In our A Total Trip series, writers document what they spent on a recent getaway. In this edition, writer Amy Mulvaney shows how much a weekend of dining, sightseeing and vintage shopping cost her in Barcelona, Spain.
While I’ve been fortunate to visit many countries around the world throughout my life, I’ve never actually lived abroad. Being in my late twenties now, and with a wedding booked for two years’ time, my fiancé and I decided we’d take this summer to experience life in a different country before we started our next (costly) chapter.
With an easy two-and-a-half-hour flight from our hometown, Dublin, a seemingly never-ending supply of cool bars and restaurants, and near-guaranteed good weather, Barcelona was the first city we thought of when looking for somewhere to live and freelance for the summer.
Amy and her fiancé Conall in Parc Guell © Amy Mulvaney
We stayed there from the start of June to the end of August, and even that wasn’t long enough to tick off everything on our to-do list. We had a strict budget to live off each week, and, for the most part, we could stick to it thanks to the wide range of options available in the city.
If you’re planning a trip to Barcelona and wondering about your potential expenses, here’s a breakdown of costs from one of our favorite weekends in the city. Hopefully, this will help you navigate similar expenses on a weekend break.
We stayed in an Airbnb for our entire trip, which worked out at €85 (€42.50 each) per night. This cost includes city tourist taxes of €1 per person per night. Our apartment was in El Born, an area popular with locals thanks to its abundance of trendy, independent bars, restaurants and shops. Staying here meant we were never far from a cafe serving an oat flat white or a traditional restaurant offering fresh paella or fideuà.
Considering we flew in the height of summer, our flights were expensive at around €400 each, including suitcases. Several buses run from the airport to Plaça de Catalunya in the center, but we opted for the easiest way possible and absorbed the cost of a €40 taxi. You can do it cheaper if you take a metro or train (€8).
Total: €127.50 for three nights’ accommodation
The Montjuïc cable car offers incredible views of the city but expect to pay just under €15 for a ticket © Shutterstock / Sopotnicki
Breakfast and sightseeing: We fuelled up with an iced coffee and a flat white with oat milk for €7 (€3.50 for my share) from our favorite cafe in El Born, Hidden Coffee, before paying a visit to Castell de Montjuïc (Montjuïc Castle). We bought one T-Casual ticket each for €11.35, which gives you 10 journeys on public transport within one zone (if you’re traveling to Barcelona, I highly recommend you purchase this ticket—it will likely cover your transport costs for an entire weekend).
The T-Casual includes the Montjuïc Funicular, which takes you to the starting point of the Telefèric de Montjuïc (the Montjuic cable car) at Parc de Montjuïc. A return ticket for the cable car was €13.50. The views of the city from the cable car were beautiful, but perhaps not worth the cost for such a short journey when we could have used our T-Casual ticket to bring us to Castell de Montjuïc.
Drinks: We found a small bar near the castle where we enjoyed a beer and water each, costing €5.50 per person. We’d hoped also to visit Poble Espanyol on this trip but didn’t realize that it would take a 40-minute walk (or 20-minute bus journey) to get there from the castle.
Dinner at celebrity hotspot, Bar Brutal © Amy Mulvaney
Drinks: Before dinner, we stopped off at a quiet bar we frequented often during our stay. Fa Patxoca is a tapas bar on a shaded side street in El Born, and we loved sitting on the stools outside and having a cold beer (often more than one) to escape the sun. Two cañas (small beers) and two gluten-free bottled beers cost €11.30 (€5.65 each).
Dinner: A hotspot for celebrities (Emily Ratajkowski and Hailey Bieber, to be exact) and tourists in the know, we booked Bar Brutal for dinner about two weeks before our arrival. The bar and restaurant is known for its natural wines and contemporary Spanish and Catalan dishes. We ordered three plates between us—the winner being the sea bass with pistachio emulsion and grilled pineapple, grilled cucumber and mezcal, and a bottle of wine recommended to us by a very helpful waiter.
Along with a bottle of water and two deserts, the total came to a sweet €103 (€51.50 each). This was one of our most expensive meals, but we would have paid a second visit if our budget allowed us.
Barcelona’s Carrer dels Tallers is a haven for vintage shoppers © Amy Mulvaney
Breakfast: Being coeliac, Barcelona’s fantastic selection of gluten-free food was another key reason we chose to live there for the summer. A favorite weekend (or weekday, to be honest) breakfast for me was a cinnamon roll and mini vanilla chocolate cookie from Chök. This Saturday was no different and my treat cost €6.05.
Shopping: Our plan for today was to hit some of the city’s many vintage shops, so after doing some research, we found that Carrer dels Tallers was an excellent place to start. We spent hours walking down this street and visited as many shops as possible. I wasn’t blessed by the vintage gods on this day, but my fiancé found a cool red bomber jacket in Flamingos Vintage Kilo for €20. While not vintage, I did find a beautiful handmade dress in a small boutique, Urbana. It was an unexpected purchase of €69, but as soon as I saw it in the window, I couldn’t resist. Thirsty from all the shopping, we got a bottle of water for €1 each.
Indian and Pakistani street food in Gracia’s Baby Jalebi © Amy Mulvaney
Dinner: We visited Gràcia for dinner, another charming neighborhood in Barcelona. The bus journey from El Born took about 25 minutes and was included in our T-Casual card. Gràcia has more of a residential feel than other neighborhoods we visited but has no shortage of impressive bistros and wine bars. Our dinner spot this evening was Baby Jalebi, a restaurant specializing in Indian and Pakistani street food. We ordered as many things from the menu as possible—with the lamb madrasi being a particular standout dish. The total, including two beers, was €47.10 (€23.55 each).
Total: €30.60 (€99.60 if you include the dress – I’m not)
Sant Pol is one of the many beautiful beach towns along the Maresme coast © Shutterstock / nito
Breakfast: Ending the weekend on a high, we avoided busy Barceloneta Beach and headed to the quieter Sant Pol de Mar. About an hour’s train from El Born, Sant Pol de Mar is a sleepy village with beautiful beaches within a five-minute walk of the train station. Before we got the train, I picked up a pain au chocolat from Hanai Vegana, a vegan and gluten-free bakery, for €3.60.
Beach day: Our T-Casual tickets didn’t cover the journey to Sant Pol de Mar, so we got an €11 return ticket each at the station. The train journey is gorgeous, with coastal views along the entire route. Once we stepped off the train, we went straight to the supermarket and bought water and crisps (potato chips) to snack on (€1.57 each).
We walked to Platja de Sant Pol and rented sun loungers from a beachside restaurant, Banys Tarridas, costing €5 each for the day. We brought our own umbrella, which saved us from spending another €5. Platja de Sant Pol is much less crowded than any of Barcelona city’s beaches, and the water is crystal clear, so much so that I could see fish swimming around my feet when I took a dip!
Pizza and sea views in Sant Pol de Mar © Amy Mulvaney
Dinner and drinks: After hours of reading and relaxing in the sun, my partner walked to a local restaurant, La Casa Nostra, and got us a margarita pizza to share (€6 each) as we watched the sunset on the beach. Sunburned and full, we got the train back to the city, stopping for a sangria de cava (€6.30 each) at Rec Comtal 21, a laid-back bar that looks towards the Arc de Triomf.
The final tally (my share)
- Three nights AirbnB €127.50
- On the ground-spending over three days (including the dress) €224.07
Total = €351.57