4 Beautiful Destinations in Spain That are Cheaper Than Madrid and Barcelona

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Singaporean tourists heading to Spain always end up in Madrid and Barcelona, but these two cities are actually the most expensive and most crowded places in the entire country. When you’ve seen Madrid’s big museums and Gaudi’s architectural wonders in Barcelona, move on to these cheaper and no less beautiful cities.

 

Granada

Granada - MoneySmart

Singaporeans don’t really think of Spain as the most romantic of destinations—that’s a title reserved for Paris or Venice. But that’s because most haven’t been to Granada. The Andalucian city is seriously pretty, and also home to the famous Alhambra, about which there are countless myths, legends, poems and songs. Not sure Marina Bay Sands has garnered as much admiration.

Sights:

  • The UNESCO World Heritage site Alhambra is a must-visit palace and fortress, rebuilt by a Moorish emir in the 13th century, and an intoxicating example of Muslim art.
  • Generalife sounds like the name of an insurance company, but is actually a magnificent summer palace and garden.
  • Plaza Nueva is the city’s oldest and busiest square, where you can sip on a cocktail and people watch or gawk at the churches and other spectacular buildings surrounding it.

 

Seville

Seville - MoneySmart

Less than 3 hours from Granada is Seville, the capital of Andalucia and the fourth largest city in Spain. The Andalucian region is characterised by Arabic influences and sunny weather. Since Seville is a big city, you can expect to enjoy your fair share of shopping and partying in between gazing at the incredible Catholic and Moorish buildings.

Sights:

  • The Cathedral of Seville is just massive, and some say the world’s largest church. Its bell tower, La Giralda, used to be a Muslim minaret and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.
  • The Real Alcázar is a gorgeous Moorish palace with a rather pimp-like name.
  • Parque de María Luisa is a the city’s main public park, and home to the square Plaza de España, which has served as a filming location for Star Wars Episode II and Lawrence of Arabia.

 

Valencia

Valencia - MoneySmart

Valencia is Spain’s third most populous city and also the birthplace of paella. It’s a very fashion- and design-conscious city, having been subject to an architectural transformation in the last decade.

Sights:

  • The City of Arts and Science is more famous for its futuristic building (which looks a bit like our own dome at Gardens by the Bay), designed by Santiago Calatrava, than its exhibitions, but it’s definitely worthwhile venturing in as it houses a science museum, aquarium, arts museum and planetarium.
  • Mercado Central is the city’s centre’s main market building. Head there for a meal and to soak up the chaos.
  • La Lonja de la Seda is yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, and a cluster of buildings formerly used for silk trading.

 

Zaragoza

Zaragoza - MoneySmart

There are approximately zero Singaporean tourists in Zaragoza right now, but it’s actually a historically important city and a very beautiful one at that. Spain’s fifth largest city is also very inexpensive to visit, with numerous free museums.

Sights:

  • Caesaraugusta is an ancient Roman city, the ruins of which you can now visit. Buy a joint ticket that enables you to visit all four of the main sections, including the port, forum, baths and theatre.
  • Notable buildings include Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar and Catedral de la Seo.
  • Museo Zaragoza and Museo Ibercaja Aznar are both free to visit and feature paintings by Francisco Goya.

Have you ever been to any of the above destinations? Share your experiences in the comments!

Image credits: Ronny Siegel, Frayle, CameliaTWU, NicoTrinkhaus

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.