I'm planning a Spanish road trip to take place in October. Travelling from Portsmouth to Bilbao then riding to visit Montserrat and carrying on to stay at a friends house at Xabia north of Benidorm. Will be travelling on my ZZR1400 with my partner and minimal luggage.
I have a rough plan in mind. We'll be arriving at Bilbao at 0745 on Tuesday and head for Pamplona then on to pick up the N-240 and N-260 roads eventually joining the C-16 to head south to Montserrat. If we can make it to Montesrrat in one day that'd be great but might be more relaxing to take 2 days to get there, spend some time there on the morning of day three before heading down to Xabia where we're going to stay for a few days before heading back to Bilbao to catch the return boat at 1030 the following Tuesday?
I'd love to get some suggestions for places to stay en-route to Montserrat and a good way to get back to Bilbao from Xabia. As we're catching the morning boat from Bilbao we'd like to get somewhere close the day before so would like to find somewhere to stay the night within easy distance of the port. Also if there's a better way to get to Montserrat I'm open to suggestions. I've never been to mainland Spain so not really sure how the land lies but the N-240/260 route through the Pyrenees seems like it'll offer plenty of what we're looking for, great scenery, good road surface, lots of corners, little traffic or police and the option to make good progress being the order of the day. Also would like to avoid motorways and tolls as much as possible although as far as I can tell the tolls are quite popular in Spain so we might have to live with those.
I'm comfortable riding 3 or 400 miles in a day, more than that even. Once did 1200 miles in 24 hours but looking to have some relaxation along the way this time so I guess taking 2 days to get close to Montserrat is sensible.
Does this route look ok or would it be better to head from Bilbao to San Sebastian then down to Pamplona? Looking forward to the trip and any suggestions from seasoned Spanish riders on here.
I have just recently got back from around the Iberian Peninsula trip and did (almost) exactly that on my way to Barcelona/Montserrat.
The N-260 is a beautiful road, not many cars, and even if, there are plenty of spots to safely overtake, enough corners to not be bored. On my way to Santander I was advised to take a detour (see the map), and I do not regret it in the slightest, its a beautiful mountain road, slow, lots of corners but outstanding views.
Getting to Montserrat from Pamplona will be a long day, I personally was rather tired when I did Pamplona -> Sort (mostly due to the weather), I feel the N-260 needs to be enjoyed, and while it can be rushed, I wouldn't recommend it.
Regarding places to stay - I can only recommend staying the night in Sort, the hotel there has a garage for the bikes, is relatively cheap, breakfast included, and the rooms are great, look for : Hotel Les Brases (Sort, Spain) .
About tolls - The paid motorways are called Autopistas (AP), the signs will usually indicate if there are tolls ahead, and usually offer an alternative, if you end up paying tolls, its card only, no cash. I think going from Andorra to Barcelona set me back around 35 euro in tolls alone (It was raining, wanted to get there fast).
Roads around Montserrat are awesome, I approached it from the south personally, so cannot offer much advice, only that the parking at the Montserrat Monastery is 3.50 euro for a bike, there are queues often to get in.
On your way to Xabia have a little detour to reach Montanejos Hot Spring, I'm told its a great road, not had time to do it myself this time around.
Getting back from Xabia to Bilbao I can offer no assistance as I've not done that part of Spain, I can only HEAVILY recommend doing Picos de Europe, absolutely any road is great, if you got some time left while you're heading north.
Anything else let me know,