By Annie Dabb •
Updated: 07 Dec 2022 • 15:54
Image - Travel Budget: Prostock-studio/shutterstock
It may seem obvious, but you’ll make your money go a lot further if you travel during off-peak times. Wait for the tirades of tourists during the school summer holidays to return home before taking your own trip away. If you’re worried about missing the sunshine, try travelling along Spain’s Mediterranean which receives an average of 300 sunny days every year.
Much of Spain can be travelled by bus as a cheaper alternative to the train or flying. Although if you do plan on using Spain’s Renfe rail network, it’s a good idea to book ahead for cheaper tariffs. Long-distance buses are available between most of the municipalities and cities in Spain and have comfortable seats, free wifi, plug sockets and toilets on board.
Another way to travel for cheap is to carpool through BlaBlaCar. Simply create a profile on the app or online and search for trusted drivers who are travelling from where you are to where you want to go. Even if they’re going beyond your desired destination, they might be willing to drop you off along the way. This is often a great way to practice your Spanish as well if you fancy a chat during the drive, or you can set your profile settings for a quiet ride.
A similar option that will give you a bit more freedom in terms of time and having your own space is to hire a car and drive yourself. A great thing about Spain is that because it has so many different beautiful regions, you’re never too far from a stunning stop-off. If you’re travelling from Lleida to Barcelona for example you’ll pass Mount Montserrat on your way. Likewise, if you’re driving from Madrid to Salamanca, don’t miss out on UNESCO World Heritage Sight Segovia. Cramming in a few more sights along the way is a great way to break up your drive and explore as much of Spain as possible!
Accommodation can often be the most expensive part of travelling; finding somewhere to have a good night’s sleep after you’ve been soaking up all that sun and culture is important after all. But there’s no need to splash out on the most expensive hotels Spain has to offer!
Hostels are a great way to sleep for cheap in Spain so that you can spend your money on other things like the country’s wonderful wines and gorgeous gastronomy. This is an excellent option especially if you’re a backpacker; hostels were made for the humble backpacking traveller!
If you’re travelling solo, make sure to keep your wits about you to keep you and your things safe! Often hostels will put you in a shared room with other travellers and give you a locker to keep all of your things in. It’s a good idea to take your own padlock with you as well just in case they’re not available at the hostel.
That being said, hostels are a great way to meet people and make new friends on your adventure because of the communal vibes and shared areas common to many hostels throughout Spain.
Spain is also home to many Pensiones. These are effectively hotels with few stars but which can be excellent value for not very much money. This is one step up from a traditional youth hostel.
If you really don’t love the idea of sharing your space and your shower with strangers (not at the same time of course!) then another option which can be quite budget-friendly is to book an Airbnb. Choose from a range of apartments, villas or even log cabins. There are around half a million Airbnb apartments registered in Spain and some hosts even offer just a private room in their home to provide you with a clean bed for a cheap price.
Of course, if you really want to sleep cheaply and have a love for nature and the blissful outdoors, there are loads of campsites across Spain where you can buy a pitch for your tent for not very much money. Pitch Up is a great website for finding small and inexpensive campsites. Check out our guide on some of the best campsites Spain has to offer here.
If you want to stay in one place for a few weeks at least and you’re happy to do a bit of manual labour in exchange for your accommodation, Wwoofing or working on a campsite are also great options. Wwoofing provides accommodation to those working on organic farms and in return, you can learn farming skills and enjoy delicious produce you’ve picked yourself.
Spain is renowned for its vibrant and delicious gastronomy, amongst which the stars of the show have to be gorgeous gazpacho, plenty of paella and of course, a wide array of tantalizing tapas. Eating in Spain for cheap in general isn’t too difficult. The hot climate and natural landscape in many parts of the country mean that it doesn’t cost too much to grow delicious ingredients from Spanish soil straight to your plate.
Of course, you can save money by buying and cooking your own ingredients. However, if you don’t have cooking facilities or maybe you just fancy eating out (you are on holiday after all!), here are some cheap eats ideas to keep you nourished throughout your travels.
You can go to pretty much any corner cafeteria in Spain to score a cheap but delicious cafe con leche (coffee with milk) and a pastry for less than €5. If you fancy something sweet, why not start your day with traditional chocolate con churros? These are long deep-fried doughnuts dipped in thick (and we mean, THICK) hot chocolate.
If you fancy a more savoury start to your day, enjoy your morning caffeine with a tostada (toasted bread) of your favourite toppings (tomato, manchego cheese or Jamon are typical for locals). It’s also quite common in Spain to have a bocadillo (a sandwich) for breakfast, filled with cheese or jamon. This is unlikely to cost more than €3.
And of course, you could opt for a slice of traditional tortilla. These omelettes, unlike English ones, are very thick and filled with potato and sometimes meat and vegetables. This breakfast is sure to set you up for a day of sight seeing and exploring.
In Spain, people tend to eat lunch, their biggest meal of the day, around mid-afternoon rather than in the evening like Brits. It is then typical to go for a siesta (an afternoon nap) to and then go for a siesta to sleep away the hottest hours of the day and rejuvenate, ready to party late into the night.
For this reason, if there was any meal on which you were going to splurge your holiday budget, this would be it. Except, you’re in Spain, so there’s no need! Say hello to the Menu Del Dia.
This literally translates to ‘Menu of the Day’ and as the name would suggest, many restaurants change the dishes they off regularly in order to serve you the freshest ingredients in 3 courses as well as a glass of wine, all for €10,99 or less!
This brings us to cervezas. In many bars and eateries throughout Spain, a caña (a little glass of beer) will actually cost less than a bottle of water! In which case, dos cervezas por favor!
If €10 is still a bit higher than your tight budget to spend on one meal, why not buy some fruit, a couple of baguettes and some cheese or jamon from the supermarket and enjoy a picnic in the sun for lunch? Many Spanish cities have beautiful outdoor spaces and parks, and if you’re near the coast this is a perfect lunch to pack up with your beach things!
If you opted for a big Menu del Dia for your midday meal, it’s now the evening and you’re only after something light to satiate your appetite…well now you know what tapas is for. Tapas, derived from the Spanish word ‘tapar’ (to cover) was invented when people needed to cover their glass with something to prevent flies from getting into their drink in the hot weather.
What was once a piece of jamon placed on the top of a glass is now a wide and varied gastronomical delight throughout Spain. The best part? Often it’s a free accompaniment with your drink!
Whatever restaurant you do end up in, if you want to save your pennies try and find one a little off the beaten track. Places near tourist attractions or which have clear photographs of their food on English menus tend to charge a bit more. It’s also useful to learn a bit of Spanish so you can order in the local language – this also makes reading menus a lot easier!
Just because you’re short on money doesn’t mean that Spain is short of free things to do to get the most out of your travels. Whether you’re an appreciator of art or have a penchant for parks, there’s plenty to keep you entertained without draining your bank account whilst you’re on your travels.
One of the most obvious things to do is to take advantage of Spain’s almost 5000 kilometres of coastline and spend a day relaxing and sunbathing on the beach. For the most exquisite shorelines, head to Spain’s Andalucian region, where you will find the famous Costa del Sol or the Costa Blanca.
The renowned Museo del Prado in Madrid, home to works by prestigious artists such as Diego Velazquez and Francisco Goya, offers free entry from Monday to Saturday 6pm – 8pm and Sundays 5pm – 7pm. It is a great place to soak up some culture post-siesta before soaking up your tapas with some wine later on. Many other museums throughout Spain such as Museu Nacional d’art de Catalunya in Barcelona, also offer free entry every Saturday from 3pm and on the first Sunday of every month.
Spain is home to many beautiful parks for you to promenade your way around or simply lay out in the sun taking in the beautiful greenery around you. If you’re travelling through Valencia, visit Parque de Orriols, built on the site of a former abbey and mosque (at different times!) If you’re in Barcelona, browse Parc de la Ciutadella a gorgeously green oasis in the northeast of the city. But by far the most awe-inspiring has to be El Parque del Buen Retiro, renowned for its iconic cast-iron architecture and regal claims.
Spain is home to stunning landscapes and mountains of, well, mountains! A great free activity is to grab your walking boots and follow a hiking trail to take in some unforgettable views. Make sure to pack food and water with you because scaling the steep terrains can be hard work in hot weather.
La Ruta del Cares in the north of Spain is one of the most popular and beautiful routes in the country, complete with turquoise streams and goats. Near Madrid, the Peñalara is a beautiful (and not too difficult) hike through the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range.
The Caminito del Rey is a ramble that’s sure to get your heart thumping, across wooden walkways suspended against sheer rock faces. Definitely not for the faint-hearted, it is one of Spain’s most dangerous trails.
There are also Vias Verdes (which literally translates to Green Valleys) all over Spain which are dotted with old converted railway stations that are now restaurants, hotels, museums and tourist information offices.
Walking tours are an excellent way to explore Spain’s many beautiful cities on a budget, especially if you’re only there for a flying visit. Many companies offer free tours in a wide range of languages and are a great round-up of the main must-see sights, such as the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, or the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias in Valencia.
Thank you for taking the time to read this article on how to travel around Spain on a budget, do remember to come back and check The Euro Weekly News website for all your up-to-date local and international news stories and remember, you can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram.
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From Newcastle originally, Annie is based in Manchester and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features.
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