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Northern Spain road trip

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Nottingham, UK
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Northern Spain road trip

My wife and I are interested in exploring Northern Spain in late May early June for 2 weeks, and would like some advice on an itinerary.

Having done some initial reading, we are keen to visit (subject to advice received!) Santiago de Compostela, Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastián, La Rioja (wine region), Picos de Europa. Initial thoughts are that we would hire a car and drive the route. Due to distances and location of airports etc, the current thinking is Stansted airport to Bilbao/Porto and then Bilbao/Porto (the opposite that we arrived at) back to Stansted. To keep car hire costs down it appears the best way (true?) is to the get the bus across the border of Spain and Portugal and either drop the car off (or pick it up depending on which way we go) at Porto/Vigo. The key thing is we will have to get back to Stansted airport where our car will be left,

We like nice food washed down with nice wine/sangria in nice relaxing surroundings (people watching is always fun!) For this reason any place we stay must be within easy walking/taxi distance of the local bars and restaurants. We are not the type to sit on a beach and sunbathe.

So the questions are:

1. What should the route actually be?

2. Of the suggested locations, have we missed a must see place? e.g. I have seen Santillana del Mar and Comillas mentioned in a few posts.

3. How long to stay at each stop?

4. Can we do it all in 2 weeks?!

Thank you in advance. I hope this is the right forum to post in!

Bilbao, Spain
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1. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Sangría: not the right place. In fact, it´s mainly for tourists and us locals rarely have it (more in Southern Spain) and if we do, it´s at home.

Nottingham, UK
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2. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Apologies for the inaccurate use of sangria, but it was more the idea of what we like doing that I was trying to get across. Pintxos with some lovely local wine or cider will do just fine!

Vitoria-Gasteiz...
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3. Re: Northern Spain road trip

1. What should the route actually be? If I were you I will go along the cost to Santiago in some days then Porto and back to Zamora, Leon, Burgos Rioja, Vitoria, San Sebastian. (More or less Wellington atack rout 200 years ago! LOL)

2. Of the suggested locations, have we missed a must see place? e.g. I have seen Santillana del Mar and Comillas mentioned in a few posts.

There are many interesting places in all the provincies you are passing, stay a day or two in every place you are and visit local interesting things.

3. How long to stay at each stop?

Some are tinny and you are donne with a day others need two but if I would be planning one night two nights one night,... so that I dont travel every day as otherwise it can be tiresome.

4. Can we do it all in 2 weeks?!

Yes of course if needed you could do it in two days!! In total it wll be less than 2.000KM.

PD I see you are from good old Notts I lived there two years! Have a bier at the Old Trip on me! LOL

Edited: 12 January 2014, 20:33
Bilbao, Spain
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4. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Hi,

if you are a foodie, you shouldn't miss the Arbidel at Ribadesella http://arbidel.com/ The Menu Degustacion for 29 euro is a giveaway.

Malaga, Spain
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5. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Hol:

I would skip Porto and just stay in Spain. I went two years ago to Porto and it cannot compare with Spanish cities.

I live in southern Spain and the natives here do not drink sangria. It is best to just drink regular wine.

O Savinao, Galicia
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6. Re: Northern Spain road trip

You cannot do the whole trip in tow weeks and expect to see everything. Do you know there are flight between a lot of Northern Spanish cities and the UK? In Galicia there are flights from Stansted and Santiago de Compostela. and London Heathrow to A Coruña?

I personally would slow down and try and see a little more of the area, which ever part you choose.

May I also suggest you have a look at the following guide book. www.footprinttravelguides.com/europe/…

I found it very useful when exploring the area. So much so I ended up living here.

I have had Spanish guests who live in the south ask me for Sangria. They find it refreshing to drink.

I have never found it in bars but I do know it can be found in supermarkets during the summer. So there must be native drinkers somewhere as there is no expat community around here to support the large stocks.

Two further tips: if you go to Portugal please read up about how you pay for the tolled roads which are controlled electronically. It is difficult to pay if you have a non Portuguese registered car.

Have you thought about flying to Oporto? It is usually cheaper and a better choice of flights. Hiring a Portuguese car means no worries about how to pay those tolls as the cars should have a tag inside and you pay at the end of your hire.

Bilbao, Spain
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7. Re: Northern Spain road trip

(My post on sangría was just to point out that it´s another "false friend" on Spain...as flamenco dancing and bullfighting, for example)

O Savinao, Galicia
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8. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Mike you also forgot tapas in "our" parts of Spain too.

A complete denial of Spanish drinking sangria is a little odd.

I have seen in many parts of Spain locals drinking wine topped up with Gaseosa. The very thought on this I found horrible. Until I had a viño de mesa in Madrid. I was told by other customers I would need it, boy did I. But that was the only occation. I know some add to to wine for drink driving reasons.

Bilbao, Spain
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9. Re: Northern Spain road trip

Yes, you´re right...but I do drink "just acceptable" wine (table wine) with soda many times...Sangría is rarely had where I live...and very complicated to find in a bar...

Nottingham, UK
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10. Re: Northern Spain road trip

I'm certain I checked the flights from Stansted to Santiago de Compostela and nothing showed up, but after your post I re-checked and discovered there are flights! Strange, but certainly makes things a lot easier.

Thanks for pointing me at that guide book, a quick skim through the pages they make publicly available does make it look worth getting.

A quick play with google maps suggests San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela along the coast (going via La Rioja and A Coruña) is approx 800km/500miles. With an assumption of staying at each stop 2 nights it doesn't appear too bad, but unfortunately it's never as simple as that!

Are there any holidays end May, start June I should be aware of that might complicate things? e.g. Lack of hotel (or bed & breakfast) rooms or more expensive rooms?