Barcelona is a unique city not just in Europe but in Spain. In fact, many locals think of themselves as Catalonian before they are Spanish, and while you’ll get by here with your college Spanish—and many people speak at least some English—you’ll see and hear plenty in Catalan instead of Spanish. The beautiful, vibrant city by the sea has a great deal to offer the traveler, from the winding streets of the Gothic Quarter to the grand boulevards of Eixample to the former old fishing village of Barceloneta and more.
If you’re on a shoestring budget, you’ll miss some of what makes it so special, so it’s worth your while to look for ways to free up some extra cash for your vacation there. Be creative. For example, you might want to look into refinancing your student loans. With a private lender, you might pay less, and you can customize your terms. Then, you can use the money that you save to fund some of the great experiences below.
Visit La Boqueria
Barcelona is a great food city, and the centrally-located market known as La Boqueria is one of the best places to explore the city’s culinary side. It’s also a great reason to rent an apartment in the city rather than staying in a hotel because you’ll want to pick up some of the delicious produce, fish or meat that you see and cook it yourself. Be sure to have some small plates at the famous Bar Pinotxo or one of the other eating establishments in the market.
Hit the Beach
Barcelona may not have the greatest beaches in all of Europe, but they are attractive and the water is warm. Take at least an afternoon to enjoy sunbathing or swimming in the gentle sea. If you want a drink, hit one of the beach bars instead of buying from the vendors wandering the sands. The bar will cost you more, but the vendors are illegal and your drink may well be watered down.
Dance All Night
It’s not for everyone, but if nightlife is your thing, Barcelona is perhaps rivalled only by Berlin as the greatest nightclub city in Europe. Even if you don’t enjoy dancing until dawn, note that restaurants open late—around 9 for most—and you can spend an enjoyable evening moving from one tiny, atmospheric bar to the next, grabbing an excellent meal late at night.
Look for Gaudi
Even if you are traveling on a budget and don’t want to pay to tour the forever-under-construction Sagrada Familia (although it’s worth your time and Pinto money), look for the work of architect Antoni Gaudi all over the city. His fanciful work is unforgettable and can be viewed through Barcelona, including at the UNESCO World Heritage site, Parc Guell.
Become a Cule
A cule is the name for the loyal supporters of Barcelona’s soccer team, and even if you aren’t a sports fan, a trip to their home, Camp Nou, is unforgettable. It’s not too difficult to buy tickets to a match online, and you’ll have the opportunity to watch one of the world’s great soccer teams live.