We find generally inland Spain is a lot cheaper than the coast. Most of these towns rely on agriculture rather than tourism. Towns such as Arcos de la Frontera, Montefrio, Alhama de Granada and Antequera. The price of food and drink reflect this lack of commercialism. Many of the tapas bars and restaurants have a 'menu del dia' (menu of the day) - typically costing between €7 - €10 for 3 courses, salad, bread and often a drink is included. It helps to have rudimentary Spanish or a good phrase book as 'menu del dia' is not usually written down but read to you by the waiter/waitress. It is most definitely a worthwhile experience as what you are getting is 'real Spain' - the food that the locals are eating at the price the locals are paying. Also every time you buy a glass of wine or a beer a small plate of tapas is included free. A glass of wine or beer generally costs €1 - €1.50 inland compared to triple that on the coast.
I can rightly claim the "hombre más baratas en Madrid" crown after surviving a weekend on €38.
The Madrid Metro – the Orient Express compared to the London Underground – runs from the airport to city for a paltry €2. Visit the Parque del Retiro and explore the Crystal Palace art installations, monuments including the beautiful but sinister El Angel Caído, go boating by Alfonso XII's grandiose statue, then watch free street performers and puppeteers. Sip your sangria and toast the Madrid teleférico's 40th anniversary at the terminal bar: the skyline's not as exciting as Barcelona but it's relaxing and cheap.
Window-shop the Gran Via and continue to Plaza de España, Teatro Real, Palacio Real and Plaza Mayor for some classic Spanish architecture. Don't miss the El Rastro fleamarket on Sundays: calling it a flea market is a disservice to the sprawling city of stalls filled with delicious food and exotic crafts. It covers several blocks and gets very crowded so mind your valuables.
Madrid's gloriously rowdy tapas bars were out of my budget so I made do with the supermercado for flavoursome food. Ubiquitous Carrefour City and Express stores stock tasty Iberico ham, chorizo and other Spanish treats at unbeatable prices.
From horrific realisation to splendid sunny weekend of exploration, Madrid is perfect for a Spanish holiday on the cheap.
Metro - €2 one way from airport to central city, daypass tickets available. www.metromadrid.es/en/viaja_en_metro/tarifas/billetes/contenido07.html
Teleférico - €5.10 round trip, Paseo del Pintor Rosales, nearest metro Arguelles. www.teleferico.com/tarifas
El Rastro - start at Puerta de Toledo metro from 10am on Sundays. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/El_Rastro
Parque del Retiro (and other locations) - madridspain.ca/attractions/retiropark.html
Carrefour store finder (use Google translate) - www.carrefour.es/
I am recommending a way to find Budget Accommodation in Spain.
The economy in Spain has been hit very hard and now one in six Spanish are unemployed. The result of this is that many Spanish have had to move back in with their parents in order to save costs.
This means that this summer there are a lot more properties available on the rental market.
How does this benefit you? Property owners need to rent their properties out in order to pay their mortgage. Consequently now is a great time to book a self-catering apartment or villa in Alicante or on the Costa Blanca.
Villa and apartment owners advertise their weekly rate, but they would rather take a reduced rate than not fill their apartment or villa at all.
So if you know where you would like to stay in Alicante or on the Costa Blanca then I recommend contacting the property owners directly and negotiating with them.
There are several ways to contact the owners directly. A number of owners now advertise on www.ebay.co.uk. Another website is www.ownersdirect.co.uk which lists a huge number of properties for rent in Spain and allows you to contact the apartment or villa owner directly so that you can negotiate with them.
It's beautiful beaches are just incredible. I visited one slightly off the beaten track in a place called Jandia. The beach was called Playa Matorral and had everything you could wish for, quiet at one end and watersports too.
When we were there in June we got a cheap flight with Thomas Cook then a seven-day car rental for less than £100.
A truly spectacular holiday.
Cicale is an italian restaurant situated in the center of Ibiza, on the road to San Joan, close to San Lorenzo.
Between all the restaurants I've been in Ibiza, Cicale is one of the ones I liked most because of the delicate plates and good meat and I didn't spend much (well it was in November, but I don't think they change the prices a lot in the summer).
Road to San Joan, km 12 - Ibiza
La Palma is one of the least known of the Canaries, a small mountainous volcanic island that is wonderful for walking and exploring by car. The capital Santa Cruz is a charming colonial town of historic buildings, cobbled streets and excellent restaurants. This is not a place for sun worshippers, and you may go a whole week and hardly see another Brit, but it's a magical island.
Seville is a great weekend away on budget with both Ryainair and Clickair flying daily from London. A group of three of us stayed at Pension Vergara for €20 each per night. The location was right in the old quarter, close to all the major sights. For a great cheap eat, head to the local market where locals stand around eating freshly cooked seafood and sipping beers from the market bar 'La Cantina'. The food was much better than most of the tapas bars in town.
Pension Vergara c/ Ximenez de Enciso, n0 11 | Barrio de Santa Cruz, Seville 41004, Spain www.pensionvergara.com/
La Cantina - Mercado calle Feria
City sightseeing tour with live guide or multi-lingual commentary. It is amazing! Takes you on a huge sightseeing tour of the city and we hopped off at the People's Palace and Mitchell Library which were superb. Recommend also visiting Kelvingrove Art Gallery, Glasgow Cathedral, University West End area of Byres Road. Fantastic value for money. Interesting. Breathtaking architecture. Your ticket is valid for two consecutive days.
www.citysightseeingglasgow.com or Tourist Information, George Square also Buchanan Bus Station. You may also pay as you get on the bus.
My family and I recently visited a brand new apartment complex on the Costa Del Sol, near Malaga, called Terrazas Costa Del Sol Holiday Village. It only opened this year, so there are some really good deals on one-bedroom apartments – ours slept four people and was about £300 for the week. We have young children, so the kids’ clubs were great. It also has a gorgeous infinity pool that has views of the Rock of Gibraltar. The kitchen in our room also meant that we were able to cook food cheaply and make meals that we knew the kids would like. We will definitely be back!
Barcelona's Font Magica is by far the best free event I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing - it is simply spectacular. Buy a bottle of wine or a couple of beers, some snacks, pack a blanket if it’s cool, and head to Montjuic to enjoy the fountains lit up like fire and dancing to the music. It may sound a little cheesy, but it’s amazing! From October to April it comes alive on Fridays and Saturdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm and in the summer (May to September) it’s packed with spectators for the Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday shows from 9:00 pm to 11:30 pm. And it’s all free!
Nearest Metro -Placa Espanya.
The place is a small guest house, but newly renovated and with character. It is right in the centre of the city, pretty cheap, the owner is a real character, very friendly, as well as a qualified (and Napolitan) pizza chef.
The email address is:
1- Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum
Kelvingrove is the most visited museum in Scotland and the most visited in the UK outside of London. It recently underwent a massive refurbishment which has added new collections to its already impressive invitory.
2- Museum Of Transport
Everything from a horse and carriage to vintage steam trains are available here. A great place for kids or for a family day out, plenty to see.
3- Glasgow Cathedral
Worthwhile just to see the building itself, it is hundreds of years old and still looks magnificent, not bad inside either.
4- Burrell Collection
Located opposite the Kelvingrove Museum and well worth doing along with its more popular neighbor. Plenty to see from Ancient Egypt to information on Sir William Burrell who donated the collection.
Gavdos is a tiny island in the Lybian Sea, just an hour and half of ferry from Crete South coastal village of Hora Sfakion (or Sfakia). Apart from August, when the island can be quite crowded, you can enjoy the feeling of being away from the world (or not necessarily too far away, it's up to you).
From the port you can get a lift to Korfos, where an easy path leads to Tripiti in an hour walk. In Korfos there are a pair of good tavernas where nice and clean rooms can be rented, but my wife and I, we spent a week on the Tripiti pebbly beach with our tent, only coming back to Korfos when we need to refill our water tank or to enjoy the local food, sitting in a taverna porch. It was September, the days were very hot, but the nights were incredible: fresh with a sky full of stars, the silence complete, only the sound of the waves.
But you don't need to be so naive; staying in Korfos (where there is a nice little beach) and going sometimes to Tripiti is a good experience.
Yet, when the last daily tourist (if there were someone) has gone, the beach and the cape are your, till next day. It's a unique experience. And consider that you don't need a lot of camping gear, a sleeping bag, some water and tinned food are enough. Don't be afraid to be alone, there isn't any danger at all, apart that ones that you can provoke: don't light fires!
With a fifteen minutes walk along the beach and then on a path over the rocks, you can get the big concrete chair just over the cape: climb over it and enjoy the sight!
From Hania (where you can arrive by plane) there is a bus service to Sfakia, where the ferry sets off to Gavdos.
Looking at www.sfakia-crete.com/sfakia-crete/ferries.html you will find the ferry timetable for Gavdos as long as bus timetable for Hania-Sfakia service. Hania is the nearest international airport.
Sarakiniko is the Gavdos main hamlet, with a good choice of domata (rooms) to rent, tavernas and a wide sand beach. There is a supermarket, too.
A roast meat restaurant in Vieux Nice: if you're looking for an alternative to pasta, pizza or nicoise cuisine this place will sort you out in no time.
It's a tiny new (opened May 2009) good-looking restaurant/take-away by Place Rossetti offering simply five types of roasted meats, with a choice of either mash, roast potatoes or ratatouille on the side - eat in and you get a mesclun salad included in the price.
We've tried the beef, which is served French-style rare, and lamb so far and they were both delicious: seriously good value at 11euro each. After sharing one generous take-out serving of lamb between two at our apartment rental we were so impressed we went back to dine in the next day.
It's a brilliant concept and a very welcome addition (for carnivores at least) to the Vieille Ville's restaurant scene. Go early if you want the half chicken - or the window seat!
Rossetti - Serie
8 rue Mascoinat (just off Place Rossetti)
Vieux Nice 06300
open Tuesday to Saturday, 12-2pm & 8-10pm
Further to the "Best Beach Campsites" article this week, check out the Pavillon Royal site at Bidart, south of Biarritz. It is right on a stunning sandy beach, with it's own private gate to give access. Pitches on the cliffs looking out over the beach to the sea or back in the pine forest, perfect for hanging your hammock. This coast is a mecca for surfers and body boarders, but equally the countryside is rich with local character, foods and Basque customs and traditions. Biarritz is a mix of bling designer shops and surfers. I'd highly recommend going in June as it's a lot quieter.
Site pitches are generous, excellent facilities and friendly staff. And the sunsets... wow.
Site is south of Biarritz on road out to Bidart. Biarritz station is 10 mins away in a taxi.
Manor is a huge department store near Cornavin. It has a wonderful food department - akin to M&S or higher quality. The entire floor is taken up with deli counters and wonderful fresh food.
The bakery section is particularly good and you can also watch them make enormous ciabatta sandwiches (1m x 2m) that they then cut up, or roll out croissants to bake on the premises.
If you also go upstairs there is a wonderful cafe/restaurant in a self-service canteen style which is a great place to have breakfast (try the Birchermeusli), lunch (the fried fish is yummy) or tea (coffee and cakes...mmmm). The food is all prepared in front of you, and often cooked for you, but the price is very reasonable, and if you are lucky you can get a seat with a great view across the rooftops to the Saleve.
And then you can do shopping on three more floors filled with everything from beauty products and clothes to electrical items.
Rue de Chantepoulet
Another great gay hostel in Madrid - this cool modernist building is in the Chueca area - great for gay nightlife and parties.
The staff are extremely welcoming and will give out any advice on things to see, gay/lesbian advice, free vouchers for clubs, saunas etc...
The rooms have ensuite and have great facilities - tvs, free internet, safety deposit boxes, linen and towels.
Calle Pizarro 14 -1,Madrid, Spain, 28004
This is a great gay hostel with really friendly staff - who are always willing to offer you advice on where to go and what to see - they even hand out free club passes!
The rooms are more like a hotel than a hostel, with TVs, comfortable beds and balconies overlooking Puerta del Sol square. There's also free internet and a free breakfast of freshly baked buns.
The location is excellent, you are right in the center of town, so we could walk everywhere.
Puerta del Sol Square, Madrid
This hostel has a great location - Pisa is pretty small but at this new hostel you are only 10 minutes from the tower, and in a studenty area - so it's easy to find cool places to go out.
You're right on a main shopping street and above an amazing gelataria - nothing better than late night ice cream! There's also a bar next door if you don't have such a sweet tooth.
One of the best hostels I stayed in in Italy - the staff are super friendly and there's loads going on - a cheap bar, free pizza parties and a great breakfast!
Housed in an apartment building close to Termini station, the rooms are huge and the hostel has discount deals with restaurants and the laundrette nearby!
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