Money & costs
A 2008 study showed that Barcelona had, in one year, shot from 56th to 31st in a ranking of more than 100 cities by expense. A midrange hotel double room can cost anything from €70 to €250, and a midrange dinner averages €21 to €70. On the other hand, simple, filling set lunchtime meals cost around €10. Many museums have free admission days. Staying in a modest hotel, sticking to set lunches and dining out well (but without splurging), you can bargain on spending €100 to €150 a day. Those on a strict budget, who stay in hostel dorms and survive on entrepans (filled rolls) or make up their own meals, should be able to get by on about €50 to €60 a day.
For further advice on Barcelona budget matters, check out what other travellers have to say in our Thorn Tree forum.
Banks abound in Barcelona, many with ATMs, including several around Plaça de Catalunya, on La Rambla and on Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Barri Gòtic.
The foreign-exchange offices that you see along La Rambla and elsewhere are open for longer hours than banks but generally offer poorer rates. Interchange (Amex; tel: 93 342 73 11; La Rambla dels Caputxins 74; 9am-10.30pm) represents American Express and will cash Amex travellers cheques, replace lost cheques and provide cash advances on Amex cards.
You can change cash or travellers’ cheques in most major currencies without problems at virtually any bank or bureau de change (usually indicated by the word canvi/cambio).
Barcelona abounds with banks, many with ATMs, including several around Plaça de Catalunya and more on La Rambla and Plaça de Sant Jaume in the Barri Gòtic.
The foreign-exchange offices that you see along La Rambla and elsewhere are open for longer hours than banks, but they generally offer poorer rates. Also, keep a sharp eye open for commissions at bureaux de change.
Interchange (93 342 73 11; Rambla dels Caputxins 74; 9am-10.30pm; Liceu) represents American Express and will cash Amex travellers’ cheques, replace lost cheques and provide cash advances on Amex cards.
Major cards such as Visa, MasterCard, Maestro and Cirrus are accepted throughout Spain. They can be used in many hotels, restaurants and shops. Credit cards can also be used in ATMs displaying the appropriate sign. Check charges with your bank. If your card is lost, stolen or swallowed by an ATM, you can telephone toll free to immediately stop its use:
Amex (900 994426)
Diners Club (901 101011)
MasterCard (900 971231)
Visa (900 991124)
Taxes & refunds
Value-added tax, or VAT, is otherwise known as IVA (impuesto sobre el valor añadido, pronounced ‘EE-ba’). IVA is 7% on accommodation and restaurant prices and is usually – but not always – included in quoted prices. On retail goods the IVA is 16%. IVA-free shopping is available in duty-free shops at all airports for people travelling between EU countries.
Non-EU residents are entitled to a refund of the 16% IVA on purchases costing more than €90.15 from any shop, if the goods are taken out of the EU within three months. Ask the shop for a Cashback (or similar) refund form showing the price and IVA paid for each item and identifying the vendor and purchaser. Then present the form at the customs booth for IVA refunds when you depart from Spain (or elsewhere in the EU). You will need your passport and a boarding card that shows you are leaving the EU, and your luggage (so do this before checking in bags). The officer will stamp the invoice and you hand it in at a bank at the departure point to receive a reimbursement.
At Barcelona airport look for the customs booth directly opposite the bar on the ground floor of Terminal A (by the arrivals doors). Branches of the Caixa and BBVA banks (both about 50m to the right of the customs window) will deal with Cashback refunds (7am to 11pm daily). Otherwise you can use the envelope provided to have the tax paid back to your credit card or by cheque. For more information, check out the Euro Refund website (www.eurorefund.com).