Shoestring Traveller: Spain and France On A Budget!
Always wanted to travel along the Spanish and French coastline but not sure where to start? I’ve just spent 3 weeks travelling on a shoestring budget to some of the hottest (and some of the most off-the-beaten-track) locations southern Spain and France have to offer! Read on to grab some hot budget travel tips for potential new holiday spots!Always wanted to travel along the Spanish and French coastline but not sure where to start? I’ve just spent 3 weeks travelling on a shoestring budget to some of the hottest locations Spain and France have to offer! Click To Tweet
Alright real talk, I had never travelled or even really thought about travelling along the coastlines of Spain and France until earlier this year. Just like other backpackers I was eager to experience all the ‘main’ destinations that are typically on offer in travel brochures- Paris, Rome, the real romanticised places. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve definitely fulfilled my fantasies of these hot spots! But, when it came to planning this trip I had to really research where the hell to go. The following route is only a touch on the incredible places on the coastlines of Spain and France, but regardless I hope that it can provide some insight and encouragement to get exploring!
Located on the southern tip of Spain, Malaga is any holidaymaker’s dream! With sky rise resorts surrounding an array of vibrant makeshift houses and restaurants, Malaga is not only the birthplace of the famous Pablo Picasso, but now it is also the birthplace of my love for Spain. Two nights of my trip were spent here with little to no knowledge on the location. Dropped off by a car-pooling driver’s app ‘BlaBla Car’ (£30 PP), we arrived at the cheapest option possible for accommodation, scoring a dorm smack bang in the middle of the town square for only £16 PN!
Malaga isn’t the biggest of places, which is a great advantage for budget travellers! The sights of the city are within walking distance (these legs of yours, I tell ya, they’re some real money savers), but if you’re feeling extra lazy, pick up a motorized scooter and scoot your way to the beach for only 15p per minute! I spent majority of my day here at Playa de La Malagueta, because beach and free, but if you want to explore, the town offers a beautiful contrast between Cathedral de la Encarnacion (free info outside!) and an ancient Roman amphitheater. End your day here with a variety of food choices in the town square, from tapas and paella to the less authentic Spanish cuisine of stir-fry and curries from £8-£15.
Barcelona is a destination that needs no introduction! Known and loved for its beautiful food, art history and party life, this metropolis was the perfect two-night layover! For £23 PN you can nab yourself a very basic however centrally located hostel room. Head out to explore the Gothic Quarter and pass through the popular Mercat de la Concepcio- a food market that will hit all the right taste buds. Grab yourself a fresh juice for €1.50 to hydrate your walk past Gaudi’s popular art attractions- Casa Batlló and Sagrada Familia. If you’re up for it, you can enter the cathedral for €10 (and wait in line for 2 hours) or, you can make your way either by foot or metro (€1.60 one-way) up to UNESCO World Heritage Site Park Guell. This lush park is home to an array of lookout points, and if you’re willing to spend your daily budget then a €13 ticket will give you entrance to the ‘instaworthy’ mosaic lookout seat. Top tip: this lookout is surrounded by construction and personally, I think, a bit of a rip off as you can see it from afar!
Mallorca is one of the greatest destinations I have ever visited! From the beaches, to the food and even the transport, this legendary island offers so many incredible experiences that I whole-heartedly enjoyed; so much so that I’ve dedicated an entire article to it! Keep an eye out for my upcoming article Shoestring Traveller: Mallorca on a budget!
Jump on a £10 bus from Barcelona (maybe not an overnight bus, 4.30am drop offs brought some mad regrets) and 5 hours later you’ll reach Montpellier! This coastal French town has fewer tourists then anywhere I have been in Europe so far, but it had so much to offer! For £11.50 PN you can score a traditional French loft Airbnb apartment hidden in the old town streets.
During my stay here I noticed I barely even touched my wallet! Everything is in walking distance such as the Arc De Triomphe and Cathedrale St-Pierre. The only money I spent here was on a massive €8 baguette (very French of me) and a bottle of water to keep me hydrated as we wandered around and got lost in the maze of locals celebrating the month of music! This place is a unique and extremely affordable destination for a quick stopover!
Ah Nimes. Honestly, I had no clue this place even existed until my boyfriend proposed a stop over here- a true Roman history nerd. But, if you can’t let yourself go off the beaten track once in a while to save on costs, then are you even a real backpacker? One night here was more than enough, it’s not the grandest of environments, but it cost £5 on a bus so it wasn’t breaking our bank! Nimes is the Roman influence township of France, home to an impressive coliseum that hosts famous singers and events including Elton John- he played one night after we left (classic stitch up).
The food here is a little more expensive, ranging from €10-€15 per meal, and a shameful Macca’s meal deal was even €7!? I don’t think I’m particularly up-selling this place, but honesty is the best policy! If you want to skip the night here you could get an early bus (check FlixBus!) and do a day trip (skip accommodation costs average of £22.50) to see the sights for €10 round trip from Montpellier!
Nice & French RivieraNice is one of those destinations that leaves you a little in awe. This was the last stop on our 3 week tour of Spain and France, and I feel as though we saved the best till last! Click To Tweet
Nice is one of those destinations that leaves you a little in awe. In my perspective, this popular holiday hotspot has a sort of touch to it that can make you feel like you’re in both Greece and Italy, at the same time! This was the last stop on our 3 week tour of Spain and France, and I feel as though we saved the best till last! 5 days spent here in an Airbnb smack bang in the middle of Nice cost £28 PN. Surrounded by beautiful beaches and the opportunity to catch trains along the Riviera, Nice is the perfect destination to either relax on the pebble stone beaches or explore on the cheap!
On our second day we decided to grab €10 return train tickets to Cannes! Walking into Cannes I felt a little out of (price) comfort, but I put on my best dress and acted like I could afford to be there! Famed for its long history as an international film festival site, Cannes has star-studded power that is enough to make any tourist feel like they’re in a bit of a Hollywood dream. We decided to explore by foot here, adventuring through the pastel houses covered in beautiful flowers, and made our way down to one of the only free beach sections available- majority of beaches are owned by hotels/covered in paid-by-spot umbrellas. All up we only spent €10 each here on food and a cheeky beverage- a value for money day excursion!
After spending our third day hiking up to the Nice lookout and exploring the old town, we decided to spend our final day beach hopping an hour out of Nice in Saint Jean Cap Ferrat! A €1.50 bus ticket landed us amongst some of the most tranquil beaches we have seen so far! Our resting point for the day was Plage Paloma, a secluded beach 15 minutes from the last bus stop. I would advise taking a packed lunch here, as the only restaurant is upwards of €15 per meal and the nearest shops are 15 minutes walk away.
I know I recommend beach hopping often because it’s so damn cheap, but honestly, if you’re visiting Nice then please do not skip this place! Crystal clear blue waters accompanied by epic diving platforms and convoys of parked up boats, this beach was truly a special location and wrapped up or last day perfectly! You’ll thank me for letting you in on this absolute gem!
I’m sad to leave Spain and France behind, its beauty and culture is something I will always be grateful to have been able to experience! As for now, we’re off to stretch this shoestring budget to its limit as we take on Italy!