We are planning to move forward with our 2.5-week roadtrip through Northern Spain in mid- July. We have been to Barcelona and cities in Andalusia, but we are less familiar with this part of Spain, so we would be grateful for your tips and suggestions. I look forward to delving further into each region / destination, but for now, we would value your thoughts on the overall itinerary for pacing, feasibility, variety, etc. I’m sure one could spend an entire week—or two!—in San Sebastian, but we would like to get a good flavor of the region(s). For us, the two places we would like to visit most are San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela. Our international flights are into and out of Madrid. We are considering a one-way car rental, picking up in Madrid and dropping off in Galicia (at Vigo airport). We would like a mix of cities and villages and a diversity of experiences, though we tend to value places of natural/scenic beauty (both sea and mountains). And good eating, of course—fresh seafood in particular!
Day 1: Arrive into Madrid early morning. Rent a car and drive to Rioja (Where to stay? Parador Santa Domingo La Calzada?)
Day 2: Basque Coast: Hondaribbia?
Day 3: Basque Coast: Hondaribbia?
Day 4: San Sebastian
Day 5: San Sebastian
Day 6: Bilbao (Hotel Gran Bilbao)
Day 7: Santander (or Parador Santillana Gil Blas in Santillana del Mar?)
Day 8: Santander (or Santillana del Mar?)
Day 9: Picos de Europa (Parador Fuentes De?)
Day 10: Picos de Europa
Day 11: Oviedo
Day 12: Oviedo
Day 13: Santiago Compostella (Stay in Parador there?)
Day 14: Santiago Compostella
Day 15: Combarro
Day 16: Return Car in Vigo and fly to Madrid in AM
Day 17: Madrid
Day 18: Madrid
Day 19: International Flight Home
This is a first pass as an itinerary, and we are not wedded to it yet. All thoughts and critiques are welcome. One question I have is how different the Basque region is from Galicia in terms of coastal scenery, food, experiences, etc. I’m sure each region is rich enough to devote the entire 2.5 weeks to, but to the extent they are sufficiently different, we would like to experience both.
I would particularly value suggestions for hotels/lodging in each of these places, and suggestions for places to cut (for redundancy), substitute, or add (for variety and diversity).
Thank you for the consideration of the itinerary and our questions.