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food budget for trip in March

any rules of thumb (can't seem to find in the guide books). We often do simple (cheaper) breakfast/lunch, but pile on the wine and food later in the day. I know: tapas. But glad for any sense of how much to budget per day. Thanks!

Posted by
10 posts

well I did just find one suggestion in rick's newest Spain book for $40/day -- seems a bit low to me (even before wine!)

Posted by
20909 posts

Plan $150/couple and you will be fine.

Posted by
6553 posts

We're frugal travelers and seldom have spent more per day in Spain than we'd spend at home. Since we often stay in apartments, we really prefer to cook one meal daily.
We never budget for anything when traveling.

Posted by
1996 posts

Hello, interesting topic! Firstly, in Spain know that we eat a little differently than in the States, we eat a smallish breakfast, larger lunch (main meal of the day), and then a medium dinner. The best advice for eating well and cheap in Spain is "eat like the locals!". I think its quite easy to eat well in Spain for under €40 for a typical day I would do:

Breakfast (€2-3): at a neighborhood bar or cafe with a combo deal, either a pastry and coffee or mini-baguette and coffee.

Lunch (€10-11): definitely get a menu del dia from the local bar-restaurant, these are by far the best value in Spain; a seasonal three course lunch including wine/drinks for under €12, can't beat it.

Snack (€2-3): gelato on the go or a quick tapa.

Dinner (€18-22): dinner is a tricky one as a lot of places are more expensive then, most locals just eat at home. You can probably hit the local pizzeria for cheap eats, in the Gracia neighborhood in Barcelona we have many great Italian pizza shops. Beware of Tapas If you go out for Tapas at night, it's very easy for the cost to start adding up, especially if you visit multiple bars on a Tapas crawl.

PS: most times the wine/beer is cheaper than the bottled water in Spain!

Hope this helps :)

Posted by
11450 posts

So glad to see someone say “ beware of tapas” our experience in Barcelona was they are overpriced and barely enough for a few bites each , my advise is get out of Barcelona lol We ate well cheap in smaller towns

Posted by
17881 posts

How do you feel about having your big meal of the day at 9 PM? The Spaniards (and Basques and Catalans) won't show up until later. If that doesn't sound good to you, you may want to consider the large-lunch idea or tapas for dinner.

Posted by
4213 posts

I also don't recommend tapas as a meal replacement. They're intended as small morsels to eat if you're peckish whilst drinking but choosing several to form a meal often results in it being more expensive than a proper meal.

The tapas idea has spread across Europe and is cynically being used to offer small plates of whatever cuisine at high prices. The belief is that diners will select several because they know the portions are small and human nature means we often overcompensate, cue a large bill for very little food.

Posted by
1201 posts

I think Carlos has given you a comprehensive run-down, though there are definitely variations between regions. I'll just add:

  • brunch has become a thing in many cities, especially on Sunday. You could spend as little as €10 or as much as €30 per head depending on what you order, especially how many glasses of wine or buck's fizz you drink (BF made more usually with cava rather than champagne).
  • the "Spanish" breakfast is cheap, but it's also rubbish. Often just coffee and something or chocolate and churro (a sort of stringy doughnut). If you want to set yourself up for a morning's sightseeing, a proper breakfast might be in order, but will cost more.
  • tapa are only meant to be bite sized and not a meal replacement. But if you don't want a full dinner later on (having eaten a full lunch), then many bars sell them in larger portions called raciones. Two or three raciones and a couple of drinks would be an economic, filling evening meal coming in at under €20 per head.
  • in some places, such as Granada and Murcia (& I think parts of Basque Country), a "free" proper tapas will still come with your drink. In many other places, though, the "free" item might just be some olives or cheese cubes and you need to order off the list or choose at the bar (and pay for), to get the better dishes. One evening's bar crawling is a good idea, but not perhaps every night if you want to save money.
  • and for "eating like a local", in most cities and larger towns you'll find plenty of popular chains like Burger King, Pans & Company and McCafe.
  • a menu del dia (the afternoon meal) will often include bread in the fixed price. But for other meals (including lunch not ordered off the daily menu), bread will be brought, even if you didn't ask for it specifically, and there will be a charge when the bill comes. Only a few euros. It isn't a "scam", just the way things are. You can always refuse the bread.
  • if you're in the South, avoid the cold soups. There are many wonderful dishes, but these aren't one of them. Especially avoid salmorejo which has the look and consistency of puréed vomit.
Posted by
1996 posts

the "Spanish" breakfast is cheap, but it's also rubbish. Often just coffee and something or chocolate and churro (a sort of stringy doughnut).

Sorry Nick, but a fresh Xuixo from the local baker coupled with a perfectly made cortado beats a "propa" English fry-up any day of the week lol! ;-)

Posted by
10 posts

this is great info everyone, thanks! as far as breakfast, i DO need a substantial breakfast... or a very early lunch. In Cordoba and Sevilla we'll have kitchen which saves $, and we aren't going to Barcelona. Appreciate the pros and cons of tapas, and timing of meals.

Posted by
4213 posts

Sorry Nick, but a fresh Xuixo from the local baker coupled with a perfectly made cortado beats a "propa" English fry-up any day of the week lol! ;-)

But then you're hungry an hour later 😁

Anyway, I'm not one for sweet pastries for breakfast, eggs of some description are my choice or some cold cuts but a weekend Full English washed down with a mug of strong English Breakfast tea is the King of Breakfasts.

Posted by
1996 posts

JC, unfortunately I don't have any fellow continentals to back me up, however I will concede that the English do make a good black pudding, my favourite part of the full English, of course not as good as our Spanish Morcilla... hehe ;-).

A good Flauta sandwich de jamon or fuet also makes for a good inexpensive breakfast, albeit more substantial than the patisseries.

Posted by
896 posts

A wedge of Tortilla makes a good, simple, and quite Spanish breakfast.
I spent a few weeks in various parts of Spain earlier this year, and everyone I was traveling with remarked on the low cost of good wine.

Posted by
52 posts

We are going to Spain for 15 days, and I agree with most people here o the fact that I need a good breakfast before touring. We are staying at airbnbs at some places, so we would just make breakfast. I don't think it's possible to make dinner as a tourist because we also want to try the cuisine. We planned around $200-$220 per day for two people, including everything. I hope that is enough. Let's see.

Posted by
2928 posts

Guess it depends on where you’re visiting. We were recently in Galicia, and unlike Madrid, food was very inexpensive. If breakfast is included with your hotel, then that’s that much less than you’ll need to spend. We fill up at the hotel’s breakfast buffet and don’t need lunch. Not all hotels have a good breakfast, so I try to research ahead of time. To me a good breakfast has meats, cheeses, juices, yogurt, breads, fresh fruit, and some type of cooked egg. In Madrid, I recall spending €42 for dinner (including wine) one night for my wife and I considered that restaurant to be mid-priced. If I had to pick an amount per day per couple for 3 meals, I’d say about €80.

Posted by
11203 posts

I just want to emphasize that the lunch menu del dia is not only inexpensive, but often has a great variety. It's definitely the way to go.

Also know that in Spain, it's not that dinner is at 9 PM. It's that the restaurants open at 9 or 9:30 PM, and if you go then you beat the 10 PM rush. Similarly, if you eat lunch at 1:30 PM, you beat the 2 PM rush. Yes really.

Posted by
1123 posts

Anuran.paul!
I hope you don’t have to spend 220 a day for food!

Posted by
2928 posts

Even though many restaurants do open later, there are always restaurants that are open earlier if you don’t want to eat so late, although they may be more cafeterias or those in the back of a bar. Unless you’re in a really small town, you won’t have any trouble finding a place to eat.

Posted by
4213 posts

I've never experienced much of a problem with finding restaurants in Spain that are open at 7 or 8 pm however these have been in the larger cities and towns or places that experience a regular stream of tourists.

Posted by
52 posts

@Diane
I meant 220 for everything, including lodging. I think it's doable with basic accomodation and airbnbs.

Posted by
1669 posts

Someone warned against the cold soups: why??? They're great! Gazpacho is ubiquitous here in France, but I wish I had easy access to ajoblanco...

Posted by
2530 posts

@balso... not the same than homemade of course, but I believe Carrefour carries ajoblanco in France.

Posted by
203 posts

We budget $75/day for two people. We're in Barcelona now and had amazing tapas at Ciutat Comtal plus a pitcher of sangria for 57 Euroas one night and $36 the next. We were able to split each tapas so we could have more variety. Some are small but others (in the $8-10 range) were good size and quite shareable. It's an excellent but very popular restaurant on Rambla Catalunya in L'Eixample. We're staying at the Hotel Continental zpalacete, which has a 24 hour buffet and have eaten our other meals there.