hello - I am looking into train service from Bordeaux, France to Bilbao and I see it is a 24 hour trip! Yikes. The planned trip is from Bordeaux to northern Spain and then head down to Porto and Lisbon. Is there a quicker way by train to get to northern Spain from Bordeaux without going down to Barcelona? Or is my best bet just renting a car? Many thanks
I'm sure someone will chime in with the details, but there is definitely a faster path through Bayonne, Hayende, Irun. It'll be 2-3 trains, likely separate tickets, and may involve a walk or cab across the border. (But I seem to recall that maybe there's a train across now?)
Returning a car in a different county from where it was wanted is very expensive.
Bilbao to Portugal will best be done flying.
Wherever you are looking is a site you should avoid. The best route is as mentioned via Hendaye. Take a regional train from Bordeaux to Hendaye (or a TGV, but those are fewer and need to be booked in advance) where you change to the Euskotren to San Sebastian/Donostia where you change to another train or a coach to Bilbao.
As easy as TGV or standard train Bordeaux-Hendaye, then cross the platform for the Euskotrain (Basque narrow gauge commuter trains) to Donostia-San Sebastian, and once there I´d take the coach from the bus station (right underneath the train station) to Bilbao, as it saves time (the train ride is very scenic and beautiful but it takes 2.5h as it stops in every town, while the direct bus takes a bit over one hour). Arriving to Intermodal station in Bilbao (my hometown), with quick access to metro, tram or bus to your destination (or on foot).