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Itinerary Help - 10 Days in Barcelona, San Sebastion, & ??

Itinerary Help - 10 Days in Barcelona, San Sebastion, & ??

Dec 28th, 2016, 11:03 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2010
Posts: 18
Itinerary Help - 10 Days in Barcelona, San Sebastion, & ??


I'm in need of your traveling expertise. We are in our 50's and planning our first trip to Spain with our 25 year old daughter in early September, 2017 (before the San Sebastian Film Festival)! We are very excited. I've read many of the wonderful posts and guide books but still have questions. I would love to get your thoughts. Here's what we are thinking of doing.

Leave 1st week of September (we can begin or end our trip in Barcelona)
BARCELONA - 4 nights (Hotel Neri, Jazz, Majestic, Colon).

Any comments about location or quality of these hotels. We would like to be centrally located, easy access to major sites/museums but don't want to be in an ultra busy, touristy, noisy area either.

Do you think 4 days is ample time in Barcelona? Would you recommend any day trips? We won't have a car.

Fly to San Sebastian or Bilboa - What would you recommend?

We are thinking of staying in San Sebastian for 2 or 3 nights, perhaps and Maria Cristina. Any other recommendations for lodging. Also, any recommendations for departing at the end of our trip (fly out of ???). We live in Southern California.

In addition to San Sebastian, we would like to visit Hondarribia, Lekeitio, Getaria, Biarritz and St. Jean de Luz. This is where my confusion comes in. Is this too much to do? How should we break this up and where would be the best place(s) to stay as a base?

Really excited and grateful for your ideas and helps. Any and all input is more than WELCOME.
abbondanza is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 11:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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We were in San Sebastian for 5 days in late September (during the film festival, by the way, and hardly even noticed it was happening), and that seemed like too short a time. We rented an apartment, so can't help with hotels.

We did a daytrip to Bilbao by bus, which was easy and inexpensive. I would much prefer to stay in SS and visit Bilbao than vice versa.

How many days total do you have for this trip? Just the 4 in Barcelona and the 5 in Basque country? If that's it, I doubt you could fit all those wish-list destination in, and no single base, IMO, would work for all of them. After SS we took the train to St-Jean-de-Luz for two days. I love that place and could easily have spent several more there. We didn't visit Biarritz or Bayonne on this trip, but I have been to both and think they are great.

Can't speak to what place to fly home from until you nail down the itinerary, but while you're doing so look into airports you CAN get back to SF from, because it may well be that open-jaw tickets will be best for you.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 11:52 AM
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Thank You StCirq! We can do 10 days in Spain. We aren't planning on visiting Bilbao, just maybe flying in there from a logistics standpoint. We would rather spend time in some of the smaller towns.

Do you think 3 days would be enough to explore SS and then 2 days in St Jean or use those 2 days to see Getaria, Lekeitio, Hondarribia? If we went to St. Jean, would we back track to Bilbao to fly home? Sorry, so many questions. THANK YOU.
abbondanza is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 02:03 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Yes, you could explore San Sebastian in 3 days (just eat as much as you possibly can in those 3 days, because you will never again eat as well). I haven't visited Getaria, though the friends we were staying with in SS did a daytrip there to a famous restaurant for grilled turbot and raved about it (they are a bit more into famous retaurants than we are, but we are spoiled living in France, and I do understand that people go to Getaria for things other than the famous restaurant). Have never been (and must go) to Lekeito or Hondarribia, so can't help there.

I absolutely love St-Jean-de-Luz. It got some rather bad press here on Fodors recently, but I'm not sure why. It's like a miniature San Sebastian, but French. We are actually seriously thinking of moving there when we get too old and creaky to stay in our big old house in the Dordogne.

I wish I knew what your flight options are, but if you're saying that you can fly back home from Bilbao, then yes, it's easy to get from St-Jean-de-Luz to Bilbao by car or train or bus. There is also a farily sizable airport in Biarritz, but I have no idea where you can fly from there.

You're going to love the entire area, no matter how you end up organizing this trip.
StCirq is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 02:38 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 13,651
We flew Vueling to Bilbao and took a bus (in front of the airport ) to
SS. Easy .
3 full days was fine .
From SS we flew back to Barcelona , also Vueling.
The airport is actually in
the municipality of Hondarribia,...took a while ,and 40 euros , for taxi to get there,
danon is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,118
Hi there, Getaria is only a half hour drive west from San Seb, so could easily be a day trip.

Hondaribbia, St Jean de Luz and Biarritz are half hour in between each town, so Biarritz at the far end is only 1 1/2 hours from San Seb. There is also an airport in Biarritz, so check connections from there as well as Bilbao.

We stayed in San Seb for 4 nights, and loved it so much we never did get out to do any daytrips.

If you have an early flight into San Seb, you may find that 3 nights is enough for you there. If you get bored, take the drive to Getaria. Then move up the coast and stay, with the possibility of flying out of Biarritz.

Easy Jet and Air France both fly Biarritz to Paris, and maybe you can connect there. Just a suggestion.
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 04:25 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
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I can tell you I did a similar trip in June of this year and it was the first time I had spent any time in Spain. Rented a car in Barcelona and went to Pamplona, then to San Sabastian and St Jean de Luz in France. From SS we drove to Bilbao then drove the backroads back to SS. This included an outstanding afternoon in Lekeitio. We loved it all. Whatever you decide, you can't go wrong. We had intended to go to Biarritz and Bayonne but just couldn't work it in. For us, Pamplona and San Sabastian would be our first choices with St Jean de Luz right up there. Seriously, the incredible pintxo's (Basque tapas) and fabulous inexpensive wines in Spain is, I have learned, a bucket list experience.
Boolanger is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 05:06 PM
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Three days in Barcelona is perfect. There are a lot of places you can day trip to taking the trains. Cava country, Tarragona, Banyuls (France), Girona, even Valencia.

I spent three days wandering around San Sebastian in 2006. Loved it. Didn't day trip but a friend who grew up nearby recommends San Jeanne de la Luz. And Pamplona. Bus service in those parts is pretty good.
OverIt is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 05:07 PM
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How long to spend anywhere really depends on your interests and preferences. I wanted 5 full (and very busy) days in Barcelona, not counting day trips; I would recommend Montserrat and Girona as day trips, although I was glad to stay a night in each.

When in Basque country, I highly recommend Bilbao. (I would have preferred staying in Bilbao and visiting San Sebastian as a day trip, but I think my preference is unusual.)

kja is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 07:50 PM
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Thank you so very much StCirq, sundriedtopepo, Overit, Boolanger, Danon, kja

Appreciate the input on day trips. I'm already so excited. I loved the comments about "you can't go wrong". I will look into the day trips a little further, both from Barcelona and the French/Spanish Basque Country. We would like to minimize the number of different hotels we stay in. Our preference would be a base in Barcelona with day trips, if time permits and a base in SS with day trips, with a base someplace else? allowing time for St. Jean De Luz, etc. I will research Montserrat and Girona day trips from Barcelona, and Getario, Hondaribbia, and Lekeitio from SS.

I will re-read your comments to help me determine where a car is needed, etc. I'm very excited and anxious. I want to have everything nailed down but I know I need to spend more time studying. I will report back with and updated itinerary and, I'm sure, more questions. Thank you all very much!!!! Here's wishing all of you an amazing new year filled with new adventures, love, peace and.....happiness. If you think of any other tidbits, "I'm listening"
abbondanza is offline  
Dec 28th, 2016, 07:56 PM
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No car needed!
kja is offline  
Dec 30th, 2016, 07:38 PM
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Hello again and HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!!!

Here’s our preliminary itinerary with, of course, questions. Our dates are somewhat flexible but here’s what we are thinking. We would like to avoid renting a car, however, we are open to that if it’s the best option to get from SS to St. Jean and back to Bilbao, etc. Looking forward to your continued expert advice.

Sept 3 Sun - Travel Day from San Francisco to Barcelona (flights TBD)
Sept 4 Mon - Arrive in Barcelona
Sept 5 Tues - Barcelona
Sept 6 Wed - Barcelona
Sept 7 Thurs - Barcelona

Sept 8 Fri - San Sebastian – Fly from Barcelona to Bilbao or SS (TBD based on price & availability). Train or Bus to SS
Sept 9 Sat - San Sebastian

Sept 10 Sun - SS (If we are up for itay trip to Lekeitio, 1 hr by bus? Is this accurate?)

Sept 11 Mon - SS (If we are up for it: day trip to Hondarribia, 30 min by train). Is this accurate?

Sept 12 Tue - St. Jean-de-Luz (If we don’t have a car, what’s the best way to get here?)

Sept 13 Wed - St. Jean-de-Luz (If we are up for it: day trip to Biarritz, if we don’t have a car, what’s the best way to get here?)

Sept 14 Thurs – Depart for San Francisco. Bilbao Airport or ? Not sure if there is a better airport to depart from or best way to get back to Bilbao from St. Jean-de-Luz?

Many, many thanks for all your input so far. I'm so excited. It's going to be very difficult to wait until September.

abbondanza is offline  
Dec 30th, 2016, 07:42 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,380
For your transportation options, check rome2rio.com. It isn't perfectly accurate, so be sure to follow up on an information it offers.
kja is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 06:13 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 76
>In addition to San Sebastian, we would like to visit Hondarribia, Lekeitio, Getaria, Biarritz and St. Jean de Luz.<

I just re-read this thread and was reminded of the pleasant agony I experienced with planning a similar trip. We started by considering Bordeaux to Santander. This was later winnowed down from Biarritz to Santander. Somewhere along the way Pamplona was added and Biarritz and Santander were ejected leaving St. Jean de Luz to Bilbao as our final decision based on time.

After all is said and done, it boils down to something you probably already suspect. The longer you stay in one place, the more you can really experience its idiosyncrasies and more of its essence. On the other hand, the more places you see may reveal an experience you would hate to have missed. For me the primary criterion is determined by whether I think there is a high probability I will return within the next 3 or so years. If I expect to be back, I push it and see as much as I reasonably can and consider my journey somewhat a scouting trip. Otherwise I have learned/am learning that I need to slow down and muzzle that little devil which keeps telling me to see all I can. Things usually take longer than expected and fatigue can some times set in at inopportune times.

Depending on public transportation has always been a problem for me as I prefer having a car and being on my schedule as opposed to someone else's, another issue I am working on (I would rather be a pirate than be in the navy). You probably do not need a car for the itinerary you are considering but if you do decide to do so, make arrangements before leaving home (I have used AutoEurope several times).

With that said, it appears you can visit all you listed but I would consider winnowing it down just a bit more for the time you have allotted. Let us know when you lock things in.
Boolanger is offline  
Jan 14th, 2017, 09:47 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 13,845
Biarritz or San Sebastian(Hondarribia) airports may be options for you.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
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