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Barcelona on a Teeny Budget

Barcelona on a teeny budget

Greetings travellers and students to Barcelona from afar! In these trying times, your jet-setting plans may have been put on hold- but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead.

To help you to do so, I have compiled a handy log of tips and tricks that I picked up through my time studying abroad in the spicy city of Barcelona. Perhaps you can delve through and find something that will help you have the study abroad trip of the century- whilst also being an impeccable citizen of the city. Dig in!

The city of Barcelona is beautiful, eloquent and multicultural- it’s no wonder that tourism is rife, particularly in the summer months. When studying abroad, it is easy to get wrapped up in a faux Barcelona that exists solely for visitors, but this will be expensive, stressful and inauthentic. There are ways to see the true Barcelona, and to let your money go a little further, putting it into the local economy rather than the tourist traps.

These life hacks were learnt from experience, after being ripped off time and time again, and now I shall hand these cheeky cheats over to you. Use them wisely, and be nice!

1. Be flexible on your flights

If you are flexible, even if it’s just by a few days, use Skyscanners nifty tool. Type in your destination, but do not choose a date, rather click on ‘Whole Month’. This allows you to see how the prices rise and fall by the day, allowing you to get the best possible deal!

Most budget airlines have you pay a giant sum to check in a suitcase. Instead, choose to travel light, and fit all you have in a little backpack. You will find yourself much more mobile upon arrival in Barcelona.

Not yet in Barcelona, but already being ripped off? Empty out your water bottle before going through security rather than throwing it out. On the other side you can fill it in a café or at a free water fountain, saving you the extortionate burden of having to buy on the inside. Packed lunches are also pretty fantastic if you can plan ahead.

2. Travel in style, for a fraction of the cost

Once you have touched down in Barcelona, continue saving on your journey to the centre. Whilst the airport charges a minimum of €4 for a train to the centre, and the bus costs a good €6, you can do it for less than €1 if your suave enough.

From Terminal 2, you can travel using the T10 metro card, which costs €9.95 for 10 trips, and can be used by multiple people. This card can be used around the city, on the metro, bus and tram. Buy this from the ticket machine, and save some precious pennies!

If you land in T1, don’t head straight to the metro to use this trick, it won’t work! Instead, take the free shuttle bus to T2, scoot to the metro, and you are good to go! The same tactic can be used on the way home. You’re welcome!

3. See it all from the Bunkers for free

In your first few days in Barcelona, you want to get your bearings and see the city. The best way to do this is all at once- and the only way to do that is to get up high. Avoid the crowds and hefty tourist prices by scaling up to the Bunkers of Carmel for a day trip.

Pack a picnic and some beers, and take the V17 bus up to Carmel. Use your T10 ticket that you have already purchased to get back from the airport. From here, hike the short distance to the top, (looking out for the family of wild ginger house cats, and the melodic green parrots). Settle yourself on your picnic blanket or on a tree stump, and view the entire skyline in one go, absolutely free!

Notice the Sagrada Familia, Torre Gloriés, W Barcelona, the airport, Tibidabou, Montjuic and the sea. Pack suncream and water, but if you have forgotten, there are water fountains dotted about. Make sure to explore the forests, and meet the friendly folk playing guitar.

4. Gaudi, all day every day

One of the biggest expenses of Barcelona are the ‘cultural excursions’ and ticket costs. It is kept on the down low, but everything that you would be paying €12 pp for can be done absolutely ‘gratis!’. The Gaudi structures in Park Guell are impressive, but not when they are ridden with selfie sticks and sunburnt visitors.

Instead, have an early night, and set your alarm for 6am. Public transport starts at 5-6 am, so head out before the first light and make your way up to Park Guell. Entry to the Gaudi pieces here are free before 8am, and the Park itself is always free. Bring a flask and some fresh croissants and enjoy the sunrise with a picnic, from Gaudi’s own benches. Super!

In the same vein as the Gaudi’s of Park Guell, the inner city Gaudi designs can also be admired at no cost. Wander the city by foot, and gaze up at the Gaudi structures on Passeig de Gracia, La Pedrera, Casa Vicens and el Torre Bellesguard.

They are still hugely impressive from the outside, be aware that this is how they were intended to be viewed, looking up from the street! Now look down at the pavement, if you see a curved clover pattern engraved into the paving stones, this design is also the brainchild of Gaudi, as well as the lampposts in PlaçaReial.

5. Mix and match your Pinchos at the foot of Montjuic

Most tourist spots offer Pinchos and tapas at a hefty cost, in fact, tourists spots offer it all at a hefty cost, one of the main reasons Barcelona is considered an expensive city to travel to. Be wise, eat out, but not at the foot of the Sagrada Familia, nor in a shiny bar on las Ramblas. For an authentic and delicious treat, head to the foot of Montjuic on Carrer de Blai.

Designate a fiver for your meal, take a seat on la terraza, order a caña (beer) for €1, and enjoy the €4 remaining to pick and choose from the tsunami of Pinchos waiting seductively on the counter inside. Pinchos are small breads, with exotically towering toppings.

Their prices can be identified by the type of stick that holds them together, but the waitor will walk you through this. On Carrer de Blai, many restaurants offer pinchos for €1, so make sure you make the most of it!

6. Fill in your days with freedom

On Sunday afternoons, many museums offer free entry. Take heed of which museums partake and enjoy a (rather crowded) afternoon of gallery hopping. Some museums are free every day, such as ‘La Virreina’ near to Las Ramblas, and the ‘CCCB’ in Carrer de Montalegre. Check these out for some truly inspirational exhibitions.

Visit the plazas and parks for a relaxing day and night. Parc de la Ciutadella is close to the Arc de Triumph, here you can find free salsa classes, €6 boat rides and a lot of musical people. Plaza del Sol at night is a ‘spectacular’ not to miss. Join the sea of cross legged locals, buy a €1 beer, and enjoy the acoustics of the night.

Use your free Barcelona Wifi to browse ‘butxaca.com’, or pick up a paper copy in any alternative bar or café. This site is a lifesaver when it comes to finding what’s hot. The website is in Catalan, but most phones will translate it for you. Here is listed, day by day (‘agenda del dia), the vast array of activities in Barcelona. Choose from theatre, comedy, jam sessions, open mikes, salsa, flamenco, or alternative cinema.

And best part for you cheapskates? It is plainly specified how much each event is going to set you back. Look first at the prices, highlighting those that are ‘Gratis’ or ‘Copa’, and plan your day accordingly!

7. Walk

The public transport systems are fab, but they can be busy and hot at times. Make the most of your youthful limbs by walking from place to place! There is a lot to see in Barcelona, much of which has nothing to do with the guidebooks, plus, the city is smaller than you may think! Get to know your bearings:

  • Uphill is Mount Tibidabou, downhill is the sea.
  • 3 main roads, ‘Diagonal’, ‘Gran Via’ and ‘Parallel’.
  • Use the Plaza’s as your guides, Plaza del Sol, Plaza Catalunya, Plaza Reial.

Once you know these landmarks, you won’t even need a map!

8. We don’t want fees, we want frees

If you are paying by card, or taking money out of the ATM, make sure to select ‘Pay in Euros’, if this is an option. This way you can avoid the mark ups put on by your bank at home. Every little helps!

Save money on night Taxi’s by utilising the excellent night bus system, or stay out boogying until 5am, when the metros will reopen. Plan accordingly: on Friday nights, the metro will close at 2am, whilst on Saturday it runs through the night. All other days, the last metro runs at 12am.

Barcelona offers a free wifi service called ‘Barcelona Wifi’. This can be logged in wherever there is signal, all you have to do is sign in with your nationality. This can save unnecessary roaming costs (which have been scrapped since July 15 for Europeans) and could help you find your friends in a sticky situation. The best part, it is absolutely free!

9. Medical

If you are from Europe, don’t forget to apply for an EHIC, (European Health Insurance Card). It is easy to get, free, and will save you in a medical conundrum. Avoid pricey foreign doctors, and head to the local CAP for medical advice.

Mind that you can speak a bit of Spanish though, because these are hardworking doctors with a lot of patients to see. If not, a good health insurance plan will help you to clear up any medical issues you may encounter on your journey.

10. And finally (por fin!)

There is a bit if beef going down between the locals and the tourists in Barcelona, house prices in the centre are rising drastically, and it is pushing locals out in favour of high earning Airbnbs, and temporary residents. Centrally located hostels and bars attract crowds of noisy, midweek tourists, keeping working locals awake at night.

You may see some graffiti on your trip, ‘Tourist Go Home’, this is saddening, but it doesn’t refer to you as long as you are being respectful. It’s always a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local culture- and of course, don’t be a terrible tourist and get to grips on the language! In Barcelona, the locals speak both Spanish and Catalan.

To get in the good books- learn some Catalan, but if that’s not your cup of tea, at least practise some basic Spanish.  First, learn your manners (A good start would be: ‘Gracias’, ‘por favor’, ‘Salut’, ‘BuenProvecho’ and ‘Disculpa’), and try to integrate a little into society.

You can download ‘Duolingo’ for free, which should help you to learn the basics before you arrive! Once in Barcelona, don’t be afraid to ask the locals for the slangs and the swearwords!

Some final advice for you before you jet off to get educated- Don’t stand in the way of busy passages, don’t get too drunk (you will not see the locals getting too wavy), use your suncream, and just generally be a nice person!

Remember that whilst you are on a wild study holiday, there are people that need to get up to go to work in the morning, and being noisy on the street at night may earn you a bucket of water on the head.

Respect is key to a happy travel!

FC Barcelona

A source of pride and glory for Catalans throughout its more than 120 years of history (1899-today), FC Barcelona is a true symbol not only for the global football scene, but also for the culture and identity of Catalanism – which explains the club’s motto “Mes que un club” (More than a club).   The Football Club Barcelona (FCB) was founded in the 29th of November, 1899 by a group of Swiss, English, Spanish and Catalan players – led by the true founder of the club, a Swiss entrepreneur (Joan Jamper), who placed an ad on a local newspapers calling for players to join his brand-new club. The club went on to participate in local competitions until FC Barcelona and other Spanish football clubs co-founded the Spanish League “La Liga” in 1928.   FC Barcelona was always involved in politics, despite its foreign founders and players. The political situation and autocratic leadership in Spain affected Catalonia and its residents who found their refuge in the stadium of Barcelona as a place not only to watch football, but also as a playground for political debates. 
By 1978, Spain transitioned into democratic rule, but FC Barcelona remained as “more than a club”, growing into the symbol of Catalan values and their source of pride. The football club is also known under the name “Barça”.
FC Barcelona is one of three Spanish clubs that were never relegated from the Liga, along with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. As the winner of many Spanish, European and International trophies, the club’s past and present is a story of continuous success, presenting some of the best football teams and players in the history of the game. 
In 2009, Barcelona became the first team in history to win six major trophies in one calendar year – a miracle perfectly timed to celebrate its 110 years of history.    

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FC Barcelona is one of three Spanish clubs that were never relegated from the Liga, along with Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao. As the winner of many Spanish, European and International trophies, the club’s past and present is a story of continuous success, presenting some of the best football teams and players in the history of the game. 
In 2009, Barcelona became the first team in history to win six major trophies in one calendar year – a miracle perfectly timed to celebrate its 110 years of history.The club attracted many legendary players throughout its history, players such as Johan Cruyff, Maradona, Romario, Ronaldo, Rivaldo, Ronaldinho and Messi, as well as revolutionary playing styles that pioneered the football game, which was highly affected by the Dutch school under Rinus Michels in the 1970’s and Johan Cryuff in the 1990’s. 
Followed by Pep Guardiola’s reinvention of the playing style in the late 2000’s.Today FC Barcelona is one of the biggest football clubs in the world, followed by hundreds of millions of fans. In addition, its outstanding stadium (Camp Nou), is the biggest stadium in Europe with a capacity of over 98,000 seats – which attracts spectators from all over the globe and is considered as a top tourist destination in Barcelona.
The sports infrastructure of the city does not stop at the Camp Nou. The FC Barcelona foundation created and developed many sport facilities, such as the prestigious La Masia academy for young football players and the FC Barcelona sports city project of world-class facilities around the Camp Nou.
The club’s greatness is not limited to its male football team, but also runs a very successful team for women’s football, in addition to competitive teams in sports other than football such as BasketBall, HandBall and Hockey.   Don’t miss out and contact us for tickets with 10% discount.

Legal Requirements for Non-EU Students to Come to Spain

If you are planning to come from a non-EU country and study in Spain, there are some important requirements that you will need to fulfill.  These steps are divided into two groups: 
– Visa requirements (In your home country)  – Residence requirements (Upon arriving in Spain).
This article gives a general overview that provides you with adequate information about all necessary processes.  

1. Pre-Arrival (Visa requirements)

After identifying which study path you would like to pursue, the next step would be to initiate communication with your desired university/school in Spain to get the admission approval.
Upon receiving your admission confirmation, you will have to communicate with the Spanish Embassy in your country to set an appointment for obtaining a student-visa.   In general, the Embassy will ask you to prepare a list of documents, those normally include:

  • Passport (Make sure it is updated)
  • ID with photo
  • Admission confirmation from a Spanish School/University
  • Transcripts (authenticated high school or university transcripts in English)
  • Proof of payment (for your studies in Spain, for the entire study fee or partial depending on school and program requirements)
  • Proof of financial capability (bank statement from your account or your sponsor’s account
  • Health Insurance (obtained from your country to cover your first months in Spain)
  • Accommodation (where you will stay upon your arrival in Spain)
  • Flight booking (indicating your intended date of travel and date of return to your country)
  • Visa fee (varies depending on your country’s rates)

2. Upon-Arrival (Residence requirements)

After obtaining your student visa and your arrival in Spain, the next step would be to obtain your student-residence card (NIE). 
NIE is a requirement for both EU and non-EU students coming to Spain and it is the number associated with every foreigner living in Spain.
It is mandatory by Spanish law to apply for the NIE within your first 30 days in Spain. 

Below is an overview of the steps required to get your NIE card:

Empadronamiento: which is the residence certificate that a student needs to obtain from the local council to show his/her address in Spain.
University/School documents: your school or university should provide documents indicating that you are enrolled in a program that lasts more than 6 months.
Appointment: to get the NIE you will need to book an appointment (Cita Previa) with the Spanish immigration authority to submit all documents and your fingerprints. Booking this appointment is a major problem in Barcelona, as it is very difficult to obtain, even if you speak Spanish. 
Therefore booking this appointment is a major problem in Barcelona and it is very difficult to obtain, even if you speak Spanish. 
Card: approximately, after one month of your appointment, you will receive your NIE card.

Lifestyle Barcelona

Barcelona is an open, cosmopolitan city, which welcomes millions of visitors from all over the globe and attracts everyone to dream of becoming a part of its lifestyle. Many people from all around the world consider the opportunity to live in Barcelona itself a strong motivation, without thinking much about financial rewards.

Barcelona offers its residents the chance of living a touristic life throughout the year with its ubiquitous attractions, outstanding Mediterranean weather, beautiful beaches and unique architecture.  

Work/Life Balance

  The lifestyle in Barcelona consists of a healthy work/life balance, where people place a lot of importance on maintaining this equilibrium. Normal jobs usually start at 9 or 10 in the morning and a normal dinner time would be around 10pm.    Some shops close for an hour or two between 1 to 3 in the afternoon, for the famous Spanish “Siesta” rest time. With many cultural events, exciting nightlife, delicious and various cuisines and numerous shopping options, you will never run out of possibilities to enjoy your time in Barcelona.  

Beaches & Mountains

  One of the most desirable features of Barcelona is its beaches by the Mediterranean, with the high season between April and September. Barcelona’s beaches are well equipped to handle the flow of tourists and residents and provide an amazing experience.   The city is perfectly located between the beaches and mountains with lots of architectural wonders in between. With easy and various transportation options, you can spend a day enjoying your morning by the beach and hiking the mountains on the afternoon.  

Art, History and Culture

  With its rich history of artists, architects and cultural blend, Barcelona offers a varied experience for different tastes. There is a wide collection of artistic and architectural attractions such as Gaudí’s famous “Sagrada Familia”, a selection of museums such as the museum of Picasso, and bohemian neighborhoods with notorious street artists and street performers in areas such as “El Raval” and “Gracia”.    Every neighbourhood in Barcelona has its own “Fiesta Mayor”, where the regional inhabitants decorate their streets and celebrate one week with dancing and music in the streets – Everybody is welcome! With many music festivals all around the year, the main tourist magnet is the Electronic festival “Sonar”, which usually takes place in July.    The most popular free festival is the Barcelona city festival “La Mercè”, when the whole city is the show stage for cultural attractions, dances and parties in the streets.  

Summer festival Brunch 

Night Life

  Unlike many major cities in the world, nightlife in Barcelona is an everyday scene. Residents and visitors enjoy a variety of bars and clubs, which are open everyday. Most bars and clubs are located around the center of the city near Placa Catalunya and La Rambla street, while El Gotico offers another more laid back vibe with a blend of tourists and locals.    People normally finish their jobs by no later than 8pm and head out to meet friends and have a few drinks around these areas. The weekend scene is much more crowded with clubs open until 5 or 6 in the morning.  


  The biggest stadium in Europe and the second biggest in the world – Camp Nou – is home to the world-famous football Club FC Barcelona. In general, Barcelona is one of the main hotspots for sports fans. The city’s many sport facilities which were created for the Barcelona Olympics in 1992, in addition to its continuous investment on developing its sports infrastructure allows locals to enjoy various sports activities.    The city has developed a modern infrastructure for cyclists, with routes for everyday rides around the city as well as for hill climbing. If you are more into football you can easily meet new people by connecting with players on the field through apps like Celebreak.   #barcelona #nightlife #worklifebalance #barcelonabeach #arts #history #culture #sports  

Cuisine in Barcelona

With its unique location in-between the Mediterranean, Europe and North Africa, and the millions of visitors from all around the world every year, Barcelona has developed an international appearance of global cuisine, added to its own Catalan and Spanish cuisines – making it a top choice for food lovers and a place to try and experience different foods from all over the world.
Barcelona offers a tremendous gastronomic experience, from traditional tapas bars and various food markets to international top class restaurants.  

Food Markets

Food is an essential part of the Catalan culture, which becomes more obvious looking at the diversity and quantity of food markets in Barcelona. With over 35 food markets spread all around the city’s neighborhoods, tourists and locals don’t have to travel far to find a food market, and each market is unique in its offerings, filled with a variety of fresh vegetables, fruits, seafood and many other options.
At special occasions throughout the year, like the bohemian “Palo Alto” market, the food offerings get accompanied by music and a flea market. The best source to stay up-to-date with food markets is Facebook.

Entrence La Boqueria at La Rambla

Catalan & Spanish Cuisine

Catalan cuisine is admired not only in Spain but on a global level, combining seafood as well as plant based with a variety of meats. The Catalan diet is a tasty combination of land and sea ingredients, which has been influenced by the history of the Iberian peninsula for multiple centuries. 
A very common fish you get here is Bacalao (cod), either fresh or in the delicious shape of croquetas. In Barcelona it is easy to find a variety of restaurants and small cafeterias that serve different types of both Spanish and Catalan food. Typical dishes are tapas, like Pimientos de Padrón (peppers), Iberian ham, Albóndigas (meatballs) and many other exquisite plates. 
Usually eating in Catalonia is a very social event, you would order multiple tapas for everyone and share them with the company at your table. Another traditional dish is Paella in its various recipes (with seafood, meat or vegetarian). Often the best restaurant is just a small local place around the corner – try to find the best one for yourself!

International Cuisine

In addition to the local cuisines of Spain and Catalonia, Barcelona is considered as an international hub for all kinds of global cuisines. From Asian kitchens such as Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese and Indian to Latin and South American restaurants from Brazil, Peru, Mexico or Bolivia, and also American, African and European options – really everything is available. 
It is a true challenge to cover the variety of global restaurants in Barcelona even if you are a resident. But one thing be assured to you – you will not starve with the amount of culinary options there are in Barcelona.

Barcelona Neighborhoods

Regardless of what are your reasons for moving to Barcelona, planning where to stay in such a diverse city is an important decision to take. The neighborhoods of Barcelona offer different experiences and vibes, from historic buildings by the beach to new world-class architectural luxury, so it really depends on what you are looking for. 

That is why we have created this guide to help you briefly understand the main neighborhoods of Barcelona and what they have to offer.

Ciutat Vella

Located at the heart of Barcelona (name translates to “Old City” from Catalan), this district is the center of Barcelona and at the same time the busiest and most visited area. Main points of interest are the central plaza “Plaça Catalunya” and the famous “Las Ramblas” street, in addition to many ancient buildings and narrow streets in the Gothic quarter, and tourist attractions such as “El Catedral de Gaudí” and “Arc De Triomf”. 
Other subareas are El Raval, El Born and the beach area “Barceloneta”. Ciutat Vella is a hotspot for tourists with many local stores, restaurants and bars and particularly famous for its nightlife. If you’re looking to experience the vibrant ambience of Barcelona, this is the place for you. On the other hand, it might not be the best option for someone looking for a quiet area.  


Characterized by its wide streets and the famous Barcelona grid design of buildings and avenues, Eixample (which means “Extension” in Catalan) is the foundation of how the new Barcelona took its shape. The district starts from Placa Catalunya at the center up north and is divided into two sub districts by Barcelona’s most famous shopping street “Passeig de Gracia”. 
The right side of Eixample includes Gaudí’s architectural wonder “La Sagrada Familia”, while the left side attracts more youngsters as it is filled with cafes and restaurants in the recently renovated “Sant Antoni” area.  


Being the most artistic and bohemian part of Barcelona, Gracia was originally an independent village before becoming a part of Barcelona and has its very own hippie style and culture. Populated by a blend of young artists, professionals and more senior Catalans, it is considered to be the best place to live if you want to be away from the touristic areas of Barcelona. 
Park Guell” is one of the main attractions in Gracia that brings in thousands of visitors, but also it is big and diverse enough to allow residents and neighbors to enjoy its facilities. Locals will tell you “who lives in Gracia, stays in Gracia”, which is partly true because it has all the amenities, shops and restaurants you’ll ever need and is a particular community in itself.


One of the biggest neighborhoods in Barcelona, Sants-Montjuic is located at the southern part of the city and is considered as a residential middle-class neighborhood. The district has some attractions like the Montjuic hill and the Olympic village (“Poble Espanyol”), which hosted the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.

“Placa Espanya” is located at the bottom of Montjuic and is a well connected area with many towers, shopping malls, restaurants and bars. The area around Plaza Espanya is a strategic accommodation spot, since it is very well connected through Metro and RENFE (train), but it is not considered the city center. You can have a calm life while being only a stone’s throw away from the hustle of the city.

Les Corts

Located around the western part of Barcelona and home to its famous “Camp Nou” football stadium, Les Corts is a residential upper-middle-class neighborhood. Formed of a blend of old stylish buildings and new commercial towers and shopping malls, this neighborhood offers a great living experience and less attractions for tourists. 
If you want to experience the local residential life with necessary amenities in a tranquil neighbourhood, you have found your holy grail.

Sarria-Sant Gervasi

Located on the northwest of Barcelona between Les Corts and Gracia, this neighborhood is an upper-class residential area, bordered by the mountains that surround Barcelona. It is considered as one of the quietest and safest areas in Barcelona. 
This neighborhood was the last village added to Barcelona and still has a village-like vibe with quiet streets and parks. The main tourist attractions is the “Tibidabo” mountain, which is home to the Temple of the Sacred Heart of Jesus the summit, which can be seen from all over Barcelona. 
The Tibidabo amusement park is located right next to the church and is a great destination for a day walk. Sarria-Sant Gervasi is considered the posh area of Barcelona, where you will find players of FC Barcelona and lawyers as your neighbours.

Sant Marti

The second most populated district of Barcelona, Sant Marti is located on the eastern side of the city and bordered by the Mediterranean. The “Vila Olympica” neighborhood by the Barcelona beach and “Port Olimpic” where you find the seaside attractions such as nightclubs, restaurants and boats, are all part of Sant Marti. 
This district has undergone a big transformation over the last decade from an industrial to technological hub, and now it is home for technological companies (Barcelona’s Silicon Valley, a hotspot for Start-ups is called 22@) commercial towers and many shopping malls.

#neighborhood #CiutatVella #Eixample #Gracia #SantsMontjuic #Lescorts #SarriaSantGervasi #SantMarti



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