Spend one week exploring three provinces of northern Spain with a road trip starting in San Sebastián. Enjoy urban walks, hiking, and sailing, then head to La Rioja and Navarra to visit cities like Pamplona and Logroño and enjoy the countryside and its vineyards. End in Bilbao, uniquely known for its eclectic public art and modern aesthetic.


  • Go hiking in the hills of San Sebastián and sail along its bay
  • Enjoy a private walk through Pamplona's historic streets
  • Ride a segway through a historic village and the vineyards of La Rioja
  • Taste the Basque Country's famous pintxos and regional wine

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in San Sebastián, History & Culture Walk San Sebastián
Day 2 Self-Guided Hike Day near San Sebastián, Private Sailing Excursion San Sebastián
Day 3 Drive to Pamplona, Private History & Culture Walk Pamplona
Day 4 Drive to La Rioja, Secrets of Logroño Walk La Rioja
Day 5 Drive to Bilbao via Sajazarra, Guggenheim, History & Gastronomy Experience Bilbao
Day 6 Self-Guided Hiking Day near Bilbao, Pintxos & Wine Tasting Bilbao
Day 7 Depart Bilbao  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in San Sebastián, History & Culture Walk

San Sebastian seafront
The Maria Cristina Bridge, San Sebastián

Welcome to Spain! Your road trip starts in San Sebastián, a beautiful coastal city in the Basque Country. After picking up your rental car and settling into your accommodation, you'll enjoy a guided walk through San Sebastián. This city mixes hills, beaches, parks, squares, and architecture. You'll learn why this is one of Europe's most beautiful cities, how the sea has impacted its history and culture, and why the locals have an affinity for contemporary art.

You'll meet your guide on the edge of the Old Town, where the 19th-century city walls once stood. You'll visit the main churches in the old part of the city, the 18th-century Basilica and the 16th-century Gothic-style San Bizente Eliza, plus the 12th-century Motako Gaztelua Castle, Konstituzio Plaza, and plenty of viewpoints. In the New Town, enjoy the architecture of San Sebastián's Belle Epoch era with the Hotel de Londres and Maria Cristina and the Victoria Eugenia Auditorium, among other buildings.

Of course, no visit to San Sebastián is complete without enjoying one of its city beaches! The most famous beach is La Concha, a 1.5-mile stretch of sand that curves out from the New Town in the shape of a sea shell. The beachfront promenade is a great place to return to at dusk to watch the sunset and the city lights come on. Finish your walk by chatting with your guide while enjoying pintxos (Northern Spain's version of tapas) and drinks. 

Day 2: Self-Guided Hike near San Sebastián, Private Sailing Excursion

Hiking in Aiako Harriak National Park
Hiking in Aiako Harriak National Park

San Sebastián is an ideal spot for hiking, as the city features a rugged coastline and three peaks, plus it sits within a half-hour's drive of several protected areas and parks. The route you choose to tackle is up to you, and you'll receive complete details on all your options. But to inspire your self-guided hiking day, you could always conquer one of the city's three peaks: Monte Urgull, Monte Igueldo, and Monte Ulía. Or a popular area for trekking is the nearby Aiako Harriak National Park.

After your hike, you'll enjoy a sailing excursion from San Sebastián with an onboard picnic and wildlife sighting. You'll depart from the city's port and enjoy views of La Concha Beach and Santa Clara Island. As you pass along the coast, you might spot anglers or local wildlife, including birds and dolphins. While cruising, relax and enjoy a picnic with local delicacies, traditional snacks, and famous Txakoli wine produced with green grapes. Upon returning to San Sebastián, your captain is happy to drop anchor in La Concha Bay for a swim!

Day 3: Drive to Pamplona, Private History & Culture Walk

Ancient streets and cituadella of Pamplona, Spain
Ancient streets and Ciutadella of Pamplona, Spain

In the morning, you'll set out for the inland city of Pamplona, the capital of the Navarra province. Since the drive passes through a couple of national parks, we recommended making a few stops along the way to hike near Goizueta or in Bertiz Lordship Natural Park. If you'd rather visit some cultural cities and villages, swap the hills for charming places like Hondarriba and Etxalar. Read more about a road trip between San Sebastián and Pamplona here

Once you settle into your accommodation, you'll start a guided walk through Pamplona, which gets its reputation from the annual Running of the Bulls event. Still, there's a lot more to see and do. You'll meet your guide at ​​Plaza del Castillo for an introduction to Pamplona's history, then stop at Bar Txoko, one of Hemingway's favorite taverns in the city. Stroll and listen to your guide detail the city's founding, which began with the Basque town of Iruña, followed by the arrival of the Romans, and, finally, the founding of Pompaelo. You'll stop at sites like the Palace of Navarra and the Monument to the Fueros, then cross the Tres Burgos de Pamplona.

Next, enjoy the Town Hall square, where the annual San Fermín festivities begin (the festival that hosts the Running of the Bulls). Of course, you'll walk along the same streets as the runners and view the fences. End your excursion by strolling along the city's ancient walls and visiting the Cathedral of Pamplona, ​​where your guide will detail the building's facade and its many unique stories.

Day 4: Drive to La Rioja, Secrets of Logroño Walk

Aerial view of Logrono cityscape, Spain
Aerial view of Logroño cityscape, Spain
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The next stop on your road trip is the picturesque city of Logroño in the La Rioja province. Along the way are several interesting stopping points, including cultural villages like Estella, hiking opportunities in Izki National Park, and Haro or Briones wine areas. We recommend making two or three stops depending on your time and interests. Learn more about a road trip from Logroño to La Rioja here.

Then, kick your time off in your destination with a guided walk in Logroño, learning all its hidden secrets, corners, and legends. You'll meet your guide at the Wall Revellín, the remains of the 16th-century medieval fortifications with its west gate completely preserved. Just around the corner is the Parliament, a beautiful building that once housed the Convent of Mercy. Other sites you'll see include the Church of Santiago el Real, the Catedral de Santa María and Plaza Mercado.

As you end your walk, you'll pass by the exterior of the Museum of La Rioja, set in an 18th-century palace, where your guide will share the city's important relationship with the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. You might want to go into this place on your own at some point. Then, make your way to La Laurel, a lively area with alleyways and side streets hosting pintxos taverns. It's the perfect sport for dinner, hopping from one bar to the next to try different kinds of pintxos and wine from Rioja.

Day 5: Drive to Bilbao via Sajazarra, Guggenheim, History & Gastronomy Experience

The charming streets of Sajazarra
The charming streets of Sajazarra

Today you'll make your way to Bilbao, stopping in the historic village of Sajazarra, one of Spain's most beautiful townlets, complete with a stunning castle. For a unique perspective on the village, you'll enjoy an "off-road" segway experience in Sajazarra, cruising through its stone streets, stopping at hidden gardens, and viewing the castle's promenade. Then, head out into the surrounding countryside and ride down the dirt roads bordering Sajazarra's vineyards and beautiful landscapes.

After settling into your accommodation, enjoy a private walk through Bilbao's history, culture, and gastronomy. A local will lead you through Bilbao's colorful and modern neighborhoods, along the river, and finally, to the Guggenheim Museum. Along the way, learn about its history and stop to try traditional pintxos around Plaza Nueva and Ribera Market, the largest covered market in Europe. Enjoy a meal with your guide featuring traditional dishes.

Of course, a must-see in Bilbao is the Guggenheim Museum, known for its unique architecture designed by Frank Gehry. Start your visit by admiring the building's exterior, a mix of shapes and reflections bouncing off a titanium coating. Then head inside to peruse the famous works of Andy Warhol, Anselm Kiefer, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and local Basque sculptors, including Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza. Your guide will explain why Bilbao commissioned the building and how its reputation has grown.

Day 6: Self-Guided Hiking Day near Bilbao, Pintxos & Wine Tasting

Views from Soplena
Views from Soplena

Despite being a large city, Bilbao is an excellent hub for hiking. You'll have your choice of walks and hikes that take you through the city's Old Town, parks, and riverfront, plus plenty of others that get you out into the surrounding countryside. And because Bilbao is a bit inland, you're perfectly set between a beautiful and rugged coastline along the Bay of Biscay and the verdant foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains.

The route you choose to tackle is up to you, and you'll receive complete details on all your options. But to inspire your self-guided hiking day, consider the coastal route from Bidezabal to Sopelana, where you can enjoy time at the beach. Another easier option is the Paseo de La Galea cliffside trail. For more challenging options, you might like the trails in the Pagasarri Hiking Area, conquering Mount Ganekogorta, or the route that leads to Nervión River Falls.

After your hike, enjoy a guided walk in Bilbao with pinxtos and wine. This time, you'll start in the historic Casco Viejo ("Old Town") and follow the city's Nervión River, passing well-known sites like the Spider by Louise Bourgeois, Puppy by Jeff Koons, Arati Isozaki Towers, and Zubizuri (White Bridge), designed by Calatrava. You'll also visit the Gothic Cathedral of Bilbao, Fuente Plaza Santiago, and the Church of Saint Anthony. You'll also stop at four different eateries to enjoy pintxos and Spanish wine.

Day 7: Depart Bilbao

Bilbao's eclectic skyline

It's time to say goodbye to Spain! You'll drive from your accommodation to the airport and drop off your rental car before catching your flight. Adiós!

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Map of Self-Drive in Basque Country, La Rioja & Navarra - 7 Days
Map of Self-Drive in Basque Country, La Rioja & Navarra - 7 Days