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Good place to relax for several days in Northern Spain in June?

Hello,
I am scheduled for the RS Basque tour for June 2022. I originally was thinking of heading over to Italy (specifically, Lake Como) after the tour for several days to sit and relax while enjoying a lovely lake view, but have decided against that given that this will be our first international trip since the pandemic started and I do not want the added travel time/stress of getting over there from Bilbao. In any case, I’d love to replicate that same sit-around-and-do-nothing idea in Spain.

We’ve been to Madrid before, and likely would fly back to the US from there as there are more options, but I’d like to find a relaxing place to spend several days before heading to Madrid. Should I look for such a place in Bilbao? Or head back to San Sebastián even though the tour will have already gone through there? Or Santander? We will not have a car, so wherever we go needs to be accessible preferably by train or by bus.

Thanks!

Posted by
2291 posts

I would pick a resort along the coast between S. Sebastián and Bilbao. Lekeitio is my favorite but it is not the easiest to reach from Bilbao (main connections are from S. Sebastián). Alternatively Zarautz is very accessible, has a beautiful beahc, and is very close to charming (but touristy) fishing harbor Getaria through a coastal walk path (next to the road, but still beautiful).

Or you could indeed head west. I do not know much about the coastal resorts between Bilbao and Santander. Santander itself is not my favorite city (the center was rebuilt in the 40s-50s), but the Sardinero neighborhood has a beautiful beach and some interesting architecture.

In any case you will need to spend the last night in Madrid.

Posted by
1004 posts

I did the Basque tour a few years ago, and I would suggest going back to San Sabastian, especially if food is a focus for you. I hope to return and linger for a time one of these days.

Posted by
292 posts

Hi Shannon,

there is a saying here "Hasta el 40 de mayo no te quites el sayo" or until the 40th of May (June 9th) don't take off your cape. Usually there are a few nice days at the beginning of the month and then few last days of Spring.

I often get a chuckles when I suggest Logroño or La Rioja. You don't have a car, but you can get to Logroño easily by bus. And from Logroño there are regular bus to the T4 terminal and Madrid proper.

You don't say how many days, but if you are thinking of a several days, you can take a day trip to several places around here. You will have visited Pamplona, but it is only 1hr by bus. The same with Vitoria. And closer to Logroño, you have San Millan, a UNESCO site, Haro with it's wineries, or even Soria which is an 1.5hours from Logroño.

A final challenge I will suggest is to come to Calle Laurel and compare the tapas atmosphere to the ones in Pamplona, Donosti, or Bilbao.

Posted by
3222 posts

If you want to be by water then definitely stay along the north coast. If you want to be a little closer to Madrid, then Burgos might work. It is a larger city, but there are a number of things to see there. For a completely kicked back town then Dave’s suggestion of Logroño might fit your needs. It has no must see sights in the town itself, but there are a number of places nearby worth visiting. It, and much of that area of Spain, is very much overlooked by most tourists.

Posted by
2213 posts

Well San Sebastián is the ultimate belle époque resort town on the north coast, a particular favourite of the Generalissimo for that reason, but too posh for my personal taste.

If it were up to me I'd spend those days in the Picos de Europa mountains, perhaps staying in Cangas de Onís or Potes, with hikes up to the pristine alpine lakes of Covadonga.

Posted by
145 posts

As a Basque local, I back Lekeitio suggestion (but it´s not true that it´s better linked from SS, in fact it´s just the opposite: it has many more bus connections from Bilbao as Donostia-San Sebastian is in another province, on a one hour drive). If weather is good (beach weather is not always an option, this is a very rainy area, as is San Sebastian and the rest of northern Spain), the place is just perfect. Next on my list would be Plentzia, near Bilbao and accesible on the metro (last stop), beautiful relaxing town with two beaches and a very nice river walk. Getxo would also be an excellent place to relax and enjoy food, landscapes and history (the amazing Puente Bizkaia, the beaches, the mansions, the walks on the cliffs, hiking, excellent restaurants and half price than the famed ones in Donostia-San Sebastian, cozy hotels...)

Posted by
2213 posts

Heck, I'll even name the exact hotel I would stay at for my escapade to the Picos de Europa mountains - Hotel del Oso, a charming Cantabrian-style mountain chalet - http://hoteldeloso.es/en/home/

Posted by
3 posts

Thank you for the additional suggestions! I am looking forward to researching these all further this weekend.

Posted by
2291 posts

Hotel del Oso is an excellent shout-out, I had a lovely stay there over a decade ago and the place is still top-notch, it seems.

Posted by
2080 posts

The coast to the west of San Sebastian is gorgeous and the easiest without a car. We did the hike along the coast from Zumaia to Deba, and we did some walks around Elantxobe and Mundaka--superb natural beauty in this area!
I have looked into staying in Urkiola and Gorbeia parks when I get back (one day!), and the driving would be easy.