Spain offers hidden--and affordable--treasures for all types of travellers. From culture-rich Madrid to artsy Barcelona to the country's resort-filled, beach-lined coast, a weekend getaway in Spain will not disappoint. Save money and enjoy your weekend in style with easy-on-the-wallet options. Regardless of your budget, the sophistication and charm of Spain awaits.
Meet Me in Madrid
In Spain, inexpensive hotels are often called "hostales." These cosy, family-run options offer a great value for your money, with prices starting as low as 20 euros per night. In Madrid, try the positively reviewed Hostal Hispano-Argentino, located in a historic building on the famous Gran Via (See References 1). Around 40 to 60 euros per night in 2010, this budget gem allows you to walk from the hotel to Madrid plazas including the Puerta del Sol, Plaza Major and Plaza de Espana, or hop on the Gran Via metro stop to access the entire city. For sightseeing made easy, try the city's hop-on, hop-off bus tours. For about £13 US, you can visit all the Madrid sites you can pack into a day, selecting favourites that match your taste, schedule and budget. Multi-day passes are also available. Check with the hotel and tour companies directly to verify current prices, availability and schedules (See References 2).
Always Gaudi, Never Gaudy
Barcelona overflows with cosmopolitan cool that can cost a fortune, but that doesn't mean you can't snag a bargain bed. For under 100 euros in 2010, the Hotel Espana provides slick, modern accommodations in Old Town, a stone's throw from the coveted Las Rambla street. Designed by Catalan artists Ramon Casas and Domenech i Montaner, the elegant building housing Hotel Espana is its own destination, complete with a rooftop swimming pool (See References 3). After a quick morning dip, walk around the corner onto Las Rambla and explore the sights of Old Barcelona on foot, including the Port Vell "old harbor" and medieval Gothic Quarter. Stop for an affordable and healthy tapas lunch at Irati in the quarter's centre or grab fresh-baked delights to go at the Escriba bakery. After you've walked off your lunch, take the metro to the Sagrada Familia stop to see the grand temple of the same name that famous Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi began in 1882. The most-visited attraction in Barcelona, construction continues to this day on the unfinished marvel (References 4). Ready for dinner? The Hotel Espana offers an affordable and tasty on-site restaurant decorated to the hilt with tiled sea creatures (See References 3). Check with the hotel and tourist sites directly to verify current prices, availability and operating hours.
Charming Coastal Paradises
If you find the right accommodation, a trip to the Spanish seaside can be the most affordable vacation of all. After all, sand and surf come virtually free of charge and many of Spain's affordable coastal lodgings offer partial or full kitchens so you can cook your own meals. The Mediterranean province of Malaga, which includes the seaside town of Costa del Sol, provides beautiful beachside fun. Try the always-affordable Ibis chain--including the Ibis Malaga Centro Ciudad--or research an independent beach rental property online. Individuals and companies offer timeshare and other weekly rentals for very affordable fees (See Resources 2). Enjoy all the sun and water sports you can handle, then break for a trip to the Picasso Museum or Categral de Malaga for some cultural respite (See Resources 1).
Save on Airfare
A quick trip can get very costly if the price of travel is too high. If you're flying to Spain, check Kayak.com first. Kayak is a helpful online resource that aggregates pricing from many different airline and travel providers so you can quickly compare costs and select the cheapest dates to travel. If you find a great fare, but it is not from the carrier itself, double check the airline's own website for fares on the same dates. While sites like Expedia, Travelocity, Orbitz and others may have good prices, you can often snag a special Web-only fare from the airline's home site for significantly less. A little sleuthing and a little luck goes a long way (See References 5).
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