A Backpacker’s Guide to the Spanish Costas

Family theme parks and towering hotels line most of the Spanish coast, from Portugal in the south all the way up to the French border in the north. However, the threat of identikit towns and mass tourism has in the past put many intrepid travelers off visiting Spain.

It’s safe to say that every region of Spain is completely different from the next and each has its own distinct identity, bringing with it its own traditions, foods and cultural highlights. What’s more, if you keep away from the main tourist resorts and travel off the beaten path you’ll soon find a hidden Spain waiting to be discovered:

Costa Del Sol

The Costa Del Sol, translating to the Coast of the Sun, is true to its name, so it’s no surprise that this is the area where you’ll find most of Spain’s tourist resorts. Two of the Costa Del Sol’s most popular destinations are Marbella, a resort popular with the jet-set crowd and Malaga, a popular family hot spot.

Outside the main resorts, there are smaller more typically Spanish resorts, situated in the heart of Andalucia. This is the region of Spain which gave the world both paella and flamenco dancing so it’s difficult to think of an area which is more stereotypically Spanish.

Located away from the main tourist resorts, Nerja is a classic fishing town where you can feast on barbecued fish in the evenings and explore the underground caves during the day. The Villa Flamenca hotel has rooms starting at less than $25 a night, great on a backpacker’s budget. Spain’s rail network is outstanding so traveling the Iberian Peninsula by rail is a fantastic option! 

Costa Blanca

Benidorm and Alicante are perhaps the two best-known resorts in the Costa Blanca and the latter is extremely popular with backpackers. The reason for this is probably because there is just so much to do here.

Cycling, hiking, and walking routes exist for the adventurous traveler and for the brave, there is even the chance to try shark cage diving – definitely not for the faint-hearted! Of course, you don’t have to be active to enjoy Alicante, many choose to spend their days on one of the beautiful beaches and the nights dancing in one of the area’s many nightclubs. Costa Brava hotels can be expensive, particularly in the resort of Alicante, but the Husa Leuke Hotel offers rooms from under $35 a night.

For those that want a sunny stay but aren’t keen on Spanish delights can head straight to Benidorm. While it’s often criticized for lacking any culture, it’s a great place to go if you rather have fish and chips than tapas or if you just get homesick. Also, there are a number of fantastic offers on Benidorm hotels, such as the 3-star Primavera Park Apartments, which has rooms for around $20 a night.

Costa Dorada

Spain’s golden coast doesn’t attract as many tourists as its other coastal resorts, making it ideal if you’re looking for a place to relax and unwind; the exception to this rule being during the month of April when the infamous Saloufest, a sports festival aimed at students from universities across the globe, takes place. However the rest of the year you’ll find that peace and quiet beckons.

Just outside the resort of Salou, lies Tarragona, a well-preserved Roman town that features an amphitheater and a Cistercian monastery. For something more modern, Gaudi’s home-town of Reus is located nearby and is a center for modernist architecture.

To let off steam at the end of your travels, head to the PortAventura theme park, which is considered to be one of the best in Europe. Both the Brisasol Salou Pacific Apartments and the Zeus Mariposa Apartments in Salou have very affordable rooms from less than $25 a night. So budgeting well ahead is key to avoid any financial setbacks.

Tips on Choosing an Ultralight Backpacking Tent

So you want the lightest tent you can find simply because you have to carry it around with you all day long, so the lighter the better. But don’t forget that you also have to sleep in it, often in conditions that are far from ideal e.g. wind, rain, snow, and anything else that the weather can throw at you.

It’s no use in buying the smallest available and lightest tent possible only to discover later that you don’t have enough room to deal with all your gear and that you’ll have to leave outside in the rain. Then again, you also don’t want to lug around an unnecessarily heavy tent with you.

Ok so you may think that taking a tarp and tent is a bit silly but it only adds slightly to your overall weight and it’s well worth it, and most people carry at least one walking pole on a hiking trip these days. Also if you are blessed with some fine weather you don’t even need to put up your tent but just use your tarp on its own.

So keep in mind that just a few extra ounces to have a somewhat larger tent could make a lot of difference in comfort. Sadly I suppose the biggest consideration when choosing a backpacking tent is going to be the cost. All I can say is to buy the best one you can with your budget and remember that you are buying something that hopefully you will have for a long time, so make sure that:

  • It fits you
  • You feel comfortable in it
  • It’s fit for the job you need it for