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Barcelona & Basque Country with a side trip to La Rioja

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Apr 11th, 2014, 06:13 PM
  #1
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Barcelona & Basque Country with a side trip to La Rioja

Have tickets booked for 11 days to Spain at the end of August and would love some help with the itinerary. We are in our early 30's and have been to Barcelona previously but never to Basque Country or La Rioja. Here is what I am thinking:

Day 1-Arrive at 7pm in Barcelona
Day 2,3,4 - Barcelona (hotel-TBD)
Day 5 - drive to La Rioja, wine tasting (hotel-Marques de Riscal)
Day 6 - drive to San Sebastian, relaxing day (hotel-Maria Cristina)
Day 7,8,9 - explore Spanish Basque Country (hotel-Maria Cristina)
Day 10 - Biarritz and French Basque Country (hotel-TBD)
Day 11 - Half day in Biarritz, drive down to Madrid (hotel-TBD)
Day 12 - AM flight out of Barajas

How does this sound? Should I kill La Rioja and add another day to Basque Country?

Thanks!
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Apr 11th, 2014, 07:39 PM
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If you want to spend time in the Pays Basque (Biarritz) and then drive to Madrid, I would look at doing Biarritz from Barcelona since you will have a car. After Biarritz you can stay in San Sebastian-Donostia for three nights before driving to the Rioja for a little wine touring. From the Rioja it's a 4+ hour drive to Madrid.

Barcelona - 4 nights
Biarritz - 2 nights in the Pays Basque
San Sebastian-Donostia - 3 nights in the País Vasco
Rioja - 1 night in the Alavesa
Madrid - 1 night - catch your flight out the next morning.
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Apr 12th, 2014, 09:58 AM
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I might cut out some nights in Barcelona. August in Basque country is quite pleasant.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 05:56 AM
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should I even bother with Rioja? I feel like 3 days in Donostia is not enough?
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Apr 13th, 2014, 07:50 AM
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No, I wouldn't miss the Rioja, Alta or Alavesa. The area is beautiful and there are some excellent restaurants.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 08:08 AM
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Just remember that it tends to be warm in the Rioja in August.
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Apr 13th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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I don´t really understand how popular Biarritz is. Not a bad place, undoubtedly, but not that much to see and do (unless you stay on the Hotel du Palais). I think Baionne (Baiona) is much more interesting and rich in sights.
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Apr 14th, 2014, 11:31 AM
  #8
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Ok, so here is an update, apparently when you book 4 nights on points at Maria Cristina, the 5th night is free. So I cut one night out of Barcelona. Now itinerary looks like this:

So now the question is, do I go Barcelona>>Rioja>>San Seb>>Biarritz>>Madrid

or

Barcelona>>Biarritz>>San Seb>>Rioja>>Madrid

or, do I not even need to stay in Rioja and just day trip from San Sebastian?
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Apr 14th, 2014, 11:41 AM
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Is it better to stay in Bayonne instead of Biarritz?
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Apr 14th, 2014, 02:03 PM
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The Rioja is 2-1/2 hours from San Sebastian. Not really a good day trip.

I would stay in St-Jean-de-Luz. Bayonne is nice enough, but we like St-Jean a little better.
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Apr 14th, 2014, 02:49 PM
  #11
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thanks Robert2533!
Now, the last thing to do is figure out the order. doing Rioja last wouldn't be very convenient because I do not want to do wine tasting before a 4-5hr drive to Madrid so I think we will have to do Rioja first from Barcelona. After that Biarritz and then San Sebastian.
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Apr 14th, 2014, 03:32 PM
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If you stay one night in the Rioja before driving to Madrid, it's shouldn't be an issue, but doing it first is fine. The drive up to the Biarritz would take you about 3-1/2 to 4 hours, depending on the route. You might want to head into the Basque country over the pass at Roncesvalles and come in from the east. It avoids the truck traffic at the border/toll station at Irun-Hendaye.

Another route you could take would take you up to France following the 121B to Ainhoa.

A third route to avoid the truck traffic and toll booth is to take the turnoff at Bera/Vera, following the NA-4410, the smugglers route, to Sare and St-Peé, then into Biarritz on the back road.
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Apr 15th, 2014, 02:01 AM
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I agree with Robert. St Jean de Luz or Bayonne instead of Biarritz. Livelier, nicer, more things to do and see.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 11:50 AM
  #14
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so based on logistics, I decided the following route:

Day 1-3: Barcelona
Day 4: BCN>>LaRioja, wine tasting, staying at Marques de Riscal
Day 5: LaRIoja>>SanSebastian, beach
Day 6-9: San Sebastian, Bilbao, Getaria
Day 10: SS>>Biarritz to StJeandeLuz
Day 11: half day in above and then drive to madrid for evening arrival
Day 12: early flight home
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Apr 25th, 2014, 12:57 PM
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I'd fly from San Sebastian or Bilbao to Madrid before making that long drive.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 01:06 PM
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flights are $250-300. not worth it I think?
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Apr 25th, 2014, 01:43 PM
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I also did a very similar trip last June. Other day trip options from SS are hondarribia and hendaye
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Apr 25th, 2014, 01:45 PM
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and yes Rioja can get very hot. Last June SS was pleasant high 20s, two days in Logrono was almost 40. In Logrono you must eat at Asador El Tahiti. Great food, wine and the restaurant is run by a family with the brothers at the front of the house.
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Apr 25th, 2014, 02:23 PM
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Iberia has flights from Bilbao to Madrid as low as €86 in August. Sometimes it's cheaper to buy a round-trip tickets and toss the return, as it is in this case.
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Apr 26th, 2014, 06:01 AM
  #20
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the other problem with flying to Madrid from SS is that my flight to NY from Madrid is at 10am and there are no flights that will get me to Barajas with enough time to catch the connection, so regardless of how I go, I'd need to spend the night in Madrid.
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