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Barcelona and Beyond: December 2021

Tentatively planning 5-6 adults traveling in late December/over Christmas. Looking at 3-4 nights in Barcelona, then traveling to Southern France, likely spending time in Collioure and/or Carcassonne for another 3-4 nights. We will return to Barcelona to fly home.
Question #1: Rough estimates show car rental is more economical for 5-6 people vs. train tickets. And, it also provides the most flexibility in travel. I've used Renfe and SCNF to estimate train ticket routing/pricing. Am I missing anything? Any restrictions for taking rental car into France from Spain (even though we are returning to Spain)?
Question #2: Weatherwise, historically it looks like we should expect Fahrenheit 50's/highs and 40's/lows, with 'some' rain. We are prepared for this--although hoping that rain does not monopolize the week. Have you traveled to these areas in December? Am I crazy for planning December travels to these areas?
Thanks for your input.

Posted by
2575 posts

1.) Have you travelled to these areas in December?.... I do LIVE there if it helps :)) Not at all, winter in Barcelona is sunny and pleasant (well, warmer than Beaverton in December at the very least). You might catch some rain but our rainy seasons are in mid-April and late September

2.) You CAN travel with a rental to France, I mean, there's no law against that... BUT some rental companies explicitly exclude this in their contracts. Check out the fine print. The important thing in Europe though is not to drop off the rental in a different country, regardless of the fact you can do that (many companies have offices in different countries), it's terribly expensive as they charge heavily for it. But that wouldn't be your case because you're picking up and dropping off in Barcelona, right?

3.) Indeed, a rental for 5-6 will probably be cheaper than a train, AND most importantly, will allow you to move around... you must get lost "on the way to" and visit some of the small quirky towns along the way, such as Pals, Peratallada, Cadaques or Roses, just to name a few (https://en.costabrava.org/).

Enjoy

Posted by
2575 posts

... and for those interested in "things to do" in nature in winter in our shores....

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yvMbJ-SHneo

This is at a stone throw away from Barcelona... just sayin'

Disclaimer: as all "promotional videos" there's a bit of untruth.... one hardly ever gets to ski on his own, LOL!!!!

Posted by
2163 posts

Rough estimates show car rental is more economical for 5-6 people vs.
train tickets. And, it also provides the most flexibility in travel.
I've used Renfe and SCNF to estimate train ticket routing/pricing. Am
I missing anything?

Some people make the mistake of only looking at the cost of renting a car. Don't forget to add the price of fuel, parking and road tolls.

Posted by
166 posts

Thanks Enric! Yes...living there definitely provide expertise in advice. Thank you. And thanks for the additional recommendations. I will definitely check them out. We are planning a stop in Figueres for Dali. Thank you Badger...yes, did take into account additional expenses. I used car rental sites along with viaMichelin to help estimate. Much appreciate your responses.

Posted by
18897 posts

You're going to need some sort of van for that many people. Don't forget you'll need space for all your luggage. Such a vehicle probably won't have an enclosed trunk, right? What are you going to do with your luggage when you make stops, such as in Figureres? Theft from tourists' vehicles is a potential risk.

Posted by
166 posts

acraven...thank you for your questions and thoughts. I did my car rental estimates indeed with a van to hold all of us. We have traveled together before and have opt'd to rent a vehicle from time-to-time. The luggage will fit okay, but the risk of theft is worrisome. Good considerations.

Posted by
3218 posts

Have a great trip. We’ve rented cars in both France and Spain, driven into the other and back again, and never had an issue. As enric stated, check any fine print, or just ask when making the reservation. The other advice is spot on. I will add to try an ensure everyone uses a smaller suitcase so it does all fit.

Posted by
18897 posts

Athough I've never faced the luggage-storage issue myself, this topic comes up fairly often. In an earlier thread someone made what I thought was a good suggestion: Buy a heavy chain and padlock once you reach your destination, then loop the chain through the handles of your suitcases so they cannot be removed from the vehicle one at a time. Mind you, I have no idea how hard it would be to find a store selling lengths of heavy chain!

Posted by
166 posts

Thank you jaimeeelsabio - we'll be sure to check the fine print and/or call them ahead of time. If we do this, it is going to be critical to not have a 'surprise' at the car rental counter! :-)... thanks
acraven...what an interesting idea. We'll give some thought to that or how we might secure it inside the vehicle. Thank you as always.

Posted by
4755 posts

Most times I have rented a car that I have taken into another country before returning it from whence it came, I have been charged an additional daily fee of a few euros.

Who knows what the Covid situation will be in December and if the French border will be open or closed. Have a plan B for just Spain, if required.

Posted by
166 posts

Thanks Jennifer. Yep...multiple plans B--just Spain, C--no travel due to COVID. All TBD, but keeping my dreaming alive! Ha!

Posted by
4 posts

Regarding the lock/cable for the luggage: A bike store/rental shop will sell both. More than one cable/lock can be used to encompass the group. I always bring both, and use on trains too.
Regarding covid testing: Some airports have on site testing and will take appointments several weeks in advance.