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Fast trip to Espana

Hello, forum!
We are beginning to formulate plans for a week in Spain sometime between Easter and Mother's Day. We are looking to fly in into Barcelona (to see Sagrada Familia and whatever else we can in a couple days) and out of Madrid (been there already). We are primarily interested in seeing some nice stops along the northern coast on the way to the end point of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail (Santiago de Compostela). We have watched several of the DVD's on this area, but they don't seem to hit on the coastal towns. We are thinking about possibly Burgos or Leon on the way back down to Madrid. We have stayed in Segovia before so we want something new. Also want to see the Valley of the Fallen on the way to Madrid. I am not seeing too much on these forums that is positive about Andorra, so we may skip that. San Sebastian, Bilbao (to see Guggenheim only), San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (for our Game of Thrones fan daughter), Cudillero and Santillana del Mar are some of the places that keep popping up in my searches. Any suggestions or comments will be appreciated! Thanks in advance!

Posted by
18741 posts

I haven't been to Andorra recently (have heard the town itself is full of outlets because there's no sales tax), but the Pyrenees are lovely. Don't know about driving conditions at the time of your trip.

Burgos, Leon, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Santiago de Compostela and Santillana del Mar are all worth seeing. I'm one of several who prefer the less touristy Bilbao to San Sebastian.

However, that's a lot of ground to cover and places to stop in if you have only five days. I assume you plan to actually sightsee in Santiago de Compostela.

I traveled back and forth though that general area in 2016, but I was using trains and buses and can't be helpful about the best way to tackle it by car. I plugged several of your potential stopping points in to the routing tool on, and it gave me a driving-time estimate of 22 hours. Those times don't include any stopping, getting lost, traffic delays, looking for parking, etc. The VM estimates are generally considered optimistic.

I omitted Andorra. Passing through there would add about 2-3/4 hours of driving time.

Posted by
3142 posts

As acraven stated, Burgos, Leon, etc. are worth seeing. Even with almost 3 weeks in 2017 we needed to pick and choose where to stop. We had a rental car. Along the northern coast, we stopped in Santillana Del Mar, Zumaia. Getaria, Ribadeo, and Cathedral Beach. Zumaia and Getaria are only a few kilometers from each other. Inland we stopped in Villafranca Del Bierzo, Burgos, Leon, Astorga, Picos de Europa, Cangas de Onis, and Zamora, and along the western coast we stopped at Muxia. On a previous trip we stopped at Cabo Ortegal and Betanzos. When I was in Santiago de Compostela in September the entire interior of the cathedral was undergoing restoration, so other than St. James’ crypt and the statue at the alter, there was little to see. At least the exterior front of the cathedral was scaffolding free. The Valley of the Fallen is good for a couple hours visit. Now that Franco’s body has been moved to another location, maybe it won’t be as controversial. Only about 6 miles from it is San Lorenzo del Escorial. It’s worth a visit once. If driving on the AP6 either to or from Madrid, the cross at the Vally of the Fallen can be seen from about 12 miles away. Finally, once off the interstate type roads and onto the rural roads, expect you’ll be driving between 30-40 mph at most. That because most are only 2-lane, and twists and turns, and you get stuck behind cars, trucks, and tractors. We really didn’t have any trouble finding parking in the small towns.