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Renting a car and driving from Girona to Bilao

First time in Spain, 2nd time renting a car in Europe. We will be finishing a 10 self guided bike tour in Costa Brava and plan to rent a car to drive from that region to Bilao. We fly into Barcelona, but fly home out of Bilao. Thought it better to not back track. I realize we'll pay extra to drop the car off in another city.

Looking for recommendations of highlights to see along the way. I have the Spain guide book, but also love to hear from you for things you thought were the best.

We have 5 full days to explore. Open to staying in one central location and taking day trips out (less packing/unpacking) or maybe 2 nights one location, them moving to another.

Reaching out as i'm in the early stages of planning, so to help me narrow down options as I read through the Spain guide book, hearing from experienced travelers in this regions is appreciated.

Posted by
1962 posts

Before I make some suggestions, may I ask what time of the year you will be making this trip? Some roads through the Pyrenees may still be snowed in, depending on timing.

Posted by
1962 posts

Thank you, then that gives you some options, you won't have to worry about snow lol! I'd recommend these potential routes:

1. Along the Ebro River: goes through the heart of the region of Aragon and the southern Basque country:

Start Girona mid-day
-drive to the market town of Vic (have lunch),
-continue to
Zaragoza (2 nights) - see its Moorish Palace, Roman Ruins, and large Basilica
-continue west to
Olite (1 night) - stay at the castle Parador
-drive on the A-1/A-10 stop at Urbasa-Andia nature park
Vitoria-Gasteiz (2 nights) - stay at the hilltop Casco Viejo
-turn north
End Bilbao


2. Across the Pyrenees: this goes over the "rooftop of Spain" so to speak, dotted with ancient monasteries and castles:

Start Girona early-morning
- drive westwards on the N-260
-stop Besalú for breakfast
-stop at Queralbs take rack-railway up to Val de Núria for a few hrs
-continue on the N-260 until

Vielha (2 nights) - day trip to Vall de Boi (UNESCO Site)
-continue on N-260 to
Jaca (2 nights) - day trip to Loarre Castle
-drive west stop at Sos del Rey Católico
-continue to

Pamplona (1 night) - day trip to Olite Castle
-turn north-west
End Bilbao

I personally would go with option 2, especially considering the weather may be a bit hot with option 1, along the central Ebro area, where Zaragoza is.

Posted by
17636 posts

Yeah, "a bit hot" might be an understatement considering what Zaragoza was like for me.

I'm unclear on whether 5 days is the total length of time between the end of your bike tour and your flight out of Bilbao or you have already set aside an unspecified number of days for the Basque Country.

It's time-consuming to get to San Sebastian and Bilbao, so I would want to see them if flying out of Bilbao.