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Choosing between Logroño, Huesca; Burgos; Salamanca; Oviedo; León, OR...?

Choosing between Logroño, Huesca; Burgos; Salamanca; Oviedo; León, OR...?

Old Mar 5th, 2022, 09:51 AM
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Choosing between Logroño, Huesca; Burgos; Salamanca; Oviedo; León, OR...?

Hello! My husband and I, who are in our early 60's, are wanting to go somewhere in Spain early May for 2 weeks (including travel time from east coast U.S.). We'd love to do a trip with just one or two places to stay, that would be similar in some ways to our week in Ferrara, Italy (where we stayed prior to a week in Venice). We originally started thinking of a more typical southern Spain trip of Sevilla, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda...but it sounds like on that trip, moving around every few days probably makes most sense, and I'm just too tired for that right now (another time, certainly)! I've worked in a large urban hospital these last couple years, and while I don't want a beach vacation, I do want the relaxation that comes with not moving around a lot. Mountain views would be a plus tho' it's not an absolute requirement, as would somewhere to hear local music one or two evenings.
What we loved about our week in Ferrara: being in a place where we didn't feel overwhelmed with tourist sites, and yet there was plenty to see; charming architecture; fun streets to wander down and make discoveries of churches, gardens, etc.; wonderful small restaurants/cafes/shops. Good day trip possibilities too (tho' we only did one day trip during our 6 days there, to Bologna).
Fyi the only part of Spain we've been to before, is Barcelona, where we spent 8 days with a couple very-nearby side trips. We're not sure yet for this trip, whether we want to spend only half our time in a smaller city and the other half in a larger more commonly visited city, or just spend the whole time hunkered down in one smaller city with a couple day trips - so open to recs that include either way of doing it.
It's probably important to say that we consistently tend to be happy spending much more time in any given place, than most people seem to want to spend. For reference, on our Portugal trip to Porto, the Douro Valley, Tomar and Lisbon, while we loved the whole trip, our favorite part was Porto and the Douro Valley.
From early research, some possibilities we're thinking of, are Logroño in La Rioja (too crowded at restaurants because of the popularity of the tapas crawl?); Huesca; Burgos; Salamanca; Oviedo; León. Which would you choose or would you recommend somewhere else entirely?

Tia for any input!
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 11:26 AM
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Nice to see someone else who appreciates Ferrara! (Although I use it as a base for Ravenna as well.)

I would highly recommend Salamanca, which I also loved, although Leon's cathedral is a big draw. For my visit to Salamanca see:

https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...ely-salamanca/
https://mytimetotravel.wordpress.com...rky-salamanca/

There are posts on Burgos and Leon on the same site. It's a very long time since I visited Oviedo, and I haven't been to the other places at all.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 01:09 PM
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An important question: Will you have a car?
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:38 PM
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Thanks, Thursdaysd! I'll look into Salamanca for sure.
And, maybe it was you who was one of the ones who led me to Ferrara! At the time we couldn't walk on hills, so we were giving up our original destinations, and were so happy we ended up there.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:40 PM
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You're right, Maribel that is an important question. We don't want to spend hours and hours in the car, but are willing to rent one if needed. Equally happy, or maybe even a little happier, not to.

Caveat being that we don't drive right after a flight, so we'd need to be able to take public transport upon arrival (or I suppose we could stay one night in whatever city we land in, to get our bearings and sleep).

Last edited by go_laura; Mar 5th, 2022 at 06:06 PM.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 06:28 PM
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If it was me, so glad that Ferrara worked out!
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 06:54 PM
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Since you very, very wisely don't want to rent a car right after a flight, I would actually suggest spending time in exciting Bilbao upon arrival. If you've had a chance to look at this great recent trip report,
Our Basque country fall 2019 trip.

you'll see how pretty and lively Bilbao is, as our Fodorite, Bilbao resident, mikelg, can attest.
Bilbao has an international airport to fly into and out of. While in Bilbao you don't need a car, as you have the Euskotren to reach Gernika in the UNESCO Urdaibai Reserve and beyond (market day in Gernika is Monday), you have the metro to reach pretty beaches of Plenzia and beyond, the Hanging Bridge and Portugalete, and you have the Pesa bus for a day trip to Zarautz and to San Sebastián. I could be very happy based in Bilbao for a week or more.

Then you could pick up a car or take the bus to Logroño and pick up a rental car there for any excursions. For some, you could even depend on the local bus system.
The lively tapas scene in Logroño on Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan is a lot of fun at night (crowds aren't overwhelming), and Logroño has a lovely cathedral, is easy going and friendly, and there are many easy excursions to make from there, not only to wineries in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa wine-producing regions but also for making cultural excursions to visit monasteries, Cistercian abbeys, dolmens, atmospheric medieval villages (Laguardia, Briones, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida), mountain villages (Ezcaray) and the city of Pamplona, also on the Camino de Santiago, is within easy reach (again note the photos in the above trip report of Pamplona's colorful Old Quarter).

Just some suggestions.

While I'm a fan of the all the other cities on your list and I studied in Salamanca, I think that the Basque Country and the Rioja would be very memorable. But expect some rain as Northern Spain, "green Spain", is a rainy area.

Last edited by Maribel; Mar 5th, 2022 at 07:14 PM.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 12:56 AM
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Backing all suggestions by Maribel, of course!
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 05:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Maribel View Post
Since you very, very wisely don't want to rent a car right after a flight, I would actually suggest spending time in exciting Bilbao upon arrival. If you've had a chance to look at this great recent trip report,
Our Basque country fall 2019 trip.

you'll see how pretty and lively Bilbao is, as our Fodorite, Bilbao resident, mikelg, can attest.
Bilbao has an international airport to fly into and out of. While in Bilbao you don't need a car, as you have the Euskotren to reach Gernika in the UNESCO Urdaibai Reserve and beyond (market day in Gernika is Monday), you have the metro to reach pretty beaches of Plenzia and beyond, the Hanging Bridge and Portugalete, and you have the Pesa bus for a day trip to Zarautz and to San Sebastián. I could be very happy based in Bilbao for a week or more.

Then you could pick up a car or take the bus to Logroño and pick up a rental car there for any excursions. For some, you could even depend on the local bus system.
The lively tapas scene in Logroño on Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan is a lot of fun at night (crowds aren't overwhelming), and Logroño has a lovely cathedral, is easy going and friendly, and there are many easy excursions to make from there, not only to wineries in the Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa wine-producing regions but also for making cultural excursions to visit monasteries, Cistercian abbeys, dolmens, atmospheric medieval villages (Laguardia, Briones, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Labastida), mountain villages (Ezcaray) and the city of Pamplona, also on the Camino de Santiago, is within easy reach (again note the photos in the above trip report of Pamplona's colorful Old Quarter).

Just some suggestions.

While I'm a fan of the all the other cities on your list and I studied in Salamanca, I think that the Basque Country and the Rioja would be very memorable. But expect some rain as Northern Spain, "green Spain", is a rainy area.
I echo her comment on Green Spain -- our trip in that area in May was one of the rainiest we have gone on. That said its a lovely area and Bilbao I think is an underrated town. Its great!
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 06:30 AM
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The OP was also originally considering Andalucia, although concerned that the trip would require moving around too much. I don’t see it essential to move around a lot here, and, weather-wise, early May could be beautiful. I’d be very happy to spend most of a trip in Sevilla, with a few day trips included.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 11:11 AM
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Thank you Maribel for your detailed reply, and others for your responses to hers! After reading more, I think I've decided (I say "I think" because I do usually change my mind several times during trip planning before landing on a real decision) not to risk that rainy weather this time around; I'm worn out and while there will be times when some rain doesn't phase me at all, right now I'm just wanting to go somewhere where the odds are very high for sunshine most of my days.

I find myself thinking more about Cadiz now, for that reason, which wasn't even on that original list, and also am back to thinking about mountains more and wanting to figure out which small cities with mountain views would be relatively low-risk for bad weather (no guarantees, I understand!) and be good bases for half or all of the trip. Logroño is still a consideration, sounds like riskier than Cadiz for sure, but not as much as Bilbao.

Many people elsewhere have suggested we go to Seville, but we'd been concerned that it might feel a little too big or too touristy for us; maybe we're wrong? One of the things we loved in Ferrara that I didn't mention, was hearing very little if any English spoken; it just made us feel far, far away.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 03:42 PM
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go_laura,
I completely understand about wanting more sun, especially with what you've been through during this pandemic. So save the Basque Country + Navarra + Rioja for an August or September trip some day.

Now, all you Andalucía lovers, let's talk sunny skies

Which now brings me to another MFNYC terrific trip report with beautiful photos-
Our Andalusian Coast mini road trip in September 2021

How about sunny, friendly and laid back Cádiz, one of the oldest cities in Europe, founded by the Phoenicians, and used as a "stand in" as Havana for many movies?
It has a wonderful sea walk, a Havana-like malecón, several urban beaches, great seafood, lots of lively tapas bars (El Faro, Taberna la Sorpresa and Taberna Casa Manteca) , an excellent Museum of Fine Arts and a very interesting Museum of Archaeology.
From Cádiz you have an excellent network of inexpensive trains (MDs and Cercanías) to take you to Jerez de la Frontera and a fast catamaran to take you over the bay to El Puerto de Santa María.
From Jerez you have a bus that will get you up to one of the most famous white towns, Arcos de la Frontera.
After a stay in Cádiz you could pick up a rental car and explore the lovely and equally laid back Costa de la Luz, its beaches at Zahara de los Atunes and Conil de la Frontera, its Roman ruins on the beach at Baelo Claudia, the gorgeous, pristine, very Moorish-looking white town of Vejer de la Frontera.

With that said, that doesn't solve the village with mountains longing, but for that you would definitely need a rental car the entire time.

Just some thoughts.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 03:57 PM
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So honestly, I'm not even sure anymore how we got here, lol, but our trip has changed into being 6 nights in Madrid and 6 nights somewhere else to be decided, pretty and slower paced within a few-hour ride from Madrid (either by train or bus and we'll rent a car upon arrival, or we'll go somewhere in Madrid to rent a car to drive out). I really did appreciate all your earlier responses, and I'm sure they'll help others out, and even us for some future trip.

And actually, the Logroño part of the earlier responses, may still be relevant here...so if you're willing to hang in there with me, our new questions are, figuring out which neighborhood in Madrid, and which second location. We're not sure yet which we'll do first, stay in Madrid, or get right on a train or bus to go to the slower-paced place first, to get over jet lag and just relax, before heading back to the big city - but I guess that doesn't matter for these questions.

For the Madrid neighborhood question, we're in our early 60s, so while looking forward to enjoying some tapas and live music, and certainly planning to adjust our schedule to eating dinner hours much later than at home, we're also not looking to do late night bar-hopping til 3am. We love being around narrow winding streets, interesting architecture, smaller plazas, enjoy just exploring different neighborhoods and seeing what we find, and a park nearby is always appreciated tho' not required. We definitely like being on a side or back street rather than a main one, and within a 10 minute walk to a choice of restaurants. The Latina neighborhood sounds wonderful from what I've read, but I found myself wondering if given our preferences, we'd be better off staying a little further out from center. Thoughts on that, and which neighborhood to look for a place in? We're fine with taking public transport for getting to any museums or galleries of interest, which is why I haven't mentioned those.

For the second location, I was originally thinking of taking the train to Logroño, having gotten intrigued by Maribel's earlier suggestion of that area, tho' perhaps staying in LaGuardia or somewhere else in the surrounds. We still might well do that, but am also wondering if there's anywhere else with beautiful surroundings that you'd recommend, that's perhaps a little closer to Madrid, maybe within 2 or 3 hours rather than the 4 that's coming up for me when I map it.

Again, thanks for any advice!

Last edited by go_laura; Mar 12th, 2022 at 04:02 PM.
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Old Mar 12th, 2022, 11:08 PM
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I would stay away from some parts of La Latina, as it can get very noisy with hen parties and the like on weekends, and has become increasingly very touristy.

The Literary Quarter, Barrio de las Letras, named for the famous Golden Age writers who lived and wrote there, does have streets that are quiet but yet handy to the Art Triangle. This quarter is colorful and atmospheric and where we stay when we want to spend a great deal of time visiting the art museums. The Plaza Santa Ana at the top of this area does get packed in the evening, but we stayed below there on side streets--Huertas, Lope de Vega, Prado or San Agustin. Boutique hotels to look at here:
Doubletree Hilton Prado (not at all like the US Doubletrees), Room Mate Albs (the Room Mate flagship and far more stylish than the others), Catalonia Las Cortes.

If you want to be in an architecturally beautiful and very upmarket (posh) district, the Recoletos sub barrio of the Barrio de Salamanca, where we stay when we don't need to be so close to museums, and where I used to live, is quiet at night and is home to some of our favorite restaurants. It would be a 20-minute walk from the Prado but one of the city's most beautiful walks.
Here I would look at the Marriott Autograph Palacio del Retiro or the Petit Palace across from Retiro Park Savoy Alfonso XII or the Totem, member of SLH, the Icon Whitney or Jardin de Recoletos, depending on your budget.
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Old Mar 13th, 2022, 12:07 AM
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I preferred Salamanca, which has two cathedrals, over Burgos


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Old Mar 13th, 2022, 12:27 AM
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Any of the Castilla-Leòn capitals could serve as a good base, whether it be beautiful Salamanca with its harmonious sandstone architecture and inviting Plaza Mayor, to explore that province and parts of Extremadura (I studied there) or to walk the walls of Avila, or Burgos with its Gothic cathedral and and other monuments, the village of Covarrubias, Santo Domingo de Silos, Peñarranda de Duero and to explore the El Cid trail.
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Old Mar 13th, 2022, 08:18 AM
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Thank you, Michael and Maribel. Michael, those are beautiful pictures!

Maribel, Barrio de las Letras is now high on my list for where to stay, I really appreciate your taking the time once again to reply. Another area I'm wondering about is Chamberi, any thoughts on that? We're not so into a very upmarket posh district, so think I'll skip the Recoletos. Tho' for what it's worth, a 20-minute walk to the Prado wouldn't phase us in the least.

Also, would any of those smaller village you mention at the end of your post, also be a good potential base, to be relaxing somewhere with beautiful scenery and at same time not have far to go for meals and walking around? We'd have a rental car for that part of the trip, so could drive to other bodegas, monaterios, etc. We're thinking small at this point for that part, rather than another city (beautiful tho' I'm sure they are) like Salamanca or Burgos.

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Old Mar 13th, 2022, 10:22 AM
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What a coincidence that you mentioned Chamberí. I try to keep southeastern Chamberí my secret. It's as pretty and architecturally as elegant as the Barrio de Salamanca, often referred to as the Embassy district, as there are several embassies there. It's a nice, quiet neighborhood.

Chamberí itself is a very wide district, so the part that is most central for touring is the southeastern corner, where the Plaza Colón meets Calle Sagasta. It's just across the Paseo de Recoletos from the Barrio de Salamanca, so a longer walk, about 20 minutes from the Art Triangle. As fas as nearby dining is concerned, there is a great French patisserie, Maison Mellie on Sagasta and a Mallorca for breakfast and for evening tapas, on Calle Orellana, there's Casa Orellana and Cuenllas. Most of our favorite restaurants though, are across the avenue in the Salamanca quarter. But it's not a far walk.

We spent 3 weeks during the past Christmas-NY-Epiphany holidays in Madrid;, and half of our nights were in Chamberí at The Pavilions, and the other half were in the Barrio de las Letras--on purpose.
The Pavilions sits on a super quiet side street next to the extremely well guarded Ministry of Interior, just steps from Plaza Colón. There's the metro there, and plenty of buses going up and down Castellana Boulevard. From The Pavilions we walked everywhere and didn't use public transportation, but we love to walk.
If The Pavilions doesn’t fit the budget, there’s the more moderate One Shot Fortuny just a block away.

How small a village do you prefer? If it's too small then you'll need to drive to dining if you don't want to dine at your inn.
You could use Lerma as your base (there's a Parador there), which is below Burgos, under a 2-hour drive from Madrid. From there you could visit some bodegas in the Ribera del Duero and monasteries.
Or use even more charming, medieval Pedraza (one of the prettiest medieval villages in Spain) as your base to tour the castle-filled Segovia province. We've used both.

Last edited by Maribel; Mar 13th, 2022 at 10:32 AM.
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Old Mar 13th, 2022, 11:50 AM
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Laura,
I just read more carefully your wish to go to a smaller town but.... the ones I've mentioned above, Pedraza and Lerma, although within 2 hours of Madrid, would not be appropriate for 6 nights. Not for 6 but perhaps for 3. They're just too small and don't offer enough variety of dining options for 6 nights. In addition, Pedraza is very sleepy mid-week and comes alive primarily on weekends when Madrid residents come up for day trips or to their weekend homes.

6 nights in a small town would be very limiting. Sorry I didn't notice in my first reply the 6 night idea.

The one place where you might possibly spend 4 nights with a car would be Laguardia in the Rioja Alavesa, the portion of the Rioja wine region in the Basque Alava province, that offers more accommodation options and plenty of dining options either in the town or nearby. Laguardia would work if you want to combine bodega visits with visits to monasteries (San Millán de la Congolla, Cañas, Santa Maria la Real in Nájera), a trip down to the mountain town of Ezcaray, a day trip into Logroño for tapas on Calle Laurel or a day trip to Vitoria.
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Old Mar 16th, 2022, 06:12 PM
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That's very helpful, gracias! (Sorry for the time lags here, busy work and family week). Generally whatever amount of time anyone else is happy with anywhere, we're happy with double it, lol. So I'm going to assume from what you said about all the things one can do from Laguardia as a base, we'd be fine for 5 nights. It looks so beautiful, reminiscent for me of our couple nights in Pinhao, Portugal, where we wished we'd allowed more time (I understand it won't be the same and will have its own kind of beauty, but still it does bring back those memories).

It might now also depend on where we find lodging we're happy about. We were thinking to look for an airbnb type of thing, tho my initial looking might have us reconsider that and go with a parador or hotel or bodega with lodging. I'm insistent on a view, and my husband is rather large so we're needing a queen or king bed rather than double, which always rules a lot of places out. So, armed with our narrowed down choices of areas, my next step is looking for lodging. Honestly, with the state of the world what it is, covid variants lurking, and elderly family members on and off ailing, if we just get to go, I'll be thrilled!
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