Want to visit Barcelona without spending a fortune? Here are Marco Polo’s top Insider Tips:
Low budget dining
Narrow, crammed, noisy, hip – and unbeatable prices: the modern Old Town eatery Can Nabo serves up a daily, filling and tasty all-day menu from €4.50, including a vegetarian option. On the menu are salads, risottos, fresh pasta, homemade pizzas or cakes. Open daily | Nou de Sant Francesc, 25 | Metro: Drassanes (L3)
La Avia: Design boom and nouvelle cuisine have left no trace at this familiar Raval eatery with bohemian style. The menu features traditional Catalan dishes such as bean stew, paella or squid à la marinera with potatoes and peas at dumping prices from €3.60. Tasty homemade giant empanadas cost just €1.20. Open daily | La Cera, 33 | Tel. 9 34 42 00 97 | Metro: Sant Antoni (L2)
La Candela: Market-fresh, imaginative cuisine at reasonable prices on one of the Old Town’s most beautiful terraces, on a charming square with historic ambience. Closed Sun | Plaça de Sant Pere, 12 | Tel. 9 33 10 62 42 | Metro: Arc de Triomf (L1)
Not pretty, but incredibly good value: near the Rambla, Romesco offers hearty fare: chicken with a side (€3.90), hake or cutlets (€4.90) and soups (€2.60). Closed Sun | Sant Pau, 28 | Tel. 9 33 18 93 81 | Metro: Liceu (L3)
Shopping on a shoestring
The outlet of the world-famous Catalan fashion chain Mango allows you to put together an entire new outfit for very little money. Carrer Girona, 37 | www.mango shop.com | Metro: Urquinaona (L1, L4)
Muy Mucho offers a large selection of trendy styled presents and decoration items, and no-one would guess how little they actually cost. Small pretty items start at €2–3. Rambla de Catalunya, 35 | Metro: Passeig de Gràcia (L3, L4)
Drinking and partying on a budget
Can Paixano: This is how you’d imagine a cosy tavern in the port area – hams hang from the ceiling beams and the walls are decoratively yellowed. Drinks are taken standing up, there are no chairs. House cava at rock-bottom prices of €0.80–1.20 per glass. Open Mon–Sat 9am–10.30pm | Reina Cristina, 7 | www.canpaixano.com | Metro: Barceloneta (L4)
You’ll be glad to hear that there’s a way to party away in the hippest clubs in town, such as the Shoko – for free! All you have to do is get onto the right guest list: one of the most popular is Shaz’s guest list: www.barcelonaparties.com. Watch out though: the invites are only valid for that specific time – latecomers have to pay up to €20. So get in line in good time, as long queues will form.
€19–25 is the price for double rooms (some en-suite) in the Garden House, a stately fin-de-siècle villa in the green residential quarter of Horta, only five minutes from the nearest Metro station. Garden, roof terrace, cosy lobby, guest kitchen. Familiar, easy-going atmosphere. Rooms are light and spacious. Bed linen, towels and WiFi are free, and there are women-only rooms too. 56 beds | Hedilla, 58 | Tel. 9 34 27 24 79 | www.feetuphostels.com | Metro: Valldaura (L3)
Hostal Girona is a friendly family-run guesthouse in a stately Art Nouveau building: original mosaic floors, stucco ceilings and furnishings with the charm of times past. The rooms vary in size (doubles €45–62), are renovated, have modern bathrooms, heating, air-conditioning and plasma screens; some have balconies. Rooms with windows facing onto the patio are quieter. 27 rooms | Girona, 24 | Tel. 9 32 65 02 59 | Metro: Urquinaona (L1, L4)
Free art exhibition
Take a look behind the scenes in Antoni Gaudí’s famous residential building, the Casa Milà (also known as La Pedrera). To get to the free changing exhibitions on the first floor, take the unique ‘snail’ staircase – saving the entrance fee. Open March–Oct daily 9am–8pm, Nov–Feb daily 9am–6.30pm | admission €11, changing exhibition on first floor free of charge | Passeig de Gràcia, 92 | www.lapedrera.com/en/home | Metro: Diagonal (L3, L5)
Picasso on a Sunday
A number of museums open their doors for free on Sunday afternoons from 3pm; amongst them the Museu Picasso (www.museupicasso.bcn.cat/en), the most visited museum in Barcelona and the Museu d’Història. If you choose the first Sunday in the month for your visit, you’ll have all day to explore for free.
Music by master-class students
Whether you’re into early music, classical or jazz: listening to the pupils and master-class students of the Catalan conservatory at their rehearsals in the auditorium is usually free. Escola Superior de Música de Catalunya | Padilla, 155 | Tel. 9 33 52 30 11 | www.esmuc.cat/eng | Metro: Glòries (L1)
Buy the Barcelona Marco Polo Guide.