Road trip Northen Spain and Portugal
Replies: 14 - Last Post: Dec 2, 2012 8:27 AM Last Post By: Liberat
Nov 30, 2012 5:38 AM
Road trip Northen Spain and PortugalThis spring/summer (May/June), after much long-distance travel, we'll be aiming for a trip closer to home: we'll go for a three week tour of Northern Spain and Portugal (roughly the area between San Sebastián and Lissabon) using our own car.
We've been to Spain many times and a few times to Portugal too, but this area is completely new to us. I would love to get some tips:
- We will be travelling with our (by then) 2.5-year-old daugther... she loves to swim and run around.
- We enjoy markets, and nice beaches that are not too crowded, we love good food and good shopping and interesting towns. We don't care too much for camping or big resorts or hiking or hopping nightlife (with the kid :-) ), but a nice bar on the beach will do.
Some questions too:
- What will the weather be around May/June generally?
- Though we do not want to book too much in advance, we always like to plan for one really nice place for us to spend a bit more time in. Preferably something close to a good beach, with a pool, a cabaña or small apartment would be ideal. Mid range budget but extra points for good looks! :-)
All tips will be greatly appreciated!
Nov 30, 2012 7:09 AM
1What will the weather be around May/June generally?
In short, in Northern Spain (Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias, Galicia), unpredictable. You could look for historical data in some webs but I don't think it'll be useful. There are also differences among the weather inland (in the mountains) and the weather in coastal areas. And there can be differences in the weather within a single day... It could be early to get beach time (although it'll depend on what temperatures are ok for you to go to the beach) but that's also unpredictable as some days (or parts of days; i.e.: a morning or an afternoon), mainly in (late) June, could be OK (not sure about the water temperature though).
Nov 30, 2012 7:22 AM
I have lived in Asturias for over a year and know the area quite well. Having lived there myself, it is hard to recommend hotels of course !
Anillos is right about the weather though. Closer to France it is somehow less unpredictable, once in Galicia anything goes. June is obviously a safer bet than May. Yet, as unpredictable as it is, from late May onwards there will definitely be less rain. I had a great spring there, and have been back the 2 last years on holiday in spring, and the weather was nice, be it still chilly at night.
The beach may be fine in early June, but the water is still quite cold - that takes until mid July for me to find swimming comfortable. But many don't mind and swim way earlier. Mind you, in Gijon where I lived, there were a whole group of people sunning every weekend starting in March, but out of the wind and at noon.
On the (very) positive side : this part of Spain is relatively void of (foreign) tourists, food is great, prices are low, the beaches and the ocean stunning, and the Picos de Europa even more. I remember a terrace I went often to read, on some cliffs looking down at a beautiful beach, and on the other side the snow-capped mountains.
Nov 30, 2012 8:53 AM
3I've done a two week trip through Cantabria and Asturias (September), and another 2,5 week trip covering Porto, the Portuguese part north of it, and the southern half of Galicia (June). I have also travelled between Lisbon and Porto (another 2 weeks!)but that was longer ago.
I can't comment Basque Country and the northern part of Galicia (north of the line Santiago - Sarria).
My first thought is that you might be trying to cover far too much. San Sebastian to Lisbon along the coast and taking your interests into account, with a 2,5 yo would be a too rushed trip to my taste, but i am not you. If those 3 weeks include the driving time from/to the Netherlands, you won't have 3 weeks on your destination.
From where i have been i found
Cantabria and Asturias to have a very beautiful coastline combined with very atmospheric villages and a stunningly beautiful interior (Picos de Europa but also de slopes of it).
Southern Galicia has a beautiful coastline too, but i was a bit less impressed with its interior.
The Minho region in northern Portugal has a very atmospheric interior.
Most of the coast north of Lisbon has endless beaches, but i haven't found too many charming coastal places there (with a few exceptions).
The interior between Porto and Lisbon is very interesting, with a lot of sightseeing to do.
If this was my trip i would start where you want to start and see how far you will make it :)
Again, and in all honesty, i would limit myself to a stretch of what you had in mind. You will have to make choices.
Weather wise it's unpredictable though i would try to avoid May if you want to spend time on beaches. This isn't the Med and the weather is very changeable. You will have some rain too.
Nov 30, 2012 10:36 AM
4If you want to hang around one place for a few days I'd recommend Ribadesella. I stayed there with my family (no young kids) in May two years ago and we loved it. It was too cool for swimming but we splashed around in the ocean.
Lots of beaches and hotels on the beach, the Tito Bustillo cave paintings on the day it was cool and cloudy, a quick drive to a dinosaur museum, and the town itself is lovely. The fresh seafood every day was a real treat.
Nov 30, 2012 3:04 PM
5As scenery goes the coast between the spanish-french border and the spanish-portuguese border is mountainous with lots of small beaches and only some bigger ones. There are a great many interesting things to see and do and if you plan to take part in them you'll need three month in stead of three weeks. I don't know from where you'll start your trip, but it is possible to drive in one day from the South/Center of the Netherlands to San Sebastian, but the presence of the kid may give problems. Another possibility would be to drive to Saint Nazaire and take the ferry to Gijon (LD-lines, google!) Of course when you would do that you miss out on either the western part or the eastern part of the Atlantic coast, depending if you drive east towards San Sebastian or West towards Galicia and down to Portugal.
Some interesting sites to see in Asturias , west of Gijon, and Galica: Cudillero, fishing villages like Luarca and Navia, Castropol, the "Playa de los Catedrales", Viveiro, Punta de la Estaca de Bares, Cabo Ortegal, San Andrés de Teixido, Cedeiro, Playa de Pantin (where they have a surfing contest every summer), Pontedeume, Betanzos, A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, Laxe, Camariñas, Muxia, Muros, .Cabo Finisterre, Noia, Corrubedo, Isla de Arosa, Cambodos, Pontevedra, Combarro, Isla de Ons, las Islas Cies. Vigo, Tui, and many more. Inland Lugo and Ourense are interesting. Lugo has still the roman walls around the old center of the city. The scenery along the Rio Sil is very impresive and so is part of the Rio Miño in the area where the Sil merges with it.
There are a great many monasteries in Galica, but most are not in use anymore and some are in ruins or in the process of being restored, such as the one at Caaveiro near Pontedeume or the one in Monfero, also not far from Pontedeume.
Galicia is known for its seafood and its wines, Albariño, Ribeira, Godella and others.
Nov 30, 2012 4:37 PM
6just when I got out my map of Asturias Liberat posted this ! All very, very accurate. Yet where did the paragraphs go ?
Dec 1, 2012 7:04 AM
7OP: It would be a good idea if you tell us a rough route you are planning to make. That would help us to make suggestions about places to visit, timeframes... because there are tons of places that could be interesting for you. I would be also a good idea to know how many time you want to spend in Spain and how many in Portugal. 3 weeks isn't much time and you could easily spend it only in Northern Spain (and you would missing tons of interesting places).
Dec 1, 2012 3:56 PM
8Places I wouldn't mind spending a couple of days would be Pontedeume/Cabanas, Razo, Muros.
1. Pontedeume is a nice village with a weekly market on saturday. There is a very nice beach acroos from it in Cabanas. In both places you could find a decent hotel. The beach as open from the south.
2. Razo is rather isolated, but has a very nice beach, although with very high waves. Not something for a 2,5 year old child, ules you pay a lot of attenion to it. There are some very nice ( and cheap) restaurants. We like the "el Cordobës" and its "chipirones en su tinto". Last summer we ate a "bacalau a la gallega", which was exceptional. The beach, one of the big ones of almost 5 kilometer as openfrom the north.
3. Muros and San Fransisco, just west of it, are very authentic and there are also a lot of nice restaurants. The beach at San Fransisco is very pleasant and is situated on the N-side of the estuary, thus open from the south.
These are just a few options. Since I live in the area, I don't look for hotels, but know most of the restaurants as well as the scenery. Of course what I like as scenary, may be excactly what you don't like. As often quoted here on this forum: what is a "must-see" for one person may be an "avoid-at-all costs" for someone else.
Dec 2, 2012 4:29 AM
Dec 2, 2012 5:10 AM
10Anillos, in my own language there is no masculine and feminine, just neutral and the rest. I have therefore always problems to figure the gender of the spanish words. I assume therefore that you are correct and it should "en su tinta". The most important is that in el Cordobés they serve it so well.
Dec 2, 2012 5:54 AM
11@Liberat: Yes, I know. I commented it because it was a funny typo. I'll explain it:
Tinto means red wine.
Tinta means ink.
Chipirones have their own ink but they don't have their own red wine. :)
I agree the most important info for the OP isn't the spelling but where to eat some good chipirones en su tinta. Sorry if you feel bad for my comment.
Dec 2, 2012 6:03 AM
Dec 2, 2012 8:18 AM
Dec 2, 2012 8:27 AM
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