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Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

Minneapolis...
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Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

I apologize for posting in two forums – things get lost in the main Spain forum

We have 5 days for Northern Spain in mid-May with a car. What is more worth our time, stopping in some cities on the Camino de Santiago, or exploring the Costa Verde?

So far the itinerary is:

Day 1 - wake up in Salamanca - drive to....

Day 2 - Open

Day 3 - Open

Day 4 - Open

Day 5 - End-up near Madrid Airport in the evening (flight home is next day)

I'm interested in photography. Which route/stops will give me the best opportunities for photos?

Thanks!

Barcelona, Spain
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1. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

I agree that things get lost in general Spain forums and I'd missed your two posts until you prompted me (very wisely!) with a pm. But I'll reply here so it's on-forum for others to add to

viamichelin is a great tool to give you alternative routes and timings (which are relevant particularly for planning overnight stops)

Based on our own road trip across Spain (on the main "route to Santiago" then back along the north coast) my suggestion would be this:

First part: drive Salamanca-Zamora-Leon-Astorga-Santiago.

We will be visiting Zamora for the first time at Easter this year so can't comment first-hand but it looks interesting. We stopped at Leon which has the cathedral interior with wonderful stained glass, the Royal Pantheon at San Isidro (medieval wall-paintings) and a Gaudí building Casa Botines.

We spent the night in Astorga (in Casa de pepa) and visited the cathedral and Gaudí's Bishops Palace which is now the Museum of the Route to santiago (visiting the museum means you get to see the interior).

En route from there we drove to Ponferrada (impressive castle and attractive centre) , missing out looking at Las Médulas (UNESCO World Heritage Site) but that looks fabulous to photograph too.

From Santiago we drove across country to Ribadeo then along the coast eventually all the way to Santander, but we had a week staying near Villaviciosa and did day-trips from there incl. to the Picos de Europa, Gijón and Oviedo (3 fabulous pre-Romanesque churches as well as the cathedral) etc

. En route from Villaviciosa to Santander we stopped at San Vicente de la Barquera (for photos!), Comillas (another Gaudí building) and Santillana which probably is one of the "prettiest villages in Spain". Santander has an attractive location but isn't a particularly attractive town as the old buildings were mainly destroyed by a huge fire in 1941.

You could then drive from Santander to Madrid stopping off in Burgos, with another fabulous medieval cathedral. It's motorway from Burgos to Madrid so that speeds up the end of your journey. We stopped at the caves with prehistoric cave-paintings at Puente Viesgo which is on the Santander-Burgos road.

Edited: 19 February 2011, 11:00
Barcelona, Spain
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2. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

That route above isn't including the coastal scenery of Galicia but I think there's still another day left where you could explore part of the Galician coast. If you post a specific question in Galicia forums you'll get more answers incl. from a DE there.

Our first visit to Santiago was a short weekend trip but we did go out towards Fisterra (one afternoon) and also (next day) to Vilanova de Arousa, Cambados, O Grove and Pontevedra. It's rather different coastal scenery from Asturias (the generally used geographical term "ria" come from Galicia) but both are wonderful; Asturias is more dramatic as the mountains really do come down to the sea) there.

That first trip we stayed at a lovely small hotel Pazo Cibrán (booked through rusticae.es , same as the Astorga hotel was). It's a lovely old building a few miles outside Santiago and I took loads of photos at the hotel! My husband had wanted to stay at the parador in Santiago but that's one of the most expensive paradores in Spain so in the end we just had lunch there (two nights in Pazo Cibrán cost a lot less than one night at the parador!)

Edited: 19 February 2011, 11:15
Madrid, Spain
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3. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

IMO, Lynda's route is great for… 10 days. I've tried to squeeze a 5-days route:

1 Salamanca to León: Gothic cathedral, Panteón de San Isidoro (Romanesque paintings), Casa Botines by Gaudí. Dinner: hopping tapas through the Barrio Húmedo.

http://rarurl.com/61jNHV

2 León to Oviedo: Cathedral, pedestrianized central streets & market or early Romanesque churches at outskirts. Afternoon ride to Gijón (less than 30 minutes by a toll-free highway). There: Cimadevilla --old town--, beach promenade and coastal path for two miles to the Rinconín. Dinner: Asturian cooking at 'El Raitan', Plaza Trescorrales, Oviedo.

http://www.elraitan.es/

3 Oviedo to Llanes. Exploring the coast: Villaviciosa, Lastres/Colunga, Ribadesella. Dinner: 'El Jornu', Carretera de Pancar, Llanes.

http://rarurl.com/GgN

4 Llanes to Santander. Exploring the coast: San Vicente de la Barquera, Comillas, Santillana. Dinner: seafood at 'La Bombi', Calle Casimiro Sainz 15, Santander.

http://rarurl.com/aNVPk

5 Santander to Madrid. Stopover in Burgos. Superb gothic cathedral and a light luncheon at 'Gaona Jardín', Calle Sombrerería 29, Burgos. Sleep in Madrid.

http://www.gaonajardin.com/

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4. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

I would agree with Revulgo, Lynda's route sounds fab, but is an awful lot for 5 days, you'd just be driving nonstop and would be absolutely exhausted at the end. Revulgo's route sounds much more doable, some great mountains, architecture and seascapes all around, and seeing some of the main cities along the Camino de Santiago, along with the coast. Although you are not actually getting to Santiago itself, you are encompassing parts of the two main routes there, the inland route through Burgos and Leon, and the coastal route along the Cantabrian and Asturian coasts, so you're kinda getting the best of both worlds! Good choice Revulgo, and let me know Jenalynn if you want any more info on the Cantabrian part of your trip, I'd be happy to oblige!

Minneapolis...
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5. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

Thanks, this gives me a lot to think about!

6. Re: Northern Spain - Camino de Santiago or Costa Verde?

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