Backpackers planning their trip to Spain will no doubt be considering their tight backpacker’s budget, after all, Spain is one of the top European destinations to explore but costs can get out of control if you’re not savvy.
If you want to enjoy the best cities in Spain, explore rural towns, visit beautiful beaches, enjoy the vibrant nightlife, and taste all the delicious food then make sure you read this article. There are many ways to reduce the cost of your trip to Spain, we’ve listed our top 10 ideas right here.
Travel Out Of Season
When the Summer months come around so do the tourists. Spain gets millions of visitors each year from June-August resulting in everything becoming busier and more expensive. If you have the luxury of picking what time of the year you take a trip to Spain then aim for September to October.
This way you will still get the warm weather but with far fewer crowds and much cheaper prices for accommodation and food. If you’re heading to the biggest and best cities in Spain such as Madrid or Barcelona then August is a good choice because locals go on holiday and head to the rural areas of Spain meaning city life becomes cheaper and far less crowded. Beware though, lack of locals means some restaurants and cafes are closed which can make your experience in the city a little less easy.
Use A Rail Pass
The train in Spain is by far the easiest and cheapest way to travel around which is good news for those on a backpacker’s budget. Spain also has a fantastic train system that is well maintained, quick and mostly on time. The high-speed train in Spain, named Renfe, runs between the best cities in Spain making journeys far easier and cost-effective than a plane or renting a car.
Buying individual tickets along the way can become expensive so it is best to buy Eurail Pass (Spain Rail Pass) before your trip to Spain. This will give you the freedom to travel far and wide at a fixed cost over a fixed amount of time. If you are a European resident, you can buy an even cheaper Interrail Pass which includes all European destinations giving you the freedom to roam the entire continent at a good price.
The Interrail Pass is a great choice for any backpackers looking to travel to several countries within Europe and needs to be purchased far in advance for the best prices.
Hostelworld and AirBNB
If you are on a backpacker’s budget there is no better way to find and book accommodation than Hostelworld and Airbnb. Europe vacation packages tend to be very expensive so these two websites should allow you to save money and allow more freedom whilst traveling on your trip to Spain.
Hostelworld is an easy way to find hostels in pretty much any city in the world, it’s free and easy to use app will help you find a place to your liking in a matter of minutes.
Airbnb has a similarly easy to use app but gives you access to more unique places to stay as the accommodation usually belongs to locals. Therefore, you could rent an apartment in Barcelona or a wooden house in the hills of the Basque Country.
The unique accommodation on Airbnb makes it a fantastic option for those looking for a cheap and cool place to stay. You will find that most of the Airbnb hosts will provide you with plenty of information about where you are staying and even some secret locals-only advice. Both apps have a huge amount of accommodation in all the best cities in Spain so you will never be without a good option for a place to sleep.
Eat Big at Lunch Time and Small at Dinner Time
Lunch is the main meal is Spain so go nuts and eat as much as you can! Take full advantage of the menu del dia (menu of the day). In most cities and towns you will find set lunches that consist of three courses, bread and wine all for just €11-€15 ($12.25-$16.70)! Those on a tight backpacker’s budget should take full advantage.
Spain is home to Pintxos, small and very affordable dishes served in restaurants usually in the evening. This is a great way to spend less on food during your trip to Spain, avoiding large restaurant bills.
Pintxos are incredibly good and sometimes even come free when you order a beer (depending on what city you are in). As you walk through the streets in any of the best cities in Spain, you will be sure to see the latest pintxos offerings chalked onto a board outside restaurants.
Free Walking Tours
One of the best ways to watch your backpacker’s budget during your trip to Spain is to take advantage of all the free walking tours available. Many hostels offer these to their guests allowing them to get a real feel for the city, meet fellow travelers and find the best places to visit.
It’s also an opportunity to learn some of the history and culture without the big fees usually charged by tour companies. Most guides are usually really passionate so take full advantage! Remember, one of the best things to do in any city in the world is to go see the sights and that is always free to do!
Here are some free walking tour companies in Spain:
- Barcelona Free Tours (Runner Bean Tours)
- Madrid Free Tours (OGO Tours)
- Walk in Granada
- Explora Malaga
- Go Local (San Sebastian)
Museum Free Days
Most museums in Spain will cost you anywhere between €5-€15 ($5.60-$16.70), however, most of the museums have free or discounted days. Therefore, it is worth planning ahead which museums you would like to visit in which city and find out their free or discounted visit days.
Madrid, in particular, is home to the best museums in Spain and they have free entry most weekday evenings so don’t miss the opportunity to visit some of them. If you’re a student make sure you take your student card for big discounts at most museums in Spain.
Museums in Spain are also completely free on these special days:
- October 12: Hispanidad Day
- December 6: Constitution Day
- May 2: Public Holiday (Madrid only)
- May 18: International Museum Day
- September 24: Public Holiday (Catalonia only)
Escape The Big Cities
There is far more to Spain than just Madrid and Barcelona. Make sure you take the time to go visit the more rural, and far cheaper, areas during your trip to Spain. Ronda is a stunning city built into the cliffs that it sits upon, here you will find bustling cobbled streets filled with music, wine, and local food.
San Sebastien is a fascinating step back in time in the north of Spain, nestled within the region of the Basque Country, this is one of the top culinary capitals of Spain. If you head to the most southerly tip of Spain you will find the bohemian city of Tarifa, a metamorphosis of Spanish and Morrocan cultures plus the perfect place to learn to surf.
Tarifa is home to a very laid back way of life with its old town full of young people relaxing together, drinking and eating under the warm Spanish sun to the sound of music. Out in the rural areas of Spain, you will find everything is far cheaper from beer to transport to accommodation.
Bundled Transport Tickets
When in the big cities moving around can get expensive, to help reduce costs during your trip to Spain it’s a good idea to buy bundled transport tickets that allow you to use a mix of different transport including the underground, buses, and trains.
For example, when in Barcelona you can buy the Barcelona T10 ticket for just €10 ($11) which gives you a maximum of 10 rides on public transport per day, perfect for those on a backpacker’s budget and more than enough to enjoy the sights of the city.
Most cities in Spain have very good public transport networks and offer ticket bundles for tourists such as the Barcelona T10 ticket, they usually give you a card to swipe making life much easier for backpackers.
Use Free WiFi
The evil and often unnoticed enemy of a backpacker’s budget, mobile data. During your trip to Spain, it will be extremely expensive and should always be considered and budgeted for in advance. Thankfully, free WiFi is pretty much everywhere in Spain so take full advantage.
Every time you get to a hostel, cafe, bar or restaurant make sure you get the password from the staff and log on. You may have to sign up for their newsletter but it will be worth the savings in data. Also, many major cities in touristy areas offer free WiFi such as popular squares, parks, shopping centers, train stations, and airports.
Make sure you check your phone to see if free WiFi is available before using your data. Another useful tip is to screenshot any bookings, reservations, tickets, and more before you arrive at the accommodation or event to avoid big download costs.
Head to the Club Early
Spain is famous for its vibrant nightlife and great nightclubs. However, these clubs are not cheap, especially in big cities like Barcelona and Madrid where you could pay anything from €15 ($17) for entry on the door. Luckily, for those wanting to save some money all you need to do is head the club before 11.30 pm to avoid these high costs.
Those on a backpacker’s budget will be happy to know that getting there early will usually mean you pay nothing at all!