Mountain Trails and Ancient Cultures of Euskadi

Overview

The free-spirited Basque country is a world apart, with its own ancient language, celebrated cuisine, and emerald mountains offering some of the most gorgeous hiking in all Spain. On our captivating hiking and cultural adventure, we follow smugglers’ paths into hidden valleys where sheep and horses graze, and cross spectacular high trails from Spain into France—on foot! Eating well is truly the second religion of the Basques, and between hikes, you’ll enjoy a cooking class, sample sheep cheeses, sip superb red Rioja wines, take lunches at a monastery and a family farmstead, and savor dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant. Overnights include a Baroque manor house in wine country and a historic grain mill-turned-hotel in picturesque Arbizu. Ongi etorri!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-5
Bilbao / La Rioja / Navarre High Country / Arbizu

Basque lore and legend is all around us on hikes amid the hidden rock labyrinths of Gorbea and the limestone peaks and lush meadows of Urkiola. In Navarre’s high country, our trails lead along ridges in the footsteps of mountain tribes who settled here 6,000 years ago, and to a remote monastery for a picnic lunch. On one afternoon, you’ll join a private cooking class of La Rioja specialties and taste wines with a master winemaker, the owner of our charming hotel.

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Days 6-7
High Route of the Pyrenees

From Roncesvalles Pass, where the Basques defeated Charlemagne’s army in 778, hike right into France on the spectacular Pyrenees High Route, passing mysterious stone megaliths, then head back into Spain and the remote Aldudes Valley, where a much-prized cured ham is made.

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Days 8-10
Bidarray, France / Hondarribia, Spain

On the grassy slopes of Mt. Atxuria, retrace the smugglers’ trail used by armies that fought in the 19th century Spanish civil wars. Our last hike is along the cliffs of Hendaye, France, where mountains spill into the sea amid hidden islands and coves that were once the secret refuge of Basque witches. From our hotel in the colorful fishermen’s quarter of Hondarribia, we join the locals for the tradition of txikiteo, or pintxo-bar-hopping, in the town’s tavernas. Depart on Day 10.

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Highlights

Highlights

Experience the unique Basque heritage with visits to pilgrimage sites and local bodegas
Hikes include forested trails that lead to monasteries and ridge walks past fascinating stone monuments
Cross the borders of Spain and France—on foot!
Savor a Welcome Dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant
Private wine tastings, cooking class, and picnics including renowned Basque cheeses
Charming hotels, including a Baroque manor house, a historic grain mill-turned-hotel, and a family-run riverside inn
Join the local pastime of txikiteo, going from bar to bar, snacking on small delicacies and a drink before moving on to the next place!

Details

Length: 10 days
Cost From: $5495  
Arrive: Bilbao, Spain
Depart: Hondarribia, Spain
Lodging: 9 nights historic hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 3 dinners
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking, Culinary
Trip Level:

9 hiking days on moderate trails, some steep sections, 3-6 hours a day, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day’s hike)