Budget for 11 days in Spain

Now that we’re back home, and a week has passed for all my purchases to post, I thought it was time to do budget post.

I’m going to my usual breakdowns … transport, accommodation, activities and food. I’ll also give a brief day-by-day with daily totals. I’ll also give an all in cost as well as just Spain, as we included about a day and a half in Chicago before flying to Spain.

All costs are in USD, were converted with the same exchange rate of 1 to 1.13, which was the rate from the day we arrived.

These costs are for two people, from Minneapolis to Spain, in August of 2019. My son and I are not “big attraction” people, don’t need to eat fancy and don’t buy a lot of stuff while traveling. We’re not backpacking budget travels, but also not 5 star luxury either.

Pre-purchased Logistics

I grabbed our flights randomly while I happened to be playing around on Google Flights. This same flight ended up being a Thrifty Traveler deal two days later, so I felt pretty good that I had spotted the deal before anyone. The flight was $736 ($368/person) and was purchased in early May.

The bulk of our accommodations were booked through Airbnb, except for the last night of the trip where we stayed in a hostel near the airport. We had three apartments, one each in Barcelona, Madrid and Seville.

The Barcelona flat was by far the most expensive at $490 for three nights ($164/night). Our other two places were far more reasonable, Madrid being $271 for four nights ($67/night), and Seville at $216 for three nights ($72/night). The hostel near the Barcelona airport was $95 for a private two person room for the night.

We also pre-purchased our in-country travel, which included taking the bullet train from Barcelona to Madrid ($180, or $90/person) and Madrid to Seville ($116, or $58/person), and a flight from Seville to Barcelona ($220, or $110/person). Take note that these are all MUCH higher than they should be. I had slacked off on purchasing all of them until the week before our trip. When I had originally looked at costs to formulate my budget these were all significantly less, almost close to a third what I ended up paying.

Lastly there’s the domestic travel and accommodations. We purposely went to Chicago early to visit so friends, and lessen a bit of the travel exhaustion. Our round trip flight was $275 ($137.50/person) on American Airlines, which I thought was pretty decent considering I booked them about a month before the trip.

I’m going to break out our time in Chicago separately below, so as to keep the post concentrated on Spain. If you are curious, it was predictably expensive, coming in at $582 ($220 for the Sonder alone) for our day and a half. We also had an 8 hour layover at O’hare on the return trip, and spent another $100 then.

Ok, with all that sorted, let’s dive into some daily recaps.

Day One – Barcelona

We arrived in Barcelona in the late morning, and after checking in at our place, we headed out to wander around in the afternoon before a fairly early end to the day. I’ll admit, we made a few dumb mistakes when it came to transportation here. Namely, taking a cab from the airport to the Airbnb, and buying single way metro tickets instead of a T-10 card for the first full day.

Read the day one post here.

  • Taxi to Airbnb
  • Airbnb tourist tax
  • Dinner at Sol Soler
  • Churros for dessert
  • Few items at the grocery

Day One total: $86

Day Two – Barcelona

Our first full day in the city saw us packing in lots of shopping, neighborhood walking and a couple great meals.

All the details from day two.

  • Coffee at SlowMov
  • Lunch at 4latas
  • Coffee and Chia at Nomad & Syra respectively
  • Dinner at Entre Hores
  • Gelato
  • 4 sets of single ride metro cards

Day Two total: $103

Day Three – Barcelona

Our third day saw us doing a bit more tourist-ing. La Boqueria, cable car, Montjuic castle. Seems like it would have been spendy, but it really stayed in line with other days.

See how we saw it all today.

  • Pastries and coffee at Santa Gloria
  • Lunch at Boqueria
  • Cable car up to Montjuic
  • Montjuic castle entry fee
  • Cable car down
  • Groceries for dinner
  • Metro T-10 card

Day Four – Barcelona to Madrid

Our first in-country travel day. The train headed for Madrid left in the early afternoon, so we left in a bit. The train took about three hours, and we sort of tooled around Malasaña, our Madrid neighborhood, upon arrival.

Follow us as we moved from Barcelona to Madrid.

  • Pastries and coffee
  • Lunch on the train
  • Metro t-10 for Madrid
  • Dinner at Mercado de San Ildefonso
  • Grocery store for laundry detergent and misc items

Day Four total: $107

Day Five – Madrid

Stepping out on our first full day in Madrid found us mostly in our barrio. It had all the shops Eli wanted to hit, and plenty of great tapas and cafes. We also took the cable car here, but it was pretty much a dud of an attraction.

  • Coffee at Toma
  • Crepes for brunch
  • Cable car
  • Afternoon drinks
  • Dinner at La Musa

Day Five total: $93

Day Six – Madrid

A great day all around. One of the highlights of our trip was La Tabacalera, a hidden gem of wonderful street art, especially at only a few Euro in donation.

Join us as we wander Madrid.

  • Pastries and coffee at La Doña
  • Tabacalera donation
  • Lunch at La Gringa
  • Museo ABC entrance
  • Afternoon cocktails at Ojala
  • Dinner at SlowMex
  • Dessert at Malvys Shakes

Day Six total: $99

Day Seven – Madrid

The final day in Madrid was all about the La Liga match, Atletico de Madrid v. Getafe. We grabbed decent seats for a very reasonable $80 ($40/person). The rest of the day just led up to that. Rest assured, there was coffee, food and afternoon drinks.

  • Brunch at Federal
  • Afternoon drinks at Cappuccino
  • Dinner at Arepa Mai
  • Match scarf (necessary for the collection)
  • Late night snack at La Doña

Day Seven total: $184

Day Eight – Madrid to Seville

Another travel day, another train … this time Madrid to Seville. With the train ride being mid-afternoon, our day was split between the morning in Madrid and the evening in Seville.

See how we enjoyed all that Seville had to offer.

  • Pastries at Granier
  • Metro to the train station
  • Lunch on the train
  • City bus to Airbnb
  • Evening drinks at Cafe Hercules
  • Dinner at Mano de Santo
  • Ice cream

Day Eight total: $76

Day Nine – Seville

We spent the bulk of our time in Seville simply meandering through the charmingly narrow city streets. Never headed anywhere, never lost.

  • Pastries and coffee at La Creme de la Creme
  • Afternoon drinks at Mundial
  • Lunch from Takito
  • Evening drinks at Manzanilla
  • Dinner at Poke
  • Ice cream

Day Nine total: $74

Day Ten – Seville

Much like the day before, we spent our time in wander mode. There was also a longer than usual siesta, followed by more wandering.

  • Pastries and coffee at La Creme de la Creme
  • Afternoon coffee at Torch
  • Sunset viewing at La Setas
  • Dinner at Lobo Lopez
  • Ice cream waffle from Holy Roll

Day Ten total: $71

Day Eleven – Seville to Barcelona

Early morning flight had us back in Barcelona by late morning, and back in the city center by early afternoon. No plans, just taking in our last day in Spain. Which meant, wandering, cafes and afternoon drinks.

  • Uber to Seville airport
  • Airport breakfast
  • Train from airport to our hostel
  • Lunch at 4 Latas
  • Coffee at Nomad
  • Afternoon drinks at La Foga
  • Dinner at Tapeta del Prat
  • Ice cream

Day Eleven total: $127

Day Twelve – Back to Minneapolis

A long, arduous 26 hour journey back home, including an 8 hour layover in Chicago.

  • Metro to the airport
  • Purchase of correct metro ticket type to actually get into the airport (oops)
  • Airport lunch & drinks
  • Airport Starbucks

Day Twelve total: $119

Let’s break it down

I struggle with how to do these “all in” breakdowns. Mostly because a lot of the good flight deals for us depart from Chicago. We love Chicago and tend to go a day or two early to enjoy the city. That’s our choice and shouldn’t necessarily impact the time/cost in our actual destination.

However, if we’re talking “all in” it feels like Chicago should be included. By that token, our time spent in the city caused us to go over budget. And honestly, a lot of that cost was on Uber rides, which are expensive and could have been avoided in a few cases.

Initial budget: $4200 ($2100 x 2 people)

Actual cost: $4296 ($2148/person)

Spain Only

Here I’m removing our full day in Chicago, but keeping all the other domestic travel since these would have happened anyway.

Initial budget: $3900

Actual cost: $3634 ($1817/person)

The Breakdown

Going to try something new here and give budget/actual/difference for each category, so you can see where I missed in my budgeting (both good and bad).

  • Transportation: B $1486, A $1654, D -$168
  • Accommodations: B $1500, A $1070, D +$428
  • Activities: B $300, A $173, D +$127
  • Food: B $600, A $736, D -$134
  • Extras: I didn’t really track this, but it wasn’t much… scarf at the match, a few trinkets

Hits and Misses

As you can see, I was a bit low on both transportation and food, but really won in accommodations.

  • Hit: Tapas! They are everywhere, bite sized and easy on the wallet.
  • Miss: City transportation. I didn’t really research enough on metros, and had planned to bike as much as possible.
  • Hit: Atletico Madrid match. A highlight for sure, and seat cost was much cheaper than an MLS match in the US for a much higher quality of football.
  • Miss: Train food. Quality was good, but expensive. We could have easily planned to grab something cheaper before departures.

Bottom Line

I have to say, in reviewing everything while writing this post, I’m a bit shocked at how affordable Spain turned out to be.

After booking the flights, I started looking at accommodations in Barcelona and the costs were really high. I became worried that I wouldn’t be able to create a budget (or stick to one) that I would be comfortable with. I was still feeling this way after all the logistically purchases for accommodations and additional transport.

I was really banking on the in-country costs for food, drink and activities to be low cost, and they really proved to be.

If $3000/person is the baseline I’ve set for a two week trip, Spain shows itself to be a wonderfully reasonable European destination.