Spain has something for everyone. From the culturally inclined to the self-declared gourmet, it can keep anyone happy for weeks. But all those entry fees and tapas bills tend to add up.
Whether you’re on a tight budget, or just looking for something fun and free to do in Spain, here are 11 things to do that won’t break the bank.
1. Visit one of Madrid’s many free parks
Madrid is full lush green parks that are all free to enter. From the lakeside Parque del Buen Retiro to the Parque Europa, filled with replicas of European monuments such as the Eiffel Tower, Trevi Fountain, and Tower Bridge, there is always something to see.
2. Free museum days
Spain has many fascinating museums, and most offer a day, often the first Wednesday or Sunday, or several afternoons where you can enter free. Be sure to check each individual website to confirm the dates and timings.
3. Go for Tapas in Granada
Granada is famous for the complimentary tapas that come when you buy a drink. Most bars in the city offer anything from small burgers to spicy cured hams and slow-cooked pork served in a rich sauce when you order beers, wines, and soft drinks. You are only charged for the cost of the drinks.
4. Join free walking tours
Like most European cities, those in Spain also offer free walking tours. They focus on different aspects of the city and are often the best way to experience the diverse history and culture of Spain.
5. Check out the El Rastro flea market in Madrid
El Rastro is perhaps Madrid’s most famous street market. It takes place throughout the year from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m every Sunday around the Plaza de Cascorro. Try to get there early to avoid the huge crowds and to get the best deals. Make sure to keep an eye out for pickpockets.
6. Look out for amazing street art
Spanish cities have a long tradition of street art and sculpture. Granada and Barcelona have especially vibrant street art scenes, with Three Chimneys Park off Parallel in Barcelona, and the old Jewish neighborhood of Realejo in Granada particular hotspots for artists.
7. Stay in a mountain cabin
In most highland regions, there are rustic mountain cabins that start at extremely affordable rates, and often also offer food. If you’re hiking or just want to go camping, remember that wild camping is banned across Spain, so make sure to find a proper campsite. Spanish campsites are often fully serviced, with a shop, pool, and entertainment, and therefore not especially cheap.
8. Go swimming in the sea at Barcelona
This is more than just a casual dip in the water. The city council at Barcelona have created four clearly marked open sea swimming lanes which make it easier and safer to enjoy the local shores without worrying about the many jet skis and boats that roam the Mediterranean coast.
Wwoofing allows you to work for your food and bed on organic farms across the country. This can lead to enriching experiences as you can learn farming techniques and get free accommodation and food in exchange for volunteering to work on the land on olive and chestnut farms, ecological huertas and vineyards.
10. Walk around La Rambla and Barri Gòtic
These popular tourist areas in Barcelona are a maze of cobblestone alleyways lined with bars and quirky shops. Barri Gòtic (the gothic quarter) is home to historical relics such as the colossal neo-Gothic La Catedral, while the adjoining La Rambla is full of buskers, peddlers, tourists, and even con artists!
11. Catch a flamenco street performance at Granada’s Plaza Nueva
There are many places where you can see flamenco street performances in Granada, but you’re most likely to find them at the Plaza Nueva at about 7 to 8 p.m. in the evening.