Have you had trouble figuring out how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget? A proper holiday budget saves you from unpleasant surprises in terms of your credit card bill after your holiday.
Travelling is fun but to some extent fairly expensive. What is the best way to travel to Spain? Consider flying with cheaper airlines. You can save few pennies or sometimes even considerably big chunks of money by taking the time & planning your trip well in advance.
I would claim (after travelling across Europe and North America) that Spain is not the cheapest country but definitely very affordable. At least there are many good options where to choose from what it comes to transportation, accommodation or food & beverages.
I will share with you my best tips on how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget. And how to prepare your holiday budget and save some money whether you are travelling to Spain on your own, as a couple or with a friend, or as a family.
Planning a trip on a budget is not difficult and you will get to do a lot on your 2-week-holiday!
Table of content
- The Best time to go to Spain? Smart timing for making reservations
- Money saving tips for accommodation in Spain
- Public transportation
- How to find a meal for a bargain?
- Discount cards
- How to plan a trip to Spain on a budget?
- Learn 5 easy words of Spanish
- Did you know this interesting fact?
1. Best time to go to Spain? Smart timing for making reservations
The high season in Spain is basically from April to October, therefore hotel rates are higher easily some 35-45%. But (yes, there is always a but) some inland cities work the other way around.
For example, hotel rates in Seville are lower in (June-)July-August when summer temperatures are beyond all of your expectations around 40-50°C.
Cities that have many business travellers attract more customers by offering cheap weekend packages (for example Bilbao and Madrid).
If you wish to avoid the heat, or on the other if you just enjoy things and places when they are not packed with other people, why not travel to Spain during the winter months? Visiting Spain during the cooler months the beaches are not crowded, it’s easier to visit popular sights are there are suprisingly a lot to do and see as well. The crowds are at a minimum everywhere.
You sometimes might get lucky when booking your flights last-minute, but to play it safe, you should book them instead months in advance, especially if you’re using budget airlines.
How to save money on weekend trips?
If you are planning a weekend get-away, consider taking only hand luggage! Most airlines charge extra for your check-in bags.
2. Money saving tips: accommodation in Spain
If you are travelling on your own, and you are a bit adventurous, could you consider yourself trying couch surfing? You can contact people through various websites. They offer you a free night on their couch and are often happy to show you around the city.
If you are travelling with a friend, but do not necessarily need a private room, consider booking yourself accommodation in a youth hostel. They are nowadays cheap but modern, having free wifi-connections a breakfast.
Local tip – try Mountain cabins!
We have heard from our local friends, that you can find very affordable mountain cabin accommodation – refugios de montaña – in highland areas of Spain. They are basic but cheap and offer also affordable food.
Reservations are mandatory in high season. Price examples: Non-members on average 15€ per night (members half-price), breakfast 5€, dinner 15€.
Do you enjoy camping?
Wild camping is prohibited in Spain, but official campsites are lively places with plenty of services & on-site entertainment. Many are located on the seaside, however, in high season a basic place for car & tent can start somewhere between 20€ a night.
If this does not cool down your enthusiasm, get yourself a discount card (16€) from campingkey.es. Backbag travelling and camping could give you a lot of extra room in your holiday budget!
You can find affordable beach, mountain or city apartments through online directories, some being international, some require patience and adequate Spanish skills. The cheapest rooms or cottages are around 15-20€ per night.
3. Travel tips how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget: public transportation
Should you use the train or the bus when travelling in Spain (on a budget)? While the trains are efficient and of fairly good / high quality, many times you will save both time and money by taking the bus.
Both the bus and the train are cheap ways to travel in Spain. BUT you need to plan ahead before making definite decisions. Rail pass is great IF you travel many times from city to city. Though, I would recommend the busses, too.
» Read more about the rail pass here.
Travelling tip: Bus or a train?
Taking a bus is really not difficult. When travelling by train, you usually have to take a connecting train, and that takes more time than using direct bus connections. And what I like about busses is that you’ll have a chance to see “the sights” in between the town, a whole lot more than when travelling by train. And a bus ticket is cheaper than the train.
Is the metro safe in Spain?
When you visit the bigger cities like Madrid & Barcelona, don’t even think about NOT taking the underground! It’s cheap, easy to manage and saves you a lot of time (as well as money). Trust me: the maps are easy to read (I’ve survived and I have no sense of direction)! 🙃
Should you rent a car in Spain? Well, if you are on a tight budget, I’d say no. If you’re travelling with friends or family, why not? Just consider paying a little extra for full insurance, just in case. So that you don’t need to worry about anything. Firstly, remember to watch out for parking fines, especially in the larger cities (they can get quite high). Secondly, do not over speed when driving – the speeding tickets as well can get up to 300€ or more. The Spanish drive on the right hand side, and you don’t need an international driver’s license. You just need common sense. 😉
4. Travel tips how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget: how to find a meal for a bargain?
Food & drinks take a lot from your holiday budget unless you plan little ahead. Do as the locals: they eat hardly anything for breakfast. I advise you to do the same because lunch in Spain is much cheaper than having dinner. Restaurants offer “menu of the day” which is around 10 euros – definetely a good choice!
If you usually do not have a proper lunch, have a light breakfast like coffee & a toast (about 2€) and bring up your appetite up for lunch.
How much does a meal cost in Spain?
Eating is generally cheap. Try to eat at chiringuitos (beach restaurants), where you can have a 3-course menu with bread & drink for about 10€. Á la carte menu is about 15-20€ per person.
How much is a beer in Spain?
A beer costs about 1-3 € and cocktails about 5-10€ (which seems expensive but it is not since they are HUGE.)
5. Money saving tips how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget: discount cards
If you are enthusiastic to visit many museums, a discount card saves you money a lot, especially if you are busy and get done a lot in a day.
Keeping this in mind, think ahead do you want to see one place thoroughly or run through many places? Otherwise, the card won’t save you any money, you’ll just end up paying more.
Entrance tickets to museums and art galleries vary a lot from free to about 10-15€. And some things in life are free! Many places offer free entrance on special days or at a certain time of a day.
Free visits to museums?
You can visit most museums free on the following holidays:
- May 2: Public Holiday (Madrid only)
- May 18: International Museum Day
- September 12: Dress rehearsal for the Noche en Blanco later in the month with free museum entry throughout the night (Madrid only)
- September 22: Noche en Blanco throughout the night (Madrid only)
- September 24: Public Holiday (Catalonia only)
- October 12: Hispanidad Day
- December 6: Constitution Day
6. How to plan a trip to Spain on a budget?
Make a budget for your holiday, and you won’t end up having a surprise credit card bill afterwards! At least not because of your necessities.
How to make a travel budget? The prices mentioned here are something “average” we have accounted along the years. And it all depends on your own habits and likes/dislikes. This is just to give you a rough idea of what to expect when you go for a holiday in Spain.
- a night in a hostel 13-25€
- a hotel room for 2 around 100€ per night
- a rental apartment (1 bedroom for 2) around 40-60€ per night, or around 250-400€ per week (depending a LOT where you are and for how long)
Food & drinks
- Breakfast – coffee & toast & fresh orange juice ∼ 3,5€
- Breakfast – baguette & a drink ∼ 5€
- Tapas for lunch ∼ 5€
- Menu del dia – a three-course meal of the day around 10-15€
- Á la carte menu ∼ 15-20€
- Water & soft drinks (Remember it’s hot – you need to drink!)
- Local trains / the underground
- Long-distance trains
- Bus tickets
Things to do
- Attractions – museums 5-10€ per visitor
- Sports activities e.g. banana boat ride 5€ per person, pedal boat 10€ per boat, rental bike 20€ per day
- Amusement parks about 30-40€ per person
- Mini-golf about 5€ per person
You do not have to spend a small fortune when travelling. By planning your travel itinerary in advance and paying attention to few details, you will be able to have a great vacation and still stay on your moderate holiday budget! I hope our tips will save you from trouble and help you deciding how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget.
Print your checklist how to plan a trip to Spain on a budget (pdf) & book yourself the cheapest holiday ever in Spain!
8. Learn 5 words of Spanish
¿Tiene? (tee ayn ay)? – Do you have?
Entiendo, no entiendo (ayn tee ayn doh, noh ayn tee ayn doh) – I understand, I don’t understand
Entrada – ticket
Descuento – discount
Estudiante – student
9. Did you know this interesting fact?
The Mirror reported early this year, that over 82 million tourists visited Spain in 2017. Spain is now the second most visited country in the world after France. Tourism grew for the fifth subsequent year adding up to 11% of Spain’s economy. Security and political concerns in Catalonia did not diminish tourists’ enthusiasm for Spain.
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