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How to Enjoy a Week-long Holiday in Barcelona, Spain for Under $1,600

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Joanne Poh

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If you’ve ever wanted to see the trippy architecture of Gaudí or sip real sangria while being serenaded by a modern day Don Juan, a trip to Barcelona might be right up your alley.

As usual, you’ve probably heard one of your friends or colleagues announce, not without a touch of pride, that their trip to Spain cost them more than $5,000. Well, you’re smarter than that. Here’s how to spend a week-long holiday in Barcelona at a decent price.

 

Airfare

If you book in advance you can get flights for well under $1,100 on airlines like Finnair and Jet Airways. Months before your trip, you should start checking sites like Kayak for ticket prices. The cheapest flight we managed to find departing in January at the time of writing was a cool $844, although it involved a lengthy stopover.

Obviously, as this is a budget travel guide, you’re going to have to be flexible. If you insist on travelling only during the school holidays and don’t book your ticket until the last minute, you’re looking at paying up to $500 more.

Cost: 1,000 SGD

 

Accommodation

Budget travellers who aren’t about to splash out on hotels can choose between three key types of accommodation. The first are the backpackers’ hostels with shared dorms we’ve all grown to know and love (?). Thankfully, dorm beds are relatively cheap in Spain, and a night should cost you around 12 euro (19 SGD) to 15 euro (24 SGD) during low season. During the high season (summer time to September) you might be charged up to 20 euro (32 SGD) or 25 euro (41 SGD).

The second type of accommodation is the “hostal “ or “pension”. In many cases, “hostal” refers not to youth hostel-type accommodation but rather a tiny hotel (or simply a room in an apartment) with single and double/twin rooms. If you look up at old buildings in the tourist areas you’ll see lots of signs indicating where you can find a hostal or pension. If you haven’t pre-booked your accommodation, you can just show up at a pension and ask if they have a room.

If you’ve never been to Europe you might be a bit taken aback as most of these joints are little more than old, badly-kept apartments housed in rather rundown buildings. A single room will cost about 20 euro (32 SGD) to 30 euro (49 SGD), while a double room will set you back 35 euro (37 SGD) to 60 euro (98 SGD). Bathrooms are usually shared. Be warned that most pensions are pretty decrepit.

Compared to staying in a pension, an apartment on Airbnb is likely to be much more modern and comfortable, and there are plenty of single rooms in the city centre for around 15 (24 SGD) to 20 euro (30 SGD) a night. If you’re travelling in a pair, you can really save with this option—we even found double rooms in the city centre that would cost two people less than 25 euro (41 SGD) altogether.

In general, you can get great rooms on Airbnb in very central areas for much less than you can in other major European cities like London, Rome or Paris.

Cost: 15 euro x 7 = 105 euro (170 SGD)

 

Transport

The Metro will take you to most of the major tourist sites and is how most visitors get around the city. A single ride costs 2.15 euro (3.50 SGD), but it’s much cheaper to buy a T-10 card, which lets you take 10 rides for 10.30 euro (16.75 SGD) (within Zone 1, where most of the tourist attractions are located). A T-10 card can also be used to pay for rides on buses, trams and certain trains.

While you should probably not expect the metro to be as polished or as comfortable as the subway systems in Tokyo or Seoul, you’ll be pleased to know that they come every 2 minutes, hence making them less frustrating to wait for than our own MRT.

Cost: 20.60 euro (34 SGD)

 

Sightseeing

Unfortunately, Barcelona isn’t like London, where most of the major sights and museums are free to visit. Most visitors to Barcelona will spend at least a few days exploring Gaudí’s wacky architecture.

Here’s a sampling of some of the main attractions and what it costs to visit them. Take note that on Sundays many museums are free from 3pm onwards, and several are free to visit all day on the first Sunday of the month. Furthermore, students and over 65s get discounts for many attractions, so bring along your university card and some ID.

  • Sagrada Familia – 14.80 euro (24 SGD), 12.80 euro (21 SGD) for students and retirees
  • Parc Güell – 7 euro (11 SGD), 4.90 euro (8 SGD) for over 65s (reserve in advance online)
  • La Pedrera – 20.50 euro (33 SGD), 16.50 euro (27 SGD) for students
  • Picasso Museum – 11 euro (18 SGD), 7 euro (11 SGD) for those aged 18 to 25 or over 65 (free on Sun 3 to 7pm and all day on the first Sun of the month)
  • National Museum of Art Catalonia – 12 euro (19 SGD) (free on Sun 3 to 7pm and all day on the first Sun of the month; 30% discount for students and families)

Cost: 80 euro (162 SGD)

 

Food

For a Western European destination, Barcelona is relatively cheap when it comes to food if you know where to look. There are lots of touristy restaurants that will suck, and there’s no getting away from them, so it’s best to do some research before you sit down and order.

There are numerous eateries that serve up meals for less than 10 euro (16 SGD), but as a tourist it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find them unless you do some research on Tripadvisor or similar. For about 6 euro (10 SGD) you can get a sandwich or generic foods like eggs on cutlets and so on.

At night, if you want to party or just have a “few” drinks, you’ll find bars everywhere that will serve up tapas that can easily fill you up for the evening. But the days of bars serving free tapas are (mostly) dead and gone (psst, look here), and the cost of subsisting on tapas is likely to exceed 12 euro (19 SGD). Steer clear of the posh-looking bars.

Otherwise, in an inexpensive restaurant, you’ll find yourself paying about 10 euro (16 SGD) to 20 euro (32 SGD) for a set meal. To save money, it’s a good idea to have simple fare like sandwiches for lunch and then visit restaurants in the night.

Cost: 20 euro (32 SGD) per day / 140 euro (227 SGD) for a week

Total: 1,593 SGD

If you are looking to get away this holiday season, make sure you’re able to travel with peace of mind with a good travel insurance plan. You can check out all the best plans available on MoneySmart’s new Travel Insurance Comparison Page now!

Are you inspired to travel to Barcelona now? Let us know in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.