Northern or Southern Spain????

Mar 5th, 2008, 06:15 AM
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Northern or Southern Spain????

For those of you who have experienced both areas - which do you recommend for the month of October? We have only 1 week and definitely want to spend 2 days in Barcelona. After Barcelona we will use a rental car to tour through whatever area we decide on.
caroltis is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:26 AM
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It's quite impredictable nowadays..but as a general rule in the north should be raining in October and maybe you can skip that in the south (it should be raining too...but it just doesn't happen! ).
Anyway, if you will be using a rental car and you only have 1 week..the south is too far away. You'd better go north (Barcelona is quite northern in fact, north-east of Spain). Even if you find some rain, it makes much more sense for your trip.
kenderina is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:36 AM
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Go to Barcelona and then take a cheap flight to somewhere like Granada, etc., and rent the car THERE. for budget flights
Dukey is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:38 AM
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Not an easy question. To begin with, Barcelona is technically already in the north. You have 600 kms either way (northern coast or southern Mediterranean coast). The former is less touristy, much greener, landscape is mountainous and full of forests and small beaches, and the latter is much more touristy, sunnier, warmer, and full of large beaches. History is present on both parts.

I live in the Basque country, so Iīd recommend a visit to the green North (but the South and East is also very nice, so toss a coin...)
mikelg is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 06:45 AM
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Northern and Southern Spain are almost like different countries and I loved them both so much - it's hard for me to pick one over the other.

If you want to go south you might consider taking the AVE from Madrid to Sevilla. I'm assuming that still exists as my trip was in 2002. The south is very vibrant and colorful and fun.

But as you will already be rather North and would like to rent a car and explore I can second the Basque country recommendation. It's just beautiful up there. And I imagine it will be a little more quiet up there in October.
laustic is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 08:20 AM
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I tend to be a bit "loosey-goosey" with my planning. that said, here's a thought.

Make plans to go to Barcelona, then rent a car and drive to San Sebastian/Bilbao. However, if while in Barcelona, the weather looks bad in the north, drop that plan and catch a sheap SpanAir flight to Sevilla or Granada. [Sevilla is robably the easiest since you can get the AVE back to Madrid].

Oct is generally offseason in the north so reservations are not a problem. Might be a little tighter in the south but still not too bad.

Actually, i would probably do the trip without a car since you are limited in time. BCN-San Sebastian and BCN-Bilbao are both flyable. Easy 1 hour bus trip between Bilbao and San Sebastian. 1 hour bus trip from SS to Pamplona. 30 min bus trip from SS to Hondarribias. the bus stations in Both Bilbao and SS are located in town and walkable. a car would let you get into the countryside but not surre how lmuch time you might have for that.

Two additional thoughts: No 1: MikelG will not steer you wrong. Take his postings to heart. He found Lekeitio for me!! Number 2: is a travel agency located near Bilbao. They specialize in the north but have gotten me places all over Spain. They are flexible and are not bothered by sudden chages in plan. I would email from an internet cafe and in no time they'd be back with a response.

BTW: The Michelin restaurant ratings came out this weeek and once again San Sebastian has more starred restaurants per capita that Paris.

For my thoughts on the area go to

weber6560 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 08:34 AM
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If you MUST do BCN and have only a week, you do NOT have the choices you think you do. Rain or shine, this is a Northern Spain trip for you. You are done.
Viajero2 is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 09:20 AM
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No one has mentioned this, but I think Costa Brava would be a wonderful option that time of year. We were there in April and had gorgeous weather and loved the area.
artlover is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 12:58 PM
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On second thoughts...and following artloverīs suggestion, one week is not much time and Cataluña (the region all around Barcelona)is well worth a visit. Take two or three days to enjoy Barcelona and then explore either the interior or the coast of this beautiful region. Less hassle, more time to see places, less driving, no planes,...
mikelg is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Ditto to what mikelg and artlover have suggested for you!

If you had 10-12 days, I would suggest moving on west to the Basque Country (flying in and out), which is an area I also dearly love, but with only 7...

I would head up to the northern Costa Brava (Begur area) for a few days then back to Barcelona for my final night before flying home, making this a Catalunya only trip.
Maribel is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 01:29 PM
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Take the North. Go to San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, maybe a quick drive to Pamplona. You won't regret this.
Thomas is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 02:34 PM
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I've taken a 'todo preferente' Talgo Hotel Tren (sleeper) Barcelona to Sevilla, picked up a rental car at Santa Justa station in Sevilla, and toured Andalucia.

Now that the high sped link Madrid - Barcelona is finished, that may not be the best solution.

kenderina gives you some idea of the distances you may be proposing to drive. Spain is about the size of Texas (i.e., a big Country).

I like Thomas' 'stay north' idea but I would extend it beyond Santander to Santillana del mar or to the Picos de Europa.
NEDSIRELAND is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 03:57 PM
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I thank all of you who have responded - your recommendations and suggestions are going to be so helpful in making our decision. I may come back to ask more questions the more "into" the trip planning. Fodor's Forum is awesome!!!!
caroltis is offline  
Mar 5th, 2008, 05:24 PM
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totally agree with Maribel - there so
much to see in and around Barcelona. one week is a very short time for moving around the country .
danon is online now  
Mar 6th, 2008, 03:23 AM
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We just returned from 9 days in Spain, spending 4 on the Costa Brava and 5 in Barcelona with a day trip to Sitges from there. With what will be essentially 6 nights, I'd suggest splitting your time 3 in Costa Brava and 3 in Barcelona since Barcelona is a fabulous city, but you could also split your time 4 and 2 if you're willing to just see Barcelona highlights. I'm hoping to get my act together and post a trip report here soon that I hope you'll find helpful.
JulieVikmanis is offline  
Mar 6th, 2008, 12:33 PM
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Nedsireland is right. Include Santillana del Mar and head west if you have the time. I do not like mountains so I don't know about the Picos. I stayed in town while the bus went up. My wife was a bit shaken by the trip. I don't remember the details.
Thomas is offline  
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