What to do in Bilbao/ San Sebastian / Picos de Europa

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  • What to do in Bilbao/ San Sebastian / Picos de Europa
  • Premier Icon wonny j
    Subscriber

    Going to Bilbao on Friday for 10 days.

    Apart from the Guggenheim what would you recommend we do? Planning to go hiking/camp in Picos de Europa (not sure how many days), some beach time would be cool (a day or two), and lots of people seem to rate San Sebastian.

    Struggling to put together an itinerary. Any must do things that I shouldn’t miss?

    Mackem
    Member

    I wouldn’t recommend the Guggenheim. It’s a fantastic building but the exhibits are a bit “meh”

    If you want the beach – Jump ion the metro to Plentzia. Lovely walk round the river to big beach in Gorliz.

    There are other beaches in Las Arenas and Sopelana, If you get off the metro at Las Arenas, you can walk past/over the Puente Colgante to a small beach.

    The weather isn’t great at the moment btw.

    You can walk along the coast from Bidezabal to Plentzia, the views are great (it’s where I go riding all the time).

    You can borrow my bike for a day if you like.

    Other touristy things – The Funicular up to Artxanda. The casco viejo is nice for drinking.

    San Sebastian is a lovely place, so if you have time it’s worth a visit.

    That’s just a random thought dump. If you have any specific questions – fire away.

    anus
    Member

    You can borrow my bike for a day if you like.

    You have got to love this ^^

    I would have to say I would say the same if you were visiting Grenoble 🙂

    Premier Icon timmys
    Subscriber

    Go to San Sebastian for 10 days.

    Eat stuff.

    (ride bikes with Doug)

    The end.

    mogrim
    Member

    If you like walking the area around Zumaia is gorgeous, with a lovely sandy beach with amazing geological formations too. We stayed there last year in the Santa Klara hotel, it’s outside the town (about a 30min walk / 5 min drive) on the top of a hill with great views. The town of Zumaia itself is fine, although nothing too exciting – a small Basque working seaside port town.

    View from Santa Klara:

    Just down the coast is Getaria, a very pretty seaside town which is worth visiting. I can’t personally recommend anywhere to stay as we drove there from Zumaia.

    I preferred Bilbao to San Sebastian, it seemed a bit more open and friendlier. That said, the beach (La Concha) in San Sebastian is wonderful, and the city was good to visit.

    Premier Icon spacehopper
    Subscriber

    registering interest too!

    i’m also going to bilbao / san sebastien in september… pintxos pintxos pintxos!

    does anyone have any hotel recommendations (that wont break the bank) in san sebastien?

    Premier Icon stilltortoise
    Subscriber

    In the Picos area there is a great walk through the Cares gorge that I can highly recommend. It’s 20 years since I was there but I loved it. I don’t recall if it’s possible – or advisable – to ride 😉

    Mackem
    Member

    http://www.pensionamaiur.com/en/

    -actually, that place seems to have gone “upmarket” price-wise anyway.

    Spacehopper, try niumba.es if you would prefer to rent an apartment, depending on how many are staying it can work out cheaper than a pension and you have a kitchen so not dependant on eating out.
    My old feller stays in one when he comes over to visit, Sept is usually cheaper and the weather’s still good.

    OP, if you’re going to the picos, you can do worse than have a beach day on Oyambre, west of Comillas.

    Premier Icon spacehopper
    Subscriber

    it does look good though! 🙂

    its just me and the missus going over for a few days of bimbling and pintxos..

    (I BasqueMTB’d last year and want to show her how amazing San Sebastien is!)

    Rscott
    Member

    I spent a few month in picos with my uni degree im sure others will crop up that did and all i can say is the cycling is awesome, road or mountain. the walking can be great and the climbing fun but risk, its a fairly new mountain range geologicaly speeking and this can bee seen by the loose and fragile nature of the already britle rock type.but a fantastic area of spain 100% under rated go walk the rio cairns path on the pilgrims way.

    Premier Icon csb
    Subscriber

    Will you have a car? Soto de sajambre is on the western side of the Picos but worth a couple of nights at the Hostal Pena Santa. A life saver for us whilst cycle touring, got to the bottom of the mountain at dusk to no hotel despite tourist office assurances. Slogged up to this place in its bizarre alpine setting. Great food, lovely rooms. Lovely walks up to the meadows.

    Cares gorge can’t be ridden legally.

    Beach at Comillas is nice, with Gaudi buildings to see too. Good surf as well.

    Loads of things to do! Biking is obviously something that interests me but the area is much wider than that. San Sebastian is fantastic, there is so much to do there and it´s so compact which makes it much more accessible than Bilbao i think. The Spa there shouldn´t be missed, no really it shouldn´t! Especially after a hard day of biking. Pamplona is a short drive away, as is La Rioja. You have some nice wine visits near Pamplona and also the Txakoli vineyards on the coast are worth a visit. Small towns on the coast are lovely, Getaria for example is stunning. The Flysh near Zumaia which Mogrim mentions is great, especially from the bike! Zumaia isn´t that cool but Getaria or Zarrautz are much better. Visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Go to a real old basque forest, better by bike but still cool walking… Bertiz is a good starting point but don´t take your bike ´cos it´s forbidden.

    There are millions of things to do here. Personally I just like to ride bikes, eat and drink.

    sunnrider
    Member

    Just to add, if you´re staying in San Sebastian, hotels are pricy but Airbnb should sort that out. You can take a 30 minute train to France and back for a fiver.
    Any advice needed on the pintxo front, just let me know. Every bar has something special but quite often you need to ask.

    The Picos is spectacular though, I recommend kayaking the river there.

    markbullen
    Member

    Plenty of vino tinto con gas in a brilliant place

    Mackem
    Member

    ..a local fiesta just down the road from Bilbao (Lamiako on metro)….
    http://fiestas.net/leioa/lamiako-2014/

    tekp2
    Member

    *Amazing* food in San Sebastian. Have a couple of pintxos and a glass in each of half a dozen different places. Lots of good recommendations on the interwebs, but don’t worry too much – they’re pretty much all great.

    And remember to take your waterproofs.

    Almost forgot – if you’re there in the next few weeks, get yourself to one of the Siderias nearby for dinner and unlimited cider. We had a great (and good value) evening at “Petritegi Tolare Sagardotegia”. Not sure when the cider “season” ends, so check the dates first.

    Premier Icon tomaso
    Subscriber

    Plus one for Comillas – superb beach

    Potes is a nice mountain town and they do a mean bacon and egg down in the market if you’ve got a hangover.

    Do remember, Bilbao is like Newcastle or Glasgow and while its got some shiny buildings and galleries it has a harsh industrial past. I was there for the 700th anniversary of the city and they no how to party, shame about the heavy political overtones.

    johnhe
    Member

    If I was going to Bilbao, I’d get onto Doug at Basque MTB and set up a days riding. His photos are the most jealousy-inducing thing on this forum!!

    Premier Icon wonny j
    Subscriber

    Wow this is great thanks for all of the recommendations. Sounds like we may hang out in San Sebastian for a couple of days and then head up for some hiking in the Picos. We’re planning to hire a car. Will have a look at Doug’s site and discuss with the OH if she is up for some biking (or if she’s cool with me heading off for a day of biking or two).

    Any more accommodation recommendations?

    Go to San Sebastian for 10 days.

    Eat stuff.

    (ride bikes with Doug)

    The end.
    +1
    San Sebastian is amazing!!
    Swim in the bay. Sunbathe. Have a Siesta. Go out late and eat Pinxtos (?) and drink wine till late. Brilliant.

    mogrim
    Member

    then head up for some hiking in the Picos.

    I’ve been to Cabezón de la Sal a few times for a bike race (“Los 10000 del Soplao”), it’s another gorgeous area. We stayed in the Posada Rural La Bolera in a nearby village, San Vicente del Monte – it’s very rural, very quiet, but if you’re looking for that kind of place I’d recommend it. There’s some hiking straight out of the village, and within less than 30min drive there’s a lifetime’s worth… (for example the Saja-Besaya park).

    Another possibility would be San Vicente de la Barquera, a pretty seaside town, while it’s not so good from a hiking point of view it would make a pretty good base of operations.

    Mogrim did you do the off road one? Fancy that next year, I did the road one in 2012. Beautiful area.

    Mackem
    Member

    San Sebastian is nice, but I’ve got to stick up for Bilbao. The pintxos are just as good and there’s nice beaches/walking nearby. Except, Bilbao won’t require a re-mortgage to fund the eating. That bloody picture-postcard Concha beach keeps swaying people to go there.

    Plentzia. The blue thing, bottom left is a metro station. There’s an 18km walking/biking coast track to here.

    Although, if you get some riding with Doug, do that.

    mogrim
    Member

    bob_summers – Member
    Mogrim did you do the off road one? Fancy that next year, I did the road one in 2012. Beautiful area.

    Yeah, the mtb one. Did it three times, the last time in 2012 when they had to cut it short after a whole load of people suffered hypothermia and the emergency services were in danger of being overwhelmed…

    It’s pretty tough physically, though it’s very much an XC ride – there’s nothing remotely difficult from a technical point of view.

    I remember hearing about that! Haven’t done a metric century on MTB before and it ain’t gonna happen here in gipuzkoa, well not in a single day at least.

    I prefer the old part of Bilbao to Ss. But it’s great to dump the bike after a long hot ride, and get straight in the briny at La Concha.

    sunnrider
    Member

    This 18km walking/biking coast track sounds like something I could use next week to try out the Rallon everyone is wittering on about.
    LBS said I could use theirs for a day.

    Mackem
    Member

    ..come on over, I’ll take you along it.

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