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30+ Barcelona MoneySaving tips

Cheap flights, hotels and where to spot Gaudi's work for free

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Megan F | Edited by Steve N

Updated Quarterly

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Viva Barcelona! Spain's second biggest city is a magnet for sightseers and sunbathers alike, and there are lots of ways to enjoy yourself while keeping down the costa.

Our Nou guide has 36 MoneySaving tips, including how to get to the city from the airport for just €2, where to find 'free' tapas and an interactive map showing where you can marvel at some of the greatest work of Catalan architect Gaudi - for free.

This is the first incarnation of this guide. Please give us feedback and suggest improvements in the Barcelona Tips forum thread. Also see our 30+ New York MoneySaving Tips, 40+ Costa del Sol Tips, 29 Paris Tips, 21 Rome Tips and 26 Amsterdam Tips.

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Bag a return flight to Barcelona for less than £40

Flights are often one of the biggest expenses of a holiday, but Barcelona has excellent connections and is well served by budget airlines. Prices vary depending on when you're flying and where you're flying from, of course - but generally it's easy to grab a bargain ticket.

When we looked in February for a trip three months ahead, we found heaps of flights to Barcelona from London Stansted for £40 return, or from Manchester for £50 return (both hand luggage only).

It's usually best to book early for the cheapest prices, though, and bear in mind that you'll pay more at peak times - when we checked, July flights were £49 return from London Stansted or £70 from Manchester, and these will rise nearer the time.

Eight airlines, including Easyjet and Ryanair, fly direct to Barcelona El Prat (the main airport) from 13 cities across the UK. But it may also be worth checking flights to other nearby airports, including Girona (just over an hour's drive away) and Reus (an hour and 20 mins).

The latest research from travel search site Momondo's 'flight insight' data suggests Tuesday is the cheapest day to fly to Barcelona. For full help on how to book the cheapest flights, see our Cheap Flights guide - and if you're flying budget, check our 18 Easyjet Tricks and 20 Ryanair Tips.

Stare up at the famous Sagrada Familia for free

The Sagrada Familia is arguably one of the most famous sites in Barcelona and a must-see on many tourists' checklists, not least for the intricate detail of the iconic exterior.

sgrada familia

Work on the church was started over 100 years ago and is still ongoing, with the Gaudi masterpiece finally expected to be finished in 2026.

While you'll have to pay to go inside, you can view the sensational architecture from the outside for free, and for many the walk around the facade with its many ornate carvings will be enough.

If you do want to venture inside, standard adult tickets cost:

  • €15 for basic entry
  • €22 for entry and audio tour
  • €24 for entry and guided tour (also includes a ticket for the Gaudi House Museum in Parc Güell - see more below)
  • €29 for entry, audio guide and a trip up the towers

Discounts are available for under-30s, over-65s and students, and those with a disability (you may need documents as proof) and children under 10 go free.

Ask for the menú del día to bag a three-course meal and drink, for less than €15

It may not always be well advertised, but cafes and restaurants usually serve a three-course menú del día – menu of the day – so you can grab a bargain bite.

The menú del día is a tradition which dates to 1965 (the Bill in Barcelona blog has a great piece on the history of it), and while restaurants no longer have to serve one by law, it's still widely offered.

The number of courses and drink options may vary, and technically the menú del día is just for weekday lunchtimes, but many restaurants will have a similar menu at the weekend too. If you can't see one advertised, it's worth asking.

The Guardian has a handy list of 10 top menú del día options in Barcelona, and TripAdvisor* has a few more suggestions.

Get to the city from the airport for as little as €2

If you land at Barcelona's main airport, El Prat, it's super-cheap to get from there to the city using public transport - you'll pay a fraction of the €30ish you'd have to cough up for a taxi.

Here are a few of the different options, with the cost of a single fare:

  • Bus – €2 one-way. It takes up to 40 minutes to central Barcelona depending on traffic, and runs every 15 to 25 minutes between 4.50am and 11.50pm. There's a luggage limit of 100 x 60 x 25 cm. See route info.
  • Train €4 one-way. The R2 Nord route takes roughly 25 minutes and runs every half hour from terminal 2b (there's a free airport shuttle bus between terminals) to central Barcelona.
  • parc guell
  • Metro – €5 one-way. It takes about an hour to central Barcelona, and you'll need to swap lines at least once. It runs from 5am until midnight on weekdays, and later on Fridays (it stops 2am Saturday morning) and Saturdays (it runs all night). See route info.
  • Aerobus – €6 one-way (or €10 return). It takes about 35 minutes to central Barcelona and runs every five to 10 minutes between 5am and 1am, 365 days a year. See route info.
  • Taxi – €30-€35ish one-way. It takes between 20 and 40 minutes. There's a minimum €20 charge for taxis and supplements such as €1 per suitcase. Both El Prat terminals have a taxi rank. See the Barcelona Airport website for more info. (It's worth noting too that Uber doesn't yet operate in Barcelona.)

If you're considering flying to Girona Airport or Reus Airport make sure you factor in the extra transfer time and cost - getting the bus from either takes about an hour and 15 minutes each way, and a ticket is about €25 return.

Use our map to marvel at some of Gaudi's greatest work for free - from the street

la pedrera

Antoni Gaudi is one of Spain's most famous and best-loved architects. His colourful and unusual work can be viewed in many a street in the city, where passers-by can gawk at it in all its glory - and best of all, of course, seeing it this way is free.

Some of Gaudi's best work can be seen for free at Parc Güell and the Sagrada Familia, but here's some of the best of the rest (with how much it costs if you want to pay to go inside too):

  • La Pedrera (also known as Casa Milà) - tickets range from €27 to €40
  • Casa Batlló - tickets range from €23 to €36
  • Casa Vicens
  • Colonia Güell - tickets from €7 to €12
  • Casa Calvet
  • Torre Bellesguard - tickets from €9 to €16
  • Col·legi de les Teresianes
  • Lampposts in the Plaça Reial and Pla de Palau

We've plotted all these on the interactive map below - use it to help plan your sightseeing.

Fancy a tour of the Nou Camp? There's a simple trick to get 10% off

Home of Barcelona's fabled football team, the Nou Camp (or Camp Nou) is the largest stadium in Europe. Even if you're not seeing a game, a tour around it is a great day out, as you get to walk through the players' tunnel, check out the pitch and changing rooms and of course gawp at the silverware.

Tour tickets are usually €25 for adults or €20 for concessions, but there's a clever way to get 'em for less.

Simply sign up in advance to become an official Barça fan - don't worry, you won't be tested on the finer points of tiki-taka style play. Once registered, log in and you'll be given a 10% discount code, meaning tickets are about €23 or €18 for kids (just make sure you pay using the right plastic). It'd be worth looking to book the tour in advance too.

If you do fancy watching a game, expect to pay through the nose - even some of the cheapest seats are €100 from the FC Barcelona site.

It's worth checking out other FC Barcelona-approved ticket-sellers, but to really save some cash, you can bag Barça B tickets from as little as €3, though games are held at Miniestadi. Alternatively, consider watching a different sport - the Nou Camp also hosts basketball, handball, futsal (essentially five-a-side football) and roller hockey.

“camp

A magic fountain, Picasso masterpieces and the Olympic Park – 10 FREE things to do in Barcelona

Many of the best things to do in Barcelona cost nothing at all - here are a few options which won't cost you a cent:

  1. Visit Barcelona's Magic Fountain. magic fountainThe Font Màgica de Montjuïc is at the bottom of the hill looking up towards the Palau Nacional (National Palace). It's quite a sight at any time, but is best seen in the evening, when there's a light show which includes jets in time to music (of course Freddie Mercury's Barcelona features). Check Barcelona City Council's website for times.

  2. See Picasso's masterpieces for free. Many museums, including the Museu Picasso, offer free entry on Sunday afternoons. See Time Out for more.

  3. Walk the Olympic Park. The city played host in 1992 and the Olympic stadium, sculptures and surrounding park are worth a look, especially for views of the city. Visit Barcelona covers the practicalities.

  4. Find a free walking tour. There are Runner Bean's free Gaudi and Old City tours or Free Tours by Foot (it's suggested you tip if you've enjoyed it). Many of these companies also offer paid-for tours, so always check you're booking a free one and if there will be extra costs such as metro journeys or entrance fees.

  5. Head to a free festival. One of the biggest is the week-long La Mercè festival in September - it usually includes about 600 arts and music events, and more than 2,000 performers. Time Out has a good list of lots more festivals, and Barcelona Life has a few more.

  6. joan miro
  7. Wander past Joan Miró's sculpture. Woman and Bird (pictured) towers above the Joan Miró Park, named after the Barcelona-born artist.

  8. Spot the 52m fish at the beach. You can't miss the El Peix metal fish sculpture near the Port Olímpic shopping centre. It's said to change appearance depending on the weather.

  9. Marvel at Santa Maria del Mar. Entry to this beautiful Gothic church's nave is free in the mornings and evenings - even if you don't go inside, its stunning architecture's worth a look. See Barcelona Lowdown for more.

  10. Check out the city's best plaças (squares). They're packed with architecture, culture and often a public performace or two. Plaça Reial, de Rei and de Catalunya are worth a visit. Culture Trip has more.

  11. Keep your eyes peeled for street art. As well as being home to well-known masterpieces, Barcelona boasts some seriously impressive street art and graffiti. Culture Trip has examples, as does the Blocal travel blog.

Beach bum? You've lots to choose from

beach bum map

Many of Barcelona's legendary beaches are within easy reach of the city centre - in fact, some are within walking distance of a metro stop.

Barcelona.com has a great rundown of what each beach offers, to help choose. Barceloneta, for example, is closest to the city centre, while Mar Bella offers diving, kayaking and other watersports (as well as a stretch where sunbathers can let it ALL hang out).

Or take a day trip to Sitges...

You could also take a 30-minute train ride to the beaches at Sitges, particularly if Barcelona is having a cloudy day, as the surrounding mountains there are said to create a microclimate meaning it's more likely to be sunny. Sitges is a charming seaside town known for its beauty, and it's a great destination for those with kids.

It's about €8 for a return from one of the Barcelona train stations (Barcelona Sants, Estació de França and Passeig de Gràcia). Expert train-blogger The Man in Seat 61 recommends booking Spanish train tickets in advance and lists a variety of sites to use depending if you want to pay in sterling or euros, but you should also be able to get a train on the day.

Travel cards are cheaper on the bus and the metro - but use the right one

Barcelona's a big city, but don't think you have to rent a car or take a taxi - the metro and bus systems are great ways to get around.

The metro is similar to the London Underground, but arguably it's simpler to use, as there are fewer lines, and some would even say it's nicer (particularly as it's air-conditioned).

It's split into zones and there's a handy zone counter where you can put in details of your trip to find out how many you'll pass through and which ticket you'll need to buy. Buses, meanwhile, are easy to hop on and off, and often take you right to tourist destinations.

Tickets can be used interchangably on buses and the metro (plus it'll count only as one journey if it's less than 75 minutes). But make sure you get the right ticket to keep costs down.

The price of a single ticket in zone one (where the major attractions are) is €2.15, while a one-day unlimited travel ticket is a pricey €8 (kids under four travel free). Yet if you're staying for a few days, there are a couple of different travel card options:

  • T-10 – The T-10 zone-one ticket costs €10 - it's essentially a carnet of tickets to cover 10 journeys (and can be used by multiple people). Tickets covering zones two to six cost between €20 and €42. You can buy the T-10 at metro or bus ticket machines.
  • Barcelona visitor cards – These cost between €14.50 and €32 per person, for two to five days' unlimited travel. There's an additional 10% discount if buying online.

Depending on your itinerary, the T-10 can actually work out much cheaper than the visitor card. For example, it allows two adults staying the weekend to make five journeys each for €10 - which may well be enough. However, it would cost two adults a total of €28 to each get a two-day visitor card.

It's worth noting that you can use a visitor pass but not a T-10 pass on the L9 metro line to the airport, though you can use the T-10 on the bus or Renfe train to the airport.

Pick your hotel barrio, then compare to find the cheapest

hotel

Often when it comes to accomodation in a big foreign city, we say location is key, and it's possible to save £100s on your stay simply by moving out of the city. Yet it's a bit different in Barcelona - prices for hotels can vary wildly, no matter where you're looking, and some of the cheapest and most expensive rooms can be just around the corner from each other.

So when booking a hotel, it's best to first decide what barrio - or district - you want to stay in. Make sure you factor in safety (some areas don't have a great reputation) and proximity to sights - for example, Eixample is about 10 minutes by metro to the city centre, while Sant Marti or Les Corts can take 30. Tourist Barcelona has a good map of the districts and Barcelona.de has a good overview of the areas.

Then check comparison sites to find the best price. We've full help in our Cheap Hotels guide, but in brief:

  • Trivago* tends to be cheapest – it covers over 250 different brokers.
  • To broaden your search, try TravelSupermarket*.
  • Popular review site TripAdvisor* lets you read reviews and do quick comparisons.

If you fancy something plush try our Uncovering Secret 5* hotels trick, and try the little known Priceline loophole. And if there's a group of you, it might be worth renting out an apartment instead (particularly as they can often be as swanky as a hotel). See Holiday Rentals for more.

Of course, hostels have some of the cheapest rates, but don't think dirty just because their dirt cheap. Private rooms with a shared bathroom start from about £25/night in Barcelona. See our Cheap Hostels point for more.

Book travel insurance ASAP – and remember Spain ISN'T always automatically included

If you've booked your trip but don't yet have travel insurance, the message is simple: DO IT NOW.

The reason we're so firm on this is we still hear of travellers being caught out with no travel insurance, and therefore no cover, when things go wrong.

If you're going to Barcelona though, beware. Bizarrely, Spain isn't automatically covered by all 'European' travel insurance policies, so always double-check. (All European policies featured in our guides offer the option of policies that can include Spain.)

The cheapest price we found for a trip to Spain for someone aged 18-30 was £5 for one week, or £9 for annual cover. For someone aged 36-65 a week's cover also started at £5, while annual cover was £10.

See our Cheap Travel Insurance guide for more info, and also our Over-65s Travel Insurance and Travel Insurance For Those With Pre-Existing Conditions guides.

Take a ramble up La Rambla - but avoid the rip-offs

La Rambla is probably the most famous street in Barcelona, stretching from Plaça de Catalunya (the city centre square) all the way out to the Columbus momument at the port.

la rambla

The boulevard is about 1.5km long, and is crammed with stalls, street artists, bars and restaurants.

It is mostly pedestrianised, except for one lane of traffic on either side of the boulevard, and there are three metro stops along it.

Be prepared for it to be very busy though, and be on alert, as it's a pickpocket's paradise. (See tips to avoid them below.)

Of course, as it's such a tourist hotspot, you can expect to pay through the nose in some of the bars and restuarants. So once you've had a wander and soaked up the atmosphere, you might be better venturing off the beaten track for better quality food and drink at more affordable prices.

Have a DIY feast of cheese, jamón and seafood at the Mercat de la Boqueria (it's cheaper than eating out)

laboquier

Experience sensory overload while wandering around the hundreds of stalls at one of Barcelona's biggest markets. It's used by many a local, and reportedly some of the top restaurants are said to pick up their produce here.

The Mercat de la Boqueria, which you might also see called Mercat de Sant Joseph, is just off La Rambla and offers everything from legs of jamón (ham), salted fish, fresh fruit, veg and fish to Spanish and Catalan delicacies and spices.

At the some of the bars and eateries in here you can pay as much as at a restaurant, but the market really comes into it's own if you're grabbing a 'walking' lunch, or packing a picnic for the beach. Plus the building itself is also worth seeing, having taken more than 100 years to build.

There's also a fair few other famous markets that are worth a visit while in Barcelona:

Get the most euros to the pound, whether you pay by plastic or cash

Specialist travel cards, which guarantee you the best rate, are one of the most important things you can pack.

The overall winner's the Creation Everyday Mastercard - use it to spend and you get the same perfect exchange rate the banks get and it's has low ATM withdrawal fees.. Alternatively our long-term top pick is the Halifax Clarity* Mastercard - it's similar to Creation but is a smidgeon more on ATM withdrawals.

If you'll withdraw a lot of cash abroad, the Barclaycard Platinum travel credit card* Visa has no cash withdrawal fees and doesn't charge interest on overseas withdrawals if you pay IN FULL every month.

Use our clever eligibility calculator for the Halifax and Barclaycard, which leaves NO credit file mark and shows your acceptance odds, to see if you can get these. Always pay these cards off IN FULL each month, or you'll pay 12.9% rep APR, 18.9% rep APR and 14.9% APR respectively. See the Travel Credit Cards guide for full best buys.

Using a credit card means you'll also get Section 75 protection on anything over £100, which means the card provider is jointly responsible if something goes wrong.

Alternatively if you want to get cash out before you go, use our TravelMoneyMax tool to ensure you get the very best rate.

Cuánto cuesta? Learn the lingo

It's always nice to learn some holidays phrases while abroad, and to help we've listed some essential MoneySaving phrases below.

Language can be a sensitive subject in Barcelona. The city is the capital of the Catalonia region, which many want to be independent from Spain (see the BBC's Catalonia profile for a quick history lesson). As a result there are two official languages, Spanish and Catalan, though you'll hear Spanish frequently in the tourist areas.

We've included some essential Spanish phrases below, but if you feel like learning traditional Catalan, try Omniglot's pronunications.

parc guell

Quiz Buddy has heaps more phrases and audio of how they are pronounced.

There's also the Google Translate app free for Android and iPhone, which also allows you to use your camera to translate text.

Entry to Parc Güell is free - but you'll need to pay to visit some parts

Gaudi's brightly coloured Parc Güell is a must-see for anyone visting Barcelona for the first - or even the fifth - time.

parc guell

It offers spectacular views across the city, and the park itself is teeming with Gaudi masterpieces, including the Dragon Stairway and Porter's Lodge.

Large swathes of the park are free to visit, but you will have to pay to visit the most popular area, the Monumental Zone, where much of Gaudi's work is.

Online tickets are €7 or €5 concession (they are roughly €1 more if you buy them on the gate), plus up to €7 more for a public guided tour or up to a whopping €40 for a private guided tour. The Gaudi House Museum is located in the free area of Parc Güell, but you'll have to buy a €6 ticket to get in.

Parc Güell's about 30 minutes from central Barcelona. The local bus costs about €2 or the metro's a little more (see metro tips below). Both will take you to different entrances - if you fancy a challenge, there are hundreds of steps if you go to the Carrer Sant Josep de la Muntanya (although luckily there is an escalator). See Parc Güell's How to Get Here page.

'Free' tapas CAN be found - but you'll need to sniff it out

“free

Traditionally, tapas was essentially a lid of bread to cover your drink with, and so was often free.

It has clearly come along way, with whole restaurants now dedicated to the tapas experience, and more options than you could every hope to try in one sitting. Popular delicacies include patatas bravas (potatoes in a tomato sauce) and Spanish croquettes with serrano ham.

Usually there days you'll have to pay - but there are still a few places that stick to the tradition of giving out free tapas when you buy a drink, such as Cal Chusco in Barceloneta. See Time Out for a list of ten bars which do this - and let us know which others you've found in the forum.

Renting an apartment can be cheaper than a hotel - but there's been a crackdown on Airbnb, so make sure you know the rules

If you're travelling a group, renting an apartment can often be much cheaper per person than getting an equivalent hotel room - see our Holiday Rentals guide for full help.

But be careful when you book - giants such as Airbnb and Homeaway have encountered opposition from Barcelona's City Hall, and the battle between them is still ongoing. As it stands, anyone renting out a Barcelona apartment on Airbnb for less than 31 days at a time must have a licence to do so. Last year Airbnb and HomeAway were fined €600,000 each over this.

When we had a quick look at Barcelona lets on Airbnb we couldn't see anything to say whether there was a licence for the apartment, and the site has previously said it reminds hosts to check local rules but ultimately it's their responsibility.

So if you're renting via Airbnb or one of the other big site it's worth contacting the host in advance to double-check the apartment meets the rules. If not, you may be better off booking one that does.

The Barcelona Card and Iventure Card offer entry to multiple attractions - but buying tickets separately may be cheaper

It's easy to assume a ticket offering travel and entry to numerous attractions will be a cheaper bet, but this isn't always the case.

parc guell

In Barcelona, there are two main multi-ticket offers:

  • The Barcelona Card. Adult tickets €41 to €54, child €19 to €29, for three to five day tickets. It includes travel on public transport and free entry to 28 museums and attractions, plus discounts at others - eg, there's a €1 discount at the Sagrada Familia. See the full list of what's covered.
  • The Iventure Card. Adult tickets €80 to €255, child €55 to €180, for three, five or seven attractions or an unlimited pass. It's valid for seven days and there's a choice of the main attractions, such as a guided tour of Sagrada Familia, plus options such as Barcelona Bus Turístic tour. See the full list of what's covered.

To see if these are right for you, it's best to first put together an itinerary of what you want to see and then tot up how much this would cost if you bought tickets separately. Make sure you factor in the cost of travel where appropriate too.

While multi-ticket offers can win, often it's touch and go, even if you do your best to get good value out of them. For example, you could use the €80 Iventure Card to get entry to La Pedrera (fast-track), the Camp Nou and the Sagrada Familia (fast-track and tour). Yet buying those tickets individually (if you're willing to miss out on the fast-track entry and tour at Sagrada Familia) comes to €74 all in. So weigh it up carefully.

Want the best views of the city? Head up Mount Tibidabo and take a ride on the big wheel

If you've a head for heights, Mount Tibibado stands at 512 metres tall, and offers views right out across the city to the Mediterranean.

parc guell

There's also an amusement park there, with some rides dating back to the 19th century, and the beautiful Temple del Sagrat Cor (The Church of the Sacred Heart).

It takes about 45 minutes from the centre of Barcelona, but there are a few different ways to get there. If you decide to opt for the more scenic route you'll want to take the Funicular cable car up the mountain, and you can also take the vintage Tram Blau (which dates from 1901) for part of the route if you're willing to pay more.

How to get up Mount Tibidabo

Visitors recommend taking your own picnic as the cafes can be pricey, and checking the cable car times as they can vary throughout the year and the last ones of the day can be very busy.

It's also worth taking a look at the Temple del Sagrat Cor - entry is free but you can pay €2 ish for a lift to the top of the church tower.

Tap in to the city-wide free Wi-Fi

Thanks to Barcelona City Council, there are a ton of free Wi-Fi spots across the city, for example at museums and markets. To check where exactly the hotspots are, see the Barcelona Wi-Fi site.

To use it, you just need to search your Wi-Fi connections for "Barcelona Wi-Fi" and click connect. You'll also need to agree to the terms and conditions.

For more tips see our Free Wi-Fi guide

Zara fan? Buying in Barcelona's probably cheaper

zara

It feels like there's at least two Zara on every main street in Barcelona, and in some cases there's more than that.

If you're a massive fan, your trip to Barcelona's a good opportunity to stock up, as items tends to be a sold a lot cheaper in the Spanish stores. Even if the exchange rate isn't great you can still bag a bargain - see Martin's Zara on the cheap blog for more.

Heading to Primavera or Sonar? Save up to €50 per person booking ahead

As well the traditional Spanish fiestas, there are a number of large-scale music festivals held each year in Barcelona.

Two of the biggest are Primavera, which takes place at the end of May and largely caters to an indie crowd, and Sonar, which is in June and mainly electronic music. Unusually, there's no camping at either of these festivals and so you'll also need to book accommodation.

  • Primavera. Basic four day tickets start at €145 (if booked almost a year in advance almost as soon as the festival finishes) and rise to €175 on 22 June, and then to €195 once the line-up is announced in January. Primavera
  • Sonar. Basic tickets cost cost €165 between the festival end in June and the following 9 January, then jump on 10 January to €180, and to €195 on 11 May. Sonar

The Barcelona Tourist Guide has a great run-down of how to get to Primavera and Sonar once you're in the city (public transport is likely to be cheapest unless you're in a big group, in which case it could be worth checking taxi prices).

Visit Parc de la Ciutadella for free and see something different each time

Aside from Parc Güell, one of the most famous and best loved parks in Barcelona is Parc de la Ciutadella.

fountain

The nearest metro stop is the Arc de Triomf - you'll get to walk under this amazing archway on your way to the 18-hectare park.

Once there, you can walk in the gardens, picnic or row on the lake (about €6 per two-person boat for 30 minutes), while on Sundays you'll often hear musicians playing the park too.

It's also worth finding the Cascada fountain (pictured), which was designed by Josep Fontsère and Antoni Gaudi, who was his student at the time.

There are also a number of museums (entry is usually under €10), and the Catalan Parliament and the Barcelona Zoo are housed within the park. You can get a 20% discount on zoo tickets by booking online, so adults pay €16 rather than €20 at the gate.

There are also two play areas inside the park, which have tons of toys and activities. The Mum Abroad Spain site also has some good recommendations for child-friendly parks in Barcelona.

Book ahead for a tour of Palau de la Música

The Palau de la Música Catalana is a famous music hall in Barcelona, which is listed on the Unesco World Heritage site.

fountain

Many tourists say it's well worth a visit inside to see the spectacular architecture, even if you don't go to a concert there.

If you just want to glimpse the interior without paying anything, the foyer is open to the public. But most reviews say it's best to book ahead for the guided tours which begin every hour. Guided tour tickets are between €16 and €20.

Check if 10% tax is included for your meal

It's not always clear if the Spanish VAT charge of 10% is included within menu prices, so if in doubt, ask: "IVA incluido?"

If you're hitting the shops, it's also worth knowing there's a 21% tax on clothing, though this is usually included in the price marked on the tags.

Tipping is welcomed but isn't generally expected

Of course it's always at your discretion whether or not to tip, but it's certainly not as prevalent in Spain as in the UK.

Some diners round up, or add a few extra euros on to their bill. In touristy parts of Barcelona though, it's tipping's a little more commonplace - 10% for evening meals is the norm.

For services such as taxis or hotel porters, tipping is welcomed but large tips are not usual and a few coins should be fine.

We say go with what you feel comfortable with.

The ski slopes are just three hours away

When you think of Barcelona, you might not automatically think of skiing - but the slopes are not as far as you might think.

ski slopes

In fact, if you've booked to go skiing at one of the Pyrenees resorts, such as Grandvalira, the chances are you might fly into Barcelona El Prat airport anyway, so it could be a great opportunity to combine a city and ski break.

The ski season in this area tends to run between the end of November and late March.

The cost of adult ski passes ranges from €87 for two days, to €303 for seven days' skiing over a 10-day period. But many package ski holidays also include lift passes, so it's worth comparing before you book.

Ski equipment hire starts around €17 per day, but offers are available depending on how long you hire it for.

If you're asked, ALWAYS pay in euros

Time and time again you'll be asked if you want to pay in euros or pounds, so here's the answer...

ALWAYS pay in euros, even if you're told there's 0% commission.

Paying in pounds means you'll be charged using the bank's own rate, which is usually isn't a patch on Visa/Mastercard's wholesale rate.

For more, see Martin's blog Using plastic overseas? Always PAY IN EUROS.

Pack your EHIC for free Spanish healthcare

A free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is NOT a substitute for travel insurance, but it does entitle you to free or cheap healthcare if anything goes wrong.

It gives you access to the same treatment that local citizens can have. Just be aware that most hospital also offer private healthcare, so if they start talking about cash, they could be going down this route and you'll need to show your EHIC.

If you need a doctor's prescription, you'll get 50% off with the EHIC and 90% off if you're a pensioner (and also have an EHIC). See our Free EHIC guide for more info.

Send the bread away if you don't want to pay

If you're eating out, you'll often find a basket of bread's put on on your table before you've even think about ordering.

Don't just absentmindendly munch on it though, or let it sit there. There's typically a separate charge for this bread, even if you don't eat it - so if you don't want it, ask the waiter to take it away.

Stay safe - guard against pickpockets

pick pocket

Barcelona is without doubt an amazing city to visit, but it does have something of a reputation where pickpockets are concerned.

We've included this point in the guide not to scare you off, but simply to make you aware and ensure you stay savvy when sightseeing.

As in any large city there are a few handy tips and tricks you can employ to help minimise your chances of being pickpocketed:

  • Stay vigilant. When you're distracted, you're more vulnerable. So if you're watching a street act, eating in a restaurant or travelling on the metro, keep you stuff in sight.
  • Beware backpacks. Don't give thieves easy access to money and expensive possessions by putting them in the outer pockets of backpacks. And if you can, wear your backpack on your front instead so it's in your eyeline.
  • Try to blend in. Nothing screams tourist like opening a large map near a Metro station, so try to look where you're going beforehand.

MSE Megan stayed in Barcelona for a month while doing an internship. Here are some extra tips she picked up while flying solo:

This was my first time abroad on my own and I read up on some of the most common scams, so I would know what to watch out for. I also copied the locals' style of dress to make sure I blended in - and this must have worked quite well, as I was often spoken to in a torrent of Catalan which I had little hope of keeping up with.

The Barcelona Yellow travel guide has some good tips too.

You can create your own DIY 'protected package holiday'

If you book a package holiday, make sure it's ATOL-protected, so that if the company you booked with goes bust you'll get help or a refund.

Even if you're not booking a traditional package holiday though, there's a clever way to ensure you get this protection. If you book a flight plus a separate hotel or car hire from the same travel website (excluding airline websites) within 24 hours of each other you'll get ATOL protection.

If it costs more to book through the same site, decide if the difference is worth the ATOL protection. Don't forget Expedia*, Travelocity*, Ebookers* and Lastminute.com* often have discounts for flights and hotels booked together too. For more info see our Cheap Package Holidays guide.

If you don't fancy the tap water, head to the supermercado

The tap water is generally considered to be safe in Barcelona, though some say it doesn't taste particularly nice.

An alternative is to head to the nearest supermarket, where you can often pick up litres of water for less than a euro - much less than you'd pay for a bottle of agua mineral in a restaurant.

This can be particularly handy for day trips in the summer to ensure you keep hydrated.

Data costs are capped - but why not roam for free?

Although the cost of using your phone in the EU is capped, the bill can soon add up.

At most it will cost around 18p/min for outgoing calls, 5p/min for incoming, texts are roughly 7p and data is about 17p/MB in Europe, though many will pay less.

But if you're likely to be using your phone a lot, take a look at Three's Feel at Home promotion, which allows you to use your your normal allowance of minutes, texts and data abroad, including in Spain, as you would in the UK.

Even if you're not with Three, you can bag a free pay-as-you-go Sim to use for your hols. Here's how to do it.

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