How can you enjoy your summer in Spain without spending a fortune? There are simple ways to save your money which we list below.

Summer has arrived in Spain and we usually find we spend more at this time of year. Perhaps you will have a couple of ice creams a day, or will go out to eat more often or visit new places? Snacks on the beach, live music, fiestas all contribute to a larger than normal outlay. We suggest a few ways to save money while still having fun.

Every town and city has free car parks, usually located some distance from the centre. These are not always easy to find.

Parking

Parking is one of the major headaches in Spain, particularly in the summer months when we are sharing parking places with tourists who are as determined as we are to park as cheaply and as close to our destination as possible. Car parks which are free most of the year suddenly impose charges between 15th June and 15th September for everyone.

Spain - Summer savings for an ice cream

It’s always nice to enjoy a refreshing ice cream in the sun

If you are a resident and have your name on the town’s list of residents (Empadronamiento), you might have the right to some free time each day on parking meters. Most towns offer special rates for residents but these vary and may be for as little as 30 minutes. Even a short free stay might be useful if just going to collect or deliver something.

Every town and city has free car parks, usually located some distance from the centre. These are not always easy to find but might be near a hospital or the local CAP (health centre), tucked in small empty spaces or waste ground. There is a useful App called Parkopedia which might help you to locate these. It also shows most car parks and the prices they charge.

If you are taking the family out, it is a good idea to have lunch rather than dinner as only some places offer evening menus.

Eating out

Many Spanish restaurants offer a menú del dia at lunchtimes. If you are taking the family out, it is a good idea to have lunch rather than dinner as only some places offer evening menus and you will have to pay à la carte prices which can add up quickly and wine or beer will cost extra. Remember that if you veer off the fixed price menu you will be charged extra and that could be very costly.

When you order water, the waiter will assume you are asking for bottled water – one way bars and restaurants make a good profit. Generally tap water is fine to drink, so you could specify “agua del grifo” when ordering. It’s wise to ask for a large or small bottle when ordering.

Most people enjoy tapas. Don’t think though that will automatically be a cheap way of eating as the price mounts up every time you choose a “pincho” or small snack on bread with a cocktail stick holding it together. Plates of tapas have different prices too and each bar has it’s own formula and dish sizes. The hot dishes that emerge from the kitchen at regular intervals are also charged at different levels, so perhaps you shouldn’t go for tapas if you are ravenous as you’ll get a better deal at a restaurant or café.

Pizza restaurants tend to open in the evening and offer a relatively inexpensive way to feed the family. Nearly all will have a take away menu too, which will be cheaper. There are several chains for pizza in Spain, some offering delivery, but you might prefer to seek out individual pizzerias used by the locals as these offer good quality and value too plus you are helping to support the local economy.

Most beaches hold musical evenings of some sort, free jazz, pop or folk for example.

Live music

Spain is the country for live music. Practically every town and village will have a music event in the summer months. The large international music festivals are wonderful but the tickets tend to be rather expensive so you can look for smaller, local events and these will not cost a lot or may well be free. Most beaches hold musical evenings of some sort, free jazz, pop or folk for example. Often these start rather late so it may be a good idea for everyone to have an afternoon rest (siesta). You can bring your own drinks and snacks to the beach, but if you are in a town, you will be expected to buy your drinks from a bar close to the music as in fact it is the bars and restaurants at the location which are paying the musicians.

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