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Picking up/Dropping Off Cars in Bilbao & SS

Picking up/Dropping Off Cars in Bilbao & SS

Old Jun 17th, 2024, 02:44 AM
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Picking up/Dropping Off Cars in Bilbao & SS

Hi All,

I'm really muddled about which rental car station to pick up the car in Bilbao. And where to drop it off in San Sebastian. I don't have a hotel yet in SS either, would be nice if the rental drop was easy to the SS hotel We've had very frustrating experiences with rental car drop-offs: the rental car stations are often so difficult to find and navigate to-even with a gps! This would be our first time using a consolidator (AutoEurope) for a rental, so all suggestions very welcome...and cautions about specific cars would help-tend to lean toward Hertz or American companies, but am open to knowledgeable suggestions in Bilbao and SS. Suggestions for a pickup in Bilbao where it's easy to get going to Getaria.

For SS, dropping off at a location convenient to coming into the city from Ainhona-with a recommendation for a hotel we can stay for a couple days in the city. Randomly found "Arbaso" can anyone suggest a well located hotel in SS?
Thank you!

Last edited by pepperment; Jun 17th, 2024 at 02:46 AM. Reason: typos
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 04:54 AM
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Both Bilbao and Donostia-San Sebastian are small cities and everything is at hand, distances are not that relevant, so any place will be fine. All hotels are also well located, as our cities are very, very compact.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:01 AM
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As I mentioned in another of your several planning threads, in San Sebastián, the closest rental car pick up to most any of the hotels would be at the bus station. We've picked up our AVIS/BUDGET rentals there and have returned them there (booked through Auto Europe). From the bus station, simply take the short taxi ride to your hotel. No fuss.

The bus station in the Basque language: Donostiako Autobus Geltokia

Have you now decided to stay in San Sebastián?

If you haven the means to stay at the Arbaso in September, do so. It happens to be one of the city's best hotels (and fairly new), sitting across the way from the Cathedral del Buen Pastor smack dab in the center of this lovely, small city.

No, there you will not have sea views because it's not one of the super expensive hotels that sit in front of La Concha beach (De Londres y de Inglaterra, Villa Favorita, Lasala Plaza, Nobu), but it's an excellent place to stay and also to dine in their Narru restaurant, which boasts a Repsol sun.
I do know this hotel, and in fact, we'll be heading to SS soon in July and again in October.

All hotels in the city center would be considered "well located", as the city is very small and extremely walkable, as mikelg, a Basque native, assures you.
Other options could be the Roommate Gorka or the Legazpi Doce Suites both on the Plaza Gipuzkoa, again, smack dab in the city center

The French Basque town is Ainhoa (note spelling).

Last edited by Maribel; Jun 17th, 2024 at 08:41 AM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:39 AM
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Those American brokers are fine but you do know that you are not necessarily getting an American car from them, right?
And also, you are not guaranteed the car of your choice; you can request it but there is a good chance they will give you an "equivalent" car instead....last year I requested an Audi but got a BMW instead, no complaints with that, I just. know how to drive an Audi but it all worked out fine...that was with SIXT.

I used to use Kemwell/Autoeurope consistently but the past few trips we've been very happy with SIXT.

Last edited by ekscrunchy; Jun 17th, 2024 at 09:36 AM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:45 AM
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For a pick up in Bilbao and a drop off in San Sebastián, Auto Europe does not deal in these cities with Sixt.

There is, however, a Sixt location in the Gros quarter or neighborhood of San Sebastián and 3 in Bilbao, including an airport location.

www.sixt.com

And the car you may think you will receive and have requested may not be the model that you actually receive, but that can happen regardless of whether it is booked through Auto Europe, or direct through Hertz, Avis, Sixt or any other rental company.

Last edited by Maribel; Jun 17th, 2024 at 08:53 AM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:07 AM
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Thank you all. I just had a very helpful and well informed agent at AutoEurope work through my booking. Turned out:
  • Today I can book only pick up a car at the airport: not keen about hauling out to an Bilbao airport.
  • No option provided on AE's site to pickup/dropoff at a bus station in Bilbao or Sebastian.
  • Also learned that paying up front (before receiving a confirmed reservation-promised within 24 hours), may result in paying then learning that the only place to pick up the car is at the airport. Besides airports we have used, we have never found airports easy to navigate to a location.
I apologize for repeating all these requests, but our experience over 20 years of int'l travel has shown the car rental pick-up/drop-off can be the most stressful and frustrating, regardless of how much extra time one allots to accomplish the feat.

Thank you again.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:11 AM
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Actually, we find the airport is the very easiest of all locations to reach because on the autoroute you simply will follow the airplane icon that will lead you directly to the airport, without having to enter the city and deal with pedestrianized streets, one way streets, traffic jams, closed streets due to marathons, protests, etc.

You don't need to "haul out" to the Bilbao airport, as the taxi fares are not expensive and the ride is short. In addition, you will have a larger selection of vehicles at airport locations, where there is simply more demand, than in downtown locations.

For us, for over 25+ years, the airport has proven to be the easiest, less stress free of all pick up and drop off for rentals, and actually, the airport locations have the largest selection of rentals, especially if one needs an automatic, or a "luxury" car or a people mover.

However, the airport location for "San Sebastián" is actually in the town of Hondarribia where the airport is located, a 20-minute drive away. But taxis are readily available at the airport to take you directly to your SS hotel. But the taxi fare will run about 40+ euros. I mention this in case you must drop off your rental there instead of at the bus station in the city. There is a very well marked exit for the Hondarribia airport (aireportua in Basque) coming on the autoroute from France.

In addition this airport is tiny, with only one small terminal and virtually impossible to miss. I've flown in here multiple times.

https://www.aena.es/en/san-sebastian.html

Last edited by Maribel; Jun 17th, 2024 at 09:40 AM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:29 AM
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Bilbao airport is really small and has just one terminal, the same one for Departures and Arrivals...cannot be more convenient! A taxi ride there will take 20min max and cost is 35eur aprox.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:33 AM
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Thanks mikelg! Thanks for your reassurance to pepperment that the taxi ride to the airport is not only completely stress-free and quick but also that the airport is so small that it's extremely user-friendly.

We're finally headed to Las Encartaciones soon. The Guía Peñín sponsored a Sala de Catas today in Madrid and we tasted some truly delicious txakolís from the Bodegas Virgen de Lorea in Otxaran-Zalla. A trip long, long overdue to the Torre Loizaga and elsewhere!

Last edited by Maribel; Jun 17th, 2024 at 10:26 AM.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 02:28 PM
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Thank you all...yes its rare one ever gets exactly the car brand one requests. ph
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 02:29 PM
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Perhaps it was just the Croatia location, but the Sixt drop off was a nightmare-for us and the other 30 people waiting in line.Not only were they gruff, but also alot of shenanigans going on with final price and fees. So I avoid them, glad you have had a good experience.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 04:37 PM
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We flew into Bilbao as a diversion from Lisbon which shut down from COVID the day we flew in.
Did not want to drive after 3 flights from the US so took a taxi to our hotel in the city and spent the next day in Bilbao before taking a taxi back to the airport to pick up a car from Sixt which was an Audi A4 station wagon. Good for us as we drive an A8 and Etron. Car rental is right across from the terminal in a parking garage and the airport is not far from the city.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 09:00 PM
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Good to know as I´m leaving for Dubrovnik tomorrow to rent a SIXT car to drive to Mostar, Sarajevo and then Montenegro, returning the car 9 days later. Airport pick-up, hope things have improved!!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 09:09 AM
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These are the advantages I've experienced of an airport pick up, although it may be a bit more expensive (or not), while I ride stress free to the airport, leaving the veteran taxi driver to negotiate swiftly the inner city traffic and deliver me more quickly to the rental car location.
  • A much larger selection of automobiles, much broader choice of cars, especially automatics, if you need one, because the demand for automatics (and people movers) is much greater at an airport location than at a center city location.
  • Much longer opening hours, since many city center locations closed during lunch time at midday, and sometimes they even close on weekends or early on Saturday and don't reopen on Sundays.
  • For the return, there is usually a drop off box for the keys if outside of opening hours (we've experienced that at the Bilbao airport)
  • One can avoid the inner city maze of narrow, one-way streets, pedestrianized streets, streets blocked off because of construction, protests, fiestas, marathons, etc.
  • Picking up at an airport location is easier (better signage) to get directly and quickly out to the autoroute and onto your next location with easier navigation as you get used to the new vehicle.
But this in only my experience with many years of European car rentals. YMMV.

mikelg,
Have a wonderful trip! Sorry we'll miss you this time, but there's always the next!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 09:17 AM
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Agree totally with Maribel which is why we almost always rent a car from the airport in Europe. Exceptions are places like TGV station Avignon
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 10:18 AM
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Hi mjs,
The TGV station outside of the central core of Avignon was also an exception, a very pleasant one, for me. Easy rental and easy exit to our destination, which was Les Baux.

Last edited by Maribel; Jun 18th, 2024 at 10:54 AM.
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