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2 weeks in Spain

Aidy P

Aidy P

Don't play that 'What If?' game, you'll never win!
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Hola!! It's January and all being well our new van will be built next week. Getting through the January blues with our holiday planning. A Scottish trip is planned late Spring and we've just booked a ferry crossing in the summer from Portsmouth to Bilbao (returning Santander to Portsmouth). This is going to be our first foreign road trip as a family and I'd love to hear about any experiences people have had on their Spanish road trips please. Any tips? Any do's or don'ts? Any amazing experiences that you've had? Would just love to hear about travelling around Spain.

We've bought the 'All the Aires Spain'. Any good advice for finding ad hoc campsites would be great too. We don't really want to set an itinerary by booking in advance if we don't have too. Hoping to go with the flow.

Gracias :happy
 
Aidy P

Aidy P

Don't play that 'What If?' game, you'll never win!
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http://vwcaliforniaclub.com/threads/first-trip-to-spain.10207/#post-101396

Maybe ask @estresao , lives in Spain....he will be poppin' in here soon...

Thanks Hotel California. Just read that thread. Some useful tips. Would like to hear from anyone else who has been. My kids are young so the tyre slashing stunt sounds a bit scary. We were planning on avoid the cities. My last experience of driving in Northern Spain from Madrid was about 15 years ago. My wife (girlfriend at the the time) and I hired a car, took the Lonely Planet and camped in a two man tent! We loved the freedom of it and can't wait to go back. @estresao any advice would be appreciated please!
 
Larkrise

Larkrise

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We have been to northern Spain for the last two years and it has been a great experience. We have found the driving easy and roads much quieter than UK. we used the ACSI guide mainly though it does seem to favour swimming pools! We generally email a booking request the previous day and have always got placed, but that is September.
 
snowy55

snowy55

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When are you travelling to Spain?
 
Andyclockwise

Andyclockwise

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Hi Aidy, we did Spain last year and as we all know Spain can get very hot, I am not sure when you are booked but if going in July or August I would personally avoid going South. At night it was 28 degrees(even by the coast) and the Cali is not a nice place to be when it is that hot at night, especially anyone sleeping downstairs. We ended up booking into a hotel for a few nights as it was just far too uncomfortable in the Cali.

So my tips are avoid July and August, if you do have to go in those months I would personally stay North.

If we venture to Spain again it will be spring time for us.

Good luck
 
Aidy P

Aidy P

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Thanks everyone. We're going in July due to school holidays. Staying North seems sensible. We don't want to roast. We want to go back to Santiago de Compestela and visit San Sebastián. I will look into the ACSI guide. Has anyone used an app for this? I've found this one in the Apple Store
ACSI Campsites Europe by ACSI Publishing BV
https://appsto.re/gb/Tp5L4.i
 
estresao

estresao

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Hi Aidy P,

Despite I'm living in UK now, I'm Spanish, so I think I can help you. I've got my 1st Cali (Campervan) on April 2015, so unfortunately almost no experience travelling around Spain this way, but I would recommend some places to visit.

Bear in mind I grew up in the south of Spain, in Zafra (Badajoz), where the usual temperature in July could be near 50 degrees (always over 40), so probably we have different point of views about weather ;) .

The nice point about Spain is that every place could be very different to each other: Seville it's very different to Bilbao, Madrid to Barcelona, etc... so by travelling around you will always discover something different. Other nice point about Spain is that is a country plenty of history, so plenty of stuff to visit.

Depending of the time you have and what you want to do, I would recommend you some places to visit. Let me know what're your plans (let me know whether you're fancy to travel to the south, east or west from Santander.
 
leightonjthomas

leightonjthomas

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We've had a few great trips to Northerrn Spain - love the beaches and the Picos de Europa, just an hour or so from one to the other. Fuente De is a spectacular day out - arrive early for the cable car - wonderful walks on top.
Picturesque site - Camping La Viorna, just outside Potes in the Picos.
Excellent terraced site at La Paz near Llanes, with its own private beach, convenient for Santander. Not cheap but very pleasant.
 
estresao

estresao

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I agree withg leightonjthomas, those places are amazing.

This is an official Spanish Tourism page from our Government which you can use to get some good recommendations: http://www.spain.info/en/

If you click onto the map of Spain, next to the "Province/Island" drop box, a map of Spain comes up where by passing the mouse you will get the name of each province. Remember you arrive/leave Spain to Cantabria, province where Santander is located at. By clicking the provinces you will get very valuable information to start planing your trip.

If you have chance (and time) to travel to the south, I recommend it you, but remember that area is warmer.
 
Aidy P

Aidy P

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Thank you @leightonjthomas & @estresao for the info and links. I'll look into these
I'd love to go South but realistically we'll probably stay North where it's cooler. We'd like to get a mixture of landscapes and environments. We were thinking of heading towards San Sebastian first and and exploring the town to kick off the holiday. I think our trip will coincide with the Running of the Bulls festival in Pamplona so we'd probably head there next (though I'm not sure we'd fancy watching the actual bullfighting). After that we've no real thoughts apart from we'd like to explore some beaches for the kids and sampling lots of local food and wine.

What's the situation with wild camping in Spain please. Do you have to stay in designates Aires or campsites?

Would you recommend booking campsites for a Cali in July?
 
G

gregspam

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love the beaches and the Picos de Europa ...
Picturesque site - Camping La Viorna, just outside Potes in the Picos.

I'd second that, Picos de Europa is stunning and a trip up the cable car at Fuente De is a great day out walking. Carrying our 1 year we took the cable car up (to about 2,000m) which made for a nice easy walk meandering back down to the cable car station at 1,000m. Was quite chilly up there in September. Camping La Viroma which is not too far away is one of the most picturesque and meticulously looked after sites I have ever stayed at too.

Pamplona is a wonderful city, lots to see and do, we spent the day whizzing around on our bikes and there was lots to see. We were in San Sebastian for the evening and there were plently of places to eat out and things to do. Santander is okay, but I wouldn't want to spend too much time there. Similarly Bilbao was okay (maybe more appealing if you're interested in the Guggenheim), I'd say overall a bit grimier than Santdander.

Santillana del Mar near Santander is touted as the most picturesque village in Spain, was nice enough for a quick stop and lunch, but is rammed with tourists so feels like a bit of tourist trap.

Zarautz is a good surf beach if that's your thing, quite pretty even if the town isn't that remarkable.

We did this and a fair bit more in Spain as part of a 2 week trip from the south east of the uk, down the west coast of France, entering Spain via Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and ending up in Satander for the ferry back to Portsmouth. I've heard good things about the North West of Spain so depending on the pace sounds sound like you could cover a lot in Spain in the two weeks with a trip over to Santiago de Compostela.

Would you recommend booking campsites for a Cali in July?

Most campsites in France didn't need booking in September but some were fully booked, I imagine July is much worse, Spain may be the same.

Enjoy your trip, sounds awesome!
 
briwy

briwy

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Agree the Picos are marvellous. There is actually a campsite at Fuente De, no booking though, just turn up and hope they have space. It's well hidden but is a magic place.
 
Aidy P

Aidy P

Don't play that 'What If?' game, you'll never win!
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I'd second that, Picos de Europa is stunning and a trip up the cable car at Fuente De is a great day out walking. Carrying our 1 year we took the cable car up (to about 2,000m) which made for a nice easy walk meandering back down to the cable car station at 1,000m. Was quite chilly up there in September. Camping La Viroma which is not too far away is one of the most picturesque and meticulously looked after sites I have ever stayed at too.

Pamplona is a wonderful city, lots to see and do, we spent the day whizzing around on our bikes and there was lots to see. We were in San Sebastian for the evening and there were plently of places to eat out and things to do. Santander is okay, but I wouldn't want to spend too much time there. Similarly Bilbao was okay (maybe more appealing if you're interested in the Guggenheim), I'd say overall a bit grimier than Santdander.

Santillana del Mar near Santander is touted as the most picturesque village in Spain, was nice enough for a quick stop and lunch, but is rammed with tourists so feels like a bit of tourist trap.

Zarautz is a good surf beach if that's your thing, quite pretty even if the town isn't that remarkable.

We did this and a fair bit more in Spain as part of a 2 week trip from the south east of the uk, down the west coast of France, entering Spain via Saint Jean Pied de Port in France and ending up in Satander for the ferry back to Portsmouth. I've heard good things about the North West of Spain so depending on the pace sounds sound like you could cover a lot in Spain in the two weeks with a trip over to Santiago de Compostela.

Most campsites in France didn't need booking in September but some were fully booked, I imagine July is much worse, Spain may be the same.

Enjoy your trip, sounds awesome!

Thanks Gregspam. Sounds like you had a lovely trip. How long did it take to drive down the west coast from France. We thought the ferry was the best option (& the girls are excited about going on a boat) but it'd be good to know for reference. I'd like to go to the Guggenheim...but after taking my kids to the Tate Modern and them being in hysterics that 'piles of sticks' was valuable art ?!?!

@estresao do you know how I could find out when Spanish school holidays are please? I guess the camping will be busier when families are off. I wonder if it's the same as the UK?
 
Aidy P

Aidy P

Don't play that 'What If?' game, you'll never win!
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Agree the Picos are marvellous. There is actually a campsite at Fuente De, no booking though, just turn up and hope they have space. It's well hidden but is a magic place.
That looks nice!
 
estresao

estresao

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Hi,

Usually Spanish school holidays start at the end of July and ends at the beginning of September.

Regarding wild camping in Spain, be careful, it's forbidden in Spain. Depending of where the police could be more or less relaxed. For example, I've heard in Santander local law are very restrictive. There are other places which are more likely to be very restrictive like coast (mainly in high session). There are other places more friendly and they allow people overnight.

I recommend you use one of the most famous forum in Spain, http://www.furgovw.org, which it's absolutely free, and people are very friendly and keen to help and share knowledge about anything. One of the most popular feature is the "Furgoperfecto" map, similiar to WildCamping but free, where people share information about places you can overnight. Have a look to http://www.furgovw.org/mapa_furgoperfecto/

People are also working in a very similar idea to look for showers around the country.
 
estresao

estresao

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When I drive from UK to Spain, usually do from Norwich (now from Cardiff) to Pamplona (North Spain) and, despite the GPS sais it's a aprox. 12 hours trip, it always takes longer because the time we take to sleep, have a proper breakfast, and other breaks for lunch, coffe, etc....

We ussually overnight at Berk (France) which is around one hour fron Calais, it's next to the coast, have proper places to overnight and there are very good restaurants for cheap.

Usually we get Pamplona near midnigth because usually we stop a lot, but for sure you can do better if you don't stop that much.

Roads in Spain are very good, you can reach almost any city using highways. For some of them you have to pay, but most are for free. For example, you fould get Madrid from Irun in less than 5 hours, which means if you want to put mor focus in that area you only have to extend your trip half a day or less. By the way, if you do that I recommend you to stop at Burgos, it's awsome.

If you preffer to travel to Galicia, don't forget visit Santiago de Compostela apart of the big cities.
 
G

gregspam

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How long did it take to drive down the west coast from France. We thought the ferry was the best option

Got to France on Newhaven->Dieppe route. Drove straight through Normandy as we'd been quite a few times before, so had 1 week driving down the coast before entering Spain, stopping a different place every night. Saint-Malo and Dune du Pilat were memorable. Île de Ré was nice if a bit overhyped.

Ferry back from Satander->Portsmouth though long is very relaxing and was a nice way to unwind on the way home. You get a really good view of the naval base in Portsmouth as you head in.
 

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