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Adventure on a Budget: Barcelona, Spain

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Simmons chapter.

This week we’re headed to Catalonia’s colorful capital city of Barcelona! Located just south of France and north of the Mediterraean Sea––Barcelona is a global must-visit. Known for its world-renowned architecture, rich history, and unparalleled nightlife, this city is the perfect getaway for young travelers. And with a population just shy of 2 million, you’ll never be bored in this European dream destination. 


Dates: March 26 – April 1


Flight Cost: $228 out of Boston Logan Airport 

Just a couple hundred bucks and a seven-hour overnight flight separates you from a five-day trip to the lively Barcelona, Spain! Iberia airlines offers non-stop direct flights for a handful of Spring travel dates, (this one being the cheapest!) but these deals are sure to go fast, so get planning!


Housing: $85 


Photo Courtesy of: Arc House, Barcelona

A basic six-bed, female-only shared room at the Arc House youth hostel, will only run you $17 a night! Located just ten minutes from Barcelona’s famous Gothic Quarter, this central spot is perfect for getting around on-foot. If bus transportation is more your style it’s also a mere 200 meters from Nord Station. Aside from geographical pros, the Arc House offers free wifi, computers, two equipped kitchens, and even free Netflix! Security is one of their highest rated amenities followed by cleanliness and staff.


Transportation: $38 

Barcelona has a wide variety of public transportation. Whether you want to take the bus, metro, or train for farther destinations, ticket prices are similarly pretty cheap (unless it’s a train-ride across the country of course). Single subway/bus-rides cost around $3.50 each, but for a five-day trip, it probably makes more sense to buy the $38 “Hola BCN” card which gains you unlimited access to all public transit for the remainder of your stay. Not to mention that the 40°- 50° weather might make you want to skip some walking on chilly nights.

Food: $110

Photo Courtesy of: http://blog.barcelonaguidebureau.com/7-ways-to-spend-a-sunday-in-barcelona/

Food is one thing you shouldn’t feel guilty about shelling out the extra cash for in Spain. Generally speaking, Catalonians prefer lighter, more frequent meals throughout the day unlike a typical American trio of feasts. Per usual, breakfast is usually the lightest and most inexpensive meal of the day. A classic pan con tomate (toast with a tomato/garlic spread), or savory breakfast pastry should only cost around $3 at any local cafe. Lunch can be made affordable by hitting the markets and opting for street eats rather than sit-down restaurants. Head over to the Mercado de La Boqueria for seasonal produce, fine cheeses, fresh empanadas, decadent sweets, and every kind of juice one could imagine. On a stealthy budget, you could easily spend around $8 at a market or vendor and come away from lunch feeling full and happy. Dinner is often served between 9 and 11:30 p.m. so don’t be alarmed to find most restaurants closing up midday only to reopen in the late evening. 

Paella, tapas, pasta, calamari, and bombas are all traditional dishes you can easily find on a menu for dinner around $11––check out La Rambla for Barcelona’s famed street of top-notch restaurants. Of course, no trip to Spain is complete until you’ve indulged in churros and hot chocolate (not to be confused with American hot chocolate––this stuff is straight up melted cocoa goodness). Xurrería Manuel San Román, Churreria Laietana, and La Nena are all well-vetted churro stops equipped with speedy service and elegant decor.


Excursions: $140 


Photo Courtesy of: https://www.news.com.au/travel/world-travel/europe/barcelonas

Most tourist stops in Barcelona (except for the Montjuïc cable cars) are luckily located in central areas of the city. La Sagrada Familia pictured above, Parc Güell, Palau de la Música Catalana, Casa Batlló, and the Picasso Museum all cost anywhere between $8-$20 for adult entry––student discounts often apply however, so bring those IDs! Other free things to do with your time are visiting La Rambla, the markets, Arc de Triomf, the Gothic Quarter, and any of Barcelona’s beaches along their gorgeous coastline. As far as nighttime activities go, Barcelona is home to some of the world’s best nightclubs and lounges like Opium Barcelona, Pacha, and Sala Apolo! And if clubbing isn’t your thing, you can easily find great happy-hour and tapas deals at nearly every bar or restaurant during any night of the week.


Total Estimated Cost: $601

Total costs here come out around $600 for a five-day trip to Barcelona. If you’re looking to save a tad more, I suggest cooking a few dinners at your hostel or taking advantage of market vendors for most of your meals! Other ways to save are opting for on-foot travel, or using single-day metro tickets rather than buying unlimited passes. If you’ve got more flexibility in your wallet, go all-out for your meals, visit as many sights as possible, and maybe even consider bringing home a souvenir or two for friends and family (Barcelona is known for leather goods). Of course, no matter what your financial situation is, there’s always a way to make a budget work while abroad. As famed violinist, Eugene Fodor once said, “You don’t have to be rich to travel well.”

Helen Ruhlin

Simmons '21

Second-year student from Maine at Simmons University. Currently undeclared, usually lost, perpetually happy!
Julia Hansen is a senior at Simmons studying PR/Marketing Communications and English with minors in cinema, media arts, and graphic design. When not writing for Her Campus, she can be found reading every book she can find, retweeting photos of dogs and binge-watching Parks and Recreation on Netflix. Find her on IG @juliarosehansen