Cycle Touring Advice: Santandar to La Herradura, Spain

A poster called, Meg, offers this good advice for novice tourers in Spain on the CTC Site.

Re: Santandar to La Herradura, Spain

by megilleland » Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:06 pm

Has anyone got any tips for a good route and accomodation on the way?

What sort of price would I be looking at for basic b&b this year?

Horizon is right that accommodation prices have increased dramatically. The Spanish government runs its accommodation on strict guidelines and classifies them accordingly. Hotels are classified by stars, from one to five according to the facilities available. These star ratings roughly correspond to price bands, but are decided by local authorities, so standards vary slightly from place to place. Pensions and hostals are also star-classified, from one to three. All establishments have to display the standard blue sign outside their main entrance with one of the following initials to indicate (taken from Spain & Portugal for visitors):

H Hotel

Likely to be slightly more expensive and more comfortable than a hostal with the same number of stars.

HR Hotel Residencia

The word residencia means it has no restaurant or other eatery attached.

Hs Hostal

Not to be confused with a hostel as in UK, though in today’s spelling-oblivious world, most people do. A hostal is a small or smallish hotel with few or no facilities and services. Generally significantly cheaper than a hotel with the same star rating.

P Pension

Small establishments offering rooms for the night and little else, pensiones are your staple budget accommodation.

CH Casa de Huespedes

Literally, guest house, though in practice another term for pensión.

F Fonda

Like a pensión but probably also having a small restaurant or dining room.


A private houseowner renting out Rooms/Beds, like a bed-and-breakfast without the breakfast. This may or may not be a legally controlled activity, if this matters to you. In a few places, you will find it is your only alternative.

Casa Rurales

Private houses offering bed and breakfast in rural areas – can be pricey.


A hostel in the sense of basic lodgings, often with shared dormitories. They are most plentiful along Spain’s important

pilgrimage routes, the Camino de Santiago or, less so, the Vía de la Plata.


This is a Spanish state-owned luxury or near-luxury hotel, either purpose-built or a converted castle, mansion, monastery or similar. Paradores are far from cheap but are generally excellent value for money. Check out offers through Keytel.

I stay mostly in 2 star hotels and hostals. I find these perfectly adequate – clean rooms with bath and/or shower and sensibly priced, plus they remain open 24 hours with a night porter. Above this and you are into hotels with extra facilities which you do not need, but are paying more for. In Spain you pay for the room so 20 to 30 euros isn’t too bad for two persons, but if travelling alone, you could be asked to pay for a double room – ask for a single room (habitacion sencillo). When there is little or no choice in smaller towns/large villages you can find a pension or in rare cases a fonda (rooms and meals).

I rarely eat in the establisment I am staying in, prefering to spend the evening in a bar with tapas or a small restaurant with the local residents. If the restaurant is full with locals the food is usually good. If you prefer lunch to dinner a good bargain is the “Menu del dia” providing a substantial meal usually two courses with bread, a dessert and a beverage – all for a set price.

When you book a room in a hostal you do not get breakfast. Your best and cheapest bet is to take breakfast (desayuno) in a local bar – I have fresh orange juice (zumo), toast (tostada) and marmalade (mermalada) and coffee with milk (cafe con leche) – should cost no more than 3 euros all in.

The best way to find what accommodation is available in town is to find the local Tourist Office (Oficina de Turismo) and ask for the accommodation list and street map, ask the staff for advice. The tourist office in larger towns can be open till 7pm, although in winter some will close early or altogether. Then get on your bike and quickly cycle around the town to check out the premises – ask to see the room and prices. All establishments have to display their room rates so you won’t get ripped off by paying more than you expected – there are usually two seasonal rates high and low. You can check out most establishments on the net – type in place name and the word alojamientos.

Most hostales and pensiones are on the first floor or above so you may have problems getting the tandem up the stairs.

For camping information and dates of opening check out Vayacamping.

via CTC Forum • View topic – Santandar to La Herradura, Spain.


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