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Getting from Barcelona or Madrid to Bayonne in early Oct for Tour of the Basque Country

After enjoying our tour of the best of Spain last year, we have signed up for the October 4 Basque tour this year. However, I’m wondering about how difficult it will be to get to Bayonne. As we wish to start our trip back in Spain visiting Madrid and Barcelona.
While the distance is fairly short, the options to get there don’t seem too convenient or easily managed. Or am I missing something?
I’d appreciate any advice on how people have done this in the past and whether they found it relatively easy or fairly difficult. The thing that I’ve thought of is flying from Barcelona to San Sebastian on Vueling Air and bussing to Bayonne.
Has anyone used Get Transfer (a personal driver service) or something similar for this type of travel?

Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated.

John from Vancouver

Posted by
6662 posts

Do you want to go from Barcelona to Bayonne as fast as possible or do you want to take some detours or make stops along the way.

One suggestion is to take the train via Latour de Carol and Toulouse. The route via Latour de Carol is not fast, but gives you a very scenic trip trough the mountains.

Posted by
564 posts

Here's something to ponder and consider. Fly into Barcelona. Visit Barcelona, then high speed train to Madrid, visit Madrid,
then fly to Biarritz and take a taxi or private service to Bayonne.

We did both the Basque tour and the Best of Spain trip back to back two years ago. Loved both of them.
But we did the Basque trip first. We flew into Biarritz, stayed a couple days in St. Jean du Luz, then took a private shuttle to Bayonne.
After the Basque tour ended in Bilbao, we flew on Vueling to Barcelona a couple days early to visit the coastal region North of Barcelona on our own. We then traveled back to Barcelona and did the Best of Spain tour.

Posted by
6 posts

Thanks to Dlindstrom, Badger and derek for replying to my question and for your helpful ideas.

A question for Badger if you are still looking at this post: is it difficult to make the arrangements for the train along the route you suggested? It sounds interesting and we could plan for the time. Any idea how long the train would take? Are we changing trains very often?

A question for derek: Would you recommend spending a couple of days in St. Jean du Luz? Looking at the map It looks like a pretty setting. Your suggestion of how to organize our transportation makes a lot of sense.


Posted by
566 posts

A question for Badger if you are still looking at this post: is it difficult to make the arrangements for the train along the route you suggested? It sounds interesting and we could plan for the time.

Not Badger, but I looked into this route quite a bit last summer and while it is scenic, you should be very aware it is the slow and relaxed way:

  • From Barcelona to La Tor de Querol (which is the Catalan name and will be the one you see on timetables in Spain) you take Rodalies de Catalunya's R3 line. This is a commuter / regional line so tickets are always the same cost (and there are no assigned seats, etc.) There are typically 4 departures per day and this is about a 3h30m journey.
  • From Latour-de-Carol (which is the French name) to Toulouse is on TER Occitanie regional trains, which also don't require advance purchase (and also do not have assigned seating). This is about a 2h45m journey.
  • From Toulouse to Bayonne, the fastest trains are Intercité trains, which do have assigned seating, do vary in price, and can therefore also sell out. This is about a 3h30m journey.

Note that in particular between the Spanish and French rail systems there is no joint coordination of timetables or ticketing, so you have to look up and purchase each leg individually and manually check that the timetables work for you. Logistically speaking I doubt you can (or would want to) do all three legs in one day -- you'd probably have to overnight in Toulouse.

Note that if this ends up sounding slightly too slow for you, there are high-speed trains from Barcelona to Toulouse, typically from 4h30m-5h, which all involve changing trains in Narbonne (a much bigger place than Latour-de-Carol).

Posted by
6 posts

How kind of you Andrew to jump into this post and provide me with such detailed and helpful information. I really appreciate it!

Posted by
25 posts

I would rent a car from San Sebastián. It is not difficult to drive between cities in Spain and the Basque Country. Don't use the car when you are in big cities because then it gets complicated. Avis Hertz Enterprise Sixt and Dollar have an office in San Sebastián. And the rules for car rental from multinational companies are the same in all countries.

It is 47 minutes and 58 kms by car,+Francia/@43.3991888,-1.8795679,11z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0xd51affe3b68fe15:0xe43ec55994864649!2m2!1d-1.9812313!2d43.318334!1m5!1m1!1s0xd51408b63ded46f:0x9d4bd7d3d9323d5c!2m2!1d-1.4757394!2d43.4933798!3e0?entry=ttu
Have a nice trip.