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Spain’s 15 Top Values for Travelers on a Budget

Save Money traveling to Spain by staying in Paradores - Cardona - SpainThis week, travelers posting on our Forums shared their favorite ways to save in Spain with Caroline Trefler, Fodor’s Spain 2009 editor. Their pointers, which including filling up on overstuffed bocadillos, checking into paradores, and finding free flamenco shows, all add up to an authentic experience.

Talk Travel in the Forums: Share your favorite tips with Caroline and other travelers planning trips to Spain.

1. Renfe (Spanish Rail) Discount Tickets
Renfe has discounted tickets if bought in advance. Web fare offers 60% off and Estrella fare offers 40% off. Good deal if your itinerary is set in stone.” — yk

2. Free Flamenco
“In Seville, it’s a MUST to go to La Carboneria. Skip paying for flamenco show and come to this amazing place. I went in and saw the most mesmerizing flamenco show for FREE here.” — cl4udie

10. Menu del Dia
“I still think the Menu del Dia (menu of the day) a good savings overall taken as a very early main meal of the day at 2-3pm. Last time we went to Madrid at Cafe Vergara the choice of beverage was either bottled water or a glass of house tinto. Since we were two they brought us an entire bottle of the house wine for the same price. Desert was included as well.” — amsdon

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4. Bocadillos
Bocadillos in spain are about the best cost/filling quality of all the food. They can also be very customized…throw a fried egg onto it or stuff it with homemade french fries. It probably will cost you 4-5 euros most places and it will be HUGE and filling. Fried eggs with chorizo and french fries is popular, and a delicacy in some restaurants, but your normal bar or café will only charge 4-5 euros for such a plate.” — lincasanova

Cafe off of the Ramblas in Barcelona5. Summer Hotel Deals
“Explore different ways to book your room, such as booking on their website or through a booking agency. In Barcelona, we booked our wonderful hotel, Villa Emilia (in the Eixample district) through and got our room for 40 euros less per night, plus we got their fabulous champagne brunch thrown in for free.” — snorkelluvn

6. Breakfast
“(In Barcelona) we have been fortunate to stay at inexpensive hotels on The Ramblas and they offer a cold buffet breakfast in the a.m. and refreshment and drinks all day long.. that helps..Bringing along a muffin or a piece of fruit or a fee bottle of water helps cut down costs.” — ParrotMan

7. Paradores
“I think the best bargain are the Paradores, but they’re mostly located outside of cities. One tip I can add is to become an “amigo”, which can be done on their website–, and you can get notices for specials. It’s great to plan trips to the outlying areas and stay at the paradores with the 5 day or 7 day cards, which are truly terrific bargains. ” — artlover

8. House Wine
“One that will have the largest impact on your shrinking US Dollar is to do what most locals do, share a starter and desert and opt for the house wine. This being Spain, all of the restaurants we’ve ever eaten at serve an excellent house wine.” — Robert2533

9. Bus Travel
“Inter city bus travel is just as comfortable, and often more convenient and cheaper than train travel. I took buses from Madrid to Salamanca, Salamanca to Avila and Segovia, Segovia to Madrid, Cordoba to Granada, etc. In the US bus travel is often considered somewhat “sketchy” but it didn’t feel that way at all in Spain.” — isabel

Mercat de la Boqueria in Barcelona10. Local Markets
“In Barcelona the Boqueria Market is ideal not only for the experience of browsing but for picking up a great picnic lunch. Lots of fresh salads, fresh pressed juices etc. Walk a few minutes down to the port for a great setting.” — grimmy

11. Tapas
“Not only can you make a dinner of tapas, that is my preferred way to eat! Not only do you get variety of food, you get variety of places too as you do a tapas bar crawl.” — yorkshire

12. Free Museum Admission Days
“We also planned our museum visits to coincide with the free admission days, which was especially easy to do in Madrid since they aren’t all on the same day. In Barcelona, we bought the Articket, which more than paid for itself after visiting three of the seven featured attractions.” — misty_in_stl

13. Souvenir Shopping Away from Tourist Centers
“If you plan on buying ceramics in Seville skip all the shops on Calle Sierpes and walk over the bridge into Triana. You will get much better prices and a greater selection. We purchased a large ceramic bowl with a traditional hunting motif for 37&euros; in Triana, we saw a similar piece on Calle Sierpes going for 53 euro€.” — brmsimmons

14. Tipping Like a Local
“Tipping is not at all customary, forget the US habits when in Spain!! Waiters get decent wages and a small tip (rounding off the bill to the nearest euro) is more than enough.” — mikelg

15. Well-located Hotels
“Looking for hotels in Madrid, think outside of the tourist center. Instead of looking for a hotel near the caotic Puerta del Sol, look for an offer at the 4 star hotels located at the top of the Castellana (quite usual). Far away from the Plaza Mayor, yes. Well connected with metro lines (25 minutes from Barajas T4) and buses, yes.” — cova

Recent Spain Trip Reports
– bakerstreet’s Madrid Trip Report with Kids: March 2008
– globetrotterxyz’s Barcelona Trip Report
– coolbluewater’s Adventures of Traveling with a 6 month old in Barcelona

Recently asked on the Forums:
Can we see flamenco in Salamanca, Segovia, or Leon?
Can you recommend hotels with nice views in Madrid, Cordoba, and Granada?
Where should I base myself for my trip to Western Andalucia?

Photo Credits: (1) Photo by Wili Hybrid; (2) Photo by Jacob Garcia; (3) Photo by WordRidden

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