Some people might think traveling to Spain is expensive because of the strong euro and rising cost of food and accommodation. The truth is, Spain is one of the cheapest European destinations travelers can visit, as most tours are quite affordable. The Spain budget can be stretched farther with proper planning.
Obviously, popular destinations and big cities like Madrid and Barcelona share a great deal of costly food and accommodation, but there’s a myriad of options to choose from. Prices are a bit higher if travelers opt to stay in city centers, or dine at tourist-oriented spots, as the demand is higher.
Getting around is fairly easy and cheap, too, with trains and buses available for travelers. Riding the inter-city bus is the best way to travel to distant provinces, including Barcelona, Andalucia, and Seville. Overall, going in Spain is not intimidating in terms of cost, and travelers can easily cut down travel expenses.
Spain Budget Guide: Top 10 BEST Tips to Save on Hotel, Food, and Tours
1. Share Accommodation
Besides the roundtrip plane ticket, accommodation is one of the biggest costs travelers need to face when arranging the trip to Spain. While hotels are probably the easiest way to go, consider other options such as shared accommodation or hostels, to save money.
There are hundreds of hostels across the country, specializing in cheap, modern, and boutique rooms that can fit 4 to 8 people. These are popular for backpackers, especially younger people who are trying to cut the cost of accommodation.
Hostels in Spain are definitely cheaper than equivalents in Western Europe. In most trendy and tourist locations, expect to pay for €10 to €25 per night. A private room in a good location costs as much as €45 to €55, which usually includes a free breakfast of bread and coffee.
2. Go for Buses
Getting around is pretty easy with excellent public transportation. However, if saving money, consider riding the bus instead of fast-speed trains. Buses are safe, clean, and comfortable, but travelers need to endure long travel time.
Bus stations are scattered throughout major cities and provinces. These are easy to locate, especially using the Movelia website. Travelers can check the schedule of trips and make reservations online. The Spain budget for riding the bus is only less than €40 for a single trip.
For big groups, renting a car is a good option, and definitely cheaper than riding the train. Check out the SIXT car rental company to get excellent deals for rentals for more than 7 days.
3. Eat Like a Local
Locals aren’t huge fans of breakfast buffets, as most indulge in a more economical lunch meal. In Spain, there’s what they call menu del dia, or menu of the day, which is the largest meal served daily. Spanish restaurants serve soup or salad, bread, main course, side dish, dessert, and drinks, all for one price.
The midday meal is grand, which is why employees take a two-hour lunch break on weekdays. Restaurants offer a fixed-price three-course meal set, usually cost €6 to €15, allowing the maximum amount of consumption.
The thing is, dinner in Spain is more expensive than other meals. This is the reason why locals fill up their bodies with more food during midday to avoid paying more for dinner.
4. Visit Museums on Free Days
Attraction tickets add up to the cost to travel to Spain. To save more, consider visiting museums on free days—yes, totally free admission. There are certain days and times to visit museums and avoid paying more than €25 for the admission ticket.
For instance, the Prado Museum offers free admission every Tuesday to Sunday, from 6 PM to 8 PM, or Sundays from 5 PM to 8 PM. Meanwhile, the Reina Sofia Museum is free to visit every Monday and Wednesdays, from 7 PM to 9 PM.
Never forget to visit free museums in Barcelona, from the City History Museum, El Born Cultural & Memorial Centre, and Design Museum. In Madrid, be sure to drop by the National Archaeology Museum, Fundación Telefónica, and Panteón de Goya.
5. Ride the Subway
Explore Spain’s metro systems to save money while traveling to different destinations, especially nearby cities. The underground metro rail or subway is a popular transportation system in Madrid. It costs around €1.50 for five stations, €2 for ten stations, and €12.20 for ten journeys.
Different passes are available to save money for accessing the metro network for a few days. For instance, the Multi-Card is a reloadable public transport card that expires for ten years. This card supports up to three different ticket types; Single MetroSur, Metrobús, and MetroNorte.
For tourists, the Metrobús, 10-trip Metro card, is the best choice. It is only around €9.3 and can be used for the subway and the Madrid city public buses.
6. Avoid Major Events
Whenever possible, never visit Spain during major local events as room rates double and triple. It is also when streets, plazas, and tourist attractions are full, and it takes a longer time to get a table in restaurants.
The Spain budget can be maintained as long as travelers visit during the lean season. Avoid the months of February, July, August, and December, which are busier than the rest for these months. Major festivals are surely fun, but the price of food and accommodation is steep, nothing below €50 for a one-night stay.
It’s best to avoid the crowd and visit when no major event is happening. This way, shopping, strolling, and basically doing tourist things are more affordable and hassle-free.
7. Skip the Taxi to City Center
The one thing to avoid upon landing in Spain is riding the taxi at the airport. The flat rate from the Madrid Barajas International Airport to the city center is €30, which isn’t economical. There are inexpensive public transit options to choose from, which is the metro system.
Trains leave every five minutes, with Line 8 that goes straight to Madrid city center. The journey will take less than 15 minutes and cost €5. Compared to taxis, trains are more affordable for solo travelers and smaller groups.
8. Shop for Food at Local Markets
The best place to taste and pick up typical Spanish produce is at Mercados or public markets. The heart and soul of Spain lie here, showcasing the freshest fruits, vegetables, meat, local wines, and more items. The cost to travel to Spain is relatively cheaper when it comes to food, as travelers can buy ingredients at the local market, cook the food, or dine at small restaurants.
The regular breakfast meals in Spain cost more than €5 for bread, orange juice or coffee. For lunch, travelers are looking at €20 to €35 meals, depending on the restaurant. Dinner meals are usually the most expensive, with prices around €25 to €45. So, the best way to save money on some days is to cook meals and buy food at local markets or grocery stores.
9. No Need to Tip
There isn’t a tipping culture in Spain, unlike in the United States. Waiters make a decent wage, and some simply toss the tip into the cash register. Travelers don’t need to spare a couple of euros to tip the wait staff. In fact, locals-only leave spare changes for the waitresses, and workers don’t mind at all.
The usual place to leave a tip is luxurious restaurants and hotels when the service is nicer. A good rule of thumb is leaving at least 10 percent if the service exceeds the expectation.
10. Focus on Smaller Areas First
When it comes to tours, it is ideal to explore smaller areas first, before jumping to the next distant destination. For instance, there are many nearby cities to visit near Madrid, which won’t cost a lot for a day trip.
Check out planned day tours or excursions at Segovia, Toledo, Avila, Salamanca, San Lorenzo, and others. Arranged tours cost less than $100 from Taketours, which already include roundtrip transportation.
The key to maximizing the Spain budget is to explore the options and plan the trips according to the budget. Skip other distant provinces if roundtrip transportation would eat up more than €90 or more. Better yet, find arranged tours that already include transportation, accommodation, and major attractions.