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By Regina W Bryan in Barcelona—
You have a coffee, munch a croissant, ride the bus and buy a postcard for your mom and BAM!…. another €10 is gone! This is a city where it is very easy to spend money at a rapid clip. Here are a few places where it pays to lay down your euro bucks:
1. Rent a bike
A bike tour with most cycle companies in the city is about €20. Instead, rent a bike for four hours for €10, get out your map and create your own bike tour! It’s best to stick to the bike lanes and paths near the beach. http://www.barcelonarentabike.com
2. See a Spanish movie
Obviously there is a language issue with this idea, but if you do speak Castellano, then try out your verbs and vocabulary at one of Barcelona’s many cinemas! This can be a relaxing way to end an evening if you have been trekking around the metropolis all day. Renoir is my cinema pick for Spanish films and other original version films. Films cost about €7 each. (Watch out; popcorn will put you over €10.)
3. Visit a market
Barcelona has some fantastic markets which are, of course, all free to visit. Stop into Santa Caterina Market in the morning and spend your €10 on lunch inside the market (Plaça de les Glories Catalane, C/ Dos de Maig, 186). Or head to Encants Market (Mon/Wed/Sat from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.) to check out Barcelona’s best flea market. You never know what treasures you may come across!
I love going to flea markets because in many ways it’s like a history lesson from the place I am visiting. Looking through people’s junk from 50 years ago, you get an idea of what life was like in Barcelona once-upon-a-time….
4. Tour Catalunya Caixa’s Casa Milà
Believe it or not, this one is FREE. So you just saved €10, which means more Spanish Rioja wine for you later. One of the best deals in the city, Catalunya Caixa’s Casa Milà houses rotating art exhibitions. Check ahead to see what’s on but know that their shows are always top quality. Casa Milà is also one of Gaudí’s most important buildings (but you’ll have to pay more to go into the Gaudí Museum part). http://www.lapedreraeducacio.org/
5. Groove at a Jamboree Jazz Concert
In the Gothic Quarter, I adore Jamboree and its fabulous line-up of jazz, blues and soul concerts nightly. The best part about it is that almost all their shows are €10. Sometimes they bring in a Big Dog in the jazz scene and tickets shoot up to €15 or €20, but this is an exception to the rule. See their line-up ahead of time and get your tickets in advance to save. http://www.masimas.com
6. Wander Park Guell
Another freebie! Well, almost free, seeing as you have to pay for the bus ticket up to the park. If you are in good shape do yourself a favor and don’t take the bus. Instead take the Metro to “Lesseps” and walk up, up, up to the park’s main entrance. Then walk some more inside this weird Gaudí wonderland. If you do take public transportation, you’ll only pay about €3 for transportation there and back. Use your remaining €7 to get a drink in the park and tip the many musicians who play along the pathways. http://www.gaudiallgaudi.com/
Update 2013: Sadly, the city announced that they will start charging €8 to visit Park Guell as of October 2013.
7. Jam Sessions at Jazz Si
This place is great and I would go there a lot more often if their concert times weren’t so early. By early I mean the Saturday Night Jazz Jam session begins at 7:45 p.m. Not early in most parts of the world, but basically the afternoon in Spain. Still, for €5 a concert, Jazz Si is a steal. Also consider their Rock-Pop-Blues-Funk Jam Session on Tuesdays. (Note: Get there early, as this place is popular!) Address: Club del Taller de Músics, C/ Requesens, 2 – Barcelona.
8. Picnic in the Park
On a sunny day, pack yourself a picnic of bread, cheese, ham and a bottle of Rioja and head to Park Ciutadella in Barcelona’s city center. Walk around the park taking a peek at the Zoo (warning: expensive to get in), the gardens, the palms, the man-made lake and the elaborate fountain.
On certain evenings in the summertime there is free live music at the gazebo in Park Ciutadella, one of my favorite Barcelona perks! The cost is in the food for this outing, as a visit to the park is free. If you want to take a boat out on the pond, that’s a bit more, and not really worth it. http://www.bcn.es/
9. Castle on the mountain
Take the zipper train up the mountain to the Castillo de Montjuic. Again, the cost for this outing is in the transportation, as getting into the castle, which dates back to the early 1600′s and has a dark past, is free. Honestly, there are some fabulous views to be had from the castle and it’s well worth the trip to get an idea of how the city is laid out. There is a small restaurant inside the castle offering snacks and lunch, but not much else. http://www.castillomontjuic.com/
10. Tours with Runner Beans
Runner Beans offers free tours of Barcelona’s old city center every day at 11 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The guides take you on a two-hour tour and you tip them at the end depending on the experience.
Obviously, this is how the guides make all their money, so it is important to tip. I have not been on one of these tours, but have heard a lot about them, as this is a new concept in Barcelona. Would you tip your guide €10? Maybe. Or maybe €7 with €3 leftover for a cafe con leche. http://www.runnerbeantours.com/