After a long period of time being trapped in their home countries, as the result of the pandemic, international tourists are now ready to travel. But the cost-of-living crisis, increased energy bills, and the threat of Europe-wide recession means that many of those tourists can’t afford to travel. Spain is well known for being one of the more affordable places to visit in Western Europe, but prices to visit can still often be high, particularly if you want to visit in the height of the summer. To help ensure that your next trip to Spain falls in budget, here are our favourite top tips for saving money as a tourist in Spain:
- Book Attractions in Advance
Not only can some of Spain's most popular attractions sell out weeks in advance, particularly during the height of the tourist season, booking these tickets in advance will also save you money. The advanced purchase price for most attractions tends to be significantly less than the ‘on the gate’ price, to encourage tourists to book in advance and to make it easier for them to plan their staff schedules and budgets. Being flexible on when you visit could also save you money, with some attractions offering discounted ‘twilight tickets’ or discounts for visiting in the week rather than at the busier weekends.
- Book Your Flights and Accommodation as Soon as Possible
Whilst it is still possible to take advantage of the occasional list minute bargain, as a general rule the cheapest prices for flight and accommodation packages are secured by booking well in advance. Most airlines operate a dynamic pricing model, which means that the more popular/well booked a flight it the more expensive tickets for that flight will be. Accommodation packages are also prices in a similar way. According to the Catalan tourist board, accommodation in Barcelona is already at 100 percent capacity for much of the summer months, so if you don’t book early, you may find you are unable to travel to your chosen location at all.
- Avoid Travelling During the Peak Summer Months
As well as being the UK school summer holiday period, the peak of the summer is also when many Spanish families choose to take their holidays. Not only will this make Spanish resorts busier and more crowded, it will also drive-up prices. It you can travel to Spain outside of these peak summer holiday months then you will find that your holiday is significantly cheaper.
- Use Public Transport
Car rental (and especially the insurance you need to rent a car) can be very expensive in Spain, as can travelling by taxi. But public transport is plentiful and affordable in the country, and is particularly easy to access in city locations, or locations that are popular with tourists. The national rail company in Spain is Renfe, and visiting their website directly is the best way to secure affordable train tickets to most Spanish cities. The exception to this rule is if you’re travelling between Madrid and Barcelona: in this circumstance, the Ouigo travel company offers the most convenient and affordable ticket prices.
If intercity travel is not part of your plan, public transportation is still the best way to get around. Both Madrid and Barcelona have fast and efficient metro systems, whilst smaller cities and towns will rely on bus systems to move people from A to B. You can either purchase a travel card for the duration of your stay or simply pay a small sum for each journey as you need it. Don’t overlook travelling by foot. Not only is it free, it’s also a great way to explore some of Spain’s smaller cities, or those with compact city centres.
- Avoid Restaurants by the Seafront
Avoid restaurants by the seafront, as these restaurants are aimed largely at tourists and tend to inflate their prices as a result. The same is true or restaurants and cafes close to the main sights or tourist attractions in Spanish cities. You are effectively paying a premium for a view of the sea or of a significant monument. If you want tasty and affordable eats then eschew the view and eat somewhere local too: a good sign of quality and value for money is if there are a lot of Spanish locals in a restaurant.
Whilst eating the local cuisine is a huge part of the pleasure of travel for many, you may also find that it is cheaper not to eat Spanish food. Tapas and other small plate dishes may appear affordable at first, but when you have ordered several, the price soon adds up. Instead, save money by ordering filling international dishes. Options such as pizza slices, noodles or pasta, and baked potatoes are fast and a lot cheaper than traditional Spanish cuisine.
- Speak Spanish
Knowing a few words of Spanish before you arrive in Spain will not only make it easier to get around, it could also help to save you money. Some tourist traps are famed for hiking prices when they see and hear foreign visitors. If you can't avoid visiting these tourists traps altogether, you could avoid being victim to these inflated prices by ordering your coffee, meal, or souvenir in Spanish.
- Explore Spain’s Festivals
Finally, Spain is famous for its cultural festivals, where whole town or cities explode with colour, culture and music. These are both exciting and entertaining, but the best thing is that they’re free. If there is a festival taking place when you are on your holiday, then you can entertain yourself for hours without spending a penny.
Our top money-saving tip is to stay just outside of the main towns where the festivals are being held and travel in each day, this will help you avoid the inflated accommodation prices. Seek out cultural events in advance, as although the majority of these are free, some may require that you secure a ticket, particularly in this post-covid world.
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