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Northern Spain June/July Book ahead?

After the first three weeks of June 2020 in Madrid, we want to get a car and make our way through Asturias, Cantabria, and Basque country, starting around June 21 and ending in Bilboa around July 10. We are thinking we would spends nights in Leon, Ponferrada, Oviedo, Llanes (or some other spot allowing us to see the Picos), Bilboa, and someplace perhaps a bit beyond . We have a flight to catch in Bilboa on July 12. The question is: we'd like the freedom to go with the weather, change our minds about which towns to stay in, and in general keep it loose. Is that a bad idea for that time of the year? We've never been up north and I don't know how inundated it will be with tourists, like other places in Spain (and all of Europe, for that matter). So, to book all accommodations ahead of time, or not? Opinions?

Posted by
3536 posts

Book ahead for sure. June and July is peak travel season.

Posted by
951 posts

Well, I think you can always find somewhere to stay, if you are flexible on price and exact location. It depends on how many of you there are. 2? Easier. Also, larger towns will have more availability than smaller (but again, prices will go way up if you play it by ear), so Bilbao and Leon will have more than Llanes, foe example. If you are flexible about where exactly you stay, you could find some real gems that require driving a little outside the place you are visiting. We were looking to see and stay in Cudillero but ended up about 20 minutes west in Cadavedo in the most wonderful b&b in a hidden gem of a village with a lovely small beach. I found Llanes not that inspiring. There are many sweet villages along that part of the coast though and if you are not so concerned with where exactly you stay, you will likely find somewhere. So in short, I think you can probably find places to stay on the go but they will cost more and may be located outside of the exact place you are visiting

Posted by
5641 posts

We were in the places you list in June. You need to book hotels ahead, popular time of year.

Posted by
2664 posts

When we visited that area of Spain, we had a pretty set itinerary, so we made reservations ahead of time. As someone else stated, you’re heading there in prime tourist season. In Oviedo, Bilbao, and Leon, you could probably get by without reservations since they are larger cities. The lodging might not be your first choice, but there would be something. A smaller town like Ponferrada with fewer lodging options might require reservations. It’s also on the Camino de Santiago so pilgrims will also be fighting for the same lodgings. On our trip, rather than staying in Ponferrada, we stayed in nearby Villafranca Del Bierzo. The Picos de Europa is very popular with outdoors enthusiasts, so finding a place real close, without a reservation, might be difficult. Llanes isn’t terribly far away, but if coming from Oviedo, I’d also look at Cangas de Onis or Ribadesella. If going without reservations, I begin looking for lodging earlier in the day. If you wait until later, you may be out of luck.

Posted by
16770 posts

In the Picos de Europa area I want to put in a good word for the extremely picturesque old stone town of Potes. I was carless and only able to see it on a bus tour. I would have liked to spend the night there. It is popular and touristy, however.