The good old student travelers’ coin toss; do I get tickets for that awe-inspiring must-see landmark… or do I get dinner? A funny and charming idea when you’re not actually faced with the reality of it. Pinching pennies while traveling is especially stressful because you often feel you don’t have a home base to fall back on. That’s why we scouted out the best cheap, local spots in Barcelona for chowing, chilling, and chatting. Oooh, alliteration! Can you tell I’m hyped on coffee right now? Let’s start there.
We stumbled upon this amazing cafe on our way home one day. It’s inconspicuous; a flat storefront on Gran Via de les Corts Catalanes (yes, that’s the name of the street), a busy main road in the center of the city. Satan’s is actually an appendage of the just-as-cool Casa Bonay hotel. They have a straightforward coffee list, and a hilarious yet slightly intimidating set of principles on their menu, including “f*** TripAdvisor,” “f*** Yelp,” “no decaf,” and “no wifi.” Not to worry, though. You can use the free hotel wifi here. It’s a perfect unpretentious place to sit and do work, journal, and people watch. Chat with other travelers coming through to get their coffee before heading out for the day. The staff is super friendly, the food is delish, and only locals seem to know about it. Get a coffee and croissant for about two euros, water is free on the tables (a rarity in Europe), and you’re welcome to stay there for as long as you want.
If you’ve read about our adventures from previous destinations, you know we’re all about the grub. La Boqueria is a huge food market bursting with fresh fruit stands, empanaderías, bakeries, and more. There are even mini restaurants with bar seating where you can enjoy a midday glass of vino and a meal cooked right in front of you. We were obsessed the minute we entered. First of all, lining the entire perimeter are rows upon rows of colorful fruit smoothies that cost one euro. This was our go-to destination for fresh, cheap, delicious breakfast almost every morning. We found a few noteworthy stands; one where you can get a massive container of rice, beans, veggies, and more guac than you can imagine for four euros. There was another where you can get filling empanadas for only two. Cheers to that!
I always need a book while I’m on the road. You never know when you might be stuck at a train station or an airport for nine hours (speaking from experience). This quaint and cozy bookstore in Gràcia was such an amazing find because it’s the only second-hand English bookstore in Barcelona! The selection is amazing, and most of the books cost about three euros. Can’t beat it. (But you can read it). *Insert eye-roll emoji here*
Vamos a la playa! We wandered to Barceloneta one afternoon with some snacks and espresso. We spent the afternoon making our own fun on the beach. It was packed with other friendly travelers with the same idea, enjoying their picnics and company. All you need is your jacket to lay on, some snacks from the market, and to enjoy the killer ocean view. Boom; you got yourself a free afternoon of enjoyment. If you’re feeling luxurious, pay a persistent beach vendor five euros for a sandy out-in-the-open massage and try not to giggle the entire time. Afterward, hop over to La Heladeria Mexicana close by for some super cheap vegan ice cream!
Not only is Barcelona known for the beautiful sights, it’s also rated as one of the best cities to study abroad in! Imagine how much you could accomplish in this city throughout an entire semester.
Did you know that basically, every city offers free walking tours? It’s true! You can find a number of them online. We took a walking tour with Runner Bean tours all about Gaudí, Barcelona’s famous architect. Here, we discovered so much about the history of his architecture, his eccentric life. We saw jaw-dropping sights and structures all for the price of three hours on your feet (wear sneakers)! If you’re staying at a hostel, like Yeah Hostel, make sure you ask them about tours they might be affiliated with for discounts and other money-saving tips! You’re often given big discounts if you buy tickets through your hostel.