Northern Spain Itinerary Help Please

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Jul 12th, 2007, 01:24 PM
  #1
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Northern Spain Itinerary Help Please

I'm trying to finalize our September trip to Northern Spain. We will be renting a car. Originally we were going to fly into Barcelona and out of Madrid. Now I’m thinking that it would be silly to drive back to Madrid (we’ve been there) and instead take a morning flight from Santander for an afternoon flight from Madrid to Boston. We have also spent time in the Pico de Europa in a previous trip.

Here’s what I am thinking for 13 nights

Barcelona – 4 nights (Hotel NH Podium)
S’Agaro Costa Brava – 3 nights (Hotel S’Agaro)
Pamplona – 1 night (or skip this and add 1 more night to Santander???) Hotel?
San Sebastian – 3 nights (Hotel?)
Santander – 2 nights (Hotel?)

Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!
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Jul 12th, 2007, 02:13 PM
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What about Santiago de Compostela???
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Jul 12th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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I would love to go to Santiago de Compostela, but I think it's to far for this trip. We decided to do Northern Spain in two parts, and save Galicia for next years trip. We don't like to change hotels more than 4 - 5 times, "slow travelers", and do day trips from our base town.

Also re: Hotels, our price range is 150 - 250 EUR, or more if it's really special. Thanks.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 02:34 PM
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Hi, we just got back from a trip to Northwestern Spain and Santander. Santiago was our favorite city, it is a magical place. It is far from the rest of your itinerary though so it may have to wait for a different trip.
We stayed at the Hotel Bahia in Santander. It has an excellent location with walking distance to the quay, restaurants and shopping. It is not as close to the beach as the Hotel Sardinero. The prettiest hotel is the Hotel Real but it's setting up on a hill makes it less practical. Parking is extremely difficult to find in the city. We have stayed in S'Agaro before and loved it. (don't know anything about the hotel)Pamplona might not be that much fun without the running of the bulls. Instead, if you are driving you might consider a night in the Pyrenees near Angora at Le Seu de 'Urgell for some spectacular mountain views if it is not foggy. Or consider Hondaribbia on the border of France. That's all I can think of for now!
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Jul 12th, 2007, 02:50 PM
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The Nizza is the most favorably positioned 3-star in San Sebastian-Donostia. If you want more stars, go for the equally nicely sited Londres. Less than 3 puts you a bit off the beachfront, but San Sebastian is small and you won't feel too put out.
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Jul 12th, 2007, 03:39 PM
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The parador in Santillana, next to Santander is very nice. See if you can visit Altamira II
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Jul 13th, 2007, 03:16 AM
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I think that Pamplona is interesting only when the bulls running. I'd suggest skip Pamplona and include Bilbao.
Drive on the basque coastal road: Hondarribia, Zarautz, Getaria (superb grilled hake), Mundaka and finally Castro Urdiales in between Bilbao and Santander.
Gernika, the basque sanctuary, was bombed during the Civil War and then Picasso drawed his famous painting now in the Reina Sofia museum in Madrid.
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Jul 13th, 2007, 08:46 AM
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Thanks for the suggestions. Here is what we will do.

Barcelona – 4 nights (Hotel NH Podium)
S’Agaro Costa Brava – 3 nights (Hotel S’Agaro)
San Sebastian – 3 nights (Hotel?)
Santander – 3 nights (Hotel?)

I check Mappy and the drive from S'Agaro to San Sebastian is 400 miles on the moterway. It will be a long drive but will give us more time in the Basque coast. I'll check out the hotel suggestions. Thank you.
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Jul 13th, 2007, 03:36 PM
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El dia de Cantabria is 15 Sep. There are some cultural events that day and almost everything in Santander is closed.

Our last visit to Santander we stayed at Hostal Paris, just behind Casino de Santander and Gran Hotel Sardinero. They also have limited parking available. They are seasonal: closed after 30 Sep, but they're a great location.
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Jul 14th, 2007, 06:18 AM
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Hi,

As was pointed out by Beli, too bad that your trip is not taking you to Santiago, as it is a magical city like he/she says.

I love Santander, have been there several times. First time I stayed at Hotel Hoyuela in Sardinero beach. Although I love Sardinero beach I didn't care for the location. The other times I stayed at Hotel Bahia which I really like. It's very close to the bus and train station so it is very convenient for day trips. It's also close to a lot of restaurants. In the summer that area is very lively as well ( around Plaza Cañadío)
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Jul 17th, 2007, 08:43 AM
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Thank you for all of the thoughtful replies. I have read on the boards that Santillana del Mar is a nicer location than actually staying in Santander. We don't mind spending 200 EUR+, but would like a great location with great local restaurants within walking distance. We will have a car so we will go to the caves of Altamira.

We will have to save Santiago de Compostela for next year and do Northern Spain part 2. Thanks again.
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Jul 17th, 2007, 11:41 AM
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easygoer,

Santander and Santillana, although very close, are completly different. Santander is a city which happens to have a beautiful bay and beach. Lots of restaurants, stores, etc.

Santillana is a well preserved medieval town, quaint, but you can see it in a few hours. I went as a daytrip from Santander ( is approx. 30 minutes from Santander). If you stay there I recommend the Parador.

It all depends what you are looking for, no right or wrong answers here.

Have a great trip!
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Jul 17th, 2007, 07:25 PM
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Thanks cruiseluv, your info was very helpful. We will stay in Santander. We love the local/city style. Walking to restaurants is great too.
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Jul 17th, 2007, 07:41 PM
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easygoer,

I think you'll enjoy it. Did you decide on a hotel? Depending where you are staying, I'll be happy to give you some names of restaurants if they are close.
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Jul 18th, 2007, 07:30 AM
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cruiseluv, I just started looking into hotels for Santander and San Sebastian. Is there a hotel in Santander with a view of the Bay in a good location that you would recommend? We're both 50ish and have never been to Northern Spain and don't mind spending more than usual for an upscale (not 500 EUR a night) hotel. I'd love to get your restaurant suggestions no matter where we stay. Thanks.
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Jul 18th, 2007, 08:14 AM
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Hi easygoer,

In Santander I have stayed twice at Hotel Bahía, part of Grupo sardinero of hotels. Website is:

www.gruposardinero.com

Don't worry, you can get a very nice room for nothing close to 500 Euros! LOL! It is a very nice 4 stars hotel, right in front of the Bay and of the cathedral. Their rooms are very good size. Last year we had a great corner room with floor to ceiling windows, facing the bay. It is a couple of blocks from train station and bus station. Sardinero beach is approx 20-30 minutes walking, or you can take bus there. I prefer this location to staying at Sardinero as I found there are more restaurants, stores, etc.

Regarding the restaurants, let me find my notes and I'll post back with some names/addresses.
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Jul 18th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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easygoer,

I found my notes. All these places are walking distance from Hotel Bahía, a few blocks away:

Mesón Goya
Mesón Rampalay
Bodega Cigaleña

These are all near each other, on Daoiz and Velarde street, by Plaza Cañadio.

Also Restaurante Cañadio , on Gomez Oreña 15, behind Plaza Cañadio. Bodega del Riojano, Río de la Pila 5

For a churros breakfast go to Cafeteria Aliva. I can't recall the exact street, but is in the same area as Plaza Cañadio. I'm sure the hotel will know the address.

Just thinking about it makes me want to be there!
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Jul 18th, 2007, 04:13 PM
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I just sent my credit card info to Hotel Bahia. Thanks cruiseluv, the hotel looks fabulous.

I'm still up in the air about San Sebastian. I went to Trip Advisor (I know, it can make you crazy), but it seems that the hotels suggested with a sea view in town, are in need of repairs i.e. Abba Londres & Nizza. Also I don't like that the Nizza will not guarantee a sea view room. Maria Cristina seems a bit too high end for us.

Any suggestions for hotels in San Sebastian will be appreciated (150 – 200 EUR). That will finalize our plan for our first trip to Northern Spain.

Then I get to read all of your reviews about restaurants and start copy and pasting them to take along. Yippy!

Here’s the almost final itinerary:

Boston/Madrid/Barcelona – 4 nights Hotel NH Podium

Rent car
S’Agaro Costa Brava – 3 nights Hotel S’Agaro

Fly from Barcelona to San Sebastian
Rent car
San Sebastian – 3 nights (Hotel?)

Santander – 3 nights Hotel Bahia

Fly from Santander/Madrid/Boston

Thanks so much for your help.
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Jul 18th, 2007, 08:22 PM
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easygoer,

I haven't been to San Sebastian yet. Maybe others will chime in.

I am surprised to read the comments aboyt the Londres and Inglaterra hotel . I was supposed to stay there 2 years ago, but had to change plans. Have you considered staying in Hondarribia? The Parador there is supposed to be very nice.
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Jul 18th, 2007, 08:44 PM
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cruiseluv,

We would prefer to stay in town, San Sebastian, just to be able to walk out the door and experience the city. Last time in Spain and Portugal we had great luck with Paradors/Pousadas. I think the excitement of being in the Basque Capitol and the people and of course the food will be what we are looking for.

We actually love old “Bella” hotels and perhaps the Abba Londres de Inglaterra will be great. I did see reviews about Villa Soro, too far out of the action for this trip. Hotel Tryp Orly showed up on Yahoo or somewhere similar. It seems interesting.

Thank you so much for making our itinerary a reality.
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