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Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

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Boston
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Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Hi,

We'll be driving to San Sebastian from the Costa Brava and staying in the SS area for 4-5 days in late August. We'd like to stay in SS but also visit Bilbao, Hondarribia, and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (assuming this will be reopened by then -- are the chances good?).

Is it convenient to have a car for our explorations, or are we better off just returning it and using bus/train to get to nearby sights? (Or we could visit the areas where a car is helpful in our first couple days and then return the car after that...) If we are without car, is there a particularly convenient area to stay in SS? We were going to try to get something by La Concha.

We'll head down to Madrid by bus or train afterwards.

Many thanks!

Vitoria-Gasteiz...
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1. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Returning the car the day you get in SS is a good idea, with the money you will save in car parking fees you can take as many taxis as you need to move arround in the town.(If you have to, because you can do everything just walking and with public trasport).

Boston
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2. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Thanks! What about visiting Bilbao (and perhaps San Juan de Gaztelugatxe) - should we do this our first day while still having the car or is bus just as convenient for those purposes?

Biarritz, France
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3. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Without a car many areas of San Sebastian are convenient. La Concha is very well located for the beach and proximity to the old town.

Malaga, Spain
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4. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

bluephish:

I think that hotels will charge about 18 euros a day for parking.

Cantabria
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5. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Visiting Bilbao without a car is easy if you're happy taking the bus, of which there are plenty. www.termibus.es is Bilbao's bus station website, you'll find times on there. It's equally difficult to park in Bilbao, so you might as well take the bus there, there's great public transport in Bilbao, so you certainly don't need a car to see the sights of the city either (tram, metro, bus).

Vitoria-Gasteiz...
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6. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

For San Juan de Gaztelugatxe you need a car. Definitely. And if you are traveling as a family it will be good as well foro moving from Bilbao to San Sebastian. So you can vist places like Getaria or Zarautz on the way .

Cantabria
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7. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

That's a good point, the fishing villages along that stretch of the Basque coast are very pretty and worth a visit by car certainly. You could do most of them on a day trip from SS if you wanted to too.

Northampton, MA
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8. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

A car is a hindrance. With 4 days in San Sebastian you have barely enough time to enjoy it. You can get to any of these towns (except maybe San Juan) by Euskotren or bus. If you can extend your time at all I would do it. August in San Sebastian is fantastic. Having said that I would not hire a car, if I could justify paying the extraordinarily high rent a car fees and the approx. $25 a night for parking, I would probably do it with two kids.

Boston
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9. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

Thanks for all the comments! The main way we could extend our stay there (and perhaps avoid a car altogether) is to skip our 3 nights in the Costa Brava and come to SS straight from Barcelona (where we start our journey). I understand the two coasts are different -- but how are they different? Is it worth doing both given the limited amount of time we have?

We are from Boston and not far from some beautiful beaches on Cape Cod, so we are not looking so much for a beach vacation but to enjoy and soak up local culture, food, architecture and scenery. I

That being said, we are including beach activities to keep the kids engaged, and we don't want to keep to harried a pace or spend too much time on the road.

Currently we are 4 nights in Barcelona (including one to recover from jetlag and possibly one day trip to visit Montserrat, so really only 2 days in Barcelona itself), 3 nights in Costa Brava (based in Begur, plan to visit Pals, and maybe Peratallada and Besalu), then drive to Bilbao with 1 night stop over in Zaragoza. 1 night in Bilbao (since we'll only be arriving midday from Zaragoza) plus 3 in SS, leaving late afternoon that 4th day.

Would it be better to skip Costa Brava (as difficult as that feels!) and have one extra day in Girona or Zaragoza, and a couple extra days in SS?

Another side question: if we have only one day in Bilbao, is it better to go during Semana Grande or right after? Sounds like it would be very fun to see Semana Grande, but wonder if it will be insanely crowded and not much fun to try to see the Guggenheim etc that we would love to see?

Much appreciate your insights as always!

Bilbao, Spain
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10. Re: Is a car more help or hindrance here in the summer?

My comments on your text:

I understand the two coasts are different -- but how are they different? Is it worth doing both given the limited amount of time we have?

One is the Mediterranean, sunny and calm and warm, the other is the Atlantic, rough, colder, "cloudier". Traditions, way of life, housing, landscape, language...everything changes.

We are from Boston and not far from some beautiful beaches on Cape Cod, so we are not looking so much for a beach vacation but to enjoy and soak up local culture, food, architecture and scenery. I

That being said, we are including beach activities to keep the kids engaged, and we don't want to keep to harried a pace or spend too much time on the road.

Then both Costa Brava and the Basque Coast are an excellent option.

Currently we are 4 nights in Barcelona (including one to recover from jetlag and possibly one day trip to visit Montserrat, so really only 2 days in Barcelona itself), 3 nights in Costa Brava (based in Begur, plan to visit Pals, and maybe Peratallada and Besalu), then drive to Bilbao with 1 night stop over in Zaragoza. 1 night in Bilbao (since we'll only be arriving midday from Zaragoza) plus 3 in SS, leaving late afternoon that 4th day.

Sounds good to me.

Would it be better to skip Costa Brava (as difficult as that feels!) and have one extra day in Girona or Zaragoza, and a couple extra days in SS?

I´ll leave Zaragoza out of the itinerary, probably too hot and not much to see. Add a day in Bilbao.

Another side question: if we have only one day in Bilbao, is it better to go during Semana Grande or right after? Sounds like it would be very fun to see Semana Grande, but wonder if it will be insanely crowded and not much fun to try to see the Guggenheim etc that we would love to see?

You and your family will LOVE the Semana Grande, how fun it is...don´t miss it!!!!!!!!!!!! Safe, fun all day, lots of activities for kids all day round, music, concerts, plays, street animation...

Much appreciate your insights as always!