Hotels in Barcelona have the highest prices from April through October. From November through March, rates are at least 25 percent lower.

Locals make lunch their biggest meal of the day, and visitors should too, because they can take advantage of well-priced set menus at top restaurants. A starter, main course, dessert, wine and coffee is around 20 euros (about 23 dollars), for example, compared with 50 euros at dinner. Ms. Irurita enthusiastically recommended lunch at the Michelin-starred eatery Caelis where a three-course meal with wine is 42 euros.

A car with a driver is an unnecessary expense in Barcelona. Taxis are readily available and reasonably priced, the Metro is clean and efficient and the city is very pedestrian-friendly.