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meadowsweet

Winter 2021 trip - Spain or the Algarve?

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We are thinking of spending a couple of months, January and February 2021 in either Spain or the Algarve.   I would appreciate any information on the following:-

 

1.  What would be the latest time of year to book the Santandar ferry (departing early January 2021) in order to reserve a dog cabin?

 

2.  Weather - I have been comparing the weather (BBC website) between Faro and Malaga.  There does not seem to be much difference at all in temperature, in fact Faro currently seems a little better than Spain with less rain, although that might be unusual?  I realise that due to climate emergency weather stability can no longer be guaranteed.  However, it is so godawful here now in winter with endless rain I would like to try it out.

 

3.  Caravan sites.  Lots of useful information on this forum about various caravan sites in Spain but not much about the Algarve.  The ASCI book hardly has any sites in the Algarve although there may well be other sites.

 

4.  Journey (quickest and includes tolls) - 9 hours 19 minutes (car) to Faro, 9 hours 16 minutes (car) to Malaga.  Towing would be longer of course.  So journey times comparable - Both journeys through Spain - perhaps there are significant differences in terrain/ease of journey?

 

We have been on a number of holidays, sans caravan, to the Algarve, so know it well, but never been to Spain (other than a coach trip to Lloret back in 1983 which was fairly unpleasant).  I selected Malaga for comparison purposes only because a Google search advises it is an area that has reliable winter sun.   If Portugal - we would stay in the Tavira region.

 

Of course the Algarve is less sheltered so may well be windier and beaches colder.  I also think there would be more places of interest to visit in Spain.

 

Many thanks.

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Other than to confirm that dog friendly cabins get booked quite quickly, I would say book as soon as your plans are completed.   Unfortunately BFerries require a fairly large deposit to confirm a booking now.   Previously they just wanted £25, although bookings can be changed without charge.   Bookings for next year will open on line around July and it isn't that ferries get booked up, but more that cabins get booked - the cheaper ones first.   You mentioned "Tolls."    You can actually drive all the way from Santander to Malaga on dual carriageway roads without paying any tolls.   From Bilbao there's still a small payment to be made on the A68.   Although Ive visited much of the coast from Alicante round to Albufeira during the winter months, my preference has become the Malaga Province.   For some routes and overnight stops plus sightseeing stops see my blog

Edited by Jaydug

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24 minutes ago, Jaydug said:

Other than to confirm that dog friendly cabins get booked quite quickly, I would say book as soon as your plans are completed.   Unfortunately BFerries require a fairly large deposit to confirm a booking now.   Previously they just wanted £25, although bookings can be changed without charge.   Bookings for next year will open on line around July and it isn't that ferries get booked up, but more that cabins get booked - the cheaper ones first.   You mentioned "Tolls."    You can actually drive all the way from Santander to Malaga on dual carriageway roads without paying any tolls.   From Bilbao there's still a small payment to be made on the A68.   Although Ive visited much of the coast from Alicante round to Albufeira during the winter months, my preference has become the Malaga Province.   For some routes and overnight stops plus sightseeing stops see my blog

 

Jaybug, I read your blogs some time ago with great interest.  Lovely photographs!  They will be very useful for future planning.  Thanks.  I will diarise July to book the crossing.  It seems odd that BF offer Santandar and Bilbao as they aren't that far apart.  Are there any advantages of one over the other if heading south?  Or is it simply just another hour from Santandar?

 

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1 hour ago, meadowsweet said:

 However, it is so godawful here now in winter with endless rain I would like to try it out.

 

Yes - I see your point!    As I wrote on this forum a couple of days ago, yesterday we had our fifth day of rain since I arrived here at the start of December.   Our coldest night has been around 8C.    As you say, there isn't a whole lot of difference between Malaga's and Faro's weather.   Here's Meteo's statistics.    Faro first.   Malaga second.

 

185305487_Screenshot_2020-01-23ClimateFaro.png.d3ddcc0c7188cbb44d7cc71d9f7a59aa.png

1472495567_Screenshot_2020-01-23ClimateMlaga.png.973d6547cce8fb8a92d1313417fefc40.png

 

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6 minutes ago, meadowsweet said:

 Are there any advantages of one over the other if heading south?  Or is it simply just another hour from Santandar?

 

If heading for Malaga area either will do.   Obviously if heading for Portugal or even Seville/Cadiz,  Santander is closer.   However if going towards Costa Brava or Blanca via Zaragoza, then Bilbao is better.

Having said that - I prefer to choose the sailing according to arrival time in Spain.   I try to avoid sailings that arrive in Spain in the evenings because in winter it will be already dark and maybe even raining and then the first thing you have to do is find a site.   I much prefer a sailing arriving in the mornings or late lunchtime.    Depending upon departure time dictates whether you spend one night or two on board.

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The dog cabins get booked up very quickly and most of them are gone by the time they are released to the public since members of the club can book them earlier.

I do think it got easier to book a dog cabin after they increased the deposit since fewer people book multiple crossings only to decide later which one to use.

We have sometimes been lucky to get a dog cabin a week or two before the sailing from people that cancelled their booking.

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14 hours ago, AndersG said:

The dog cabins get booked up very quickly and most of them are gone by the time they are released to the public since members of the club can book them earlier.

I do think it got easier to book a dog cabin after they increased the deposit since fewer people book multiple crossings only to decide later which one to use.

We have sometimes been lucky to get a dog cabin a week or two before the sailing from people that cancelled their booking.

 

Ah.  I am a member so will diarise earlier!  Thanks.  I presume, then it is best to book the return as well, in order to get a dog cabin, so there isn't the flexibility available on shorter crossings to France (and, the flexibility to change the booking due to not being able to book a dog cabin).  

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18 hours ago, AndersG said:

The dog cabins get booked up very quickly and most of them are gone by the time they are released to the public since members of the club can book them earlier.

I do think it got easier to book a dog cabin after they increased the deposit since fewer people book multiple crossings only to decide later which one to use.

We have sometimes been lucky to get a dog cabin a week or two before the sailing from people that cancelled their booking.

 

That's the reason why majority including myself prefer the Chunnel over ferries as you don't have to worry about dog cabins or kennels as you stay with your dog and half hour trip instead locking the dog up for hours on a boat then drive to Spain as not much difference in price I always find .

 

Last few weeks it been as cold at night as here 2 and about 16 during the day and lovely sun .

 

I know is was told La Manga site the pitches looked like a lake a few days ago from the storm and hopefully it will cleared up in Spain by the time I head down in about 8 weeks .

 

Dave

 

 

 

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20 hours ago, Jaydug said:

 

If heading for Malaga area either will do.   Obviously if heading for Portugal or even Seville/Cadiz,  Santander is closer.   However if going towards Costa Brava or Blanca via Zaragoza, then Bilbao is better.

Having said that - I prefer to choose the sailing according to arrival time in Spain.   I try to avoid sailings that arrive in Spain in the evenings because in winter it will be already dark and maybe even raining and then the first thing you have to do is find a site.   I much prefer a sailing arriving in the mornings or late lunchtime.    Depending upon departure time dictates whether you spend one night or two on board.

Arriving Bilbao afternoon/evening is ok as there is space to stay overnight with fresh water and toilets next to the disembarkation area. An early start the next morning is good. 

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If going for two months you could do both the Algarve and S Spain. For example, the drive from Lagos to Estepona via Seville and Ronda (steep, winding descent down to the coast but not a problem even with a twin axle...but, if wary of that there is an alternative easy, but longer route)  takes about 7 to 8 hours.

  Just a thought.

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It is a difficult decision.  Drive through France or take the ferry.  My preference is the ferry because it is less tiring and stressful than driving all the way down through France.  I guess the weather conditions would be better than northern Spain but still.  I find it tiring and stressful being the passenger so worse for the driver!

24 minutes ago, paulthomas said:

If going for two months you could do both the Algarve and S Spain. For example, the drive from Lagos to Estepona via Seville and Ronda (steep, winding descent down to the coast but not a problem even with a twin axle...but, if wary of that there is an alternative easy, but longer route)  takes about 7 to 8 hours.

  Just a thought.

 

That is an attractive option although from reading this forum you would have to book the sites in advance.  The two facts I glean from discussions is that you HAVE to book sites in advance and that pitches are small!  

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2 hours ago, Ern said:

Arriving Bilbao afternoon/evening is ok as there is space to stay overnight with fresh water and toilets next to the disembarkation area. An early start the next morning is good. 

 

That's fine for Bilbao but in the winter months all the sailings which arrive after dark,  dock at Santander where there is no parking on the dockside.   Afternoon sailings to Bilbao allow ample time to reach Roble Verde or Fuentes Blancas - providing they're not delayed.:(

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