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As a member of the European Union, Spain isn't typically considered a cheap travel destination. However, with planning and a little bit of research, you can manage to travel on the cheap in Spain, whatever your itinerary might be. Like most things, the most expensive part of the trip is the airfare, but if you plan ahead and have time on your side (both in terms of amount of time you have for vacation, flexibility of your dates, and how far you book in advance) the cost of the flight doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg.
Spain is absolutely beautiful and is rich with culture and amazing sights (for example, seeing Christopher Columbus' tomb- who would have thought that this was a sightseeing option?), not to mention rich with delicious food and drink, like tapas and sangria. Fortunately you don't have to be rich to enjoy Spain. With a little planning, you can do a trip to Spain on the cheap.
Some of the major sights and must-sees are Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Barcelona, and Madrid. A lot of people also check out Valencia an of course Ibiza too (if partying is your kind of thing- though I'm not sure how cheap drugs are, you probably can't really do Ibiza on the cheap 😉 ). This can be easily done in about a 10-14 day itinerary.
Getting There and Get Around
Getting there use your points or use a flight aggregator website to find the best deal. Once you're in the country, getting around is easy. You can either fly (cheap flights like Ryan Air, Easyjet, and Vueling cost under $100 and even less if you don't check in any baggage) or take the train. Low-cost tickets for the Renfe trains can be booked online, though you need to check with your credit card company first to make sure they let the transaction go through. Renfe tickets cost about the same as flying but you have the luxury of more time, no delays, and some scenery to look at. If you have a bit more time, book a bus to get from A to B. Even better, book an overnight bus to get to further distances if you're able to sleep well anywhere (saves you accommodation for one night).
In Madrid, they have a 1 to 3 day tourist metro pass which include a ride to the airport (usually costs extra on top of regular metro tickets). The cost is 18 euros for 3 days and it usually costs 1.50 to 2.00 euro for one way metro tickets and 4.50 euro for a one way ticket to the airport.
You can save a ton of money on accommodation if you stay in hostels. Hostels are great because you can meet new people and on a per night basis, it usually costs less than $25 a person. They also usually include free breakfast (toast, juice, coffee). Which saves you anywhere from 3.5 to 5 euro since food is quite pricey in Spain. The only downside is if you're traveling as a couple and you'd like some privacy. Watch for hostel prices to hike up if there is an event going on in your destination city.
Another great thing about staying in a hostel is the walking tours they have available. They also have activities or tours that you can partake in, which helps you meet new people. For example, in Seville, they had a Feria going on (a big big big fair) and for 22 euros they provided a flamenco lesson (conclusion is that flamenco looks a lot easier than it is), tapas and a drink, and transportation and guide to check out the Feria (in order to not get lost in the massive crowd and be invited to the Feria). A bit pricey but the experience is unforgettable. Seeing Sevillans in their best attire, their flamenco dresses and suits drinking Rubijita (a white wine/ sprite combo) was a great experience! I stayed with Oasis hostels in both Granada and Sevilla and I really liked the atmosphere. The beds cost about $25 per night and included breakfast and a free 2 for 1 drink ticket.
Stay tuned for Spain on the Cheap Part II where it's all about how to save money on the most important part of the trip- the sightseeing!
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