etc) so make sure that you’re properly prepared to avoid fines – you can get a ready-made EU driving kit from Amazon.

eu driving kit amazon, road trip essentials to pack


8. Pack picnics, drinks and snacks

To keep costs low when you’re exploring Barcelona, take drinks, snacks and a picnic for lunch with you when we head out for the day. Preparing your own baguettes is a great way to save money, and bakeries in Spain are never hard to find!

When we’re exploring we also use refillable water bottles to keep our drinks cool all day, and even pack a flask for our lunchtime coffee fix. A cool bag rucksack is a must for keeping everything fresh and it’s a brilliant investment for both holidays and days out with the kids at home too.

family travel with kids, road trip packing tips, cool bag rucksack

If you’re still in the city into the evening then opt for something easy like McDonalds (or another budget fast food option), or eat like locals and enjoy some street food at dinnertime. As much as I’m not a fan of junk food, and it would be nice to enjoy restaurant food when we go away, it can be really unaffordable when you’re travelling as a family of four.

We’ve also noticed on our travels that the shops and restaurants closest to popular monuments and sights are often the most expensive, so wander away from places like the Sagrada Familia before choosing where to buy food or souvenirs to avoid overpaying.


9. Walk or cycle

When we travel we clock up a lot of steps when we’re exploring cities. We like to walk as much as possible as it’s the best way to soak everything in, plus it doesn’t cost a penny! Before we set out for the day, I’ll plan a route to make sure that we see everything we’d like to see without going back on ourselves or adding in unnecessary steps – and that (and ice-cream!) seems to be the best way to keep everyone happy. (If you’re driving, and you’ve got a bike rack, you could even bring your own wheels! We explored Amsterdam by bike and the kids loved it!)

frugal mum photo amsterdam bikes family trip


10. Take your supplies with you

When you book campsites with mobile home accommodation, like Eurocamp, just little things like taking your own bedding will save you a bit of money. Make sure that you also pack things like anti-histamine tablets, bug spray, antiseptic cream, bite cream, paracetamol and plasters too – these items can be really expensive from pharmacies abroad (compared to our UK budget store and supermarket prices) so it pays to be well prepared for every eventuality! Check out my Ultimate Family Holiday Packing Guide – with free printable checklist to help you to get organised.

frugal mum free printable family holiday travel checklist


Planning a budget family holiday in Europe? You might be interested in these articles too…

The Ultimate Eurocamp Holiday Guide – and money saving tips!

eurocamp review, complete holiday guide, FAQs, frugal mum


Why do we use always Eurocamp to travel in Europe with the kids?

Eurocamp article, why use Eurocamp to travel with kids in Europe


Budget Family Summer Getaways: July & August school holiday deals under £1000!

budget summer holiday school getaways, frugal mum family travel deals


Family road trip essentials: 13 things to pack on a road trip with kids

things to pack on a family road trip with kids, essential travel guide, frugal mum tips


Our Italian Eurocamp Family Road Trip: What we spent, tips & how to explore Italy with kids on a budget!

how to explore italy on a budget, our eurocamp road trip, family holiday, europe, frugal mum guide, what we spent, tips


Switzerland Family Holiday Itinerary – the best things to see and do!

Switzerland Family Holiday Itinerary - the best things to see and do, frugal mum guide


How to have a European city break with kids on a budget!

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How to have a city break in Paris on a budget with kids!

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