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Old 14th January 2010, 01:13 PM   #1
kenpeace
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Default North of Spain recommendations

Esteemed forum friends,

It is time to think about my summer holiday for 2010. Back in 2008 I had a lovely trip to Galicia so I am thinking this year about elsewhere in Northern Spain.

I have always had a desire to visit Asturias - I don't know where this came from - just one of those things. So I think that Gijón and Oviedo will be on the list.

I am thinking about 7-10 days, probably with a car and probably arriving in Madrid and driving North.

What are the must see places in the north? I hear that San Sebastian is lovely.

Where, if anywhere, should I visit on the drive north from Madrid?

Anyone got some recommendations on accomodation etc. Once I have an itinery I will be able to research some more but right now I am looking for some assistance to research an itinery.

That's it. Thanks...
Ken
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Old 14th January 2010, 04:16 PM   #2
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If you like going to the beach, you can find good ones in Asturias and Cantabria if the weather is good. If you like cities, Oviedo and Gijon are quite nice, but also Santander and San Sebastian. For mountains, trekking and the like, go to Picos the Europa, either from Asturias or from Cantabria.

But knowing what you like, this and/or this may be of interest to you. And even this

Last edited by Pippa; 14th January 2010 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 14th January 2010, 07:23 PM   #3
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Why not take the overnight car ferry from Plymouth/Portsmouth to Santander/Bilbao- a great relaxing way to start a holiday and lands you exactly where you want to explore.

As for suggestions- as this year is "Xacabeo", Santiago de Compostela is a must, or you will have to wait another 10 years for the opportunity (just like Oberammergau Passion Plays)! Loads of interesting places along the north coast such as the Altamira caves, great beaches etc. If you want some culture, drive over the mountains to Burgos and do the "El Cid" route.
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Old 14th January 2010, 07:47 PM   #4
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As I've mentioned before in this forum, I lived in Gijón for 5 years and wholeheartedly recommend it for quality of food, variety of things to do in the immediate surroundings and friendliness of people.

I also recommend the Somiedo national park. Less crowded and visited than Covadonga, but just as magnificent and a chance to breathe fantastic mountain air.

So much more apart from what I've mentioned above...I'd be only too pleased to advise further if needed.
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Old 14th January 2010, 08:14 PM   #5
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As I've mentioned before in this forum, I lived in Gijón for 5 years and wholeheartedly recommend it for quality of food, variety of things to do in the immediate surroundings and friendliness of people.

I also recommend the Somiedo national park. Less crowded and visited than Covadonga, but just as magnificent and a chance to breathe fantastic mountain air.
Somiedo is not a national park. But a parque natural. Something declared by Asturias, not by the national government. But that doesn't change its pleasing mix of the natural and the humanized. Redes, another parque natural not far W of Picos de Europa, is also nice for just the reasons you advanced for Somiedo--mountains and forests, but far lighter visitation than P de E.
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Old 14th January 2010, 08:17 PM   #6
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Somiedo is not a national park. But a parque natural. Something declared by Asturias, not by the national government. But that doesn't change its pleasing mix of the natural and the humanized. Redes, another parque natural not far W of Picos de Europa, is also nice for just the reasons you advanced for Somiedo--mountains and forests, but far lighter visitation than P de E.
Thanks - I stand corrected. And Redes is indeed another place worth visiting.
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Old 14th January 2010, 10:59 PM   #7
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If you do decide to start off in Madrid then you could stop off in León on the way up. The cathedral has some impressive stained glass and the centre is pleasant to wander around. It's not that big and, surprisingly for a Spanish city, it hardly has any high-rise anywhere (from what I recall).

Another option is to stop off at Salamanca, which is slightly further out of the way but has more to offer.
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Old 14th January 2010, 10:59 PM   #8
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As for suggestions- as this year is "Xacabeo", Santiago de Compostela is a must, or you will have to wait another 10 years for the opportunity (just like Oberammergau Passion Plays)! Loads of interesting places along the north coast such as the Altamira caves, great beaches etc. If you want some culture, drive over the mountains to Burgos and do the "El Cid" route.
Unfortunately you can't see the large Altamira cave anymore, but they have made a museum with a reproduction of the ceiling. The problem is that you can't believe that what they have done is the exact reproduction of the cave.

There are also other caves in Puente Viesgo and a "new" one, cueva de El Soplao
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Old 15th January 2010, 04:29 AM   #9
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I agree with Legazpi about León being a fine city for a stroll around. Good food as well.
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Old 15th January 2010, 01:14 PM   #10
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Wow! Brilliant responses and so quickly.

I'll research all of those ideas and start to plan my trip.

Ferry is not an option as it's highly likely that I will be working in Madrid the week before my holiday, plus I live in Chester and it's a heck of a drive to the S coast.

Thanks to all. Any further suggestions please continue to post. Watch this space, I'll post more detailed plans when I have made them.

I love this forum.

Ken
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Old 15th January 2010, 08:08 PM   #11
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¿Cuánto cuesta viajar en ferry?. Solemos pasar nuestras vacaciones en el sur de España y viajamos en avión y alquilamos un coche mientras estamos allí, pero pienso ir a España en nuestro propio coche y viajar en ferry en vez de viajar en avion.
Podiamos pasar por distintas ciudades y ver nuevos lugares de interés, pero me han dicho que es muy caro viajar en el ferry.
¿Hay alguién que podais aconsejarme?
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Old 15th January 2010, 08:14 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Andy.G. View Post
¿Cuánto cuesta viajar en ferry?. Solemos pasar nuestras vacaciones en el sur de España y viajamos en avión y alquilamos un coche mientras estamos allí, pero pienso ir a España en nuestro propio coche y viajar en ferry en vez de viajar en avion.
Podiamos pasar por distintas ciudades y ver nuevos lugares de interés, pero me han dicho que es muy caro viajar en el ferry.
¿Hay alguién que podais aconsejarme?
Durante el verano de 2007 costaba £800 más or menos para un coche y la familia. Decidí no. Fuimos en avion.
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Old 16th January 2010, 01:32 PM   #13
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We have been living in Cantabria and Asturias for more than two years now. It is lovely in so many ways.
Our favourite towns on the coast are the small ones like Cudillero, Tazones and Llanes in Asturias and San Vicente and Santoña in Cantabria. Also, the cider museum in Nava is worth visitng (see an article in English)
The national park of Picos de Europa including the Valley of Liebana is absolutely gorgeous in its own right, the valley called as "little Switzerland" thanks to the views to the Picos. Potes is the place to stay.
The Covadonga lakes are nice, and the sanctuary of Covadonga with its basilica and holy cave has an interesting history.
The Somiedo nature park is famous for its lakes, lagos de Saliencia and Lago del Valle. The walking route starting from Alto de Farrapona is in my opinion the most scenic route in this lake district, perhaps in the entire Spain.
If you are interested in hiking, the Valley of Liebana and Picos de Europa offer a lot of routes, both easy and demanding. In the nature parks of Somiedo and Redes, most of the routes go along valleys and montain ranges with easy climbs.
If you want to start easy, I would recommend the following routes:
- Lagos de Saliencia starting from Alto de Farrapona (Nature park of Somiedo)
- Lago del Valle starting from Valle de Lago (Nature park of Somiedo)
- Lagos de Covadonga (Asturias - Picos de Europa)
- Desfiladero del Río Cares starting from Poncebos (Asturias - Picos de Europa)
- Vega de Liordes starting from Fuente De (Valley of Liebana - Picos de Europa)
A good source of information in English on these and many other routes in the national/nature parks is the Topwalks website
Whereas cider is the thing in Asturias, orujo is the speciality of Liebana. Avoid the big producers and try for example "Sonazal" or "Picos". Liebana has also the best blue cheese in the world. A good place to get the taste of it is Tresviso, a tiny village with long traditions in cheese production.
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Old 16th January 2010, 04:12 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by MCP View Post
I agree with Legazpi about León being a fine city for a stroll around. Good food as well.
I agree as well that León is worth stopping. Finest stained glass windows in Spain. But do not ask for morcilla there, is disgusting.
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Old 16th January 2010, 04:31 PM   #15
Pippa
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy.G. View Post
¿Cuánto cuesta viajar en ferry?. Solemos pasar nuestras vacaciones en el sur de España y viajamos en avión y alquilamos un coche mientras estamos allí, pero pienso ir a España en nuestro propio coche y viajar en ferry en vez de viajar en avion.
Podiamos pasar por distintas ciudades y ver nuevos lugares de interés, pero me han dicho que es muy caro viajar en el ferry.
¿Hay alguién que podais aconsejarme?
When I was living in England I used to drive once a year to Spain, although I was just going to Santander, or the Picos de Europa or Madrid in the last few years. I used to take the ferry to Normandy, either to Caen, Le Havre or St Malo. If I took the overnight ferry to St Malo, I could be by lunch time (spanish time!) near Bordeaux if I was in a hurry. But we tended to stop overnight near Bordeaux as we liked the area.
The ferry to Santander is too expensive. I have not taken it for many years. The Bilbao one is a bit cheaper, but again, I have not done that journey for a long time.
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Old 16th January 2010, 04:40 PM   #16
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I agree as well that León is worth stopping. Finest stained glass windows in Spain. But do not ask for morcilla there, is disgusting.
Morcilla for you is disgusting in general, or only in León?
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Old 16th January 2010, 04:41 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by Pippa View Post
When I was living in England I used to drive once a year to Spain, although I was just going to Santander, or the Picos de Europa or Madrid in the last few years. I used to take the ferry to Normandy, either to Caen, Le Havre or St Malo. If I took the overnight ferry to St Malo, I could be by lunch time (spanish time!) near Bordeaux if I was in a hurry. But we tended to stop overnight near Bordeaux as we liked the area.
The ferry to Santander is too expensive. I have not taken it for many years. The Bilbao one is a bit cheaper, but again, I have not done that journey for a long time.

I believe the Bilbao to Portsmouth (?) ferry is going to close down soon.
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Old 16th January 2010, 06:11 PM   #18
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I believe the Bilbao to Portsmouth (?) ferry is going to close down soon.

Yes- end of September 2010, I think. Brittany Ferries now does the Santander route from Portsmouth as well as Plymouth. [I see these ferries most mornings when I am walking the dog on the beach and feel quite envious.]

Last edited by Juanjo; 16th January 2010 at 06:15 PM. Reason: Factual mistake
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Old 16th January 2010, 06:37 PM   #19
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The ferry to Santander is too expensive. I have not taken it for many years. The Bilbao one is a bit cheaper, but again, I have not done that journey for a long time.

It depends on what you are comparing it with and the number of passengers..

Brittany Ferries Portsmouth to Santander for car + 2 adults +2 children + cabin is just over £800 return in June. Direct Iberia flights LHR to Bilbao for same party about £750 + cost of rental car for a week (£250?)

So ferry + own car about £800-900: flights + rental car about £1000.
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Old 16th January 2010, 06:50 PM   #20
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It depends on what you are comparing it with and the number of passengers..

Brittany Ferries Portsmouth to Santander for car + 2 adults +2 children + cabin is just over £800 return in June. Direct Iberia flights LHR to Bilbao for same party about £750 + cost of rental car for a week (£250?)

So ferry + own car about £800-900: flights + rental car about £1000.
You can also go with easyjet, total of £516 including car rental.

I am afraid we are only one car and two adults, so it makes it very expensive the journey to Santander.
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