Can you tell by now that I've fallen head over heels in love with Spain? I will never be able to thank my husband enough for steering our international journey toward this incredible country.
Why do I love it so?
Why do I think you should visit Spain for your cherished summer vacation?
I could talk your ear off about this subject; but let me narrow the reasons down to three.
1) Spain is BEAUTIFUL. 2) It's safe and friendly. 3) It's extremely affordable, especially with kids!
In this post I'm going to focus on reason number three, so that you can have a concrete idea of the savings you'll find with ease if you choose to travel to Spain.
Flying To Spain & Around Spain - Cheaply!!!
I cannot believe our good luck, but just this year... as in within the last few months... our cherished city of Barcelona became a main hub for two low-cost airlines that will now fly directly to Los Angeles (and other U.S. cities).
High quality 'budget airline' Norwegian Air announced last Fall that beginning on June 5, 2017 they will run a direct flight twice a week between Barcelona and Los Angeles... and for the heaviest travel month of August, they'll even expand their service to three times per week! Norwegian is a no-frills airline where you pay only for the services you want; so if you decide to bring only a carry-on bag and your own food, you'll pay a lot less for a ticket than the passenger next to you with three bags who wants to dine Norwegian style.
Norwegian uses Boeing 787 Dreamliners for this route. When my husband and eldest son traveled to Barcelona on Norwegian Air last summer they reported back that it was a perfect, comfortable flight equipped with the latest technology.
Direct flights take place on Mondays and Fridays... and while prices vary based on your dates of travel I just looked and was able to find a direct flight between Barcelona and LAX (roundtrip) leaving in June and returning in July for 632 euro (tax included). That's $681 round trip at the very height of summer! A great deal for a 'high season' flight.
Norwegian will also be running direct flights from Barcelona to Oakland and Newark! This is fantastic news for our friends and relatives on both coasts of the United States of America.
Don't write this airline off just because you've never heard of it before! This brand new carrier is legit, safe, and it can save you a bundle.
Just last week, the IAG group (parent to British Airways, Iberia and Vueling) announced that it has decided to give Norwegian Air some competition in the low cost, international, direct flights to USA market! (Woohoo, when airlines compete, travelers win!!!)
IAG has created a new airline named "Level" that will be staffed and run by Iberia, at least initially. Level Airlines will be based out of - you guessed it - Barcelona!!!
This new budget international airline will fly two brand new Airbus 330-300s direct between Barcelona and LAX or Barcelona and Oakland.
Much like on Norwegian, Level Airlines passengers will get only what they want to pay for. WIFI, extra luggage and food will all cost more than the base fare... which started off last week with an introductory sale as low as $198 round trip! I'm not joking!
You can spend the same price to fly between Los Angeles and Barcelona on Level Airlines as you'd spend on two tickets to Disneyland! (More on that later).
Level will run this flight twice a week starting in June, and currently you can purchase tickets for their direct flights using Iberia's website. It will say, "Operated by Iberia for Level" when you select your flight. (You'll be able to see the difference right away, since the tickets are so much cheaper than Iberia's other fares.)
I suggest you book soon though... the airline sold 52K tickets on its first day in business!
Vueling and RyanAir
If you haven't traveled by air in Europe before, you may not know Vueling and RyanAir. These airlines remind me of Southwest, although perhaps a bit less luxurious. Vueling and RyanAir are the low-cost budget airlines of Europe. You can get fares between Spain and London, for example, for less than 20 euro. Right now, for example, Vueling is running a promotion called POSSIBLE where you can book tickets for next winter from Barcelona (and many other Spanish cities) to fly all over Europe for 19.99 euro. From Barcelona to Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Zurich, Venice... all of them for 19.99. Wow!!!
Vueling is actually based out of Barcelona, while RyanAir (based in Dublin and London) flies regionally out of Girona, about an hour outside of Barcelona. Either way, you can get insane deals flying all around Europe using these two airlines. Vueling carries the same safety rating from AirlineRatings (7 out of 7 stars) as its fancier sisters British Airways and Iberia. Neither Vueling nor RyanAir has ever been involved in a fatal crash.
Travel By Train In Spain... RENFE's Family Deals Are Amazing!!!
Are you loving Spain yet? If not, you're about to!
RENFE is the Spanish National Train System. Spanish train travel is smooth, beautiful, relaxing, and - get this - all children (ages 4 - 14) get their seat for 40% off. Children under 4? Travel for free!!! as long as they share a seat with their parents.
Every day. All distances. All classes. All trains.
Yes, that's right. I'm saying your kids will travel in Spain for either just under half-price, or free!
Think this is too good to be true? Check out the official RENFE site and you can read about it for yourself. You should also investigate the RENFE Spain Pass, where you can purchase 4, 6, 8 or 10 journeys to be used within a month... also at a discounted price.
Spain LOVES and welcomes children!
The Best Art and Science Museums You Could Dream Of... For Free!
Museums all over Spain offer reduced cost admission for families and free entry for children. For example, the world famous City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia (housing an IMAX, Oceanography museum and Science Museum) offers single and multi-day deals with tickets for less than 7 euro for children ages 4-12. At the prestigious Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, children under age 12 have free admission! The Museo Del Prado in Madrid also offers free entry to all children under age 18, along with free entry for university students ages 18-25. Wow!
My children were dumbfounded by the insanely beautiful, extremely educational CosmoCaixa Science Museum here in Barcelona. It is without question the most interesting science museum we've experienced so far, with engaging exhibits that change seasonally and a deep focus on scientific research. From teaching children about the human brain and how it is affected by addiction to showing them the science of cooking through workshops, this museum does NOT condescend to children! Rather, it treats them as highly capable individuals who can understand complex material with ease. Thanks to their many, many hands-on experiments, I can barely tear my children away after an entire day... and we've visited many times now!
Best of all, it's free for children under 16 and only 4 euro per adult. With a stunning view all the way to the Mediterranean sea, a 'toca-toca' room where your kids can pet interesting animals under supervision, a restaurant and even a mini aquarium... this place is absolutely a top of the list MUST SEE destination!
Port Aventura, The Least Expensive Theme Park You'll Ever LOVE
When my kids were little and growing up in San Diego, we used to see advertisements for Disneyland on television. It looked so magical, with the fairy godmother from Cinderella casting her sparkling spell and everyone dancing around for a nighttime parade of lights.
"Can we go to Disneyland, Mommy?" my sons used to ask me.
I'd always respond, "Oh, that would be great!" I meant it, too!
I can't tell you the number of times Señor Aventura and I discussed trying to plan a family Disneyland trip over the past twelve years. In the end though, we only went to Disneyland twice... and never as a family, just in groups of 2 or 3. Even though we lived only an hour away!
Why didn't we go? Well, we're a family of five! A single day at Disneyland - just to walk through those famous, magical gates - costs us $500! That doesn't include food, ice cream, drinks, souvenirs or anything extra. Doesn't include the cost of gasoline between San Diego and Anaheim, or the price of the insane Disneyland parking lot that can take an hour or more to exit if you hit it at the wrong time of night.
To put this another way, I could buy 2.5 round trip tickets from Los Angeles to Spain on Level Airlines for the cost of taking my family to Disneyland for a single day.
Still, financial reality didn't stop my kids from craving rollercoasters and theme parks. They adore them, and would jump at any opportunity to have a fun day cruising rides and thrilling coasters in a brightly-colored manmade land.
Enter Port Aventura. We discovered this incredible Spanish theme park two years ago and even now, we're still amazed.
Located just an hour's drive from Barcelona on the Costa Dorada of Spain (near Tarragona) this enormous and beautiful park features six different 'worlds' all of which have their own rides, attractions, shows and restaurants.
The six worlds feature Meditterànea, Polynesia and China among others. They are fabulously clean and enormous.
Lines for the more popular rides can take a while (nothing like Disneyland) but there is plenty of shade to be found along with relaxing places to dine that will appeal to adults as much as kids.
Here's the most amazing part. Tickets to Port Aventura cost only 47 euro (adults) and 40 euro (children)!!!! Would you like to stay for two days? If so you can buy 2-day passes for 56 euro adults, 48 euro kids!
My family can spend two full days at Port Aventura for half of the price of a single day at Disneyland. Plus, there are many more rollercoasters and attractions to see!
Our family loves Port Aventura. Perhaps its no coincidence that we call ourselves La Familia Aventura!!! Hahaha!
These are just a handful of reasons why, especially if your budget is tight, you should truly consider vacationing this year in glorious Spain! Joyful, once-in-a-lifetime memories are a bargain here.
Coming soon, I'll give more examples of many modestly priced (and extremely fun!) indoor and outdoor activities you will love experiencing with your kids in Europe!
Did you like this post from the Years Of Adventure Travel Blog?
If so, feel free to share or re-post. Thank you!