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Any one with first hand experience renting a camper van to explore Spain?

We are considering renting a camper van in Barcelona after our self guided bike trip, then driving around Spain, finishing in Bilbao to fly home. Anyone out there with experience renting a camper van (not a car) that can give us any pros/cons?

I've found a company that sounds good, but want to hear from anyone that has experienced the roads / camp grounds/ etc first hand.

Posted by
1040 posts

Ellen, technically your post states "Balboa" so I can understand why Suki wanted to be sure

You might find more info looking at Lonely Planet or Trip Advisor forums, or at forums dedicated to pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago (even though this is not what you are proposing, I imagine there are pilgrims who camp along the way so may have more insight than Rick Steve's average forum participant). My experience of camping in Europe is that campgrounds are well taken care of and have good services and are popular. But we didnt camp in Spain. However, from our three weeks in N. Spain, Id say it would be spectacular for camping (beaches, mountains, green villages), esp. as there are so many routes and pilgrims making their way across the country so lots of potential interest/info. The area between Huesca and Pamplona is beautiful and has camping. And the peninsula between san Sebastian and Bilbao would also be a lovely place for camping, if it exists (the Oma Forest is a really interesting place). And of course the wine country area southwest of Bilbao. Sounds fun

Posted by
2581 posts

I am sorry to be the one spiking your guns but you should be aware that, as a general rule, you can ONLY camp on specifically permitted places. If you're caught camping elsewhere (in nature or a town's street for example), you'll be issued a penalty. Sadly, caravaning is not as popular as say in France or the US, and the authorities are rather restrictive with this activity.

This is not to say there's no caravaning, just that you need to know the restrictions. An important one is to understand the difference between "parking" and "camping": Anyhow, your best bet is always to stop in campings for caravans to avoid misunderstandings, especially not being familiar with the local regulations. There are often disagreements between local authorities and campers on what is parking and what is camping and these are the source of many fines and recourses in court.

To complicate it further, note that Spain has 17 different "autonomias" (sort of "states" in the US), each one with their own legislative branch, therefore, the laws and regulations aren't necessarily the same in each one. Thus, something that is permitted in, say, Basque Country, might no be in Navarra, Aragon or in Catalonia -which are the "states" you're going to be passing by. The common bits though can be read here. Also, note that Basque Country and Catalonia have very similar legislation on this matter.

In short, enjoy your caravaning, but know your restrictions.

Also, if you have the time, while caravaning in my home nation, in CATALONIA, these are two areas I would strongly recommend to visit:

And these are other documents that may come in handy:

Welcome to Catalonia
Catalonia Experience
Map of roads in Catalonia
Routes and getaways

and obviously, the Catalan National Weather Forecast Service: -don't use the English version but the Catalan version and ask Google Translate to translate instead as the information is much richer in this version.


Posted by
1780 posts

Enric, thank you so much for the information. We are actually doing a self guided bike trip in Catalonia though the Costa Brava region. After the bike trip we were trying to decide if we rent a car or camper van to see more of the country after the biking. We have just 5 days after biking to work our way up to Bilbao to fly home (instead of back tracking to Barcelona). I found a company that rents camper vans of different sizes and luxury. We'd like to stop along the way and get more hiking in as well, so camping in a van sounded like a good idea. Your reply helps so much. Have almost a full year to get everything in place, as our holiday is next September.