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12 days in Spain. Driving Northern route, then flying to Madrid. Help!

We have about 12 days in Spain. After 3 days in Barcelona, we want to travel north and end up in Santiago de Compostela for 2 nights. From there we would fly to Madrid for 3 nights.

What would be the best driving route from Barcelona to San Sebastian?
Would you suggest Andorra? OrJaca on the way to San Sebastian?
And also what do you think of staying in Paradors, when available?

Would you choose to stay right in Madrid and take day trips by train?

Thanks for any suggestions

Maria

Posted by
9363 posts

I have never stayed in a parador because they are way out of my price range, but I understand that they are nice. I'm not sure what you are asking regarding them. If I could afford it, I would stay there, sure. It is certainly possible to stay in Madrid and take day trips by train. There are several easy day trips you can take - Segovia, Toledo, Avila. The trips are short (around 30 minutes) and the trains run frequently.

Posted by
7124 posts

So you say you have a total of 12 nights ...

Barcelona 3 nights. San Sebastian 2 nights. Santiago de Compostela 2 nights. Madrid 3 nights.
That leaves just 2 nights to travel approx 700km.
This would be hard going and rushed but you could do it with stops at Santander and Oviedo.

Perhaps choose San Sebastian OR Santiago de Compostela.

Drive Barcelona - Zaragoza(1) - Burgos(1) - Pamplona(1) - San Sebastian(2) - Bilbao(1), then fly to Madrid.

Fly Barcelona - Oviedo(2), then drive Leon(1) - Monforte de Lemos Parador(1) - Santiago de Compostela(2), then fly to Madrid.

Posted by
11798 posts

The route we drove was Barcelona, Montserrat (for a day stop), night in Zaragosa, day stop at a great castle in Olite, night in Pamplona, night in San Sebastian but then we headed in a different direction (through Vitoria toward Burgos, Valladolid, Zamora, Salamanca, Avila, Segovia, and Toledo).

I chose to skip Andorra. Based on reviews I'd read, it didn't seem like anything I'd want to visit.

Paradors are great. My Father-in-law stayed in paradors when he was in Spain and loved them. We stay in budget lodging. In Spain, we stayed in anything from adequate to nice rooms, probably half were under 50 euro for a double, two-thirds under 65 euros. The most I paid (other than Barcelona and Madrid) was 117 euro for a beautiful room in San Sebastian. Paradors are more like 300 euros.

I personally don't like staying in Madrid and taking day trips out. The advantage of doing it this way is not packing and unpacking. The disadvantage is Madrid is way more expensive than the surrounding towns and cities. Lodging is expensive and not that great (unless your budget is very high). Same for eating, food is expensive and uninspiring (again may be better at the very high end). Madrid is also a new city, it has no charming old center - but does have a world class art gallery, El Prado, and some really nice parks.

I feel it's better to stay outside Madrid unless you plan to spend your day in Madrid. To me it's cheaper, you will have a nicer room, better local food, and warmer people - plus be close to the sights you want to see.

Posted by
3 posts

Just returned from a 10 day driving trip starting in Madrid then following the Camino Frances from just outside Pamplona (Olite) through La Rioja, Burgos, Leon, and on to Santiago de Compostela. We stayed in Paradors in Olite (117 Eu), Santo Domingo de la Calzada (125 Eu), Leon (104 Eu), and Salamanca (111 Eu) on the drive from Santiago back to Madrid. Each was a double room (king or queen size bed) with breakfast included, booked on the Paradores website. They have special rates for travelers over 55 (like us), and we were even upgraded to a suite in Salamanca. For hotels in Madrid avoid Puerta Del Sol unless you want to be awake all night because of the noise (ask how I know this). A good alternative are hotels in Plaza Santa Ana which is right next to Rick's recommendations for a tapas crawl.