Spain

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ShermansTravel experts rely on years of collective travel experience to bring you the best money-saving tips for your vacation. We take a discerning look at all the attraction passes, public transportation options, and other local bargains to make sure you get the most bang for your buck while traveling.

Spain Money-Saving Tips

Find Spain's Sweet Spot

In general, the best time to visit Spain is April to June and September to October, when there are fewer tourists and moderate temperatures. Along with the better weather, hotel rates are somewhat lower than during peak travel months.

Language

Spaniards cannot be counted among Europe’s most polyglot peoples, although the situation is improving. Hotels, restaurants, attractions, and some shops will have English-speaking staff and English is widely spoken in resort areas.

Visas

U.S and Canadian citizens do not need visas for visits of up to 90 days.

Money

ATMs are omnipresent, while most hotels, restaurants, and shops take major credit cards.

Hours

In general, shops are open Monday-Friday from 9am-2pm and from 5pm-9pm, and Saturdays from 9am-2 pm. Department stores and other large retailers are open all day on the first Sunday of the month.

Take the Train

Train travel in Spain is convenient and comfortable and state railways have recently inaugurated speedy AVE bullet trains linking Madrid, Barcelona, and Malaga, adding to the existing service between Madrid and Seville.

Rental cars

All the major international car rental companies have branches in Spain, with offices at airports, train stations, and city centers. Beware: Spanish drivers can be creative with traffic regulations and the price of gasoline is four times that in the U.S.

Accommodations

Spainhas a full range of hotels for every pocketbook, from five-star palaces to lowly hostels.

Spanish cuisine

With its many distinct regions, Spain has a correspondingly diverse cuisine, and seafood is popular everywhere. In the interior, roast meats such as lamb and suckling pig top the menu while lighter fare is the norm along the Med. Tapas (small plates of anything from olives to fried squid served in bars) are a wonderful introduction to Spanish cooking.

Eating Rituals

Breakfasts tend to be light – usually just coffee, juice, and a roll – so Spaniards make lunch, usually served at 2pm, the main meal of the day. Dinners are late: restaurants open around 8:30pm and most Spaniards don’t even sit down until 10pm.

Siestas

Take advantage of the traditional long mid-afternoon break to either grab a siesta to offset your jet lag and rest up for the evening or visit the now almost deserted museums that stay open throughout the day.

Fiestas

Fiestas large and small – featuring parades, religious rites, dancing, and all-night drinking – take place year round in cities, towns, and villages, though most occur during spring, fall, and summer. Tourist offices can point you in the right direction.

Watch your wallet

Unfortunately, pickpockets and purse-snatchers are rife in the big cities, particularly in areas frequented by tourists and on the metro (subway). It’s best to keep your passport and jewelry in your hotel safe.

Highway robbery

Criminals on highways watch for rental cars and use a ruse (such as fake police badges) to get them to pull over so they can rob the occupants. If someone is signaling you to stop while driving, only do so at a service station or other public area.

Tourist Cards

Local tourist offices in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia, and Seville sell tourist cards good for free entry to museums and monuments and free public transportation, as well as discounts at select restaurants and shops.

Angle for the Sales

Score heavily discounted wares at fast fashion chains and small boutiques alike during the twice-annual rebajas (Spanish for reductions or sales), which kick off each year in January and July. These are the only times each year that apparel is so steeply discounted, but finding the perfect time to buy is a balancing act, as prices and selection plummet as the sales near their final days.

Consider an All-Inclusive

In Ibiza, package holidays rule and there are very attractive all-inclusive bargains to be had, especially in the off season.

Plot a Sneaky Tapas Crawl

The popularity of tapas worldwide has made Spain’s mythical free feast increasingly difficult to find. Even so, locals say you can score some free meriendas (snacks) if you're sly: Don’t ask the bartender for a menu until after ordering a drink, and you’ll usually get at least one basic bite (typically olives or cheese) on the house.

Indulge in a Prix-Fixe Feast

Save money by eating as the Spaniards do and opting for the set menu del dia, served during weekday lunches in many cafe and restaurants. Expect two or three courses, as well as wine and coffee, to cost around $15-$30 (or even less, depending on the region).

Compare Rates to Spain






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