Camping in Northern Spain

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Camping in Northern Spain

Postby brianleach » 7 Aug 2014, 2:06pm

I'm not sure if this is the correct place to post or whether it should go elsewhere.

However my son and I are travelling to Northern Spain in a week's time and having found campsites to be few and far between on a previous visit I was wondering what the forum's view was on this.

We arrive in Santander and will be doing a fortnight loop back there via Burgos and the Rioja region. As the area is rather hilly I wondered whether we should ditch the camping gear and do cheap bed and breakfasts. This would considerably reduce the weight we would be carrying which might help me with the hills.

This might well increase the overall cost of accommodation but I am not keen on wild camping.

Would be interested in the views of others.


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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby whoof » 7 Aug 2014, 3:53pm

There is a camping section of the forum linked at the top of the Touring & Expedition posts.

I flew to Bilbao a couple of years ago and rode East to the Pyrenees and found campsite thin on the ground. There was one in Mundaka with great views over the estuary, called Camping and Bungalows Portuondo. Other than this we stayed in small hotels or hostels until we reached France.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby MrsHJ » 7 Aug 2014, 7:00pm

It's too long ago to rely on my advice but we've camped on route down through Rioja, coming from the Roncevalles pass to Santander. We camped at Haro and at Frias for instance and only did one night in a little hotel up in the Pyrenees. It isn't as common as in France but due to the proximity to the camino there is camping around. We tend to use the Michelin maps which have the little triangle symbol for campsite, I can't remember if that works for Spain but I have downloaded pocket earth ready for our next trip and that marks campsites. I just checked for Haro and for Frias and the camping is still there- :). Also camping in Burgos, there is camping in the Picos but it may only be open in July and August. We struggled one year when we travelled in May/June coming up to Santander from the South but I've done Ok by myself in the Picos camping in late August.

As Mark says economically it's not a big deal, so what would you prefer to do?
Last edited by MrsHJ on 7 Aug 2014, 10:29pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby groberts » 7 Aug 2014, 8:35pm

Unfortunately I can't help you but, as it's a ride I'd like to do myself, I would be interested to hear how you get on. Have fun.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby MarkF » 7 Aug 2014, 10:00pm

I don't camp in Spain, economically it's pointless and it's too much hassle trying to find a non-RV site. Rooms are available everywhere, even if you cant "see" them, ask and you'll get something, in many tours I've never not got a room in Spain. For 2 travelling I'd expect rooms (with bathrooms, possibly with buffet breakfast, near amenities, bars etc :D ) to cost no more than camping, probably less, definitely a lot less hassle.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby b1ke » 8 Aug 2014, 8:19pm

If you're travelling from Santander you could ride the Camino del Norte to Santiago. If you pick up a 'credential' in Santander, you qualify for the albergue hostels which are very well priced. If you want to cross the Picos, you could look at the Primitivo route, another Camino to Santiago. Not sure how bike friendly that one is though. The del Norte is fine on pretty much any type of bike. - Europe on a Tandem.... - West Africa on a Tandem....

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby spicerack » 8 Aug 2014, 8:26pm

I'll be doing a very similar trip in late September and had also been considering the camping options so it's good to read this thread. I have toured in Spain before and didn't camp because of all the reasons stated above. This time I am planning to take the gear and spend half the nights wild camping (anyone have experience of wild camping in this area?). Great tip about picking up the 'credential', I used a few albergues without it last time and had to say I had lost it.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby albal1 » 9 Aug 2014, 3:39pm

Have a read of my blog Used a few camp sites, Burgos, logrono, pamplona to name a few.
Last edited by albal1 on 10 Aug 2014, 6:03pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby bikerwaser » 9 Aug 2014, 4:02pm

I did the North of Spain to Santander from the French border a couple of years ago and there were enough sites dotted along.
There's a nice one called "camping Latas" in Santander to the far west of town up a bit of a hill that was 22 euros for 2 of us with 2 tents. no shops within walking distance but a nice bar / restaurant. We used this one just before we got on the ferry as we arrived a day early to be sure.

if you want other info about site along that coast going from Santander to the French border let me know.

I would recommend hitting the Tourist info centres as they usually have good info and will sometimes call ahead so you can be sure of space and price.

Buena Suerte !!


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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby brianleach » 13 Aug 2014, 4:52pm

Thanks for all the helpful comments. We have decided to leave the tents behind this time although I do see there are sites in several of the towns we may or may not pass through. More of hill/weight issue. The route is still pretty vague!!

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby bikes4two » 14 Aug 2014, 5:50pm

OK, so you're not camping, but for others attracted by the post title----

Two of us are cycle camping Santiago de Compostela to Lisbon through the more remoter areas in 2 weeks time and primarily got our sites from this link here (scroll the map into Spain and the campsites come into view).

Google maps is also helpful e.g. search on town-name and then enter search criteria camping near town-name. This is not a fool-proof method but between the two you'll cover many of the available sites.

The ACSI site can also be helpful here

I like camping over B&B for the variety of people you meet but there is the kit aspect of course - each to their own eh :wink:
Without my stoker, every trip would only be half a journey

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Re: Camping in Northern Spain

Postby brianleach » 14 Sep 2014, 4:33pm

For the poster who requested a report on the trip here it is.

As you know we took no tents but booked on line as we went. There were campsites in a lot of the places we stopped at but as we totalled over 500 k and climbed 10,000 metres in the fortnight as a 65 year old I was quite happy not to carry the extra weight and have a bed, shower and electricity at the end of the day. As has been said this probably increased the cost of the trip.

First thing to be said it is, as I knew, very hilly which for me meant a deal of walking but you do get fabulous scenery and I coped with a maximum day of over 80k with climbing so it wasn't a problem.

Cycling around both Santander and Bilbao is challenging, no specific cycling provisions in either city although the seafront cycle paths in Santander were covered by concession tents for the yachting world championships. Laughably Santander has the equivalent of Boris bikes but nowhere to cycle them other than on congested city roads.

My son did the route finding using the osmand android app which proved very useful and in some circumstances better than my map.

Most hotels were comfortable but we had two poor ones.

We stopped at the following so can suggest hotels to go to or avoid as appropriate

Vega de Pas, Medina de Pomar, Miranda de Ebro, Vitoria, Bilbao, Isla and Santander.

All in all a great fortnight and I came back fitter than I have been for years.