When I left to study abroad in Granada last summer, my main concern was a common one: how will I afford this? Excluding the program itself and the plane tickets, I knew that I would want to make the most out of my time abroad -- I knew I would want to go out for tapas with friends, buy many souvenirs and gifts for my friends and family back home, and go on as many excursions as possible. But how was I supposed to do that without returning home completely bankrupt? Thankfully, when I arrived in Spain, I realized many of my worries had been pointless. I definitely had to watch what I was spending, but luckily for me, southern Spain (and Granada in particular) is one of the cheapest tourist destinations you can find! Below, I will explore a few of the most common ways people spend their money in Granada, and give some tips on how to get the best deals possible.
Going out for tapas
This is probably the most common way you will be spending your money in Granada -- but luckily, Granada is famous for its cheap food! For 2-4€, you can buy a beverage, and any tapas bar in Granada will give you a small plate of food for free.
My Advice: After trying out a few places, you will notice that the system is slightly different in each establishment, and some definitely give you more bang for your buck. Don’t necessarily plan every tapas experience beforehand (the spontaneity is fun!) but try to frequent the places that give you more food, or let you choose your dish. Also remember that you pay for the drink, not the food, so choose a cheaper drink!
One of the coolest places in Granada -- and in many cities in southern Spain -- is the street market. The alleyways are just filled with small, cramped stores completely overflowing with unique souvenirs. For the most part, these souvenirs are also fairly cheap -- you can get a pair of “elephant pants” for 10-12€, a Universidad de Granada sweatshirt for 12€, or a small Turkish Lamp (my personal favorite) for around 15€ as well. Bonus tip: I was sure that the lamp would break if I tried to bring it home in my suitcase, but the owner of the store heard me say this and proceeded to put the lamp on the ground and jump on it. Turns out, they are very durable, so if you have room and you are as obsessed with these lamps as I am, don’t be afraid to buy one in Spain!My Advice: My biggest suggestion here is don’t be afraid to bargain with the vendors -- half of them list a higher price than they expect to sell it for in the first place, and many will give discounts to University students. Some will be even more willing to give you a deal if you try to speak to them in Spanish. Also, never buy cheap jewelry unless it’s on a deal -- if it’s not on a deal at one shop, it will be at the next shop down the road.
This is definitely where you will spend the bulk of your money, but it is 100% worth it. Prices of trips that you take on your own will obviously vary wildly based on where you choose to go, how you get there, and how far in advance you plan.
My advice: Plan ahead, if possible. Plane tickets from one European country to another are generally not too expensive -- but they definitely will be if you buy them six days in advance, like I did when I went to Rome. I decided it was ultimately worth it, but I do wish I had planned ahead and gotten a deal. If you don’t have a specific destination in mind, try using the Kayak “Explore” feature to see where you can fly the cheapest! Also, check out sites like Student Universe to find discounts, always fly basic economy if you’re just going for a weekend, and make sure you budget in things like transport to and from the airport, dining out while you’re away, and attractions while you’re there.
I hope this blog was helpful in showing you how manageable studying abroad in Spain can be -- especially if you’re smart about it! And always remember that while sticking to a budget is important, you will never regret the opportunities you take, but you will always regret those you miss. So, if you’re sitting in a cafe six days before your school holiday wondering whether or not to buy that plane ticket: do it.
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