My aim for this year was to try and visit a new place every month. I have been here for nine months, and have so far visited thirteen places that I had previously never been to. So, I think it’s pretty fair to say that I have achieved and surpassed this goal.
I realised recently that, although most of my wages from this year have gone on travel, and there would definitely have been cheaper options on occasion, I have managed to do all this travelling pretty cheaply. I still feel like I have seen absolutely everything that I wanted to, I haven’t missed out because I was on a budget, so today I thought I would share with you my tips on how to explore Spain cheaply.
I’ll start off with the freebies. So many museums offer free entry to students under the age of 25, all you need to do is show your student card. The Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid is a great one for this, as is the Museum of Cádiz. I love getting into places like this for free, because it means I never feel guilty if I get a little bored, or want to leave having not been there for very long.
The Patios of the Palace in Córdoba has a three hour slot every week, where everyone gets in for free (Wednesdays 2-5pm). We stumbled upon this by accident and it was such a great discovery, the Patios are beautiful (I talk more about them in this post here), and obviously getting a freebie that you didn’t expect is always a good thing.
There are also regular events and festivals across Spain that are totally free to get into and wander around. Semana Santa processions, for example, are incredible to watch and something that you can just stumble upon in the middle of the street without paying a penny.
Most big cities in Spain have ferias every year, as well, which are generally free to get into and are absolutely beautiful (Seville feria is the only one I know of that isn’t free). You can wander around the ferias, see the beautiful lights, Flamenco dresses and cart horses, and only spend money if you want to, in one of the many bars and restaurants that will be set up around the area. The same goes for the Carnivals. These pop up all over Spain around February time and again, have no entry fee.
‘Miradors’ are my favourite free things to do in any city. A mirador is a viewpoint, and there are some absolutely gorgeous ones around Spain, especially in Andalucía. They’re the perfect place to watch a sunset, chill out after a day of exploring or, if you have an absolutely useless sense of direction like me, get your bearings.
It can also be really enjoyable to wander around places and view the outside of buildings, without necessarily going in. Spain is full of so much gorgeous architecture, both old and new, that you really can just observe, which is obviously totally free, and still get your fill of Spanish culture. My favourite place to do this in the North of Spain is Valencia (which I wrote all about here), specifically the Centre of Arts and Science. And in the South I love the Plaza de España in Seville, which is just incredible.
The last freebie that I wanted to tell you about is specific to Andalucía, because that’s where I have been living: going for walks. I am currently based in La Sierra de Cádiz, in one of the white towns that are dotted around the mountains in Southern Spain. We are surrounded by gorgeous mountains, lakes and rivers, and you can find some stunning walks around all of these if you fancy exploring and enjoying the sunshine on a budget. My housemate and I recently walked down the Rio Majaceite, a river which runs between two gorgeous little towns (El Bosque and Benamahoma) and it was a perfect (and totally free!) way to spend a sunny Friday afternoon.
Now, moving onto some things that you will need to spend a little bit of money on, but it’s not much, I promise.
The first thing that springs to mind in this category is Las Setas in Seville. I have raved about this place before, and have visited multiple times, but it still impresses me that a huge tourist attraction in such a popular city is only 3€. Las Setas is a man-made viewpoint, from the top of which you can see the entirety of Seville and beyond, whilst enjoying a drink in the bar if you fancy it.
Next up, the Cathedrals, which I honestly think are where you can find the most information about Spanish history and culture. My favourite so far has been Cádiz cathedral (only 4€ entry for students, 6€ otherwise, and this includes going to the top of the bell tower), because it is so open and bright. Apart from Seville Cathedral and the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, which are arguably two of the most popular in Spain, entry to a Cathedral is generally purse-friendly.
Obviously, I couldn’t write a post for you without mentioning food. And if you’re trying to save some pennies I would highly recommend the markets that can be found all over Spain. There are relatively small ones like that of Cádiz, where you can grab fast, delicious food for such a low price. Or you’ve got the slightly fancier places to try, such as Los Patios de la Marquesa Market in Córdoba or San Miguel Market in Madrid. In these ones you probably will spend a little more, although still much less than you would in most restaurants, and all the food that I have sampled in each has been incredible.
I apologise if this post has seemed a little rambley or unstructured, but I do hope that you have found it useful!
Happy (cheap) travelling!