As one of Europe’s top travel destinations, Spain isn’t the most backpacker or budget friendly place. However, with a little bit of planning and a lot of patience, it is entirely possible to do this on a budget that is likely to be quite easy on you than you’d imagine.
WE DID THIS AT INR 89,000 PER PERSON (EXCL FLIGHTS). HOW, YOU ASK?!
FLIGHTS & VISAS
- We found our flight directly from Bangalore at a decent price of INR 36,000 per person return. This was via a flat INR 10,000 off offer on MakeMyTrip app to promote its app sales. We’ve talked about a lot of flight hacks in our ‘travel advice’ section here.
- Update: Air India has launched a direct flight from Delhi to Madrid, starting December 2016. Being a direct flight, the current rates are as low as INR 33,000 per person.
- If you’re a solo traveler, make use of Spain’s excellent hostel network. A dorm bed is as low as 15 Euros a night in most places, including the capital.
- As a couple, AirBnB is the best choice for you in Spain. We found the cheapest deals on AirBnB as opposed to Booking.com . While we stayed in extremely basic apartments, we received a lot of love from all our hosts and got an insight into Spain that most hotels couldn’t have provided.
- Every town and city in Spain is quite well-connected by public transport. All across our journey, we got into a cab only once (as we got super late for our flight while enjoying a lazy lunch) and relied completely on local buses and metros. Unlike in India, the prices for a journey are fixed irrespective of your first/ last destination.
- In both Barcelona & Madrid, you can get a 10-journey pass from a vending machine in Metro stations that is applicable on both buses & metros. You can in fact use the same pass twice (by just handing it back over the gates) if there are two of you. At 9€ in Barca and 12€ in Madrid, it will save you a good 100€ on transport.
- Renting a car is a cheaper alternative to taking fast-speed RENFE trains, especially if you’re a couple or traveling in a group. This is particularly true for your journey between Cordoba – Sevilla – Granada, as the fast speed trains work out to significantly more than the prices offered for rental by Avis or EuropCar.
- Along the way, we met a few travellers who used BlaBlaCar to good effect. Apparently, Spain happens to be one of the few nations where the ride-sharing app works successfully. A journey between Sevilla and Granada that costs you 25€ per person can be reduced to as much as 10€ if you succeed in securing a ride via BlaBlaCar.
- Flights within Spain are cheaper than their high-speed trains. We used Vueling for a couple of lengthier internal travels and managed to secure flight tickets for two at a combined price cheaper than a single person’s ticket via high-speed train. Needless to say, it is a good idea to book it 3-4 months in advance as their LoFare promos usually run out quickly!
- In every city or town that you will visit, you’ll be urged by the desire to visit all popular monuments/ sites. Over our journeys, we’ve learned that this can eat up your budget before you know it. For eg, we skipped getting inside the Sevilla Cathedral and traded it for a free walking tour that was being conducted by a local tour agency that gave us more insights on the Cathedral (and every brick of it!) than we could have learnt by going inside. Some times, a great view from the outside and a good guide to speak to can work much cheaper.
- On the same lines, if you do love your sight visits, then read up on its website for the ‘free entry’ times as most places in Spain offer free entry on a particular day of the week and time. Mezquita, for example, is free before 9:30 AM on all days, and costs 8€ otherwise.
- Spain isn’t exactly a budget destination when it comes to food, especially with its high quality standards that do not allow for street-food. We ended up spending a lot more on food than we’d initially planned for, mostly thanks to the culinary delight that Spain is! So, be prepared to spend a bit on the higher side while in Spain.
- Bocadillos (large hot dogs essentially) that come filled with prawns or pork or anything else you’d like, is a brilliant 3€ alternative to eating in sit-down hotels.
- Almost all Spanish restaurants have a ‘Menu of the day’ (Menu Del Dia) that includes a starter, a main course, and a dessert for a fixed price (usually 8-12€) which is an absolute steal. The only trick is sometimes you have to ask for it in Spanish.
There you go – a few practical tips to ensure minimal financial burn as you waltz your way through the gems of Spain.
Disclaimer: The post is based on our time in Spain in 2016. The costs may have reduced or increased now, but some of the tips could still give you some direction.