Backpacking around Barcelona


Cheap flights and affordable accommodation make Barcelona one of the favourite short-haul destinations for backpackers. Indeed, this capital of Catalonia is sufficiently close to the UK’s ports of departure to make it equally accessible by a hop across the channel and the rest of the way by fast (or slow) roads through France.

With everything you are likely to need simply packed on your back, of course, you have the freedom to choose not only how you travel, but what you do when you get there – no package tour itinerary for you.

Even so, you might want to do just a little bit of research before you set off:

  • some of the hotels, hostels or lodgings that might attract you or fit within your budget, for example;
  • the weather you’re likely to encounter – the official website for the Met Office, for instance, includes forecasts specifically tailored for Barcelona (;
  • backpackers insurance – for which you might find specialist providers such as Bengo Travel especially worth a visit.

When you get there

Once you arrive in Barcelona, moreover, you are likely to be more than spoilt for choice of things to do – many of which you may find entirely affordable, if not completely free of charge.

Sagrada Familia Cathedral

You might hardly claim to have visited this vibrant and culturally rich city without at least brushing shoulders with artist, sculptor and architect Antonio Gaudi. His almost fairy-tale construction for the city’s principal cathedral is probably the best well-known.

This building alone may have been enough for the founding father of Catalan Modernism also to be known as “God’s Architect”, but Barcelona is literally and liberally scattered with other examples.

Parc Guell

A leisurely stroll around this park near the centre of the city provides an excellent – and entirely free – way of absorbing the sculpted art of one of Barcelona’s most famous sons.

In fact, it is difficult to visit the city without stumbling across some artefact of Gaudi’s. At some point you are almost certain to absorb the sights and sounds of this fascinating place from the vantage point of Las Ramblas – from which many a side turning might take you into a courtyard bearing the tell-tale hallmarks of his architecture.

The Columbus Monument

Neither will you need to part with any of your hard-earned cash simply to take in a sight of the Columbus Monument (or Monument a Colom, as the local Catalans will call it). It’s not so much its age – it was erected as relatively recently as 1888 – but because it marks the place where Columbus arrived back in the Old World to report his discovery of the new Americas. There’s an ironic twist: the sculptor intended the figure of Columbus to be pointing west, in the direction of the New World, but when the memorial was put in position, his arm is in fact pointing eastwards – some say, towards the city of Genoa in Italy, where he is said to have been born.

Football crazy

You probably don’t have to be an out and out fanatic of football to have heard of Barcelona’s football team. It is one of the best-known and most respected teams in the world. Its home is the 100,000-seat Camp Nou stadium.

As far as pilgrimages to such iconic places go, however, a full tour of the stadium and its museum is likely to set you back less than just €25.00 – perhaps a small price to pay for impressing many of your friends back home.

In a nutshell

Overall, therefore, Barcelona is a magnet for backpackers of every shade and hue. Not only is there a wealth of things to do and absorb in and around the city itself, but its location makes it an excellent springboard for adventures even further afield from home.

About the author

Mike is a director of BengoTravel where you can compare rates for your travel insurance as well as take advantage of some excellent policy features for niche travel insurance cover.

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