Make the most of your time and money in Barcelona!
After having lived here for over 6.5 years, I have learned from my mistakes, learned from the locals, and learned that if it seems too good to be true, it is exactly that. My hope is that these tips will help make your time in Barcelona more affordable, less stressful, and overall a richer experience.
CHAMPAGNE TASTE ON A BEER BUDGET Generally speaking, here are what I have found to be the best value in their respective fields:
Caffeinated beverage at cafes: “un café solo” (shot of espresso) or “un cortado” (mini coffee with milk), however a normal café con leche is usually not over 2 euros!
Mode of transportation: *looks at ground* your feet! BCN is a very walkable city!
Public transportation tickets (TMB – metro, bus & train): The classic T-10 (now the T-casual) is usually a good bet (now 11.35 for 10 trips). If you’re going to be here for 3 months or more and you use the metro and/or buses multiple times daily, the option with the best value is to bite the bullet and purchase a “T-Jove” ticket (90 days, unlimited trips, just over 100 euros for under 26 yr olds).
Grocery stores: Mercadona’s the cheapest overall, but there is also Al Campo, which is more like a Sam’s or Costco. These two are a better value than say Sorli, Suma, or any convenience store. Bon area has good bang for your buck in terms of meat products. You can’t go wrong with these options either though: Carrefour, Lidl, Bon Preu, or Hipercor. For frozen products, the best is definitely La Sirena.
Cheap clothing store: Primark. An Old Navy –Kohl’s– Forever 21 hybrid with trendy euro-style. There is one at Diagonal Mar & La Illa shopping centers. Word to the wise, DO NOT go on Saturdays – the store is jam-packed from open till close.
Cute fast-fashion stores include but are not limited to: Bimba & Lola, Uterque, ZARA, Mango, Oysho, Bosanova (shoes), Pull & Bear, and Massimo Dutti.
For gifts: Natura, Bon Vent, La Chinata Oleoteca, or Cafés Il Magnífico.
Alcoholic beverage at bars: “una caña” (tap beer) and/or glass of house wine are orders that you usually can’t go wrong with. Gin & tonics are still the trendiest mixed drink around and most places offer many different variations of this refreshing libation.
Nightlife hook-up: Aashi Guest List …Saying those 3 words translates into free entrance to over a dozen of nightclubs all over the city.
Don’t tip like you do in the USA. Unless you are in awe of the amazing service or just really want to, you don’t need to tip taxi drivers, bartenders, servers, hairstylists, etc. The most common tipping practice is if you do want to tip, leave up to 2 euros and that’s great!
Bags and water are not included. Bring reusable bags to grocery stores because, mother earth, but also because they’re not included and you will have to pay for them, same for water at restaurants. Nothing is complimentary, also that goes for bread at some restaurants and sometimes having to pay to use the restroom.
If you’re looking for a shellac manicure or reliable waxing, go to French Kiss on Port d’ Angel in the city center – they also have several other locations in BCN. Aloha Beauty Clinic is my favorite option in my area (Poblenou), while AIRE Barcelona is hands-down the nicest spa & thermal bath experience in the city.
Get a library card. Things the many, many public BCN libraries offer: free Wi-Fi, bathrooms, quiet study rooms, DVDs, wide selection of books in English, and obviously plenty of Spanish and Catalan finds as well.
Check to see when/ if museums are free before going; Picasso Museum, for example is free on Sundays and if you’re under 25 with proper identification – always free. Or on the other hand, with a student ID most museums have discounted entrance fees, like the modern art museum, The Joan Miró Foundation.