Exploring Catalonia on a Budget
Barcelona is one of the most charming cities in Europe, and hands down our favourite city in the world- although, we’re probably a little biased.
Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is located, is so much more than just the Catalan capital.
As well as being home to the lucious sands of the Costa Brava, the region of Catalonia also boasts the spectacular Pyrenees mountains. Some might say it’s a triple threat; it has beaches, mountains and even city.
But where should you start?
Here’s a Guide to Catalonia on a Budget
Just a forty-minute train ride from Barcelona-Sants station and with its white washed buildings and sandy bay, Sitges is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in the region.
Sitges is known for being the host of some of the best parties in the North of Spain, it’s Carnival and Pride celebrations rival even those of Barcelona! Every year, Sitges also hosts its annual film festival which specialises in films from the Fantasy and Horror genre. There is even a zombie walk which sees fearless attendees dress up as the walking dead and parade around town!
But as well as its inviting party scene, Sitges is also a place of tranquility offering those that want to leave bustling Barcelona for the day, the perfect escape.
Why not climb up to the church of Sant Bartomeu, a stunning example of baroque architecture located on a small hill just north of the town? Or, if you are a fan of Bacardi, it might interest you to know that Bacardi’s founder also grew up in Sitges, and the town offers a tour which includes a free rum tasting session, as well as a free drink!
Sitges has dozens of local restaurants that offer a range of different cuisines. Traditional tapas, Greek delicacies, Japanese sushi, and even Peruvian food, is on offer in this small coastal town. But don’t forget to try the fresh seafood caught in Sitges itself!
A round trip ticket will only cost you €8.40, and you can travel on the overhead Renfe trains which connect Barcelona to a range of beautiful coastal towns.
Just like Sitges, Badalona offers guests an alternative beach getaway to those that are sick of Barceloneta’s crowded sands. The beaches in Badalona are bigger and cleaner than in Barcelona, giving you room to relax and even play some sport using the volleyball nets.
There are plenty of lunch spots in Badalona, particularly along the town’s Passeig de la Rambla, a street which runs parallel to the beach and offers al fresco seating among the palm trees.
After lunch, why not walk down the beach to the historical pier Pont del Petroli, where you can experience amazing views of the sea, the beach, and the town! You can also visit the historic church, the town hall, and many more beautiful streets and buildings in the area by walking through the narrow streets to Badalona’s historic district.
Keep walking to Parc de Can Solei I Ca l’Arnús, an oasis hidden away in the northern part of the town, and you can find playgrounds, sports fields, a lake, and other stunning historical buildings.
If you have time, stop at the Museu de Badalona to check out ancient Roman ruins of the city of Baetulo. The ruins are located underneath the building and include baths and partial remains of shops. Various artifacts that have been excavated since the museum’s opening in the 1960s are also on display.
How do you get there?
Badalona is accessible by either the Renfe or by metro, located on the R1 or at the end of the L2 (the stop is Badalona Pompeu Fabra).
A nearby city full of mesmerising medieval architecture, Girona is great for those that want to swap cities for the day, or Game of Thrones fans interested in seeing where some of their favourite series is filmed…
Girona’s beautiful Gothic architecture can be found just by wandering around the city, but check out Girona Cathedral for a closer look.
The Moorish baths are also a must-see during your visit as they date back to the 12th century and were built in a Romanesque style. Plus, entry is only €2.
Girona’s Jewish Quarter boasts narrow, cobblestone streets and small shops you can wander into while exploring. Visit the two museums in the Jewish Quarter and the Girona History Museum, all of which have free entry on certain days of the week.
Before you go, don’t forget to walk along the spectacular Onyar River and count all eleven of the ornate bridges which cross it. The most popular of these is Pont de Ferro, designed by Gustave Eiffel- of Eiffel Tower fame. The architecture of the homes along the river is also notable and evokes the feeling of an Italian city like Venice or Florence.
Girona has plenty of delicious food options, and with the proximity to France, the French food is a must-try. Check out the cafés and bakeries for the cheapest, freshest food. Visit Rocambolesc Gelateria if you want to try ice cream designed by Jordi Roca, the pastry chef at the three-Michelin star restaurant, El Celler de Can Roca.
Girona is accessible by train, bus, or BlaBla Car (a carpooling service.) Tickets start at €9 on the Renfe, range from €10 to €15 on the bus, and range from €6 to €12 through BlaBla Car.
Montserrat is a mountain range near Barcelona which gives you some of the best views of Catalonia. There are plenty of breath-taking attractions there like the Montserrat Monastery, and the Basilica, both free to enter. You can also hike over to Sant Miquel’s Cross for more amazing views of the mountains and a great view of the monastery on the other side.
Close to the restaurant at Montserrat is The Stairway to Heaven, a popular tourist attraction and photo opportunity. Unfortunately, the artwork is now fenced off, but it is still a cool site to visit during your trip.
How do you get there?
Montserrat is accessible by train or bus but there is also the option to buy a ToT Montserrat ticket, which includes a round trip train ticket, entry into the Montserrat museum, and a free buffet lunch at the restaurant at Montserrat. The total cost of the ticket is €53.
Without the ToT ticket, you can take the Renfe R5 train from Plaça Espanya and then get the cable car or the funicular to reach the top. A combined ticket can be purchased at Plaça Espanya for €22.
You can also take the bus to Montserrat, a ticket costing €10 and taking an hour and thirty minutes.
We recommend that you book all tickets to Monsterrat in advance.