DON'T whatever you do decide to walk from the coach station or the train station up into Toledo. From the train station there is an easily found bus stop; from the bus station there isn't. When you get off the bus or the train find the taxi rank asap. Ask the driver for Plaza Zocodover. At the station the rank is directly outside; at the bus station it is up the moving stairs, left though glass door, immediately right and keep straight on to the edge of the building. There are not all that many taxis. I say this because the walk up the hill to the city, especially in summer, is awful and when you get to the top is the time to start exploring. You can always walk back down! Cost of taxi 6€ - well worth it! (2013)
A lively bar in the heart of the Calle Laurel gastro-paradise. Situated just south of the Basque country, Logroño's busiest street of bars offers a unique blend of northern pintxos and traditional tapas, and the selection of brochetas in Taberna de los Correos is not to be missed. Add to that the local Rioja wine at 50 cents a glass, it's easy to see why tourists and locals alike start and end their night here.
Calle del Laurel Logroño, La Rioja, España
San Pedro is a tiny ancient village with Arab ruins which has been turned into a little enclave of hippie travellers using two clean springs and several solar panels and wind turbines to operate the little cafe, shops and one restaurant. A naturist's choice with a dream of a beach and no pressure to go naturist. Visitors are asked to take their litter and it seems to have worked between 1992 and 2010, the two times I visited.
Go to Las Negras, park the car and walk for 12km west along a rather rocky terrain. Not even an SUV would make it there in one piece, which gives it that special attraction. Decent shoes, hat, shades and sun block are a must.
Google map: bit.ly/11QZMjc
You can either walk or cycle the 300 miles from the French border to Santiago de Compostela by staying in the hostels every 10-15 miles which are mostly free of charge. The trip will mostly only cost you for food and drink. I have spent nearly three months in Spain on the Camino sight seeing, learning more of the language and making life long friends all for around £200 plus travel there to and back either cycling or walking.
All you need do is start your holiday in Pamplona at the Tourist Office and ask for directions and further information from there. It's easy, I've done it six times and I'm in my mid seventies!
Tapas bar near the Arab baths, nestling alongside the river below the Alhambra. Holidaying on a shoestring. A couple of beers accompanied by free mammoth tapas and you won't go hungry. Que aproveche!
Carrera del Darro, 37, Granada
Google map: bit.ly/11R8Ows
After finishing my A-levels, my best friend Lucy and I booked a girls holiday. No, it wasn't to Magaluf or Ibiza. We wanted somewhere that was both cultural, cheap and a good party. After finding flights for a reasonable price, we settled on Barcelona. For around 300 Euros, we stayed in a great hostel just around the corner from La Ramblas, just next to the Metro and within walking distance from all the best night clubs and a short ride to all of the excellent attractions that Barcelona has to offer. We spent a week in the city, beach and parks, managing to find cheap enough places to eat, drink and party. On a budget, we managed to have the best holiday and it's so easy to adapt a trip to Barcelona to your traveling style. There's plenty for families, older couples, friends, everything. I'm definitely planning on taking my parents there in the near future and my own family when I have one. Art galleries, Gaudi, food, anything you're interested in will be in Barcelona and so long as you know where to look, it can be as affordable as you like.
We pack our tent in the car and go on self-guided trips around Spain’s wine and cider regions. A cheap ferry crossing from Dover and avoiding toll roads cuts costs. Susie Barrie’s wine book gives tips on the best bodegas to visit and most tours/tastings are free but we buy at least one bottle as a thank you. The following towns have campsites so you can eat out or do tastings on foot: Haro in Rioja, Penafiel in Ribera del Duero, Olite, in Navarra and Arriondas in the cider region. Budget but beautiful wines are sold at Inurrieta in Navarra and Albet i Noya in Penedes. The Priorat region is usually pricy but at Celler Cecilio they fill up plastic bottles with a great table wine straight from the tank.
Being married to a teacher means we are obliged to holiday during peak periods. Driving over to France is one way to avoid expensive flight and car hire charges. This summer we’ve booked an outbound ferry and inbound Eurotunnel for less than £100 (no extra charge for carrying bikes on the car). Inspired by the extensive network of Voies Vertes cycle trails, we’ve booked two self-catering gite apartments directly with the owners – the first on the Voie Verte des Hautes-Vosges; the second on the Voie Verte Trans-Ardennes. We’ll take our own bikes and explore the local area for free via the cycling and walking trails. In our experience, French self-catering properties are more competitively-priced than in the UK. The same goes for chambres d’hôtes – we’ve booked a couple of one-night stopovers (44 and 60 euros respectively, including breakfast). Alas, a guarantee of warm, sunny weather appears to be priceless!
For a cheap but very comfortable stay in a relatively unknown part of France, pitch a tent, book a B&B room or rent the fantastic apartment as a group at Forest View Campsite and B&B, in the beautiful Le Parc Naturel Régional du Perche. The campsite has mini-golf, a splash pool and beautiful views over the stunning countryside; Le Perche is home to picturesque medieval towns, bucolic countryside and delicious local cider. A stay in this region, part of Normandy, offers full immersion in rural French life and plentiful, impossible to resist, camembert. Heaven.
Less well known (and cheaper) than the neighbouring Côte-d'Azur, the Côte Vermeille offers spectacular mountain vistas and a dramatic coastline, along with the highest sunshine record in France. Base yourself in Port Vendres, a more affordable option than nearby Collioure (and without the crowds). Make the most of the plentiful local produce on offer and self cater in the most well-equipped, spotless accommodation we've ever stayed in - 1A Grenache, Rue de la Liberte. Utilise the excellent local bus service (any journey 1 euro) and explore the delights of the local region.
1A 'Grenache' rue de la Liberte
Forget expensive hotels and gourmet restaurants. You can have a wonderful and inexpensive holiday with delicious meals in the region between the Charente and Vienne rivers, just north of Confolens, enjoying the outdoor opportunities.
First rent a gite, there are many to choose from. Go out of season for better prices, although you need to be between April and September for the best outdoor life. Examples we know of are www.giteswithpool.com/ and tranquillevienne.com/ both with pools, beautiful accommodation, excellent, friendly hosts and reasonable prices.
Of course you don't need a pool, you can swim for free in the many lakes and rivers - my favourite is at La Guerlie in Les Lacs de Haute Charente goo.gl/maps/0wPGj , where there are also lovely walking trails, bird watching, fishing and boating opportunities. The river near Condac goo.gl/maps/qREgU , near Ruffec is also fab and has simple safe play areas for children too.
Next, look for Marché des Producteurs (Producers Markets) usually held in the evening. Tables and benches are laid out for your use, music is provided and you wander around the stalls buying fresh local produce - sausages, meat, fish, cheeses, bread, wine, fruit (especially the melons) and then take your fish/meat etc. to the BBQ to be cooked for you. Maybe buy some frites (chips) and then sit at a table and enjoy. (You will need to take your picnic plates, cutlery and glasses with you.) You can chat to locals and polish up on your French, everyone is very relaxed and friendly. We've been to two recently, at Alloue goo.gl/maps/1FDq5 , and at Nanteuil-en-Vallée goo.gl/maps/oFNKW , and both were brilliant.
Early season and late season you might also find a Chasse (hunt dinner). You usually have to book for the meal, don't be shy, it is usually great value with everything being caught by the chasse and prepared by them and their wives. Some drinks are included too and prices around 20 euros each. Walking back to your gite afterwards is probably a good idea or definitely a 'designated driver' needed.
If you like walking you can often find a Randonneé (a walk/hike) which finishes with the possibility of a répas (meal). Last summer We went to one at Parzac goo.gl/maps/tX4EW , and there was a choice of 5Km or 13Km, cost was 2 euros and we were given a map, a guide (person to lead the group) and a drinks stop half way around. On our return, late afternoon, there was a mini producers market, stalls, répas, bar, old fashion games and singers to enjoy. We stayed long into the evening.
This spring we joined a Multi-Randonneé (walk, cycle, horseback) in Alloue (as above) with choices of 5Km, 11Km, 25Km or 40Km, cost 3 euros with map and snack at the midway point. Then there was a répas afterwards (4 course, aperatifs, wine, brandy and coffee all included) for 14 euros.
I hope you enjoy France as much as I do.
All this walking, I need a new pair of comfortable boots!
This enormous park is my favourite place to relax on a sunny Seville day. It’s a bit of a way from the main attractions – if you’re in a rush then head to the more central María Luisa park. With Alamillo Park’s wide boulevards, lakes and lawns there’s loads of space for cycling, rollerblading or just lazing peacefully with a book. There is also a large bar/restaurant. Families gather there for parties, setting up camp all day with picnics, games and wine flowing freely. There are often fairs and free concerts, and on my first trip I even happened upon a dog show taking place in one corner. The children will love the miniature railway and, if you fancy it, you can even try out cableskiing.
Google map: bit.ly/10i7fQG
* Eloise is our Been there local for Seville. You can read her bio here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/articles/seville-local-eloise-horsfield.jsp and follow her tips here: www.ivebeenthere.co.uk/travellers/EloiseHorsfield You can also catch her on Twitter at @EloiseHorsfield
“Pour les curieux, les amoureux, les randonneurs, les baigneurs…”- an irresistible three miles by one mile island of sweeping sandy beaches, a port, a restaurant and two cafés. Perfect for a five day break. Drive over – Portsmouth to Caen?- with tent and bikes, leave the car in Quiberon and take the boat. Cycle to the tip of Houat and camp wild like the French. Not a lot to do, just the beauty of nature, but that’s why you’re here isn’t it? A holiday you won’t forget.
Camping de la Filature is a small, tranquil campsite set in an orchard beside the gentle River Sioule.This is outdoor life at it's most peaceful but with plenty of opportunities for activities such as walking, cycling, fishing and wild swimming. The Auvergne is a beautiful, yet relatively undiscovered region of France and campsite fees are much lower than more touristy destinations. Once you've pitched your tent or parked your caravan you can soak up the magical beauty of the place and relax.
Cycle from Cherbourg to Cap de la Hague. Take your bikes on the ferry and not your car. Leave the car in a safe residential area of Portsmouth cycle to the terminal. It will cost about £50 return. In Cherbourg turn right and there is a cycle path all the way from the town centre to Querqueville then quiet country lanes. Really beautiful countryside and great beaches. Stay at a cheap B&B in Auderville, if the weather is rubbish go to the very heavily subsidised leisure centre/pool in Beaumont. Great sea food at Goury the only downside is the nuclear re-processing plant but they do pay for the leisure centre!
Google map: bit.ly/17Llpjs
Follow a section of 'La Loire à Vélo' cycle route for a cheap, rewarding trip through the Unesco listed valley of the Loire. Take in the awe inspiring chateaux dotted along (and sometimes in) the river, and revel in the peace and pace of life on two wheels. The Loire valley is rich in heritage, nature and produce, but it is not an expensive region: refuelling on the finest Touraine goats cheeses accompanied by Angers plums and a bottle of Loire wine won't break the picnic budget; small family inns, campsites and restaurants cluster along the route for good value stopovers; cycle hire is reasonably priced and if you feel like skipping a section you can take your bike on the local trains for free. Rolling along between villages of dazzling white stone, among vineyards, orchards and endless riverscapes is ample entertainment at very little cost, and there's plenty to see and do in the area for saddle sore days too.
www.cycling-loire.com/ has all the info you need to plan your trip, including interactive route maps, downloadable brochures and accommodation listed by price.
Starting at Berwick-upon-Tweed a hike up the coast up to the English/Scottish border is a must as the beauty of the coastline is just breathtaking with coves, headlands and rocks which look like heads staring out to sea. The walk is generally easy but can be quite steep and dangerous at times because of the path being very close to the cliff edges and sheer climbs. But as long as you take your time and stay vigilant you'll be fine. A pose by the fence marking the border between England and Scotland as well as a photo by the border sign on the East Coast Mainline are both a must. To get to the border sign by the railway follow these directions - once you have got through the turnstile in the fence which has the Welcome to Scotland sign in front of it just turn left and walk across the field and follow the fence up to the stone wall by the railway line and the border sign is opposite to you.
Once you are in Scotland there are clear views down the coastline to St Abbs head. The entire walk from Berwick upon Tweed up to the England/Scotland border takes between one and two hours and clear signposting marks the way along the path so just follow the signs and stick to the path
On the edge of the French Pyrenees stand four well equipped tipis sleeping four to six people in peaceful surroundings with breathtaking views of the Cirque de Garvarnie. There are many reasons why this might be your best holiday ever; spectacular walks at your fingertips, singsongs round the campfire while pet goats freely roam around you and you really don't have to dig too deep in your pockets for it all.
The best way to enjoy a budget holiday in France is to camp in municipal campsites, which exist in most towns or substantial villages. Good value, clean, with hot showers, these can be very cheap in out of the way places, such as the picturesque town of Estaing at the eastern end of the Lot valley. For an enjoyably easy-going holiday, just decide on the region you are going to and a rough route. Then choose somewhere to stop - look for small towns on rivers and you can't go wrong. Then check out municipal campsites on Archiescampings App on your smartphone or i-pad.You only need book in busy tourist areas.
Archiescampings App costs £2
Away from the coast, off the beaten track, yet only two and a half hours from Malaga airport, Capileira is spectacular, full of life and dead cheap. Traditional houses built into the side of the Alpujarras come with tineos (terraces) with awesome views across the mountains. If you want a pool, pay a bit more (around £50 a night for two) and stay at the Finca Los Llanos or the Rural Real de Poqueira. Winding paths lead to rivers, the surrounding villages and vertiginous peaks. A clutch of inexpensive restaurants around the square and in the steep cobbled streets that radiate from it are generous and wonderful.
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