When I say your family can travel, I really mean it. This post breaks down how our family of four traveled to Barcelona last winter for under $3000. We left home on Christmas Eve, arrived in Barcelona on Christmas Day, and flew back home on January 4.
We loved Barcelona, especially the unique Modernisme architecture. During our time there we made a couple of day trips (Montserrat and Sitges), saw several Gaudí sites, and ate way too many pastries. I honestly can’t think of anything that we missed out on. The trip was incredible.
I kept a running tally of our expenses on this trip, so I know that the numbers are accurate.
The exchange rate at that time was between $1.13 and $1.14 per Euro, so I will use $1.14 for all my calculations.
We flew round trip from Salt Lake City, using Delta SkyMiles to pay for the tickets. The tickets were 80,000 miles each, with additional fees of $74.41 per ticket. In total, we paid $297.64 for the tickets.
We used the Aerobús to travel from the Barcelona Airport to the city center. The bus runs every 5-10 minutes and stops at four central locations in the city. Each ticket was €10.20 (€40.80) ($46.51)
We rented a two bedroom apartment in the Gràcia neighborhood. It was a five minute walk from Park Güell, and included a kitchen and washer. I found it on VRBO, and the cost was €1066 for ten nights. ($1215.24)
We left on Christmas Eve, flying through the night to Paris, and arriving in Barcelona around 5 pm on Christmas Day. We ate the meals provided on the flights. I bought a ham sandwich for my younger daughter on the second flight from Paris to Barcelona (€6). We took the Aerobús to the city center, and then the Barcelona Metro to our neighborhood. The Metro is €2.20 per ride with single tickets. A T10 card, good for 10 rides, is only €10.20, so we bought two (€20.40). We knew our food options would be limited on Christmas Day, so we brought Kind Bars with us. We arrived at our apartment around 7 pm, settled in, and went to bed.
Total for the day €26.40 ($30.10)
We had tickets for the Sagrada Familia at 9:30 the next morning (€43). As we had no food in the apartment yet, we stopped for croissants and juice on our walk to the cathedral (€4.80). We purchased a couple of souvenirs (Christmas ornaments and postcards) in the gift shop (€13). After the tour of the cathedral, we ate lunch at a restaurant a few streets away, but were underwhelmed by the food (€35). Later in the day we stopped for churros with chocolate (€5). A trip to the grocery store (€32) stocked our pantry, so we were able to eat dinner at the apartment.
Total for the day €89.80 ($102.49)
We spent the day exploring Las Ramblas and the surrounding areas. The amazing Mercat de la Boqueria was our first stop, where we bought juices (€3 for 2) and some jamòn (€5.80). We had fantastic pizza at a tiny place (La Pizza Pazza) in the Gothic Quarter (€19). While we were out walking, we needed to use the bathroom, and ended up paying for the privilege (€4). We apparently stopped at bakeries four different times (€4, €5, €4, and €7.70). One of my favorite stores in the world is Decathlon, which sells all sorts of sports and travel gear. If there’s one in a city, we will definitely stop there. We did (€67). We also made another grocery store trip (€26.35) and stopped at a fruit stand for apples (€1.35).
That night was the Picasso Museum. It’s possible to get free tickets for certain days, including Thursday nights. Free tickets must be booked in advance. The museum included work from Picasso’s entire life. It was fascinating to see how his work evolved from his early teens into adulthood and to the end of his life (€0).
Total for the day €144.20 ($164.39)
We spent the day wandering the city. As we were running low on Metro tickets, we bought two more T10s (€20.40). We also bought a tiny adorable Caga Tió which is now displayed in a place of honor in our kitchen (€2). The expenses for the rest of the day were all about our stomachs: juices (€2.50), pastries (€2.80), chocolate and yogurt (€9.24), falafel (€10), churros (€10), and more groceries (€16.78).
Total for the day: €73.72 ($84.04)
We visited Park Güell (€25.50) and the Hospital de la Santa Creu i de Sant Pau (€37.80). Both were amazing. We bought a few souvenirs: postcards (€4.60), a bookmark (€2), and what I classified as “random ceramic crap” (an espresso mug and a couple of caganers) (€26). Of course, if you buy postcards, you have to have stamps (€12.60). We also bought (surprise!) food: bread (€2.20), grocery store trip (€2.27), crepes (€20.80), pastries (€12.90), more groceries (€3.59) and bread (€0.39).
Total for the day: €87.35 ($99.58)
We had family photos made in Ciutadella Park with Local Lens ($250 + €20 tip). We only have professional photos done when we travel, so it’s a good chance to get photos for the family Christmas card. The rest of the day’s expenses were all food: croissants (€3.50), cat tongue chocolates (€0.55), bread (€0.50), a meal of pasta (€34.10), candy (€3), pastries and hot cocoa (€10.10), and groceries (€17.31)
Total for the day: $250 + €89.06 ($351.53)
We spent the day at Montserrat, taking the train and the rack railway there (€77.60). There’s also an option to take the cable car instead of the rack railway, but my kids weren’t up for that. We hiked to the top of Sant Jeroni, where the views were stunning. We bought two more T10s for the Metro (€20.40), and made two grocery store stops (€15.60 and €5.50).
Total for the day: €119.10 ($135.77)
Since much of the city would be closed for New Year’s Day, we took a train to the nearby beach town of Sitges (€32.80). We spent the day wandering around the town and enjoying the beach. We bought candy and cookies (€12.74) and a Kinder Bueno (€1.60). According to my notes, we also bought another couple T10s (€20.40).
Total for the day: €67.54 ($77.00)
Another day spent wandering the street of Barcelona gave us plenty of chances to eat. We had breakfast (€8), crepes (€15), and juice (€1.50) at La Boqueria. It can be hard to find a bathroom in Barcelona, so we bought an espresso at Starbucks so we could use theirs (€1.80). We made two stops at the same bakery for bread (€4.40 and €4.40). As we had become quite fascinated by the works of Gaudí, we decided to visit Colonia Güell (€46.10). A quick grocery store stop cost (€3.16), and Tom and I decided to have a dinner date at a fabulous tapas place (Gata Mala, in Gràcia). We ate until we were stuffed (€35). On the way back to the apartment, we stopped and bought Kinder Delice and some peach juice for the kids (€4.50)—but then we decided to venture out for a family dessert of pastries (€11.80).
Total for the day €140.26 ($159.90)
On our last full day in the city we bought some lunch stuff at the grocery store (€5.15) and more bread at the bakery (€4.90). A visit to Castell Monjuïc (€10) was grimly beautiful, with amazing views of the city. We stopped for more churros with chocolate (€4.90). We bought a few pastries and some gifts at the best patisserie ever (€23.80). And we needed a few more Metro tickets to ensure we made it to the airport bus in the morning, so we bought one more T10 (€10.40).
Total for the day: €74.01 ($84.37)
We flew back home, but stopped at the bakery on our way to the Metro station to grab a couple more pastries (€1.50)
Total for the day: €1.50 ($1.71)
In total, we spent $2850.27 for the trip. It might have been possible to shave a couple hundred dollars off the total, but it was more fun to be relaxed. We ate pretty much anything that appealed to us, and visited every attraction we wanted to. We still spent less than $3000. It’s incredible how much you can save on travel if you keep the transportation, lodging, and dining out expenses under control.
I hope this recount has inspired you to consider traveling with your family. If you’re thinking about family travel, go ahead and start saving today!