Alternative Accommodation in Spain

Spain is certainly not short on accommodation choices. There is an abundance of villas, apartments and hotel rooms to choose from.

Outside of these options there are however other alternative choices that you might like to consider. They don’t all have to be expensive either;

Glamping in Spain

Glamping SpainGlamping isn’t just for the UK anymore. The trend is sweeping across the globe and Spain is getting in on the act. It makes sense really, Spain is a country with the perfect climate for outdoor living. With stunning countryside and beautiful coastline there are plenty of locations that are suited for glamping.

Camping in Spain

Not quite glamping but camping is still the perfect opportunity to get out and about in the great outdoors. The climate in Spain lends itself to some perfect outdoor living so make the most of the simple life. If you are camping in Spain, driving is probably the better option so you can take all your camping gear with you. Campsites in Spain vary in price and facilities, from the basic pitch with toilet and shower block to 5 star campsite with every conceivable amenity.

Couch Surfing

A new and popular trend is Couch Surfing. Basically you go and stay at a local’s house in your chosen location. A whole community of around 8 million travellers has been built whereby you list your details and get the opportunity to sleep on somebody’s couch. Obviously use your own common sense and safety considerations when staying at another person’s house.

Paradors

A parador is a hotel in Spain owned and administered by the Spanish Government. There are over 80 to choose from, dotted about all over Spain. They vary in price so do your research and find out what is in your price range. A good starting point is Spanish Paradores where you can search for a property to suit you. Choose from castles, palaces, convents, many set in World Heritage Cities.

It definitely pays to do your research when choosing somewhere to stay in Spain. You need to decide what your priorities are –  how much time will you be spending at your holiday home? Is it worth spending a little bit more if you think you are going to be spending a lot of time there?

For more tips on saving money on your Spanish accommodation check out our article here.

Free Things to Do in Spain

Free Things to do in SpainNot everything has to cost money on holiday. Let some of the ideas below inspire you to still have an amazing time without compromising on budget.

Go to the Beach

There is no denying that Spain has beaches aplenty. They are often large and pretty darn beautiful. Granted, some of busier than others at certain times of the day but you can’t beat a few hours chilling out on the beach. Take your own drinks and food so you are not tempted by the beach bar.

Play Some Sports

Most beaches in Spain during the summer have volleyball courts. Grab a ball and some friends and have some fun! There are various other places you can play some ball games with football pitches and basketball courts scattered around.

Go Hiking

Spain has some stunning walks that don’t need to cost you anything. Try the Sierra Nevada National Park for starters!

Go Check Out A Museum

On certain days of the week or month some museums have free admission. Check out individual websites for which days they are. Or check out the outside of some amazing iconic buildings. Start off with the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao.

People Watch and Street Entertainers

If you are in a busy tourist spot you will often find some street performers trying to draw in the crowd. Of course they want some tip for performing so do try and give them some if you have enjoyed them. Or, just sit on a bench somewhere and do some good old fashioned people watching. Las Ramblas in Barcelona is a great place to do this with nationalities from all over walking up and down this famous stretch,

Find a Park

I’ve always found parks in Spain to be great fun. If you have kids with you they will love them too with plenty of great play equipment to keep them entertained. Madrid has a brilliant park right in the centre ‘El Parque del Buen Retiro’ complete with lake.

 

Travel Tips to Save Money in Spain

Travel Tips to Save MoneyWe like to budget when we go on holiday. It means we can get to do more of what we want to and stretch out our holiday even further.

It is really easy to get carried away and swept up by the excitement of being on holiday. Sometimes all senses seem to leave us and it’s as if we’re not spending real money. Until we get home and open up the bank statement that is :(

With that in mind we have compiled a list of our favourite travel tips for saving money. It isn’t an exhaustive list but it’s a good starting point.

1. Travel out of the school holidays. Obviously not so good if you have children. If you don’t then I really recommend travelling at a time outside of the set school holidays. Prices are so much cheaper. If you are after sunshine, going in July or September will still provide high temperatures without the costs or crowds. Consider that Spanish schools do break up much earlier than the UK ones, I think in June.

2. If you are flying to Spain compare air fares before you book. Prices can vary quite dramatically. If you try one of the flight compare websites you can usually set up alerts to email you when a flights goes up or down in price. In general, the sooner you book a flight the cheaper it will be.

3. Look out for deals with Groupon. Occasionally a good one will come up for Spain and you need to jump in and buy it as soon as possible. Again, you can get emails sent to you specifically for travel and holidays.

4. Save up reward deals from supermarkets and other loyalty cards. We have used Tesco Clubcard vouchers in the past to exchange for Airmiles (now Avios) which paid for return flights to Malaga.

5. If there are lots of you self catering villas or apartments are often cheaper.

6. To save money on food, again book into self catering accommodation. You can prepare your own breakfasts, lunches and dinners every day if you want to. Spanish supermakets can be reasonably priced if you eat own brands and don’t buy unnecessary luxuries.

7. If you want to eat out then hunt out the places away from the usual tourist hubs. Go a little off the beaten track and you are bound to find the cafes and restaurants where the locals eat. This is usually a good sign of a great restaurant if the locals all use it too.

8. Go for tapas. Many bars serve tapas with your drinks. This can be a fab way to sample a wide range of delicious Spanish food without shelling out for a large dinner.

9. Don’t get carried away by going on tours. Sure, some are fun to go on, but do you really need to go on it? Search for cheaper alternatives and call in at the tourist information office for any free tours.

10. Use local transport. Often airport transfers can really add to the cost of a holiday. Think ahead any plan your journey – could it be cheaper to go by bus, metro or a shared airport shuttle service?

You don’t have to let budgeting ruin a good holiday. Just be aware of what you are spending. Just because it seems much cheaper than back home it doesn’t mean you have to buy 2 of them!

 

 

Getting around on the cheap in Spain

If you are anything like us, you like to explore when you are travelling. When we go to Spain this is no exception. Especially during the cooler months.

So, how do we get to see as much of Spain as we can without breaking the bank?

Car Hire

Depending on how many of you there are hiring a car can sometimes be the more economical option. Don’t be afraid to haggle a bit out of season. Don’t be tempted into going for a car bigger than you need. Shop around and see what bargains you can get before you arrive. It may be cheaper to pre book a car. Make sure you only pay for the insurance you need and read the small print.

Taking your own car 

The obvious downside to this is how long and how much it will cost to get your own car to Spain. Look into ferry options as you can get some good deals (especially out of school holidays) on crossings to Northern Spain. If you have your own car in Spain don’t forget to familiarise yourself with the Spanish traffic rules. Again, make sure your insurance and breakdown covers being abroad.

Using Taxis

Depending on your distances and how many of you there are, this is probably one of the more expensive options. If you are only using them very occasionally and for shorter distances then it is probably more economical than hiring a car. In the places we have visited in Spain we have always found it really easy to catch a taxi and they have always been metered so there is no nasty shock at the end. If you are not confident with your Spanish then perhaps write down the address to give to the taxi driver.

Going Underground

The bigger cities of Spain have underground trains called The Metro. Don’t feel daunted by them. Grab a map and familiarise yourself on which route you want to take. We have used them extensively in both Barcelona and Valencia and found them a quick and cheap way to get about. You can often buy books of tickets which you can use during your stay. They work out much cheaper than if you are buying each ticket individually. If you are confused by which line or metro to take just ask someone (remember to practise your Spanish now!)

Using the Overland Trains

We have always found the overland trains to be incredibly clean, fast, well run and economical. We have caught the fast RENFE train from Valencia to Madrid which was a lovely air conditioned journey. We have also used the local trains around Barcelona and Valencia and found them to be equally easy to use. I always think the train is a great way to get around. Especially if you have children. You can get up and move around if you wish to and they are on time (usually!) You can also use the time to gaze at the countryside as it passes you by.

Buses and Coaches

There is a large network of affordable bus and coach routes within Spain interlinking towns and cities. They are usually cheaper than trains and sometimes they don’t take that much longer so they are definitely worth investigating in further detail. If you want to compare the bus v train this is a handy article to see the different prices and durations between the two option.

 

What is the cheapest way to learn Spanish?

Hola AmigoTo really get the most out of a holiday it is a good idea to learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent to talk to the locals. Even if you just learn some basics it will go a long way to enriching your experience.

Many methods of learning Spanish come with a price tag. However, they don’t have to be expensive and in some case you can even get them for free. More money to spend on your holiday eh?!

Read on to find out ways you can learn Spanish on the cheap or even for free;

Borrow from the Library

Most libraries have a foreign language learning section. Some will even allow you to borrow audio CDS which will help you even more.

Read Newspapers Online

There are a ton of resources online for learning Spanish. Find an online newspaper that is in Spanish and read a little bit each day. If you pick a national one (like El Pais) they will be reporting on world news too so you will have an idea about what the topic is on (assuming you keep up to date with the news in your home country!)

BBC Online

BBC online are another fabulous resource for learning Spanish for free. They even have a dedicated children’s area to help your little ones learn too.

Listen to Spanish Radio

There is nothing quite like completely submersing yourself in another language. Of course the best way is to actually be in the country, but a great alternative is to have Spanish Radio on in the background. Many stations are now available across the internet so it doesn’t even have to cost you anything.

Swap your English for Spanish

Find out if there are any Spanish people living in your area. Enquire at the local college (they often run learn English classes so might be able to put leaflets out.) Arrange a meet up, perhaps go out for a coffee and agree to speak for 15 minutes only in English and 15 minutes only in Spanish. That way you are both learning and again, it has cost you nothing (well, a cup of coffee!)

Put on a DVD

Do you have a favourite DVD? Pop it on and see if there is a Spanish language option. Or even subtitles. This is another great way to immerse yourself in the language and pick up vocab.

You Tube

You Tube have wealth of videos to help you learn Spanish. Just search through them and decide which one suits you best. Watch a little bit each day.

So, there you have it. Many cheap and free ways to learn Spanish. When you get the chance to visit Spain then try and strike up a conversation with someone. You never know, you might make a friend and then you can become pen pals (or email pals!) Or you can speak to each other over Skype, pretty much the same method as the ‘Swap English for Spanish’ one mentioned above but in a virtual way!

5 Ways to Save Money on your Spanish Holiday Accommodation

Holiday-VillasThere a many things to consider when organising your holiday in Spain. One of the major things will be where to lay your head at night!

As in any country there are accommodation options of varying price ranges. If money is no issue then you can opt for one of the high end villa or hotel rentals. However, for most of us we need to budget and consider where each penny is spent.

The good news is, Spain is totally set up for travellers from every walk of life. Singles, couples, families, groups – you name it, there will be an accommodation style to suit you.

With that in mine, what follows are our ways to save money when choosing where to stay on holiday.

Book a Holiday Rental Direct from the Owner

This is normally our first go to when in the research stages of organising a holiday. We check out sites like HomeAway who list thousands of apartments and villas to rent by the night, week or month. The benefit of a holiday rental like is most seen by families and those travelling in larger groups. It is often much cheaper to hire a villa or apartment compared to a hotel. Especially when it is split out between a few of you.

The other added benefit is you have a kitchen. You can shop at a local supermarket or street market and eat much cheaper than you can do by eating out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. You can make picnics to take on a day out, or pop back to your accommodation for lunch even.

Book a Hotel Off Season

If you are not tied to going on holiday at a certain time of year then it is worth going slightly out of season to benefit from cheaper room rates.

Remember, Spain has a lovely climate pretty much all year round. You can easily go on holiday in September and have wonderful weather yet pay half the price than you would in August.

Try going direct to the hotel owner and seeing if they have any discounted rooms. It is always worth an ask – what’s the worst they are going to say?

Go Camping!

Granted, camping isn’t for everyone. It is however a great way to visit Spain on a budget! We have camped in Spain before and saved loads of money. There are a wide variety of campsites from basic (and cheap!) to more 5 stars (and with a price tag to match!)

Stay in a Hostel

A hostel stay might not be your first choice when thinking about a holiday in Spain. You may be surprised to hear that hostels (well most of them) have really upped their game. Many now have private en suite rooms, not just dorm style rooms! It is worth checking out reviews before you book but they are definitely worth a consideration.

House Swap

A house swap is exactly what it sounds like. You swap your own home for someone else’s for a specified period of time. There are plenty of sites out there that offer this service whereby you put your house on the listings and look to exchange it with someone who wants to visit your home town. Again, it isn’t for everyone. I appreciate that some people would rather not let strangers stay in their home but for those that do, many have reported great experiences.

 

 

Welcome to Spain Travel Discounts

Map-of-SpainWe all love a holiday in Spain. It is a country full of culture, culinary delights, stunning beaches and of course sunshine. The Spanish people are some of the most friendly I have ever met too.

Spain is a country that embraces families, making them feel welcome no matter the venue or time of day. It is not unusual to see Spanish families venturing out for an evening meal at 10 or 11pm at night. Children playing in the street until after midnight.

Spain is a large country, with plenty of beaches and bustling cities and towns. The Costas (Costa del Sol, Costa Blanca, Costa Dorada) are well known for their long stretches of coastline and busy nightlife. The north is much greener and brings with it a different experience, not to be missed.

It is worth remembering inland Spain and the countryside where you will find traditional Spanish villages dotted about with welcoming residents. The interior can get pretty hot in the summer months so they are probably more suited for Spring and Autumn breaks.

We have spent many years visiting Spain. We have been at all times of the year. We have been at Christmas, Easter, Summer and pretty much every time in between.

We have been to many different areas. Bilbao in the North, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Malaga and the rest of the Costa del Sol, Madrid….we still have plenty of places left to explore but we’ve made a good start!

We have got there by ferry, car, train and plane. We know the pros and cons of each style of transport. We know how to make savings on each one and we hope to be able to share these tips with you as we go along.

We have stayed in various different types of accommodation. From budget hostels to high end hotels. We have camped and we have rented apartments. We have gone as a couple and we have gone as a family.

We have paid high end and we have gone on a budget. How much you spend on a holiday in Spain depends very much on your priorities (and bank account!) You can of course spend thousands on a holiday, but it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are budget options and ways of saving money without compromising on comfort and fun.

We hope to share our experiences and findings with you via this blog in the hope that it will inspire you to make the most of what the beautiful country of Spain has to offer.

If you have any tips for visiting Spain on a budget then please do send them in. The more we share with each other the more we can all gain!