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Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

Gaithersburg...
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Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

We are going on a two week trip to Spain in July. We'll be in Madrid, Barcelona, and northern Spain. We don't want to have a car when we're in Madrid and Barcelona and will travel by train between those cities. Is it worth renting a car to get to northern Spain and travel around that region, or is taking the train a more viable option?

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1. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

It really depends if you are visiting just cities/big towns, or exploring a bit off the beaten path.

I would take the AVE between Madrid and Barcelona, then fly to somewhere in the North coast (Bilbao, Santander, Oviedo... depending on your plans), getting the car there and exploring the villages and natural areas. In any case "Northern Spain" is a quite big and diverse area, so you will get better advice if you specify what you have in mind.

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Madrid
Madrid
Community of Madrid, Spain
Barcelona
Barcelona
Province of Barcelona, Spain
Bilbao
Bilbao
Province of Vizcaya, Spain
Santander
Santander
Cantabria, Spain
Oviedo
Oviedo
Asturias, Spain
Spain
Spain
Europe
Gaithersburg...
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2. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

We will be based in San Sebastian when we're in northern Spain. We plan to stay there for four or five nights and will take day trips to see the area. We'd like to visit Bilbao, and I'm open to suggestions for other places to see.

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Hotel San Sebastian
Hotel San Sebastian
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San Sebastian - Donostia, Spain
Spain
Spain
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Bilbao
Bilbao
Province of Vizcaya, Spain
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3. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

Train Madrid to San Sebastian does take a long time say 6 hours. Maybe just take a plane and rent a car at the airport because it is a little way into the city. If your accommodation has good parking and road access to take trips then car could be great. It is very hilly in this part of the country so expect some good but winding highways and when you go off the main road expect some more challenging but acceptable roads.

Personally I would just stay in San Sebastian with out a car and enjoy the city and the summer life. Maybe one trip to Bilbao using the bus (train will not be good)

pesa.net/pesa/horariosBD/ctrl_horarios.php

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Madrid
Community of Madrid, Spain
Hotel San Sebastian
Hotel San Sebastian
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San Sebastian - Donostia, Spain
Bilbao
Bilbao
Province of Vizcaya, Spain
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4. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

Personally I wouldn't rent a car if you only have 4-5 nights in San Sebastián. Parking is very expensive in San Sebastián - the going rate when we visited in September was 25 euros a day. Day 1 will be a travel day, you'll want at least one day just to hang out in San Sebastián and then you want to do a daytrip to Bilbao (easy by bus). So that really only leaves time for 1-2 daytrip days. There's plenty of places to visit by bus/train in these days - Hondarribia, Getaria, Pamplona, St Jean de Luz, Biarritz, etc.....Alternatively if you really like to drive ans want to go way off the beaten path you could just rent a car for a day or two and drive deep into the mountains or countryside.

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Province of Vizcaya, Spain
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Navarra, Spain
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Basque Country, France
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Malaga, Spain
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5. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

wanderingafar:

The problem with cars in Spain is that there is no free parking in cities. In large cities it costs 25 euros a day to park at hotels.

I recommend train travel:

tripadvisor.com/Travel-g187514-c80518/Madrid…

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6. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

Use the buses www.pesa.net San Sebastian to Bilbao and Biarritz

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Hotel San Sebastian
Hotel San Sebastian
305 Reviews
San Sebastian - Donostia, Spain
Bilbao
Bilbao
Province of Vizcaya, Spain
Biarritz
Biarritz
Basque Country, France
Barcelona, Spain
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7. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

As others said, if just for a few days and staying in San Sebastián, I would forget about the car and move around using public transport. You can fly to San Sebastián from both Madrid or Barcelona, but often you can get cheaper deals flying to Bilbao. It's easy to travel from one to the other.

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Madrid
Madrid
Community of Madrid, Spain
Barcelona
Barcelona
Province of Barcelona, Spain
Bilbao
Bilbao
Province of Vizcaya, Spain
8. Re: Renting a Car Versus Taking the Train

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