Barcelona, Spain

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Barcelona Guide – Spend Less, Do More

Barcelona SkylineYou've covered the must-see Sagrada Familia, undoubtedly Barcelona's most visited landmark, explored each medieval turret, square and labyrinth of the Gothic Quarter, and marvelled at Museu Picasso's extensive collection of Pablo Picasso paintings. But why not get creative and experience some of Barcelona's better kept secrets – all for a surprisingly low cost!

They say the best things in life are free…

What if there was somewhere you could see the entire city of Barcelona from above, without shelling out for a helicopter ride or an entrance fee? At El Carmel Bunker, you will find just that. Perched in the centre of the city on one of its tallest hills is an anti-aircraft bunker, a cultural icon preserved for over seventy-five years from the Spanish Civil War days. From its roof, you can enjoy uninterrupted views stretching from the ocean on one side to the mountains on another, some of the best in Barcelona. Not having to worry about crowds means you can bring along some cheese and wine in plastic cups to enjoy as you soak in a sunset. Best of all it's accessible via public transport!

If you're looking for more of a spectacle, head to the Font Magica. Popular among locals as well as visitors, this magical fountain lights up as colourful jets of water shoot up in a magnificent show, meticulously timed to the rhythm of select pieces of music ranging from classical to well-known movie soundtracks. And you don't have to pay a cent.

Do as the locals do…and take an afternoon siesta!

Barcelona beachBut after that, how about something a little more high energy? Barcelona is one of the Mediterranean's most bicycle friendly cities. Take advantage of the great weather and hire a bicycle, the perfect way to explore the city's hidden gems. Skip the crowded tour bus or expensive private tour. Consider making your own way around to explore the recycled fashion workshops, hillside bars and vintage stores that are scattered throughout Barcelona. No time pressures or set itineraries allows you to meander through the city at your own pace, especially if you want to stop and taste some farmhouse cheeses or sample some hot chocolate-dipped churros.

Prefer nature? Try the Carretera de les Aigues in the Serra de Collserola Natural Park. Again offering great views and public transport accessible, the name means 'road of waters' in English.

You could have paella and sangria for lunch again…

Or grab a meal in the village of Gràcia instead. After a visit to its vast array of hipster clothing stores, curiosity stores and alternative cinemas, enjoy its relative affordability compared to Barcelona’s crowded tourist traps by stopping by one of its quirky eateries. Popular with locals, somehow it has escaped the hordes despite its close proximity to other tourist areas, and shows a different side of Barcelona's rich culture.

You've saved on accommodation…

So treat yourself and buy tickets to see a flamenco show at Tablao Flamenco Cordobes. The intimate venue, renovated baroque style, means you can fully immerse yourself in the experience without it being too crowded. Splash out on the complete experience with drinks and an authentic Spanish degustation dinner during the performance.

If you can stay a few extra days, why not hire a car and take a trip to nearby Girona. With a view of the Pyrenees, and only an hour north of Barcelona, Girona is bound to be a colourful experience (literally). The historical buildings are wonderfully preserved, and visitors have the options to check out the old Jewish Quarter or climb the old towers.

Spend Less, Do More

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