Before you start packing your suitcases and embark on your journey to the land of Don Quixote, flamenco, and football, you certainly have to assess your budget. That’s the reason why we’re here – to debunk the myths and get to the bottom of the question of whether Spain is cheap or not.
Seeing as we all come from different financial backgrounds, it’s only logical not to assume a generalized standpoint. After all, what’s cheap for someone may be a fortune for someone else or vice versa.
For this reason, we’ll delve into all aspects of a trip to Spain that tourists need the most: getting around, sleeping, and eating. Let’s begin.
Is Spain Cheap?
The cost of your stay in Spain will largely depend on where you want to go and the time of your visit. Although Spain is one of the affordable European countries, the off-season rates are way lower than in the peak season.
Accommodation in Spain: Is it cheap?
Staying in big cities such as Madrid and Barcelona can be pricey. But believe it or not, the most expensive city in Spain is San Sebastian.
For example, average rates for a night in San Sebastian linger around $170, which is more than double compared to the capital. To make things clearer, you can expect to pay between $49 – $88 a night for a twin-bed room with a private bathroom in Madrid and $61 – $100 for the same type of accommodation in Barcelona.
Granada, on the other hand, is one of the most affordable cities to visit in this part of Europe. You can find great private double rooms in nice hotels starting around $49 a night.
Hostels are a better option if you’re traveling on a budget. In Barcelona, a night at a hostel ranges between $21 – $42, in Madrid, you will pay around $18 – $66, while in Seville the rates range between $21 – $28.
Airbnb and apartment rentals can be a great option too, especially if you’re traveling in a group because you can split the costs. Rental apartment prices in Madrid start at $66, in Barcelona at $99, $55 in Seville, $62 in Palma de Mallorca, and $44 in Valencia.
Tips for stretching the dollar on accommodation in Spain
- Make an early booking.
- Avoid peak season (July and August).
- Stay in less crowded (and expensive) towns but close enough to visit the famous sights. For example, the city of Cordoba is only 1h 20min from Seville and 1h 30min from Malaga. On a similar note, the city of Toledo is only an hour from Madrid and Tarragona is just over an hour from Barcelona.
Read more: The Most Unusual Places in Spain
Dining in Spain: Is it cheap?
Food is one of the trademarks of Spain. Paella, tortillas, and churros will make you fall in love with Spanish cuisine from the first bite. So, how much money do you need to spend on food in Spain?
It depends. Spain offers a variety of eating options, from street food, bakeries, cafes, and high-end restaurants. Tapas (small portions of food) are available at every step and they are a great way to grab a bite on the go. The food is laid out to the guests who can choose and experiment with several different dishes. Tapas with seafood are generally more expensive (up to $15) while the regular ones stay around $4 per plate of tapas.
If you’re lucky enough, you will be served a small portion of tapas with your drink in any bar. Some bars in Mallorca and Granada still do it although that custom is now largely neglected and the majority of bars charge tapas. For $3 – $5 in Barcelona you can get a small serving tapas, in Madrid you’ll likely to get them for $1.5 – $4.5.
Lunch is generally cheaper than dinner. In big cities, lunch in an inexpensive restaurant will cost you between $9 – $14 while a three-course meal in a mid-range restaurant lingers between $27 – $55. For beverages, you can expect to pay $2 – $5 for a beer, $1.5 – $2.5 for a Cappucino, and around $1.9 for a Coke.
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Tips for stretching the dollar on food in Spain
- Don’t fall for tourist-trap restaurants. Instead, listen closely and gauge where the locals eat.
- Shop at supermarkets. Food and drinks are ridiculously cheap.
- Order a drink before you order tapas. You might get them for free!
- Avoid places near famous landmarks. The food is usually mediocre and overpriced.
Transportation in Spain: Is it cheap?
No matter where you’re staying in Spain, you’ll probably want to move and see as much as possible.
Long-distance buses are much cheaper than trains. The cost is almost 2 times less but it can be time-consuming. Many different companies operate within the Spanish bus network so you should make sure to check all of them before booking your ticket. For example, Madrid-Barcelona return tickets stay around $55 for a bus while the train tickets usually cost around $100 and more for the same route.
All major cities in Spain have a metro system. Metro is the fastest and most reliable way of getting around.
A single metro ticket in Madrid is 2.50€ but the best option is to buy the Tourist Travel Pass. This pass allows you to purchase 1-7 days ticket depending on how long you’re planning to stay. If you’re just going to explore the city, it best to buy Zone A ticket (€35.40 for 7 days) but if you’re going to explore the surrounding areas, you should go for Zone T pass (€70.80 for 7 days).
In Barcelona, a single journey ticket costs €2.20 but you can buy a T-10 pass allowing you 10 rides for €10.20 on the metro and city buses.
In Bilbao, you can expect to pay between €1.50 and €1.75 for a one-journey ticket and €1.50 in Valencia. The price of tickets will depend on the zones so it’s best to check all the details on the official metro websites.
Taxi tariffs start at 2.50 € (Barcelona), 4.00 € (Bilbao), 3.00 € (Madrid), 3.50 € (Granada), and 4.00 € (Valencia).
Tips for stretching the dollar on transportation in Spain
- Buy the tourist pass.
- Study all operators before booking long-distance buses.
- If you’re planning to explore the countryside, it’s best to rent a free-cancelation car.
- When booking train tickets, book them well in advance for discounts.
- Don’t buy tickets from third-party vendors.
Read more: Top Romantic Resorts in Spain
The Daily Costs by Cities
Here are the average daily costs for some of the most popular Spanish cities:
In Madrid – $107
In Barcelona – $127
In Seville – $109
In Tenerife – $114
In Valencia – $85
In Granada – $67
In Malaga – $81
In Cordoba – $50
All things considered, Spain is not exorbitant but it can strain your budget if you don’t prepare the adventure in advance. Think wisely and make the most out of what this beautiful county is offering.