From France to Spain: Hiking in the Basque Country

Pilgrim Trails, Pintxo Hopping, and Stunning Bilbao

Trip Level

This trip is rated a Level 3+ (Moderate) according to our trip grading system. You will need to be comfortable hiking 9 miles a day and being on your feet for up to 4.5 hours a day. You will also need to be able to keep up with the moderate but steady pace of the group as there are no alternative hiking options available. Trail conditions, weather, and the group’s level of fitness can affect hiking times and pacing.

Average Hiking Day
• 5 miles
• 3-4 hours
• 750 feet gain and 550 feet loss

Challenge Days
• Day 2 - 3 miles, 3.5 hours, and 2,680 feet gain; includes 1 hour by train and 3 hours of driving

Terrain

On every hike, you can expect varied terrain, including shepherds’ trails, wide dirt roads, coastal trails, walks along the rolling countryside, rocky mule tracks, and beautiful sections of the famed Camino de Santiago. The maximum elevation that we hike to is 5,300 feet. We often drive to a mountain pass each morning to begin our hike, so there is more downhill than uphill and it can be rough on the knees. Hiking poles are highly recommended.

Weather

The weather in Basque country is generally mild, with cool breezes and occasional showers. Daytime temperatures are usually in the 70s°F and nighttime temperatures are in the 50s°F and 60s°F. It is always necessary to bring raingear as the weather can change at any time.

Accommodations

We’ll stay in a collection of historic hotels and inns. In the village of Saint-Etienne de Baigorry, we stay at the Hotel Arce, where you may be able to hear the church bells, so bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper. Since our accommodations are often in historic buildings, the rooms are not always of uniform or international size. Our leaders do their best to assign rooms in a fair way so that all participants experience an equal advantage throughout the trip as a whole. Single rooms can be requested but are not always available, due to the limited space in the hotels. If you prefer a single room, please make your request as early as possible.

Cuisine

Eating well is the second religion of the Basques, and we’ll have classic lunches among farmers and fishermen, sample the 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. Lunches are in local restaurants or picnic-style in local Basque gathering spots, and dinners are in restaurants in town. Please note that in Spain, the dinner hour is considerably later than what it is in the US. We do our best to secure the earliest possible reservations for our groups, but most often the evening meal will be after 8:00 pm.

Transportation

Our van will transport the group's luggage, so you only need to carry a daypack for items you need for the day (rain gear, sweater, camera, water bottle, etc.). Trip members are always free to skip a day's hike and travel to the next destination in the support vehicle (or remain at the hotel if we are not transferring that day). Please note that driving times can vary dramatically from what is anticipated based on road conditions.

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

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