Return flights: £41.34 (Ryanair)
Accommodation: £51.98 Hostal Nilo (Ryanair Rooms)
Summary and Highlights
- Try to avoid the touristy Las Ramblas area
- Utilise the public transport – buy a T-10 combo ticket rather than individual journeys.
- Look for cheaper times or tickets to visit attractions
- Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and other Gaudi buildings
- Gothic Quarter
- Montjuïc and Olympic Park
This was my first proper trip after deciding on going away every month using the £100 holiday rule. I’d been to Barcelona before when I was about 6, but all I remember was Las Ramblas and the construction site of Sagrada Familia. All these years later, the construction site was a familiar sight but hey, it’ll be finished one day right?
It was the first time I’d used Ryanair Rooms after seeing an advert on the side of a bus thinking it couldn’t be real. I imagined at first an actual Ryanair hotel (like an EasyHotel) with blue and yellow rooms, probably with a stand-up bed and an extra charge for priority access to the bathroom and extra luggage space. Anyway, turns out it’s much like Skyscanner or Trivago – searching various sites such as Hotels.com or Hostels Club. The difference being you book through Ryanair Rooms who then book through whichever provider, rather than being redirected to the respective provider’s site itself. The appeal of booking through Ryanair Rooms is after your stay, you’re credited with 10% of your total cost of the accommodation in the form of ‘travel credit’ to use on your next Ryanair flight. It doesn’t sound much but I got €5.95 back for that trip which on a cheap flight can take off a significant portion of the cost.
I try to limit myself to 2 nights as I have to budget my time off at work to about 2 days a month. Thanks to the timings of the flights – early morning there and late evening back, I got nearly 3 full days. This is one of my biggest savings tips is looking at the times of flights and maximising your time, without having to fork out unnecessarily for an extra night.
The hostel I stayed in was nice but basic and in a great location – in the middle between Las Ramblas, the Old Town and the marina leading to the beach. I tend to stay in hostels but will pay for a private room and I don’t mind sharing a bathroom. A lot of the time paying for a private room in a hostel or equivalent is cheaper than a hotel room and you get the same or similar amenities.
The problem a lot of people have is that they’re drawn in willingly or unwillingly into the tourist areas which tend to offer high priced, low-quality food, drink and just general tat. For some people, that’s their thing but for me, I’d rather venture out the tourist area and get stuck in where the locals are, where prices tend to be lower and the quality, authenticity and value for money a lot better.
One of my favourite things to do whilst away, usually on the first day is a free walking tour. You can find them in pretty much every city in Europe. Some are small, independent companies that operate in just their respective cities or others like Sandemans New Europe that have multiple tours in various cities. The best thing is that it’s free! How does this work? The guides work on a tip basis that is up to you how much you want to tip at the end of the tour. You could just go along, do the tour and leave, but these tips provide their wage which they also have to pay tax on and a cut to their company. I tend to tip around €10 (or equivalent). I find this a great way to explore a city on foot, see the sights and learn about the place I’m visiting.
I did an Old Town tour and a Gaudi tour that ended at Sagrada Familia, which is a lot further away from everything than I remembered. Thankfully I got myself a T-10 ticket to use on the metro that costs €10.20 for 10 single trips. Even if you don’t use all 10, it tends to work out cheaper than buying individual tickets for each journey. I looked into going in the Sagrada Familia but there were limited tickets at that time of the day and fairly pricey. Turned out that between 4 and 6pm on certain days, under 30s could get in half price so I bagged one of the last tickets for €7. Obviously, they want us that are doing it for the gram, to do it all at once.
For such a large and touristy city, Barcelona was reasonably priced and the weather was fab for April – enough to even go to the beach.