Salou, Spain (on a shoestring!)

We visited Salou, in the Costa Daurada (northern Spain) for our summer holiday. Your standard week long beach holiday is quite easy to get on any budget, so I’ll be giving you some more generalised tips in this blog that will apply to other European destinations, too.

Salou is a fab coastal resort with things to do for families, thrill-seekers, right through to sun worshippers. The draw for us was the PortAventura theme park as we aren’t ones for lounging by the pool for too long; a cross between the intensity of Thorpe Park rides and the theming detail of Disney Parks. Watch our video roundup:

TIP: If you’re just after a generic beach holiday rather than a specific destination, a great place to start your search is Teletext Holidays, especially using their budget function; this will give you a good idea of the places that are cheapest to visit at the time you’re booking. travelmatch also have a great search function for holidays by type.

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HOTEL: Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a location and you’ve bought your flights, the next job is looking up the hotel. In these kinds of resort areas, hotels are plentiful and generally offer the same amenities – there’s not a lot between most of them. The key factors for me are location, included meals, any added extras (eg airport transfers).

For this trip, we picked a hotel in between the beach and PortAventura – both were a 10 minute walk away. We could also get a bus to the airport pretty easily (it leaves from the beach front). We went for half board – we spent most afternoons out so weren’t often in for lunch.

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We stayed at Hotel Vil.la Romana, which came in at around £180pp for 7 nights – not bad for a 4* hotel. The food was great and all the staff were fantastic, I’d definitely recommend it. This and most hotels in the area include evening entertainment which is alright for a laugh.

THINGS TO DO:

THEME PARK: As mentioned, we were keen on PortAventura. We love a good theme park! This one has the tallest rollercoaster in Europe too. This place is great – in addition to all the themed rides, they also have various shows going on through the day. It was pretty well priced – we opted for a 2 day ticket as it was only a few pounds extra.

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WATER PARK: We also visited the Aquopolis water park, which was excellent – they had a dolphin show which was cool, and it was really easy to get to by bus. Their rides were a bit more grown-up than those at the PortAventura water park (Costa Caribe). The staff were very good, and actually stopped a slide for us when Rob dropped his waterproof camera at the bottom of it :/ They also had some fun pools, water jets, etc. in addition to the big slides, as well as an area for kids, so it was a good all-rounder park.

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TIP: For both of these parks, I found a number of offers in Salou itself. There was an offer for the PortAventura park on certain ChupaChup sweet bags, and McDonalds were running an offer for Aquopolis. Personally,  I don’t think it’s an issue to buy your tickets in Spain; that way you won’t miss out on any local offers, and you can always get the hotel to print your tickets for you. TIP: You will get a discount for booking online in advance though, so if there are no offers, make sure you book online before you go – never buy on the gate!

OTHER ACTIVITES: If parks aren’t your thing, there are lots of other activities nearby, including the inflatable water park in the sea, pedaloing and other water sports, plenty of bars and minigolf. As with any beach destination, things will start to quieten down in September/October time – as we left in mid-September, they were closing the water playground, and a similar October holiday in Rhodes had us staying in the last week of the season. TIP: Make sure you check before you book that anything you specifically want to visit will be open!

So there’s a few tips for anyone looking for a bit of summer sun. As I said, you’ll be able to apply this to most European beach destinations – my advice would be see which areas are cheapest at the time of booking, and save your cash on flights and hotels. Places go in and out of fashion quickly – so anywhere could be on offer!

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