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Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

Mississauga, Canada
6 posts
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Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

Hello,

I am thinking about making a trip to the Basque Country for 4-6 days in mid- to late- October this year, using Bilbao as the main base... I will be arriving in Vitoria-Gasteiz via an overnight train from Portugal, then taking a bus to Bilbao. I will NOT be renting a car, relying on public transportation with a relatively tight budget (backpacking and staying in hostels). As I am unfamiliar with Euskadi, I had a few questions... I hope someone who has traveled there before or lives there will be able to answer them!

1) Is San Sebastian an unrealistic destination for someone who is planning to stay in a hostel and eating at inexpensive places? I have looked up prices on various websites and all the hostels seem to be one of a) expensive relative to the rest of Spain and Portugal, b) away from the city centre, or c) poor facilities i.e. bad reviews... Should I just stay in Bilbao the whole time and make San Sebastian a day trip? San Sebastian seems to be marketed towards those with bigger budgets, including the restaurants!

2) I mainly want to travel to Bilbao to watch Athletic Club at the glorious San Mames but am not sure if staying for more than 2-3 days in Bilbao is really worth the investment. My travel schedule is such that if I go to the Basque Country, I HAVE to stay there for at least 4 days (because of an already-booked flight somewhere else and Athletic's matchday schedule, etc.) Will there be enough sights and day trips around Bilbao for me to make a minimum 4-day stay worth it (just to watch a football team)?

3) Are the day trips from Bilbao (i.e. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Gernika) easily accessible by public transportation?

4) What will the weather be like in mid- to late-October in Bilbao? I heard Euskadi is one of the rainiest parts of Spain. I will have a very hard time convincing myself that watching Athletic will be worth it if rains for 4+ days!

That's a lot of questions but I really hope someone would be kind enough to answer at least one of them!

Biarritz, France
Destination Expert
for Biarritz, San Sebastian - Donostia, Basque Country
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4,731 posts
459 reviews
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1. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

I live in Biarritz in nearby France but actually choose to go out for dinner and drinks in San Sebastian because it is much cheaper (lots of other reasons too). Eating pintxos in bars and simple cheap meals are very easy to come by.

Can't help with the other questions, sorry.

Bilbao, Spain
Destination Expert
for Bilbao, San Sebastian - Donostia, Basque Country, La Rioja
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2,000 posts
25 reviews
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2. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

San Sebastian is expensive compared to Bilbao, so I believe that staying in Bilbao is the wisest option. Yes, it rains a lot...but October is normally a nice month, although quite unpredictable!!

There are dozens of sightseeings around Bilbao and public transport is simply wonderful, you can get virtually anywhere in Euskadi on a bus, train or any other public transport. Yes, to Gernika it´s very easy, a bit more complicated to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, but doable.

This is a wonderful land, so far from the typical idea of Spain...a must...

Mississauga, Canada
6 posts
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3. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

thank you for your reply!

i've decided to go to the Basque Country for sure, and will be praying for nice weather :)

seems like staying in Bilbao is the best option, taking a day trip to San Sebastián to save expensive hostel costs but still enjoy delicious food!

Mississauga, Canada
6 posts
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4. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

wow you answered all of my questions in an assuring post! thank you!

is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe inaccessible (closed or too dangerous) if it rains? and will getting there by public transportation involve inconvenient transfers and/or walking?

Bilbao, Spain
Destination Expert
for Bilbao, San Sebastian - Donostia, Basque Country, La Rioja
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2,000 posts
25 reviews
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5. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

San Juan is open to the public, free and always open...Yes, you have to walk a little to get there, but not much. A3517 bus line to Bermeo from Moyua square in Bilbao, runs in the summer period and has a stop very close. In winter time you have to get to Bakio or Bermeo first and then take another bus.

6. Re: Budget Backpacking in Bilbao/San Sebastian

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