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Northern or Southern Spain

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Feb 16th, 2016, 02:58 PM
  #1
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Northern or Southern Spain

Hi all,

We will be meeting friends in Madrid right after our stay in Sicily, which we have now shortened to 9 days. They want us to plan a 2 week itinerary in Spain and we are having a tough time choosing between southern and northern Spain.

Both regions look fantastic but there is something about the north that seems so "off-the-beaten-track" and less touristy.

Any advice would be welcome.

Thanks.

Andrea
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Feb 16th, 2016, 03:56 PM
  #2
 
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Since you will have visited Sicily, I would head north, which is much different than the Spanish south or Sicily.

The north is less touristy for Americans. Many people from Madrid and other areas of Spain go to San Sebastian/Donostia or Santander or Gallego coast for the summers. Much of it green as opposed to the arid south with which many associate Spain.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 04:12 PM
  #3
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Hi IMD,

Thanks for the info. In the north, is the sea temperature warm enough for swimming in August?

As well, we keep seeing different information on the weather. Is it warm and sunny during the day or is rain a possibility on any given day.

Andrea
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Feb 16th, 2016, 04:22 PM
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Absolutely. In the north look at the beach towns of Santander and San Sebastian. In Galicia there are many beaches that favorites with the people who live, and one place I particularly like is Islas Cíes.

Among the many talents I lack is weather forecasting, especially 7 months into the future. What sources are you using?
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Feb 16th, 2016, 04:26 PM
  #5
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Hi IMD,

My crystal ball is broken as well but I was hoping to get some information on August weather in general in the north. We are hoping that Augusts are warm and sunny (but not as hot as the south), with not too much rain.

Andrea
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:27 PM
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In August, I would definitely pick the north. Southern Spain will be very hot!

I spent 3 weeks+ in northwestern Spain in August 2013. Think I had 3 rainy/cloudy days when in Santillallana del Mar and driving through the Picos de Europa. Had another rainy day in central Spain at the end of my trip on a day trip to Cuenca.

Here are my pics with captions (play it in slideshow mode too see the full captions) from that trip. It was a fabulous trip. I love, love, love Spain! Have been 3 times and still need another trip or two to see everything I want!

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...n-pictures.cfm
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:41 PM
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Hi; We spent 17 nights north of Madrid in 2014 in late August into September and never had a drop of rain.

One never knows.

The beaches will be lovely, especially in San Sebastian whose beach is a few miles long.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:43 PM
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info; maribelsguides.com
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:47 PM
  #9
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Hi Joannyc,

Have you been to Southern Spain?

We have only spent time in Barcelona and always thought that Southern Spain would be the next area in Spain we would travel to. After looking at your pictures of the north, which are fabulous, we are really leaning towards it. We would not mind the heat of the South, but the North just seems like a special place to visit.

Andrea
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:49 PM
  #10
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Hi Iris,

Where did you spend your 17 days? What did you consider the highlights?

Thanks

Andrea
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Feb 16th, 2016, 06:02 PM
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Hi Airballoon,

Yes, I spent 2+ weeks in southern Spain and absolutely loved it! There is so much to see and it is all wonderful! But, in August it will be very, very hot, hot, hot! I was there in February one year and actually bought a pair of shorts to sit on the beach.

For first timers to Spain (which you are not since you have been to Barcelona), I would highly recommend southern Spain as a starting point. But, unless you can deal with the weather there, I would recommend northern Spain.

Central Spain is another great area but probably will also be hot at that time of year (being on the plain). I visited in July a few years ago but don't really remember the temperatures.

Each area of Spain is different and all are great!

Thanks for the compliment on my pics! Hope you enjoyed them.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 06:14 PM
  #12
 
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I would only do the north in August since the temps in the south are so incredibly awful - the average high is 100 and it can hit 120 degrees at times.

And yes, rain is possible in the north. Since europe is not a desert rain is possible in almost any area at any time (except perhaps southern spain in midsummer). If you are going to be in europe for 3 weeks I would assume you will get at least 3 or 4 days with some rain. I always have.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 06:21 PM
  #13
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I adored Andalusia, but think you might want to defer it until you don't have to go in August.

For great climate info, check the weather underground:
http://www.wunderground.com

I've been to both areas and agree with much of what you've already been told. I thoroughly enjoyed both areas, but think Andalusia quite special, and if you can endure the heat -- and it REALLY does get hot -- then I'd add that 2 weeks is, IMO, just about perfect for that part of the world. And I think you would find it sufficiently different from Sicily to provide quite an interesting contrast.

The major stops in Andalusia are, however, more touristed in general than the major stops in northern Spain, at least IME. San Sebastian / Donostia is the major exception, as it is rather decidedly a resort area.

I visited the north last May and wrote a trip report. I'm not sure if you will find much of value, but feel free to take peak -- just click on my name to find it.

Either way, I recommend the Michelin Green Guide and Rough Guide.

Hope that helps!
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Feb 16th, 2016, 06:29 PM
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After Sicily in high summer you are going to love the relative coolness of N.Spain.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 07:50 PM
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I loved southern Spain but in August, listen to the PP and choose Northern Spain, which is also beautiful and green.

Comparing Sicily to Spain is like comparing California to Mexico, they may look similar in some respects but the culture and food is different.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 08:27 PM
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I really do not remember the weather when I travel. Whatever it is, it could be the average or a freak occurrence. But I do remember the last time I was in Galicia in July because we had to kill the chickens because of an extra hot summer.

If we have learned anything from climate change, whatever it was last year, is no guarantee of what it will be next year.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 10:37 PM
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The climate around San Sebestian is apparently very similar to where I live in the SW corner of Canada. Summer's here are wonderfully temperate, we do usually get some rain, but not everyday, and the first 2 weeks of August are almost guaranteed to be pure sunshine.

We spent 2 weeks in Northern Spain last year, and could easily have spent another month. Many different things to see, eat, and drink. Besides the coastal areas, there are the Picos d'Europa, a beautiful drive, or hike, whatever your choice, the wine regions, the cathedrals in Leon and Burgos, lots of variety.

IMDone you're right about climate change, last summer we had unending sun for months on end, and in the land of rain, we had severe water restrictions.
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Feb 17th, 2016, 01:45 AM
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God those weather sites are handy for nothing. Ask what the weather is in Northern Spain and the reply is it can vary with location, even a few km.
What you need for a hot air balloon is a large selection of flat land to land on. So do not come too far north as the land is very mountainous.
Some websites for you:
http://www.globosarcoiris.com
http://www.ballooning.es
https://es-es.facebook.com/Aventuristas
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Feb 17th, 2016, 02:58 AM
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Spanish and French elites started to come to San Sebastian in great numbers when the city became the Royal summer residence in the late 1800s.

Since then not only the Spanish and French keep coming back to Belle Epoque San Sebastian for the milder summer climate, some of the finest city beaches on the continent, and more lately, for the fantastic food: http://www.euskoguide.com/places-bas...stian-tourism/
"Is San Sebastian the world's greatest city for foodies?"
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/de...y-for-foodies/

The San Sebastian Aste Nagusia/Semana Grande/Big Week is celebrated August 13-20: http://www.euskoguide.com/basque-cul...semana-grande/

San Sebastian is European Capital of Culture 2016. http://dss2016.eu/en/
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Feb 17th, 2016, 03:33 AM
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... and a little intro to the fabulous Basque region in general, there are plenty of great options around San Sebastian also: http://tourism.euskadi.eus/en/
http://www.basquecountry-tourism.com/
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