Spain is a very reasonably priced country to visit and travel in. You’ll find a wide selection of hotels to choose from and very cheap food and drinks. It’s also really well connected so there are lots of options for getting around Spain.
If you want to visit Europe, add Spain to your list. You won’t be disappointed and you will see and experience so much for very little money, compared to other major European countries.
If you are already heading to Spain, keep reading to find out how you can save money during your visit with my 11 cash saving tips.
RELATED article: To read more about why I recommend you visit Spain read – Why Spain is the perfect holiday destination
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My 11 tips for saving money while on holiday in Spain
Traveling on a budget or trying to make holiday money stretch as far as possible can be tough. Let me share a few extra tips and tricks for how to save money when visiting Spain.
These are my tried and tested ways to save extra cash in Spain (which I usually then spend on cava and ice cream). But, if we save a few pennies here, we can spend it guilt free there. I do all of these things on every trip and to be honest the general principal will apply to most holiday locations.
1. Book accommodation in advance
Booking your hotel in advance will not only save the hassle and stress of trying to find accommodation when you arrive, it will be cheaper. Websites likes Booking.com and Expedia are the first place you should check and don’t forget to look at apartment rental if the hotel prices seem too high. Shop around and compare the price offered on the hotels own website, sometimes it’s cheaper to book direct.
Pro tip: Booking accommodation for the low season is always cheaper then during the peak summer months.
RELATED article: For discounts on Booking.com and Airbnb bookings check out – Discounts for your trip to Spain
2. Book travel in advance
When it comes to booking trains and buses in Spain its always best to book as far ahead as you possibly can. As with flights, the seats get booked up pretty quickly and the price goes up when there is less availability. To see what travel option is cheapest for your trip use a website like Go Euro. They will compare flights from Iberia, Vueling, Easy Jet and other low-cost airlines that cover Spain alongside the Alsa coach and Renfe train options. Flight options are usually available a year ahead, bus and train routes can be booked 3 months ahead. If you want to self drive use Discover Care Hire to compare the best car hire rates available in Spain.
Pro tip: Look out for special offers and online sales that are usually advertised around January/February as companies try to entice everyone to book a holiday.
3. Use public transport
Spain is a very safe country to take a taxi and every region has its own fleet of easily recognisable registered taxis. However, while jumping in a cab is the easy option it is also wasting money. Find out where the nearest bus, tram or metro station is to your accommodation and use public transport. All ticket machines will have the option to change language and public transport is very cheap in Spain.
Pro tip: Most cities offer a tourist pass or multi-travel card that is valid for a few days so you don’t even need to keep buying a ticket. You just swipe and go.
Don’t be afraid of the confusing map or unsure of the timetable. A quick google will help you to see the best route for you. Just take a minute to study the map and work out where you want to go before hopping on that bus. People like to share scare stories of pick pockets on the metro in Europe and yes, unfortunately these areas present easy targets but with a little smart thinking you can protect yourself.
RELATED article: For more advice on this read – How to keep your valuables safe when traveling
4. Don’t settle for the first restaurant you see
As you wander and explore the main tourist destinations try not to get lured into the restaurants in those areas. The main square or shopping street might seem like a good place to stop for lunch or the restaurant with the best views might look like the perfect dinner place. However, the restaurants, bars and cafes in the main tourist spots will either be overpriced (because of the location) or serve mediocre food (because of the high turnover of customers). Unfortunately, a combination of high overheads and complacency means that these restaurants and bars don’t keep up with the times, give bad service and really don’t care because they will still make money. For more interesting restaurants, that serve better quality food, with better service and for a cheaper price just walk a street or two away.
Pro tip: See the tourist landmark, take a few photos, soak up the atmosphere then walk a block before choosing a restaurant or bar.
5. Look out for menu of the day
When on holiday it’s easy to fall into a routine of spending the day exploring (in a city) or relaxing (on a beach) and then going for a big meal at dinner time. To save money switch your large meal of the day to lunch. There are some awesome 2 or 3 course menus’ available across Spain as “menu del dia” the menu of the day. Usually served from 12pm-6pm and sometimes even includes extras like bread and a drink.
Pro tip: In Spain you will find that locals eat a big lunch and a smaller tapas style dinner anyway, so you’ll be fitting right in.
RELATED article: For more tips on eating in Spain read – A guide to pinchos & tapas
6. Buy drinks and snacks in the supermarket
Now, I don’t mean you should never go out and just sit in your room eating instant noodles every night. But, its savvy to pop into the nearest supermarket to pick up a few cheap drinks and snacks. When you go back to your room to freshen up or turn in for the night you don’t want to be calling room service or raiding that expensive mini-bar. For example, I always get a pack of cookies (to have with a cup of tea), a bottle of wine (for a nightcap) and crisps or chocolate (for a midnight snack).
Pro tip: Wandering around a foreign market or supermarket can be fun, spot the foods you don’t usually get a home and have a picnic the following day for the perfect money saving lunch.
7. Use free wifi
This might seem obvious but I have drained my 4g countless times by forgetting to use the free wifi when traveling. If you are coming to Spain from outside of the EU then make sure your phone roaming is turned off or you’re on airplane mode. Then search for wifi everywhere you stop. In Spain all hotels have free wifi and most airports, bars and cafes will do to. You might have to sign in with your email address and accept the t&c’s or ask the staff for a password but it’s worth it. You can check in with family and friends back home, research your next tourist attraction and check your social media and save money.
Pro tip: Download or screenshot things (like tickets, maps and travel info) you might need to access later when you no longer have free wifi.
8. Find free attractions and things to do
I have been amazed by the amazing number of free museums and art galleries there are in Spain. From the prestigious to the bizarre, you will find something to keep you entertained without spending much money. Every city will offer a free walking tour that you can join and there are often local markets to explore and fiestas to join. Wander, see the sights and admire the architecture or views.
Pro tip: Find the nearest park, river or beach. Walking down the beach, by a river or in a park are always fun things to do for free.
9. Don’t over tip
Spaniards hardly ever tip, particularly for food or drink service. It might seem strange if you come from a country with a tipping culture but to save money don’t over tip. If you have a fantastic meal with a great waiter of course give them a tip to say thank you. However, in general service is not really done with a smile in Spain and servers don’t pander to guests. In turn they don’t expect a tip.
Pro tip: Don’t feel bad for just rounding the bill up by a few euro or leaving a few coins change.
RELATED article: For advice on how to order in a Spanish bar check out – What to drink in Madrid and how to order like a local
10. Drink the tap water
Check that the water in your area is safe as some island, coastal or rural towns may not have sufficient filtration systems. But in my experience the water in Spain is drinkable even if it tastes a little different to water at home. For example the water in Barcelona is heavily filtered and the process makes the water taste a little funny but its safe to drink. Most Spanish cities and towns have public water fountains so save money (and the environment) by refilling your water bottle instead of buying water everyday.
Pro tip: It’s important to stay hydrated in the sun so always carry a bottle of water with you in Spain.
11. Wait to see if you get free tapas
When you enter a Spanish bar, particularly if you are away from tourist areas or the décor shows it’s a more traditional establishment, order just drinks first to see if you get a free tapa dish. Not all places will partake in this nowadays but lots of old school bartenders will give customers a free dish to entice you to order another drink and stay a little longer. It may be a bowl of olives or nuts or even a tortilla slice or meatballs and bread.
Pro tip: Sit at the bar counter and practise some Spanish by asking he bar tender what the displayed foods and drinks are. They are likely to give you a little taste to try.
I hope this article sharing my tips on how to save money when visiting Spain is useful. Saving a bit of cash here and there can help you see and do that much more on holiday.
Do you have any great tips for saving money when in Spain or traveling in general? Tell us all about it in the comments box bellow.
Other Spain guides and travel advice articles you might be interested in reading…
8 Surprising sights to see in Spain
Useful Spanish phrases for traveling in Spain
Nerja, the jewel of the Costa del Sol
The 10 most beautiful beaches in Spain
Great advice here, especially number six! I love bringing some wine and a picnic to Retiro!
Ooh yes! Retiro is a great park for a nice wine and picnic afternoon 🙂
Great tips! My husband and I visited Barcelona in February of this year and definitely took note of the larger lunch and “menu del dia.” Everything we ate was so delicious, I can’t wait to go back!
Thanks Laura! Glad to here you made the most of all the yummy Spanish food when you visited Barcelona. The nice hearty “menu del dia” is such a bargain!