North Coast of Spain

San Sebastian – Zumaia – Lekeito – Ribadesella

spain map

When we first got to San Sebastian we tried to find a space at Autokarabanak Paseo De Berio, unsurprisingly it was full. The streets around there were also completely full of motorhomes. We parked up on Tolosa Hiribidea street.  You had to pay to park here in the day time (3 Euros), but after 8pm it was free! Also there were no restrictions for parking motor homes there overnight, and it was a great location for walking into town.

We loved San Sebastian we arrived right in the middle their Semana Grande (Big Week) festival which is basically a week long pirate themed party in the city. They also had an insane firework competition on where all the local fireworks display teams had to put on the grandest displays possible – every night for a week. Both made for an amazing atmosphere! We spent the first day walking down to the main beach Playa de La Concha which was absolutely packed.  We walked down the beach front all the way to the old town were we spent the evening gorging on Oysters, Pinxtos, Octopus, Iberico hams, Croquettes and Foie Gras. Quickly followed by lashings of delicious fruity Sangria. We tried the local sour Cider (Sagardoa), which is certainly an acquired taste as it has no sugar, carbonation or preservatives in it. We also tried the local wine (Txakoli) which is poured from a height into the glass to enhance its effervescence and to slightly carbonate it. Again refreshing, but not quite to our tastes.

There were parades of people going down the streets in pirate costumes singing and drinking.  We wondered lazily down the streets after them, stopping at different bars after being seduced by their extensive tapas selections out on display on the bar tops. Eventually we made it back down to the middle of La Concha beach in time to order a bargain glass of red wine and watch the fantastic fire work displays. The next day feeling rather worse for wear David decided to go off in search of mince beef to make our favourite hang over Bolognese. I woke up to a very strange meal of pork mince Bolognese, something must have got lost in translation along the way. We then go on with some bus jobs, touching up the paint job and resealing the bathroom.

On day 3 we decided to have a day at the beach, which ended up turning into another night on the town. This time we avoided the tourist trap places in the old town and found some local places in the city (away from the beach) that charged 1.20 Euros for a glass of wine, that’s more like it!

After 4 nights in San Sebastian we decided to move on before we bankrupted ourselves any further, and headed down the coast to Zumaia. We opted to avoid tolls roads so we went down the N634, I would definitely recommend this to anyone in a car (it’s a bit of a challenge in a bus). The road is beautiful, winding through the mountains and forests, before opening out to dramatic coast lines with amazing beaches and sea side towns.  We spent 1 night in Zumaia. We parked in a small free car park by the Camino a la Paya De Santiago beach. Our bus took up two spaces so we didn’t want to push our luck and stay too long. So we spent the day exploring the town and had lunch at the other beach on the other side of the town, which was amazing and gave you fantastic views down the dramatic coast line, and finished off the day with a few beers and an enlightening conversation about the disenfranchisement of Spanish youth and politics with the friendly musician that ran the bar on the beach.

Next morning we headed down to Lekeito (a small Basque fishing village) following the N634 down the coast again and then up into and through some stunning forests and mountain scenery, much to the dismay of everyone in cars behind us. Leikto had a large free Motorhome parking area (Parking area 1), and we got there early enough to find a great spot. It had a grassy area with picnic tables to use too as well as motorhome facilities (waste dumping). They had signs up saying you can only park there for 48 hours but we stayed there for 4 days without any issues. The police do come and check the site about 3 times a day though, so certainly felt safe there. Link to site here :–pais-vasco-01-20-48/lekeitio/15190/motorhome-parking-area-camper-lekeitio.aspx

The town had a lot of character and it was like stepping back in time. We went to check out the harbour, as well as the beautiful beach which wraps around and runs down the side of the river too. We found a big supermarket and got 2 kilos of mussels for 4 Euros! We went back to the camp site and spent 2 hours de-bearding mussels before cooking them up in delicious white wine and cream sauce… yum. The next day we took our inflatable kayak down to the beach and spent the day kayaking down the river into the forest with a few beers. It was absolutely stunning, and when we finally got back to dry land, we both fell fast asleep on the beach before wondering back to the campsite. We then went back out in the evening, in search of the supermarket again, but ended up drinking white wine by the harbour most the evening. At a Euro a glass, stunning views and friendly faces everywhere it would be rude not too – right!? The was an amazing French style bar in main square which was fantastic, and here we met an older Scottish couple that took us to see their friends band playing jazz. When we arrived though their friends weren’t playing jazz tonight, but instead were in full bodied neon lycra suits playing curious electronic thrash rock metal.


Next we headed down the toll highway to Ribadesella. We thought it would be worth paying the extra money as our bus had been struggling on some of the steeper, smaller, cross-country roads – and we flew down the large highways covering some good distance. Once past the grisly looking outskirts of Bilbao and some of the splurging industrial towns, this road trip opens up has some of the most fantastic scenery you will ever see. It leads you straight down by the mountain range of Pico de Europa, which is absolutely stunning; you can also see the beaches and coves on the other side.  When we arrived in Ribadesella we found a large campervan parking opposite the designated campervan parking facilities (which was just 4 spaces, all full), just on the outskirts of town and only a short stroll into the center.  Link to site here:  Ribadesella is a beautiful town carved into the mouth of the river Sella. It has a picturesque beach and harbour, with interesting 19th Century American styled Villas all along the beachfront, and stunning views of the mountain range too. One thing we did discover as we strolled through the town is the prices were significantly higher than the Basque region. Not the cheapest place to visit or live, with Tapas now selling for 12 euros a plate as opposed to 2!  We still managed to find a decent white wine for 2 euros a glass, but decided to cook our own food while here.

Next Stop Portugal!

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