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I have my tickets to northern Spain!

Old Nov 9th, 2009, 04:39 PM
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I have my tickets to northern Spain!

We were finally able to accrue the 50,000 points each to purchase our tickets to northern Spain. We will fly into Santiago de Compostela on May 7 and departing from Bilbao on the 24th.

I have posted several previous threads trying to develop an itinerary but I am still perplexed. I have been in charge of planning complex auto tours of Provence, Tuscany, and England and was quite successful. Somehow northern Spain has really stumped me. There is such a large area to cover with such an astounding range of experiences! I have become more confused with each book and each web site.

Can anyone give me a list of “must sees” for this large region? We love nature, architecture, museums, and really all aspects of travel. Now that the tickets are purchased it is time to start making the hotel reservations. Any further help would be appreciated.
InMiami is offline  
Old Nov 9th, 2009, 05:09 PM
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Go to, email her from her website and ask for her guides(pdf) of Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria.
Bilbao, San Sebastian and Hondarribia are available on her website. We used these guides to plan our trip to N. Spain. We drove up from Porto Portugal..and stayed in Baiona, Santiago de Compostela, Leon, Ribadasilla, Santillana del Mar(visit S de M but we should have stayed in Comillas),spent the day in Bilbao, stayed in Hondarribia for a week and used it as a basen, and over into France to Pays Basque, St-Jean de Luz and the mountain villages, Ascain, Espellette, Sare.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Old Nov 9th, 2009, 06:55 PM
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At least you are going in the right direction, Santiago to Bilbao, the reverse of the Pilgrims Route.

How long are you planning on being in Galicia?

You might be interested in reading the following newsletter on Maribel's website: Chestnuts, Celts & the Camino (
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 06:59 PM
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That should be

look for "Chestnuts, Celts & the Camino"
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Old Nov 9th, 2009, 07:12 PM
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HappyTrvir, thank you for your suggestion of contacting Maribel for her guides. I knew of the guides presented on her site but I did not know of the existence of these additional guides.
I know I would like to visit Santiago, Lugo, Astorga, Leon, Picos de Europa, Costa Verde including Santillana, San Sebastian, and Bilbao. I have worked out an itinerary which can be viewed in a past thread but I would like to cut down on the number of hotel changes.

Robert, the schedule of flights requires starting the trip in Santiago. I am considering 3 nights in Santiago, 1 in Lugo and 2 in Leon on the way towards the Picos. Again, you can view my initial itinerary by referring to my past threads.
InMiami is offline  
Old Nov 9th, 2009, 11:24 PM
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IN the BAsque country, Bilbao and the Guggenheim, the Hanging Bridge and Getxo area, the wine region of La Rioja with base in Laguardia, San Sebastián. These are the obvious places to see. Then, as it happens in most of northern Spain, there are jewels along the way (Lekeitio, Getaria, Zarautz on the way to SS, Urizaharra and a visit to Santa Maria CAthedral on Vitoria (guided visit to its spectacular reconstruction) on the way to Laguardia, the inland valleys and the great restaurants we offer...
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 12:40 AM
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Reading the link Robert gave about Maribel’s Galicia is a good starting point, even if it is a bit light in places. Yes I know that is controversial, but having lived in Galicia for 6 years I can see that she would not have enough time to visit all the nooks and crannies. And apologises to Robert as I know he is connected with Maribel as the Iberian Traveller. Hopefully the 2 of you can publish something a bit more in depth?

Where are we going wrong, in the past you have been given a lot of suggestions. Including some very good places which are not on the must see list.
We have said that 3 nights in SdC is too much, unless you are taking day trips out of the city. Lugo is less than one hour away and can be done as day trip from SdC.
I would also suggest that you either take the route via Leon or the coastal route, depending on your what takes your fancy. You will not have enough time to do both routes and get a feeling off tranquillity.

For other posters here is the origin plans.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 12:45 AM
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Sorry should add that the PDF has some spelling errors in it !!!
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 01:33 PM
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Mikelg, I saw your suggestions for the towns along the coast west of San Sebastion on another thread and will definitely take that route.

Ribeirasacra, thank you for your continued assistance. Since you live in this area I know you have great firsthand knowledge of the region and I have carefully noted your many suggestions.

The problem with my old itinerary is the constant packing and repacking to travel to the next hotel. Six hotels is a lot ever for this length of trip. I would like to see Santiago, Lugo, Astorga, and Leon in the west. Picos is the next step east and I would definitely enjoy the mountains. It is the next portion, with the Costa Verde, Gijon, Comillas, Santillana and Santander where I am not sure where to base. Also, I live in an Ocean resort. Perhaps instead of spending 3 nights in San Sebastian I should keep the car and go on to Honderribia and costal France. Now that I have to make concrete hotel reservations I am still unsure of exactly how to spend our time.
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Old Nov 10th, 2009, 01:57 PM
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I would definately spend the night in San Sebastian versus Hondarribia. I also live in a beach community but there is just so more to do in San Sebastian. Hondarribia is a must for a daytrip with a quaint old town and some great places for pintxos. I stayed 3 nights once there (versus San Sebastian) and although I had a nice visit there just wasn't as much to keep me occupied. Also, San Sebastian is more central for potential daytrips in the area.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 01:32 AM
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In (if I may call you that?)
I totally agree with you about packing and unpacking. Moving each night also means you will see little of the area.
Ok SdC for 3 nights. Visit somewhere like Lugo and the Costa Morte or Rias Altas for some great cliff-lined coastline. There are other places to see around the city if the high cliffs are not your thing! I can make some other suggestions if need be.
Move on to Astorga/Leon. On the way through see the roman mines as previously suggested. The city of Ponferrada is also worth a stop too. Again there are many many places to visit outside of these cities.
Maybe stop around Llanes as it is sort of central between Leon and Santander. You can easily make trips into the Picos form there. If not maybe head for Cangas de Onis or Potes. Yes you should see Santillana del Mar, although Maribel says it is very touristy. I found it quite, especially after dark when the day-trippers have gone.
Mikelg will help with your trip further as I have only driven through the area on my way to Northern Europe. I now that is an awful admission!
The southern French coast is horrible over priced, so maybe stay in Spain?
What type of establishments are you looking to stay in? ie Good hotels, quaint B&Bs cheap expensive Paradores etc
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 01:36 AM
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Just to chime in here...I'm a little confused with all the mentions of Rioja, San Sebastian, Vitoria, etc. All amazing places but also all beyond the end point of your trip in Bilbao. Sure, you have time to see everything in northern Spain, as long as you don't get out of your car. From the original posting, it seems that what you are looking for you will find in abundance along the journey between SdeC and Bilbao.

I personally think that between the Galician coast around Finisterra, the Rias Baixas, sections of the Camino, the Oscos and Grandas hills, the Picos de Europa, Ribadeo and Oviedo you have a stunning holiday right there.

Scenery, culture, food (both coastal and mountain), beautiful small hotels, all right there. You could drive more to include more places but I think taking time to soak up these places makes more sense.

Leave the Rioja, Vitoria, San Sebastian visits for another trip. An amazing one but quite different to that which you can have this coming May by staying up on the north coast west of Bilbao.

I hope this helps.
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 05:07 AM
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I´d stay in SS. Hondarribia is just a few kms away and easily accessible by car or public transport. From SS is just 100 kms to the west to Bilbao, and one hour and a half to the Rioja area. Or stay in Bilbao (my hometown), just one hour to Santander, Comillas, the west and one hour to SS, Hondarribia and 15 minutes more to France. If you get to the Basque area...

(BTW, InMiami, I´m a local too).
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Old Nov 11th, 2009, 07:09 AM
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I'm totally confused by all of this now.
Egbert is offline  
Old Nov 12th, 2009, 04:54 PM
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What excites about northern Spain is the variety of experience and the range of favorites here on the Forum. Llanes looks like a good choice for a central location for Picos and the northern coast. It is only 45 minutes to Cangas and I will be close enough to tour the shore further west. It also solves the problem of too many hotel changes. Great suggestion!

SS is also looking like good central position for a longer stay and a chance to tour the coast further east and area inland. With these two suggestions I have shaved 2 hotel stays off my itinerary. Thank you!
InMiami is offline  
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