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Jun 1, 2009 10:33 AM

Traveling from Barcelona to San Sebastian in July

I know this is a forum on food but I am pretty lost on the traveling from Barcelona to San Sebastian at the end of July this summer. I was wondering if anyone had advice on the best way to make the trip.

I have heard that train is easy but it is difficult to find information and I would love to know that there will be tickets or that I can book them before we leave for Spain.

There will be plenty of meals to discuss as long as I am able to get to around. Thank you.

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  1. Depending when datewise you are travelling, there is one train Barca to SS (goes via Zaragoza and Pamplona), leaving at 0640 or 0735 and arriving 1218 or 1302. There's also a very long trip leaving 1230 and arriving just before 9pm.

    Back at 0818 arr 1359, or 1610 arr 2205.

    Mods, I'd like OP to contact me direct since this is probably an offboard discussion, OP email me on mr_gimlet at

    1. I've always flew from Barcelona to Bilboa then bus to SS on the budget airline, Clickair. For most days and with advance purchase, it is faster and cheaper than train. I also find that bus is faster, cheaper and has more departures than train. If you are staying in Barcelona for couple of days before departing for SS, I would just go to the bus or train station and buy a ticket when you get to Barcelona.

      6 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        Planning ahead for long distance trains in Spain saves a heap of money. To give you an idea, a Barca-Madrid ticket is E129 at the station and E52 on the web a couple of months out.

        1. re: mr_gimlet

          Thanks for the info on advance purchase for trains. For the OP, the link is the website for Spain's national train system:

          1. re: PBSF

            Ah, this will cause you to dall into Renfe's cunningly designed foreigners trap. Going to the English timetables doesn't give you access to the cheaper fares. (I was going to email the OP with all this in case we got modded)

            You go to the Spanish bit at the left hand side of the front page and put in your destination and dates. Then it opens another window in Spanish with trains and the fares. Only when you get this far do you convert the language to English in the drop down bottom left corner.

            1. re: mr_gimlet

              You can also get the same discounted fares by calling Renfe's phone number--902 24 02 02--which is much easier than dealing with their horrendous site.

              Renfe is also now doing discounted last-minute fares--online and via phone--but you definitely can't count on getting one during any sort of up-time.

              For the past six months or so, I haven't been able to use an American credit card on Renfe's website--it only accepts my Spanish cards (when I asked on the phone, they said only "tarjetas nacionales" were accepted). Unless it has changed very recently, this could be an insurmountable roadblock for those trying to plan ahead from the US.

              1. re: butterfly

                I have used Australian and UK cards with RENFE

                1. re: mr_gimlet

                  I got the website to work finally. The problem is that Renfe does not post its summer schedule till late May/ early June. I had to try two cards and did it through the spanish version in order to get the discounted internet fare cost. This link has good information on ordering online.


                  Thanks for everyones help. I will be sure to post if I run into any problems and post about the experience.

      2. Is driving an option? You can rent a car in Barcelona (we've gotten great rates from Autoeurope) and drive to SS in 5 hours of easy driving on major highways. Even better, you can stop in Pamplona for lunch (we had a superb lunch at Rodero) and a quick walk around before continuing on to SS. The scenery between Pamplona and SS is utterly spectacular.

        3 Replies
        1. re: rrems

          Thanks for the lunch recommendation! I think my soon-to-be-husband and I are going to drive between Barcelona and San Sebastian with a stop in Pamplona.

          1. re: kathryn

            we are doing this exact same trip in september (but may not stop in pamplona). does anyone have suggestions for towns to stop in/restaurants to eat in along the way? thanks.

            1. re: jon

              Michelin's point to point directions are telling me it's only a 5-6 hour drive but that Pamplona and Zaragoza are good places to stop, if that helps.

        2. 2 months ago we took the train,6 hours to Bilbao and spent the night. We took the 1 hour bus ride to San Sebastian the next day. You could easily do it in one day as busses to SS run frequently.