A long time ago, a manager of mine gave me a tip. He said that there’s opportunity in doing things that other people won’t do. True, he was talking about working nights and weekends, when most (normal) people prefer to relax at home with their families. I tend to agree with him though, especially when it comes to travel. If you’re willing to go against the flow, traveling when other people stay home, or going to places where other people don’t go, you’ll have many more options, fewer crowds and you’ll pay a lot less.
The beach towns in places along the Costa Blanca and in the Balearic Islands are popular tourist destinations that are packed with visitors during the summer. But once the season ends, hotel occupancy rates go way up, and the prices go way down. During the low-season you can easily snag a room in a luxury hotel for under €50 per night. And once you’re in Spain, you’ll find that eating out and public transport are really affordable. Your morning coffee at a local café costs about €1.30. If you plan your main meals around the Monday-Friday menu del dia, a 3-course lunch with wine or beer will set you back just €10. Stop into a local bar and you can get a great copa de vino tinto, served with a complimentary bowl of peanuts for €1.20. An hour-long tram ride along the seaside between Alicante and Benidorn is a mere €6, round trip.
Good to know: Prices along the waterfront and on the main rambla in places like Palma and Alicante will be higher than normal, and the menus are geared more toward the tourist trade. To find the best value, and better food, head a block or two away from the water to the working neighborhoods and business districts where you can eat and drink with the locals. Keep in mind that mealtimes in Spain may be different from what you’re used to. Coffee and pastries are available all day and night, but lunch is served mainly between 1-3 pm. Dinner service begins at around nine at night, although a few places open as early as 7 pm. If you like to dance the night away, you’re in the right country. In Spain the clubs open around 10 pm and don’t close until three or four in the morning. If you’re not a night owl, be sure to look for a hotel room away from the busy nightlife so you can get a good night’s sleep.
Finally: Check the Spanish calendar to avoid traveling during school holidays, as there will be more competition for flights and hotels. Also, make note of local public holidays so you don’t end up disappointed spending a day in a city when everything is closed. With a little planning, even a committed budget traveler can have a great holiday in Spain, especially if you travel in the low-season.