This is a blog post I wrote quite a long time ago for my older blog; but have decided to bring it back to light as it is a very useful topic – how to go for an awesome vacation without spending a fortune. In our case – destination Tenerife.
We wanted to spend our winter holiday by soaking up the sun, but because Belgrade doesn’t have a great selection of low cost destinations, we first went to Brussels where we spent three days, and from there we went to Tenerife where we enjoyed in the sun and absolutely enjoyed ourselves for an entire week; and on the way back we spent two extra days visiting Frankfurt. We did all of this for relatively little money. Well, this is a post about how you could enjoy a superb vacation fit for a king on a budget fit for a commoner.
Frankly, this did take a bit of planning as we wanted to spend our vacation at the biggest Canary Island. We did know that prices there were not high, one of the main problems we encountered were “regular” flight prices were pretty expensive. Tickets alone with two stops (Belgrade – Munich, Munich – Madrid, Madrid – Tenerife and back) priced at about 650-700 Euro per person, and our entire trip, including tickets, lodging, and car rental ended up being a little more than that all together!
I’m a pretty demanding person that’s not easy to please, so right off the bat I was rejecting the idea of low cost flights (much like the majority of people that rejects something they know nothing about) because I was under the impression their conditions were subpar; I would only be able to fit half of my behind in the seat, I would have to ride with the chickens – and anything else you can think of. However, my desire to visit Tenerife was stronger than my ability to complain, so I decided to give it a shot. And as it turns out – it was well worth it!
Today, I am aware that it was possible to arrange an even better itinerary; however our first stop was Brussels on WizzAir Airlines. Since the flight originated from Belgrade, NATURALLY it was late. Had I knew then what I know now, we would have taken off from Budapest; which would have allowed us a much better chance of leaving – and arriving – on time, and we would have had several options to choose from as it relates to the day and time of travel (from Belgrade, low cost airlines do not fly every day, while Budapest to Brussels low cost flights are available several times a day, and the pricing can vary greatly based on the time of departure).
WizzAir allows you to become a WizzXclusive club member for 29 Euro a year – my recommendation is to absolutely sign up for this membership if you intend to fly with WizzAir, because those less than 30 Euros can pay off even in the first flight. As an example, our tickets from Brussels were 590 dinars (around 5 Euro) per person; however if one of the passengers of a group was a WizzXclusive member, up to 9 people could travel for the same price (today, however, the program works a little differently in that one additional person can fly for such a low cost ticket, or up to 5 people if you choose a group package)! It is important to know that in this price, the only thing that is included is the cost of the flight and a small, personal item (dimensions 42x32x25cm – which can hardly contain enough belongings for a quick weekend trip), so we decided to pay for one regular checked luggage up to 32 kg, which at that time cost around 15 Euro (prices for your flight can be checked HERE, and can be purchased at any time up to 24 hours prior to departure). Today, a carry on item (56x45x25cm) costs an additional 15 Euro. You will certainly not go hungry, as flight attendants will offer you a decent selection of food and drinks at absolutely reasonable prices.
When flying low cost airlines, it is very important to follow all of their instructions; as they are pretty strict with their rules – ALWAYS perform web check in (up to a week in advance all the way to a few hours before departure), print your boarding pass, and be careful not to exceed allowed weight and dimension of luggage; otherwise all of these items will prove to be rather costly once you arrive at the airport.
One of the items that majority of people worry about as it relates to low cost airlines, is that the airports they fly to and from are located outside of the travel city – for example, airport Charleroi is about 70 kilometers outside of Brussels. However, throughout most of Europe, public transportation and shuttle services are so well organized from city center to the airport, this should not be a concern at all. In our case, round trip ticket from the airport to Brussels cost around 10 Euro per person.
If anyone is worried about the quality or comfort of these aircrafts – worry not. There is as much room on these flights as there is on any other charter flight – perfectly comfortable for few hours of flight time. Besides, anyone who has ever flown via JAT (now Air Serbia), will be in paradise.
From Brussels, we continued to Tenerife South via Ryanair, and the flight cost us an unbelievable 30 Euro per person, it lasted a little over 4 hours, and it was – perfect. Plenty of room to move about, smooth sailing all the way, and an arrival a few minutes ahead of time – makes Ryanair definitely my low cost favorite. The aforementioned rules still apply however – do not forget any of your documents, because printing of your boarding pass in this case can cost as much as 60 Euro per person! Additionally, while WizzAir’s checked luggage of 15 Euro allows for 32 kg, Ryanair allows only 15 kg (at a cost of 15 to 30 Euro depending on the season); or 20 kg (25 to 40 Euro). So, we had to get creative and split our one 30 kg luggage into two 15 kg suitcases, and pay an additional 30 kg. We both also purchased priority check in (5 Euro per person), so our ticket cost around 50 Euro each, which again was more than reasonable (remember, flight from Belgrade to Tenerife was much more expensive!).
On our journey back, we flew from Tenerife South airport to Frankfurt Hahn, and the ticket was around 40 Euro per person. From Frankfurt we flew to Budapest for 9 Euro per person – both times with Ryanair.
In Brussels, we found a small little apartment via Booking app in the vicinity of the building of European Commission right next to Jubelpark, and lodging for two nights cost us an even 100 Euro. If you plan on visiting this city, please keep in mind it is rather pricy – two days of dining and transportation in Brussels cost us about as much as an entire week on Canary Islands.
Another exceptional website which allows you to find lodging anywhere in the world – AirBnb – it allows you to choose whether you want a room, an efficiency, or an entire house – and is absolutely worth taking a look at any time you travel anywhere.
If you use THIS SITE when you book your stay, you will receive a $20 discount!
Our lodging in Tenerife we also secured through the Booking app – for 250 Euro we secured a phenomenal apartment, about 40 m2, where we spent an absolutely enjoyable week. This was part of the resort Santa Barbara Golf and Ocean Club. We had everything we ever could need – kitchen equipped with modern appliances, two HD televisions (one in the living room, one in the bedroom), safe, iron, Wi-Fi…
The price for the same dates the following year at the same hotel is drastically higher (around 1,000 Euro, to be exact), however it is absolutely possible to find a better deal – you just have to spend a little bit of time in researching and moving the dates around – and an affordable price will be there!. Here are a few examples of lodging with prices similar to that we paid:
Volcano Beach Hotel
Be Smart Florida Plaza
Another good thing about Tenerife is that you can visit any time of year, as this is “the island of forever spring”, as it has been called. We went in January and during the stay we basked in a strong, African sun at around 23 degrees Celsius (in all truthfulness the water was a bit chilly, but did I mention we were there in January?), and we also enjoyed a nice evening breeze which allowed us to wear long sleeves. The best of all is that our January Summer wasn’t crowded at all and we were alone pretty much everywhere we went! This is not peak vacation season for majority of tourists, and this can mean only one thing – empty pool, no need for waiting or reservations at any restaurant you wish, and no “sardine effect” on the beach!
Good to know
Southern part of the island is warmer, while the waves on the north side are significantly stronger and this side of the island is typically main traction for surfers (lodging on the north side is also more affordable). The most popular destination for tourists is Playa de ls Americas, which was packed even in January, with very urban feels and busy nightlife, with lots of shopping options – from most popular designers, all the way to brands such as Zara, Mango, Desigural, H&M – anything can be found here, all at more reasonable prices than what we’ve seen in Serbia! Majority of beaches have black sand (as this is a volcanic island), and majority of tourists favor Playa de las Teresitas – a beach with gold sand (brought in from Sahara), which is located close to the capital city of Tenerife – Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We chose a calmer part of the island – Golf del Sur, which is located on the Southern side around 10 minute ride from the airport, with many golf courses in the surrounding vicinity.
Finally (even though I’m certain this is something you care about the least), in Frankfurt (Hahn, to be exact), we spent the night at the small airport island, where a room with an included breakfast cost around 70 Euro total.
WHAT TO SEE IN TENERIFE
If you’ve come to Tenerife for at least a week, my recommendation is to see – EVERYTHING. The island is relatively small and in about an hour you’ve arrived from the north to the south, and this is only because you had to go all the way around because the center of the island is occupied by a volcano. When you book your flight with Ryanair, towards the end of the booking it allows you the option to also select car rental at a reasonable price. We choose Citroen C3 for about 100 Euro for the week, and we booked reserved through Hertz. The car waited for us at the airport, where we returned it upon our departure. A pleasant surprise was the cost of gasoline – one liter of fuel cost an unbelievable 1 Euro! Another good news is that the infrastructure is excellent – roads are smooth and free of potholes (particularly the interstate). Even the road towards the volcano has an emergency stopping lane to the side.
Tenerife South airport is ideally located for majority of the tourists coming to the south side of the island – in less than 30 minutes you will find yourself at Playa de las Americas, while it takes about an hour to get to Santa Cruz (located in northeastern part of the island).
You cannot afford not to see volcano Teide; the highest point in Spain (3,718 m), and third tallest volcano in the world (7,500 m above sea level), following Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii. This volcano is part of Teide national park, which is home to 2.8 million visitors annually – and is still very much an active volcano! Latest eruption occurred in 1909.
Another recommendation is to visit the capital city of the island – Santa Cruz – which is home to over 200,000 residents. While there, do visit Auditoro de Tenerife (Opera House), the port, enjoy the view at Torres de Santa Cruz, twin towers, the highest there are in Spain, walk through the Parque Garcia Sanabria…
If you enjoy water games (and who doesn’t?!?), visit the Siam Park; and if you want to explore the world around you, visit Loro Parque – majority of the hotels offer discount tickets for both parks. The catch, however, is that you will not be able to explore both of the parks in entirety in one day – nor will you want to leave either one of them!
One attraction I did not have a chance to visit (it was raining the day we went and it was closed) – and a reason why I HAVE to go back – is Lago Martianez. This might be the only reason why it would be best to go when it’s peak tourist season.
Los Gigantes, Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, Garachico, a small port destroyed when the volcano erupted in 1706, Icod de los Vinos – one of the oldest cities on the island – are all points you must visit if you find yourself here!
Why are Tenerife low cost paradise? Simply, everything there is affordable – or at least cheaper than what we’re used to! Prices are either equal or less than those in Novi Sad, Serbia, which means they are drastically cheaper than Belgrade, let alone any seaside destinations throughout Europe. Breakfast in more than adequate restaurants is anywhere between 2 to 5 Euro, and most restaurants offer bundle options for 3 meals at the price of 7 to 9 Euro. More exclusive restaurants meal prices range from 10 to 14 Euro. Coffee and soft drinks can be purchased for 1-2 Euro, and beer prices range from 1-3 Euro.
Disclaimer: This text was written a few years ago upon our return from Tenerife. The only thing changed were items that could be verified (for example, hotel price). For this reason, it is possible the other prices discussed in this text are now different.