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Romantic coastal town similar to San Sebastian?

Romantic coastal town similar to San Sebastian?

Old Aug 26th, 2012, 11:35 AM
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Romantic coastal town similar to San Sebastian?

My DH and I are planning to rendezvous in Europe mid May, 2013. I will already be in Rome. We will not be renting a car. We enjoy the train, and with the many small, cheap airlines in Europe, we are confident we can get wherever we need to go.

Now we just need to decide our destination! We would like to find a wonderful coastal town where we can spend 5-6 days. We have been to San Sebastian, Spain several times. It is our favorite place. We would love to find another equally charming city. We have also enjoyed St. Jean de Luz and Biarritz , France.

We need the help of you seasoned Fodorites! Here is our wish list:

Easy to get to by train, bus, or smaller airline from a major European city. (DH will be flying in from the US). Ideally it would be great if he could meet me in Rome, but I can fly to meet him if necessary.

Good food, exceptional views.

Prefer not swarming with Americans.

Ideally, an elegant old hotel that isn't ridiculously expensive. (less than 300 Euros would be great).

Warmer rather than colder climate.

Added bonus: Great art.

Any Suggestions?
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 12:10 PM
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I'm not sure if it's as upscale as San Sebastian or Biarritz, but you might consider Cadaques in Spain. It is about a 2.5 hour drive from Barcelona (on the coast, near France) and only an hour or so from Girona (some low-cost airlines fly into Girona, which is worth a visit in itself).

My husband and I spent part of our honeymoon in Cadaques. It preserves elements of a charming fishing village, with an artsy element. Salvador Dali spent time there, and had a home nearby, and other artists were attracted to it. See:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadaqu%C3%A9s

To get there, you have to drive down a narrow, twisty road - and that seems to keep away armies of tour buses (although some still go there). Overall, though, it doesn't feel as over-run by tourists as some areas along that part of the coast.

We stayed at the Hotel Rocamar, which I'd characterize as a 3* with some rooms having 5* views (definitely worth splurging on a room with a seaview). It was moderately priced, but perhaps not as upscale as what you're looking for.

In combination with a day or so in Barcelona and a day trip to Girona, I think Cadaques could make a great getaway.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 12:13 PM
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Oops - One other thing to keep in mind. Depending on the religious calendar, May can be full of public holidays in many European countries like Spain, France and Italy. That can affect the cost of hotels and flights, crowd levels (as locals take long weekends away) and closures for certain attractions. So check the holiday calendars for that month and plan accordingly.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 02:57 PM
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Since you're going to be in Rome, I'd just hop on the train and go south to either Sperlonga or Gaeta, both lovely beach towns. The train doesn't go all the way to Gaeta - you get off at Formia and take a short bus ride. It would be a shame not to have a car to be able to explore all the wonderful sights inland from either place, but both offer plenty to do and see right in town.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 03:06 PM
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It is not San Sebastian, but for food and great art, I like Napoli, and I like this hotel.

http://www.artresortgalleriaumberto.it/

Napoli is only one hour from Rome by train.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 05:11 PM
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From Rome you can travel via Croatia air to Split and then on to Dubrovnik by ferry. Stay in Villa Dubrovnik. Views are terrific. Food is not gourmet but good, fresh seafood.

Consider Positano. Train to Salerno from Rome, then driver or Train to Naples and then driver.

Consider Lake Como as a substitute for the ocean or Mediterranean. Train to Varenna and either stay there at Hotel du Lac or take ferry to Menaggio and stay at either of the grande dame hotels on the water there. Fantastic scenery. Look up to see the mountains from the lake or your pool.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 05:29 PM
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Stresa on Lake Maggiore would be another possibility if you are willing to trade a large lake for a sea/ocean coast. Might need to engage driver between Malpensa and Stresa. Not sure of train connections.

We love Ribadesella on the northern coast of Spain in Asturia but it may be a bit cold in mid-May and not sure how close you can get by train. On that coast Santandar would be another possibility. Larger than others with more options and still has fishing harbor.
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Old Aug 26th, 2012, 08:20 PM
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I too was going to recommend Santander with the beautiful town of Santillani del Mer nearby with a wonderful parador and Altamira II.

I swear there are few swarming, swimmimng, sweaty, swigging Americans but plenty of Madrilenos during the summer.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 08:16 AM
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Your post has really got me going. We love small coastal fishing villages wherever we can find them and we are getting to the point where our travels will probably need to be by train in the not too distant future. Since so many coastal villages are generally accessible only by car, transport requirements may limit opportunities. For now here are some we've enjoyed over the years that you might want to consider:

A coruna on northern coast of spain

Viana do Castelo on east coast of Portugal

Faro on southern coast of Portugal

Cadiz on south east coast of Spain (haven't been there yet, but it's on the list)

Llafranc on Costa Brava--Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure it's only accessible by car and you'd definitely want one there to explore surrounds

Sete on southeast coast of France

Marseille--this one is truly accessible, by plane, train, whatever. I got interested and received some pretty supportive responses to a query I posted here, then couldn't work out easy flights to correspond with other items on the itinerary I was planning, but I think it might really fit your specifications, especially if you're willing to consider a place a bit less refined than San Sebastian. If you decide on it, figure out a way to do a day trip to Cassis, one of the most charming little fishing villages extant. And if you keep going, visit Bandol and Sanary sur Mer.

Menton proved wonderful for us when we did a week long vacation there one year in November. Nice relaxing place where the tourists are British not American.

Camogli--again pretty sure you can get there by train from Genoa and it's up there with Cassis in my book. Small but lovely and you'd probably enjoy the Cennobio de Dogi there. You can travel by boat to several other places along the coast. Alternative stop Santa Margherita Ligure--larger than Camogli but not as cute IMO. Nice grande dame type hotel there too--possibly Miramar or similar name.

Rimini on the west coast of Italy was just too overrun with German tourists and a bit tacky IMO so I can't recommend it.

Once you're in Positano, you can do day trips to Amalfi, Sorrento and Capri by boat (see earlier suggestion)

Taormina on Sicily was a lovely spot though the city is above the water on a hill/mountain so it might not fit your
criteria. The place we really liked right on the water in Sicily was Cefalu (unsure of transport options there)the place where they filmed Cinema Paradiso.

Hope some of these give you food for thought. Happy to answer questions if you see something that intrigues you.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 08:25 AM
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What Julie said---we seem to share many common destinations---and I would add Maratea on the coast south of Salerno.

When I first read this post my first reaction was Camogli.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 08:26 AM
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Cadiz is very nice. And I did not find it to be swarming with tourists. There are some interesting modern art galleries.

The cuisine was excellent.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 10:12 AM
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All of your replies are wonderful and SO appreciated! I am having the best time researching these places! If you think of more, please keep them coming. We may have to plan a trip every year to get through the list!
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 01:49 PM
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It is not clear to me from your post what your "priorities" are. Or maybe I should say, it is not clear to me, from the responses, what to suggest.

You must have a car if you go to Maratea. The food is not particularly good in Stresa or the Lakes in general, and there is no art to enjoy. Taormina does not have good food, and once you are there, it is very hard to see other places without a car. Positano is "swarming with American tourists," does not have true local food. The food is better near Camogli, but not any good wine, and there is not a lot to do there, especially not art (except you can go to Nervi and it has very nice museums).

As for Cadeques, it is interesting for Dali, but it has lots and lots of tourists and you cannot get there without a car.

There is lots and lots of pretty coast in Italy, France and Spain. But you appear to have some very specific likes and dislikes. Maybe you should post again about what is most important to you. If you go to some of these places, the food is 75 percent beneath what you had in San Sebastian, plus many tourists, or you will need to rent a car.

If you don't mind cool weather and a flat seacoast, the Belgian coast has fantastic food, beer and wine and you can get around to beautiful sights with public transportation or a bicycle.
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 02:01 PM
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Maybe if you liked St Jean de Luz you would like the Flanders coast

http://www.foodepedia.co.uk/food-bre..._coast_one.htm

http://www.booking.com/city/be/de-haan.en.html
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Old Aug 27th, 2012, 03:03 PM
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http://www.guardian.co.uk/travel/201...eaches-secrets
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