9 budget travel tips for Spain. Traveling Spain doesn’t have to be expensive!
Spain is a gorgeous Mediterranean country filled with seductive music, flavorful food and wine, and a warm, welcoming culture.
The cost of traveling through Spain is pretty average for Europe.
But it’s not as expensive as the UK or Scandinavia.
You can easily travel through Spain on a backpacker budget.
Public transport is affordable. There are plenty of good hostels for around $10 per night.
And most cities and towns have a cheap local food market.
So for backpackers in Europe, here are some budget travel tips for Spain that I’ve gathered based on my own travels in this dreamy European country.
9 Budget Travel Tips for Spain
Budget Travel Tip for Spain #1:
Walk As Much As Possible
Spain is a very pedestrian-friendly country, so try to walk as often as possible.
It is free, it’s great exercise, and it allows you to absorb your surroundings at a more relaxing pace.
The sun is often shining, and the Spanish locals are usually super outgoing and willing to give you directions if necessary.
You can also download an offline navigation app like Maps.Me to help you find your way.
Spanish architecture is colorful, detailed, and overall very impressive, and walking gives you an up-close perspective.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #2:
Use Cheap Public Transport
For journeys outside the city, or for those times when your feet just can’t carry you any further, take public transport instead of an expensive taxi.
In Spain, public transport is very cheap. A single journey on a bus or metro usually won’t cost more than 2 Euros, unless you’re traveling far.
The metro system is easy to figure out if you don’t speak Spanish because there is a map with each train line in a different color.
The buses are sometimes more confusing because the stops aren’t always announced or sign-posted well. Try to communicate with the driver about where you want to get off or check your Maps.Me to see where you are.
If you are staying in one city for longer and plan on taking public transport often, consider getting a day or week transport pass.
For example, in Barcelona, you can get a T10 card that allows you 10 metro journeys for 10 Euros.
Buses and trains in between cities and towns around Spain are also pretty affordable. The bus tends to be cheaper.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #3:
Stay in Hostels
Seasoned travelers will already know this, but staying in hostels is easily one of the best ways to save money while traveling.
Check Hostelworld.com for the best hostels in each Spanish destination.
In my experience, every hostel I’ve stayed in throughout Spain has been amazing.
They usually have comfy beds, super helpful staff members, and other amenities like common rooms, free Wifi, laundry services, and free city maps.
Most hostels in Spain cost between 10 and 20 Euros per night.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #4:
Eat and Shop at the Central Market
Pretty much every city and town in Spain has its own Central Market.
Budget travelers would be wise to buy the majority of their food here.
By all means, eat out in restaurants often because it’s not too pricey in Spain and you have to try some good local dishes.
But try to balance those meals out with some snacks from the market.
For example, breakfasts and lunches can consist of fresh, juicy fruit, homemade bread, and nice cheese from the market. This will probably cost the same if not less than a restaurant meal.
Some markets even have ready-made meals like paella or pizza, and the ingredients are always fresh and delicious.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #5:
Be Smart with Tapas
Tapas are a staple of Spanish culture and cuisine.
Before the massive dinner that usually occurs between 8-10 pm, Spaniards love to gather at tapas bars with friends and family and sip on wine while snacking on various small plates of food.
Tapas are delicious, but tourists often forget that they are meant to be like appetizers for the main meal and the portions are quite small.
So if you show up to a tapas bar feeling very hungry, it’s just too easy to order lots and lots of little plates and rack up a costly bill.
To save money, try different tapas here and there throughout your trip in between meals rather than ordering everything on the menu at once.
You can also research which tapas bars have deals and discounts because many do.
Some have happy hours and some have discounts if you’re staying at a certain hostel.
My favorite tapas bar in Spain is El Tigre in Madrid. With every drink you buy, they bring you huge plates of free tapas.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #6:
Enjoy the Free Attractions
Luckily for budget travelers, plenty of Spain’s best attractions are free.
This includes public parks and gardens, local beaches, churches and cathedrals, and public squares.
Generally speaking, these expressions of Spanish architecture, history, and design are free.
In Toledo, a city famous for its religious integration, all the best churches, mosques, and synagogues are free to enter.
In Alicante, you can hike Mount Benacantil, explore the Castell de Santa Bárbara, then walk along the Marina and relax on the beach, all without spending a single Euro.
Some of Spain’s most famous tourist attractions will cost money, such as the Sagrada Familia or Park Guell in Barcelona or the Alhambra in Granada.
Just use your judgment when paying for the touristy stuff and know that it’s ok to splurge on some cool activities in Spain.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #7:
Drink Like the Locals
A great way to save money in Spain is by choosing the same drinks as the locals.
Most Spaniards drink a café con leche in the morning, which is an espresso shot with hot milk that costs around 1 Euro.
Later in the day, they’ll drink cerveza, or a bottle or beer, which usually costs around 2 Euros.
With dinner or tapas they’ll enjoy some local wine, and a glass in a restaurant or bar only costs around 2-3 Euros.
Buying a bottle of wine in a liquor store will only cost you about 2 Euros as well.
Water, on the other hand, isn’t a favorite among locals and a bottle of water can cost around 3 Euros.
So you might as well just get a beer when you’re thirsty; it is cheaper!
So drinking like the locals, instead of ordering fancy cocktails or imported liquors, will be better for your travel budget.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #8:
Take Advantage of Student Discounts
If you’re a student traveling in Spain, always keep your student ID card on you.
Lots of museums, attractions, and restaurants in Spain have student discounts, some of which cut the cost significantly.
For example, in Madrid, there are a handful of super prestigious art museums that are completely free for students.
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #9:
Try A Work Exchange
Doing a work exchange is always one of my favorite budget travel tips for any country.
You can live and work with locals, learning more about their culture, language, and way of life. Common jobs include working in a hostel, on a farm, with a local business, or with a local family.
In exchange for your efforts, you’ll get free accommodation and sometimes free meals and other perks.
This is one of the best ways to save money abroad. And chances are you’ll have the coolest experience!
Spain has lots of work exchanges available, in many locations around the country.
Worldpackers is my favorite website for finding work exchanges, and they have over 320 opportunities available in Spain!
Use my promo code GABBY to save money on your Worldpackers membership!
Budget Travel Tips for Spain #10:
Don’t Be Afraid To Splurge
I always have to include this tip in a budget travel guide because I often fall victim to being stingy with money while traveling.
Yes, the more money you save the longer you can afford to travel.
BUT, you never want to look back on a trip and feel like you missed out on some cool experiences.
So while traveling through Spain, pay for the fun activities or attractions that fascinate you.
Pay to enter the Alhambra in Granda, the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, and the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. They are world-famous attractions that shouldn’t be missed.
Go to a Flamenco Show in Madrid.
Spain is full of adventure, culture, and natural beauty. You don’t want your backpacker budget to hold you back!
Thanks for reading this list of budget travel tips for Spain!
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