Planning on leaving Barcelona with a rental on May 26 and driving to Navarre, Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Santander, Ovideo, Hiking in Picos de Europe and then drive back to Madrid on June 6. Staying in AirBnB. Is this doable, how are the roads, I'm traveling solo so hopefully is safe.....Any input you can give me would be great!
We have driven in those areas on several trips. Roads are excellent and not terribly crowded. The one negative I recall is that they didn't seem to be well-supplied with services. However, it has been several years, so I may not be remembering correctly. Of course, you can always just exit into a town for food or fuel.
I've driven from San Sebastián to Compostela de Santiago and then to Madrid. I found the roadways to be excellent and services readily available. If you can, stay at the Paradore in the Picos. The drive in through the river-cut valley is amazing and taking the cable car to the top was great. There's also a very nice area related museum on the way in and a multitude of hiking opportunities.
You might want to move this top to the Spain section to get more input.
How are you breaking up your days? Seems ambitious.
I did not have any trouble driving solo in that area, except for one big traffic jam when approaching San Sebastian from Bilbao on the main highway. See also www.viamichelin.com for a good estimate of driving times between each destination. The appendix in the back of Rick's Spain book also summarizes drive times on a map.
Roads for your route are great! If you can, I would spend the night in the Parador in the Picos de Europa. The road in through the gorge is beautiful and there's a wonderful museum explains the area on the road in. The gondola to the top of the mountain is just outside the Parador.