Thrifty World Traveler: How You Can Visit Spain For Just Under $500

Virginia Annable
Virginia Annable is a writer, reporter and blogger passionate about people, the environment and vegetarianism. When she isn't busy writing and sipping coffee in a local cafe she is daydreaming about endlessly traveling the world or thinking up what to cook next. All said, she is a 20something girl constantly looking to the future and working hard to get there. Follow her misadventures and triumphs on Twitter and Instagram: @annablevl

Spain: The country of passion. What more does a 20something need to hear before booking a flight to Madrid, the center of it all? Probably that it can cost under $500 with a few smart moves and, of course, many plates of free tapas.

Obviously the most expensive part is getting there. Lucky for us, Spain is currently one of the cheapest European countries to travel to and in, especially if you catch a flight during the off-season in the spring. Once you’re there you can enjoy long lunches, free tapas, and an array of Spanish wines. Stay in Madrid and thoroughly explore the beautiful, historic city, or take day trips to places nearby.

If money is what’s been holding you back from your dreams of world travel, don’t let it stop you anymore. A week in Spain will cost you $500. Still don’t believe me? Here’s a break down of why you can get this trip for cheap.

A trip between January and March will cut the cost of your flight in half, especially when using a multi-search engine like SkyScanner. From there, cheap shelter will go far and a service like AirBnb is reliable and cheap if you book ahead. Don’t forget to bring a friend and split the cost in half. Once you’re there it’s easy to get cheap or even free, authentic meals, most attractions are often free and your feet will take you far.

Travel ($400)

When my mind wanders to far away places, I usually head to to find cheap deals on flights around the world (so I can at least pretend I don’t have work tomorrow). The site allows you to search from “anywhere” to “everywhere” and checks the cheapest months to travel. During the off-season, flights from any major U.S. hub (NYC, Orlando, Boston, etc…) to Madrid are about $340 to $420 round-trip (Let’s book it now, am I right?).

To get to and from the airport and city center you have a few options: the train, the metro, or the bus. Each is about $6 one-way. The train will probably require a little more walking, while the Metro will require switching lines once in the center. Overall, it depends on where you’re staying, but I don’t recommend taking a rolling bag on a bus.


Where to Stay ($70)

While staying at a hostel may always seem like the cheapest option, our millennial attitude and internet surfing skills will help us find way better deals out there. For better accommodations than a hostel and a cheaper price, turn to AirBnb. There are private rooms for $20 a night that if split between you and a friend comes to just $70 for a week. If you’d rather have the whole apartment to yourselves, the price would be about $105 for the week.


What to try:

Tapas! Tapas! Tapas! This is probably what you’ll hear most about before and during your trip to Madrid, but with good reason. Many places will give you free tapas if you’re buying drinks or before your meal, and, lucky for us, a long afternoon of Spanish wine, beer, and tapas is actually encouraged in Spain. You’ll get an assortment of different tastes and experience new things, so be sure to keep an eye out. While in Madrid, taste some of the many local specialties including Cocido Madrileno (pork stew), pinch de tortilla (Spanish omelet with tortilla) and the must-try Madrid tapeo (according to Condé Nast Traveler), beer and boquerones (anchovies).

A photo posted by Gerard ???????? (@gerardbj) on


What to see:


There are a lot of free places to visit around Madrid, including museums and plazas, but before you head indoors, be sure to walk around the city, see the parks such as Parque del Buen Retiro, the architecture down in Grand Via and the Old City Walls, and the people. The culture in Spain is something to be marveled at and can be taken in while sitting on a bench and admiring the view. After you’ve acclimated, head to the Royal Palace, Plaza Mayor and some world-class museums like the Reina Sofia Museum and the Prado Museum, but plan to go during their many periods of free admission.



Ibiza (+$44)

A day trip to Ibiza may sound like something a bit out of the 20something price range, but the airline Iberia, among others, offers daily flights to and from the island for surprisingly low prices. Once there, it’s easy to get lost in the island atmosphere just wandering around and if you only eat one meal there you’ll barely spend a penny. Pack a bathing suit so you can lounge on the pure white sand on the beach.



Toledo (+$35)

Toledo is known most for its medieval structures and hillside setting. Once you’re in town, head to some of the more well known monuments like Catedral de Toledo, Museo de Santa Cruz and the fortress Alcázar, or wander around and discover the city’s ancient secrets on your own. Check out this one of many articles on the top things to do in Toledo for more options!



Next time your wanderlust is getting the best of you but your wallet isn’t cooperating remember taking a week-long trip to Spain for under $500 is completely possible. So pack up your bags, grab a friend and prepare for a week of tapas, wine, and a culture you won’t forget. As long as you’re ready for some walking and deal searching, you’re ready for a week that will satisfy your inner traveler and introduce you to new tastes, experiences, and people.