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Northern Spain in 6 days?

Hello almighty forum

We will be arriving in Santiago de Compostela on a Sunday morning and plan to stay a couple of nights. Our flight home is the following Saturday from SDC. We REALLY want to go to San Sebastián, Bilbao, and Porto. Is this realistic? If we had to pick and choose, which one? How many nights in each location is ok for such a whirlwind trip?

Thank you!

Posted by
18897 posts

How shall I put this? It would be a big mistake to try to hit all three of those places in the time you have available. Bilbao and San Sebastian are way east of Santiago de Compostela and Porto is south. You plan to spend Sunday and Monday nights in SdeC and you'll need to be back in SdeC on Friday night for your Saturday flight. That only leaves you 3 nights to play with (Tuesday-Wednesday-Thursday). I wouldn't want to travel all the way across northern Spain twice for so little time at my destinations. Among other things, you'd be blasting past (or tolerably near) some very interesting places you could visit with less expenditure of travel time--places like Leon, Oviedo and Burgos.

Porto makes a lot more sense to me with so little time. Even it isn't a piece of cake, because transportation across the border is infrequent. Once across the border there are several interesting options if Porto doesn't keep you fully occupied for your two full days and two partial days: Viana do Castela, Braga and Guimaraes.

Another thought: SdeC is by no means the only attractive place in Galicia. A Coruna on the northern coast is quite nice, and I liked the smaller city of Betanzos as well. On the western coast SW of SdeC are Pontvedra and some small, typically rather touristy, towns like Cambados and Combarra. The Galician countryside is quite attractive, too.

What sort of transportation do you plan to use? There are no super-fast trains in the area you plan to cover--quite the contrary. It's over 10 hours from SdeC to Bilbao by train! ViaMichelin estimates over 6 hours if driving, but that includes no stopping, getting lost, looking for parking, etc. Also no time dealing with the car-rental agency. Either way, that's a lot of time in transit for not many hours at the destination.

What time of year is this trip?

Posted by
2287 posts

In six nights you could combine Santiago de C and Porto, with a car. 2 nights in Porto, 2 nights in Santiago de C, and maybe 2 nights somewhere along the Galicia coast, Baiona for instance.
Bilbao and S Sebastián are far, far away alas.

Posted by
3218 posts

You could do it, but you wouldn’t have time to really experience the places you visit, since you’d be spending a lot of time just getting to places. If you use public transportation, even more time will be used up just getting places. I don’t feel your plans are realistic.

Posted by
1023 posts

Agree with everyone. I wouldn't try to get as far as Bilbao and SS. We were there this summer and loved Santiago de Compostela! I mean, I loved all of Northern Spain, but I was surprised how much SdC stood out for me on the trip. I agree that Galicia was very beautiful and I would like to go back and explore it in more detail. So I would stay in that region and do the road trip between SdC and Porto (I was surprised too at how much Portuguese is spoken in SdC, so maybe brush up. I have Spanish but the Portuguese threw me)

Posted by
1250 posts

Apologies, but I'm not going to give a different answer to the above. With a car you could take in Porto. Alternatively, it would be just about possible to visit Bilbao & San Sebastian (there are flights between SdC and Bilbao airports). But you cannot realistically achieve both without spending much of your holliday just travelling. Personally, I'd stick to visiting Galicia, including the coast, and perhaps a little of Asturias. There is plenty to see just in these regions; especially if you have a car. There is a Rough Guide Snapshot book covering Galicia that might give enough ideas.

However, when are you visiting? It can/will be rainy for parts of the year.