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Need suggestions for 7 day Itinerary starting in Barcelona

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Apr 11th, 2012, 10:13 AM
  #1
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Need suggestions for 7 day Itinerary starting in Barcelona

Hello

I need help with planning a trip in Barcelona, Costa Brava, Girona and possibly San Sebastian if enough time. My husband and I are mid and late 30's and have 7 days to explore. My thought is to rent a car after a week in Barcelona for a business trip, and drive north to one of the lovely village towns in the Costa Brava for 2-3 nights and continue north to Girona for another 2-3 nights, returning the car in Girona (if possible) and take the train back into Barcelona Thursday evening to catch our flight Friday morning back to New York. We could also skip Girona and head straight to San Sebastian an an option. Not sure all 3 places are doable. I have heard the Costa Brava is simply gorgeous with room for lots of exploring, so not sure if the trip west to San Sebastian is worth it? We are looking for mostly relaxation and not too much driving on this trip, although I understand the distance from Barcelona to Girona is only an hour so that's completely fine! As long as we aren't driving 4-5 hours at a time we are open to anything. Our only request is we stay a minimum of 2 nights regardless. Any hotel recommendations would be appreciated also. Thanks!!

Question: Is the train station close to the Barcelona airport or should we simply drive back to Barcelona and return the car to the airport the morning of our flight, at 10:50am.?

Kind regards,
Melissa
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Apr 11th, 2012, 07:44 PM
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7 days will allow you to visit Barcelona, the Costa Brava and Girona, but it would be a stretch to include any time in San Sebastian-Donostia, it's on the other side of the country.

If you're driving, you should plan on dropping the car off at the airport when you return it.

If you want to visit San Sebastian-Donostia, forget the car and the Costa Brava/Girona and fly.
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Apr 14th, 2012, 08:29 AM
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Hello Robert2533.

Thanks for your response and suggestions. My husband isn't a a fan of a 'driving vacation' and would prefer to stay at just 1 or 2 locations - I've read Begur is nice with lots of restaurants & shopping yet still on the quiet small town villiage side. Also, how is the driving in the area? I think the best bet for us is to find a place that is walking distance to things, including the beach if possible. I have also read about Calella de Palafrugell...any thoughts? Of other recommendations of where to stay in Costa Brava?

*Still considering SB - is it worth it to just skip the CB/Girona? Perhaps then just to stay at one place there for the entire 6 days?
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Apr 14th, 2012, 09:18 AM
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Calella de Palafrugell is very nice and on the quiet side compared for instance to Lloret de Mar (avoid). You could also consider Tossa de Mar - the old village is very pretty.
The roads are excellent but winding if you follow the coast. The stretch between Lloret and Tossa is very scenic.
Other places to vist in the Girona/Figueres area apart from the Dali Museum : Rosas and Empuries (Greek ruins) and the monastery of San Pere de Rodes - Olot and the volcanoes -
Dalis wife castle at Pubol - the medieval village of Pals - La Bisbal (ceramics) - Cadaques and Dali's house -
Girona is charming.
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Apr 14th, 2012, 09:25 AM
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Re car rental. If your plane leaves at 10.50 am, you have to be at the airport by 8.50 at the latest and leave Girona between 6 and 7 am allowing for morning traffic and time to get lost on the way . Add the time needed to drop the car ar at the airport. I would spend the last night at one of the airport hotels but that's just me.
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Apr 14th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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We enjoyed our stay at the parador in Begur, set on a peninsula , walk down a path to the beach.
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Apr 14th, 2012, 04:13 PM
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Hi,
You can click on my name to read my trip report from October 2010. We did a very similar trip. First, we spent 5 nights in Barcelona; then we rented a car for a 3 night/4day roadtrip & drove up the Costa Brava, making stops along the way. We spent the first night in Cadaques, then 2 nights in Girona. When we checked out of our hotel in Girona, we spent the day driving through some of the Pyrenees; stopped in Besalu, Ripoll, Rupit & Vic, then headed back to Barcelona for one more night. Then flew back to the US the next day. We LOVED our trip & I highly recommend it. I give restaurant, hotel & sightseeing details in my report.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 11:48 AM
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Hello, I was excited to see that your trip is somewhat similar to the itinerary that is materializing for my own upcoming vacation to Northern Spain in mid-June. Kwoo, I really appreciated reading your itinerary from 2010-it gave me some more ideas about the finer details of travel in that region.

[Background: We are in our late 20's and planning a 9 day trip in Northern Spain. I speak Spanish but have never been to Spain--or Europe!!]

Point of Entry/Exit: After some debate, we will fly directly into Barcelona from NYC. Our flight (we are on the verge of purchasing) would exit Spain via Bilbao, with a 22 hour layover in Madrid, which would mean we could spend one night there for a "snapshot" of the local flavor, of course.

We would like to spend at least 2 full days/2 nights in Barcelona, definitely taking a biking tour of the city.

Next, we are thinking of renting a car and driving north, stopping in Tossa de Mar, possibly staying over in Girona for the night. However I'm beginning to wonder if Cadaques a "must-see?" to work into this side trip?
*-->*Question about car rental: neither of us has really driven a manual car - are automatic transmission cars even available for rent in this region? This could put a wrench in our plans!**

For the rest of the trip (Days 4- 8) we could really use some help. I think I want to do a little too much! Since we're leaving through Bilbao we need to get up to that region.

Day 4?: I like the idea of continuing the drive from Girona (assuming we CAN rent an automatic) and heading to Queralb in the Pyrenees for a night and for a scenic hike or something. We like outdoorsy excursions. I have heard Vic is a nice stop en route, although Kwoo mentioned stopping in Besalu which sounds quite nice, also.

Day 5 (or Day 4 if above Pyrenee trip is omitted): It seems like it may be impractical to consider driving all the way to San Sebastian but we would need to get over there since our flight leaves from Bilbao. The reasoning was that this would give us an opportunity to stay in the Basque Country. Any suggestions on where we should spend days 6, 7 & 8 and how to get there? i.e. --->Does it make the most sense to drive back down to Barcelona, ditch the car and take a train/fly up to San Sebastian? Are we missing out on Saragosa and Pampolna by taking mass transit? Possibly now I'm just trying to squeeze too much in.

If anyone has any suggestions for Days 4/5-8, prior to taking an afternoon flight from Bilbao to Madrid...please advise!

Which leads me to my final big question about what to do during our layover in Madrid (suggestions for 20 hours in Madrid?!) since we are departing Spain at 10:30a on a Sunday for NYC. Obviously I have no intention of doing any major sight-seeing or cultural immersion with an overnight stay but I would like to optimize the visit.

Thanks so much if you've read this whole post!
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Apr 15th, 2012, 11:55 AM
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Apologies, if I should have just started my own thread on here.. Melissa maybe this isn't so helpful for your own trip but I thought because it was regionally similar I would post as a "reply".
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Apr 16th, 2012, 06:28 AM
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absilver, Why are you flying from Bilbao with a 22-hour layover in Madrid? ARe you also planning on going to Bilbao & San Sebastian? If not, wouldn't it have made more sense to take the train from Barcelona to Madrid, then fly home directly from Madrid? Have you actually made your airline reservations?

I haven't been to San Sebastian, but I know my daughter drove from Barcelona to SS & it takes about 6 hours driving time, I think. Firt you need to find out if you can rent a car with an automatic. If you don't rent a car, I know you can take a train from Barcelona to Girona if you still want to visit Girona. But I think you would need a car to see the Costa Brava.

I also don't think 2 days/2 nights is enough in Barcelona. We were there for 5 nights & didn't see everything.

Unfortunately, I can't help with Basque Country or Madrid because I haven't been there.

I think that with 9 days, you need to decide on Barcelona & Costa Brava OR Barcelona and the Basque Country. I think it is too hectic to do all 3 regions & you won't see much of Barcelona.

YOu will also get more advice if you start your own thread.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 10:18 AM
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Thank you all for your replies! I spent hours last night responding and putting together more details and the entire blog was lost with a sudden power outage! Here's the jist of it.

Pvoyageuse - thanks for your response and I think we will take the advice of returning the car the day before our morning flight and enjoy our last night in barcelona. Would you recommend driving back through the Pyrenees and making stops along the way (we would LOVE to go to a winery if there are any in the region) or we could simply return the car in Girona and take the train back to Barcelona staying close to the airport.

Kwoo - AWESOME trip report! This really helped with getting a sense of a general itinerary and excellent details in between. We will have 7 or possibly 8 full days (with the last day driving back from Girona, or train not sure). Therefore staying a minimum of 2 nights in each spot would be preferred. I am taking your suggestion of driving to TOSSA DE MAR via the toll road, and possibly just staying there for 2 nights, OR in CALLELA PARAFRUGAL - which do you recommend for excellent dining, cute bars, and shopping all within walking distance? I love to stop to take pictures and also soak in each place, and driving another 90 min to CADAQUES on the first day will not be appealing to my husband whatsoever, especially if at night and on windy roads after a few wines or sangria (we learned our lesson during our last trip to Ireland!).

Cadaques or Begur?!?! or both? Not sure? Many people are highly suggesting Begur. Small costal town known for incredible restaurants, nightlife and fashion. I see that driving distance between the 2 towns is about 1.5 hrs, correct? Ah just too many options!? Can you tell I'm getting overwhelmed? We do know we want to spend at least 2 nights in Girona, if not 3 given the time...again we are in our mid/late 30's and even though not looking for 'clubbing' so to speak, a nice lounge/pubs/resturant bars is very appealing (with maybe the possibility of a club given our fancy at the time.) ha

If anyone can simply give me a break down of a day to day itinerary I promise to give a fabulous (and honest) trip report for all future travelers to Barcelona and the Costa Brava! I am leaving Wed 18th for Barcelona where we will have a week there for business/sight seeing and then leave for the CB next Thurs 26th or Friday 27th, returning to Barcelona Thursday May 3rd, and flight back to NY Friday morning.

Thanks for this wonderful sight and all diligent fodie travelers!
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Apr 16th, 2012, 10:19 AM
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Oh and no worries Absilver! Hopefully with a combined forum we can better plan our trips!
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Apr 16th, 2012, 10:48 AM
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Doodled, I think if you drove directly from Barcelona to Cadaques on the toll road, it would only take about 3 hours. However, then you would miss all the beautiful coastal scenerey & towns/villages along the way. It took us a long time to reach Cadaques because we made so many stops along the way and were on smaller roads.

Calella Palafrugell is very pretty but also very small so I don't think you would have lots of shopping & dining opportunities there. (I think it's basically a fishing village.) Hopefully someone else can chime in about this. We only spent about 1/2 to one hour there. S'agaro, where we stopped for lunch, seemed more upscale & bigger. And if memory is correct, I think Tossa de Mar is larger than those two so probably more opportunities/choices for dining & shopping.

When I was planning my trip, I communicated via email with a friend of a friend who stayed in Begur & she loved it. I chose Cadaques based on Isabell's trip report & my Fodors guidebook. Maybe you could stay overnight in both Begur & Cadaques??? We loved Cadaques; it is so pretty & all the restaurants we ate at were delicious. We loved seeing Dali's home & Cap de Creus. We didn't have time for the Sant Pere de Rode monastery or Roses/Figueres. So there is a lot to do in that region. And I think you will love Girona, too.

Also, do a google search for Mirabel's guides. I think I got information there on Costa Brava; she gives brief descriptions of the various towns along the Costa Brava.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 12:15 PM
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If you're flying internationally, you'll find that the first day tends to be a loss. The most you want to drive would be 2 to 3 hours. You can be in Begur in less than 2 hours, and with only 7 days total, I would use it as a based to explore the Costa Brava for at least the first four days.
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Apr 16th, 2012, 01:13 PM
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Doodled : The best wineries are located in the area called Emporda (near Figueres/Girona. Grapes don't grow well in the mountains
http://www.rutesdelviemporda.com
www.catelloperelada.com

Cadaques or Begur? Cadaques is fine if you are not planning to move around. If you want to day trip, bear in mind that the road is very winding and that you'll have to drive it twice. Begur is more accessible.

Shopping : I'd wait until I am in Girona.

Drive through the Pyrenees (I assume from Queralbs??). It is of course doable but it depends on how much time you have left. You could drive to Puigcerda, enter France at Bourg-Madame, drive to Villefranche de Conflent via Mont-Louis (both World heritage fortresses) and continue to Perpignan. It is a long drive but very scenic. From Perpignan to Girona, take the highway.
Or you could drive to Camrodon, cross the French border at the Ares Pass, drive to Arles-sur Tech, Céret (lovely little town) and enter the highway at Le Boulou. Shorter but still winding.
Or go back to Girona via Olot - make a detour to see the cute village of Santa Pau and the strange cliffs of Castelfollit de la Roca
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Apr 16th, 2012, 04:06 PM
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Good luck, doodled! I look forward to reading your trip report to help inform my own upcoming trip in June. It sounds like focusing on the Costa Brava will give you plenty to do without too much driving.
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