How to do Barcelona on a budget with kids!

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May 2023

We love exploring cities, so we jumped at the chance to visit Barcelona on our recent trip to Spain. Here’s how to do Barcelona on a budget, and the best things to see…

Getting there

We stayed at the Villa Romana Hotel in Salou, which had a train station just a ten minute walk away. It was around 1.5 hours on the train from Salou to Barcelona, and cost around €60 for the four of us for a return trip – around €15pp. It was a simple journey and the trains ran every few hours.

villa romana hotel, ohtels, salou, costa dorada, spain, swimming pool

It was much cheaper for us to travel in from our hotel than to book separate accommodation for our Barcelona visit. Good accommodation in the city can be really dear – staying at the hotel in Salou worked out around £250pp for the whole week which included the hotel, flights, transfers and half-board.

It was a great deal, and we didn’t feel like we needed more than a day in Barcelona. If you’re looking to do city breaks on a budget, staying further out and travelling in by train or car is a great way to keep costs low. (Plus you get a great balance of exploring and chilling!)


What are the best things to do and see?

Whilst in Barcelona, we visited the most amazing gluten-free bakery – Jansana!! If you’re GF like me (or even if you’re not!!) you HAVE to visit if you’re ever in the city – it was the best cake we’d ever had so they deserve a huge shout out!

barcelona, spain, gluten free bakery, jansana, frugal mum children

We each picked something different, and cut each one into four so that we could try lots of different things. Delicious!!

barcelona, spain, gluten free bakery, jansana

We also 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 as it was quite dear for the four of us, 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.

barcelona, spain, sagrada familia, frugal mum children

We also took 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.

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, barcelona, spain

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.

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, barcelona, spain, frugal mum family

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, castle, frugal mum children, barcelona, spain

Telefèric de Montjuïc cable car, view of port, barcelona, spain

We also visited Parc de la Ciutadella, and had a wander at Las Ramblas too. We always try to balance out paid activities with some freebies – so wandering around the parks, and taking in the city sights from the outside is a great way to experience what’s on offer without spending a fortune.

barcelona, spain, fountain, park, frugal mum and husband

Other things that you might want to add to the list, if you have a bit more time…

  • The city beach – you can grab a cable car down to that too.
  • Barcelona Cathedral
  • Plaça Reial
  • More of the Gaudi buildings – so much of Barcelona was designed by Gaudi and it’s all so unique!


Some money saving tips:

  • We clocked about ten miles on foot when we were there. The metro isn’t as cheap in Spain as it is in Italy – so although we used it for the longer stretches, we didn’t hop on and off as frequently as we did when we were in Rome. But, they did have a family ticket which saved a fair bit – so make sure you look for that when buying your metro tickets.
  • I’m not a huge fan of fast food (though the kids love it!) but we usually bring a picnic for lunch, and then have dinner at somewhere like Mcdonalds when visiting cities, to avoid pricey restaurants and keep costs down.
  • Pre-plan what you’d like to see and the best route to take so that you don’t waste time, money and leg energy when you get there. We only had a day, so I mapped it all out in order so that we could get around what we wanted to see in the easiest way possible.
  • Some of the religious buildings have free entrance periods for those who are attending mass – so if you’re happy to attend a service then you could get a glimpse inside – though I suspect this won’t allow you to view the whole building.


And a final note…

Though we had a good day in Barcelona, the cities in Italy are still our firm favourites. Many of their religious buildings are also free or extremely cheap to enter – so with that and the cheaper train travel, if you’re looking for a city break on a budget, then Italy might be a better fit!

For more info, check out my articles:

How to explore Rome in a day! (On a budget with kids!)

st peters basilica square, rome, italy, frugal mum children

Our Italian Road Trip – How to explore Italy with kids on a budget!

Piazelle Michelangelo, florence, view, italy, frugal mum children


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