From France to Spain: Hiking in the Basque Country

Pilgrim Trails, Pintxo Hopping, and Stunning Bilbao

Overview

Basque Country is a world apart, with its own language, renowned cuisine, and some of the most gorgeous hiking trails in Europe. With our Basque Trip Leaders, we’ll hike the coast, countryside, mountains, and beautiful sections of the famed Camino de Santiago. Our insider’s journey brings us to evocative megalithic monuments, ancient Basque farmsteads, and from France into Spain on a historic pilgrim trail. Eating well is the second religion of the Basques, and we’ll have classic lunches among farmers and fishermen, taste local mountain cheeses, go pintxo-hopping in the foodie capital of San Sebastián, and enjoy a meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hondarribia, where our old friend Chef Gorka Txapartegi has a magic hand with the local cuisine.

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-2
Biarritz, France / Saint étienne-de-Baigorry / Mt. Okabe

Meeting in the stylish Basque resort of Biarritz, we head out for a hike on Mt. Larrun, the sacred mountain that marks the French and Spanish border of Basque country. Sheep herding plays a pivotal role in Basque culture and tangy sheep cheese (ardi gasna in Basque) is produced in the green highlands. We may hike past roaming flocks on Mt. Okabe, descending for lunch at a rural café that is a gathering spot for Basque shepherds. Overnights are in Saint-étienne-de-Ba├»gorry, an idyllic Basque village in the foothills of the French Pyrenees.

Hotel Arce
St. Etienne de Baigorry, France
Days 1 to 2 (2 nights)
Days 3-4
Camino de Santiago / Roncesvalles, Spain / Pamplona

Starting at the historic cross at Biakorre, we hike one of the most evocative stretches of the Camino de Santiago, the famous pilgrim trail into Spain, ending our walk at the historic village of Roncesvalles, where the Basques defeated Charlemagne’s army in 778—and changed the course of European history. Another stretch of the pilgrim trail brings us to medieval Puente la Reina, with its graceful arched bridge. Our charming hotel in Pamplona is the same one Hemingway used to stay in!

Gran Hotel la Perla
Pamplona, Spain
Days 3 to 4 (2 nights)
Days 5-6
Village Hike / San Sebastián / Hondarribia

A village-to-village hike brings us through southern Basque country, with lunch among farmers and herders, always a convivial affair. In San Sebastián, the views are fabulous as we hike from Mt. Igueldo down to the magnificent bay of La Concha, then join in the tradition of pintxo-hopping—a foodie “pub crawl” to taste the best tapas. A renowned local professor will give us a talk on Basque history while we sip Txakoli (Basque white wine), and our accommodation is a lovely seaside parador in Hondarribia.

Parador de Hondarribia
Hondarribia, Spain
Days 5 to 6 (2 nights)
Days 7-8
Bilbao / Depart

Heading along the coast to Bilbao, we hike a stretch of the pilgrim trail, visit the charming harbor town of Geteria, with a pintxo lunch along the docks, and enjoy a guided visit to the celebrated Guggenheim Museum. Depart on Day 8.

Hotel Carlton
Bilbao, Spain
Day 7 (1 night)

Highlights

Highlights

Experience Basque country with Trip Leaders who have a passion for sharing their culture and cuisine
Hike from France to Spain on the classic Camino de Santiago pilgrim route
Enjoy delicious picnics and meals in local Basque gathering spots
Explore mountain, coast, and village trails
Savor a special Basque dinner in a Michelin-starred restaurant in Hondarribia

Details

Length: 8 days
Cost From: $5495  
Arrive: Biarritz, France
Depart: Bilbao, Spain
Lodging: 7 nights historic hotels and inns
Meals: All meals included except 2 dinners (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Culinary
Trip Level:

6 hiking days on moderate trails, some steep sections, 2-5 hours a day, van support (for luggage or if you wish to skip a day's hike)