If I had my way I’d spend all my time travelling and exploring new places, but sadly time and money get in the way of my dream life! So do the school holidays, so unfortunately the times we do get to travel are usually peak holiday seasons in Spain and always a lot more expensive than the rest of the year.
We’re very lucky that the Costa Blanca is an ideal base to visit the rest of Spain, with great motorway links across the country as well as 2 large airports (Alicante and Murcia) to find good deals on internal flights.
For budget-friendly travel around Spain we’ve found a few ways to save money when travelling the country, and make our Spanish adventures a bit more affordable.
If you’re planning a trip to Spain, here are some top tips for budget-friendly travel in Spain as well as some of the cheapest Spanish cities to visit…
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Travel during off-peak season
If you’re not tied to school holidays then it is possible to save a lot of money on a holiday to Spain. The best time to visit Spain on a budget is during the winter months when you can find some great deals on flights and hotels.
Expedia is a great resource to search for the most affordable flights to Spain, and much quicker than checking each airline website individually. You can book flights on their website and collect Expedia Rewards to put towards future trips.
Off-season travel in Spain will also save you money on trains, buses, and tickets for the top tourist attractions in Spain. You’ll also be able to avoid the summer crowds!
Other affordable travel dates in Spain are early Spring (March-April) and early Autumn (September-October).
Find good value accommodation
One of the biggest costs when travelling is of course your accommodation. Now we have a teenager we prefer to stay in apartments as this usually works out cheaper than paying for 2 separate hotel rooms. It also means you can buy your own breakfast, drinks and snacks at a fraction of the cost of eating at the hotel.
If you’re not bothered about 5 star accommodation, you can find plenty of budget hotels and affordable hostels in Spain. Even if you like a bit more luxury on your holidays, you can find some good value low-cost accommodation options in Spain if you know where to look.
We use the following places to find hotels and apartments in Spain:
My first port of call is usually booking.com. They usually have some great mobile deals if you book via the app and the more often you book, the bigger discounts you’ll get on future bookings. I also like the fact you can find plenty of ‘pay later’ or ‘free cancellation’ options as this helps if you think your plans may change.
It’s important to shop around if you want to find the best deal, so I usually also check for hotels on Tripadvisor. As well as looking at the hotel reviews, you can also see prices across various websites to make sure you get the best deal.
For apartments or villas, Agoda is a great site to search for the perfect accommodation in Spain and has some very affordable deals. If you use regularly you can also accumulate ‘AgodaCash’ for discounts on your next bookings.
If you’re looking for a good value package deal to Spain with flights and accommodation included, loveholidays is a brilliant site to check for the latest offers. You can book with a low deposit, making booking an affordable holiday to Spain much easier.
Utilise public transportation
Traveling from one part of Spain to another can also rack up a lot of costs and eat into your travel budget quite quickly. However, there are a lot of cheap transportation options in Spain, including trains, trams, and buses if you want to travel around Spain on a budget.
If you want to travel around Spain cheaply you have various options available to you. For the cheapest way to travel in Spain, check out the public trains, buses and trams in the cities you’re visiting to see which is the best value option.
RENFE, Spain’s railway network, is supposed to be one of the cheapest in Europe and you can often find some amazing mid-week train fares, making it one of the most affordable ways to get around Spain quickly.
Public transportation in Spain is cheap and reliable, and there are many very cheap bus tickets to be found between some of the bigger cities. We always check Busbud for affordable bus tickets, even for a family of 3 it’s often cheaper than driving and parking. Another great resource is Omio which allows you to search for bus and train fares across Spain.
In most cities it’s possible to easily get a tram or train from the airport into the city centre, but in some places such as Alicante, there are no tram or train options available at the airport. Buses can be difficult if you have suitcases and children in tow, and if you can find a taxi outside the airport they can often be quite expensive. To save both money and hassle, we usually book via HolidayTaxis to get us from the airport to our accommodation. It’s often cheaper and easier than grabbing a taxi on the day, and you can book a private car, minibus or coach in advance for peace of mind. Essential if you’ve had a long journey!
Book car hire early
Sometimes traveling by car is easier than using public transport, especially for families visiting Spain with children. However, hiring a car in Spain can often be expensive, the prices have gone up dramatically since the pandemic.
There are still some good deals to be found though and it is possible to save money on car hire in Spain if you shop around and book early.
We’ve booked through RentalCars.com for years (Spain, UK, USA). It’s a great website that searches all the car hire companies in your chosen area and gives you the best value deals on hiring a car in Spain.
If you’re going to be traveling a long way don’t forget to book a hire car with unlimited kms to avoid any extra charges when you return the car!
Take advantage of free attractions
Even in the bigger cities there are always lots of great free things to do in Spain. Many museums offer free entry on Sundays, and there are so many beautiful parks and gardens that don’t charge visitors to enter.
You don’t always need to spend lots of money to see a city, having a wander around the town centre streets or along the beach costs nothing and promises great views of the city.
Some of the top free sights in Spain include:
- Park Güell, Barcelona
- City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia
- Parque del Retiro, Madrid
- Mirador de San Nicolas, Granada
- Castillo de Santa Barbara, Alicante
- Picasso Museum, Malaga
We’ve found that Spain offers so many more affordable sight seeing options than other countries, with plenty of great budget-friendly attractions in Spain.
Cathedrals and churches often only charge €1-2 entry, and most tourist attractions will offer discounts for families or groups.
Sample local cuisine at tapas bars
Eating tapas in Spain is such a good way to sample Spanish cuisine on a budget. Many bars will offer a free tapas when you buy a drink, and even those with a tapas menu are often very good value for money.
There are so many budget-friendly tapas bars in Spain, you won’t have any problems finding one in whichever city you visit. Just head for the bars full of locals rather than tourists (usually set back a bit from the beach or main square) to avoid being overcharged!
If you have children with you there’s no need to worry about what they can eat as Spain has so many delicious child friendly tapas!
Look out for the Menu del Día
When you’re on a family holiday in Spain, meals, snacks and drinks can quickly use up a lot of your budget.
It’s cheaper to eat out in Spain compared to a lot of other countries, and you’ll find plenty of restaurants serving affordable meals in Spain. Look out for restaurants advertising a ‘Menu del Día’ which offers several courses from a set menu for usually between €10-15 per person. As well as a good opportunity to save money on food in Spain, it also gives you the chance to try some of the most popular Spanish dishes.
Of course there are lots of great picnic spots in Spain, you’ll usually find a picnic or even BBQ area in most public parks, so an easy and fun idea to save money on food during your trip is to head to a local supermarket or bakery and buy things for a picnic that you can eat outdoors.
Explore free walking tours
Another top tip for budget-friendly travel in Spain is to take advantage of free walking tours. Where ever you are visiting you can usually find great free walking tours in Spain. From Barcelona to Seville you can join a local expert guide to show you around the city for free.
Websites like GetYourGuide also offer some fantastic budget-friendly guided tours in Spain, such as the Seven Secrets of Alicante Discovery Tour and the Royal Alcazar & Highlights of Seville Walking Tour.
An even cheaper option to make sure you see all the important sights in a city is with a self-guided walking tour in Spain. In Madrid you can book the Self-Guided Tour with over 100 sights for just €10 per person, and in Valencia the Scavenger Hunt and Iconic Sights Self-Guided Tour is just €8.53 per person.
Shop at municipal and local markets
Whether for gifts, groceries or souvenirs, local markets in Spain are the best places for affordable shopping. Both locals and tourists alike flock to the weekly markets to grab a bargain.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly souvenirs in Spain, find out what types of products are made locally. For example in Elche, Alicante you’ll get the best deals on leather shoes, whereas Rioja is the best place to buy Spanish wine at very affordable prices.
For local delicacies the best place to shop is usually the indoor central market where you can try some samples and buy gifts to take home. Make sure you check out some Jamon Iberico, olives, and local cheeses!
Look for discounts and city passes
Often you’ll want to see as many of the top tourist sights as possible on your Spanish vacation, but the costs can soon add up. Look for discounts for groups/families, free entry on Sundays or after a certain time of day, and any attraction ticket bundles. Seniors and children are usually charged a much lower fee so make sure you specify ages when making bookings.
If you plan to do a lot of sight seeing, there are a few places to find tourist discounts in Spain:
GoCity offers city passes in Spain for up to 55% discount on the top tourist attractions in Barcelona and Madrid, so it’s a good idea to check this one out if you want to see everything!
The hop on hop off tourist bus in Barcelona offers a discount booklet of vouchers for the best tourist attractions which can save you quite a few Euros, while the Malaga hop on hop off tourist bus also includes entry into 7 different museums as well as a flamenco show and boat tour.
Stay hydrated with tap water
Drinking tap water in Spain is perfectly safe and of course free, so don’t feel you need to buy bottled water every day.
Many cities and airports offer free water fountains so you can fill up your own bottles, saving you quite a bit of money – for example there are 1645 public water fountains in Barcelona alone! These are usually found in parks and next to the most popular tourist attractions.
If you forget to fill your bottle with tap water or run out during the day, a tip for saving money on bottled water in Spain is to buy a local brand rather than a well known one.
The cheapest Spanish cities to visit
Now you know how to save money traveling around Spain, let’s have a look at some of the more affordable destinations to visit in Spain. There are several cities offering budget-friendly travel experiences in Spain.
Some of the best places to visit in Spain on a budget are:
If you want to explore the beautiful city of Valencia, there’s lots to do for free. Valencia is known for its stunning architecture, vibrant culture, and delicious cuisine on a budget.
Free things to do in Valencia:
- Walk around the City of Arts and Sciences
- Explore the Jardin del Turia
- Visit the indoor Central Market
- Visit the Museo de Bellas Artes de Valencia
One of the most beautiful and historic cities in Spain, Granada is the place to experience the stunning Alhambra, wander through the historic city center, and enjoy tapas at affordable prices.
Free things to do in Granada:
- Wander the streets of the historic Albaicín neighbourhood
- Walk through the beautiful Botanic Gardens
- Explore El Carmen de los Mártires palace and gardens
- Visit Calle Alcaicería Arab market
Immerse yourself in the vibrant Andalusian culture in Seville, exploring the beautiful streets and historical sites, all while staying within a reasonable budget.
Free things to do in Seville:
- Marvel at the Plaza de España
- Visit the Inquisition Museum
- Visit the Iglesia San Luis de Los Franceses
- Climb the Torre del Oro
Discover this hidden gem in Spain with its beautiful basilicas, lively local markets, and delicious food, all at reasonable prices.
Free things to do in Zaragoza:
- Visit the Museo de Zaragoza
- Explore the Parque Grande Jose Antonio Labordeta
- Go to the top of the Basílica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar
- Climb the Torreón de la Zuda
In Malaga you can enjoy beach vibes, visit the birthplace of Picasso, and indulge in tasty seafood without breaking the bank.
Free things to do in Malaga:
- Visit the Picasso Museum
- Visit the Centre Pompidou
- Explore the Malaga Botanical Garden
- Take in the best views if Malaga at the two viewpoints at the top of Gibralfaro hill
Experience the unique blend of modern and traditional in Bilbao, a city renowned for its iconic Guggenheim Museum and wonderful pintxos.
Free things to do in Bilbao:
- Visit the La Ribera Market
- Explore the Doña Casilda Park
- Climb to the top of the Basilica de Begoña
- Visit the Sunday Flower Market
By visiting these good value cities in Spain, and by taking on board some of the tips for budget-friendly travel around Spain, you can make the most of your visit without straining your finances. Do you have any more tips for travelling in Spain on a budget?