For wine lovers and foodies, this road trip in northern Spain takes you along the incredible Basque coastline with its rugged sea cliffs, charming fishing villages, and gastronomic cities, then into the rolling vineyards and hills of La Rioja and Navarra. Blend city walks with small towns, food tours, and an overnight stay at a winery in Spain's most famous wine region, Rioja.


  • Discover the culinary tradition of "pintxos" with a professional chef
  • Hike and enjoy lunch along the scenic Bay of Pasaia
  • Spend a day and night in the vineyards of Rioja
  • Explore the villages along the beautiful Basque coastline

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bilbao Bilbao
Day 2 Drive the Coastal Route to San Sebastián, Pintxos with a Chef San Sebastián
Day 3 Hike, Boat & Lunch on the Bay of Pasaia San Sebastián
Day 4 Drive to Pamplona, Private History & Culture Walk Pamplona
Day 5 Drive to La Rioja, Self-Guided Day & Overnight at a Vineyard La Rioja
Day 6 Drive to Bilbao via Sajazarra, Pintxos & Wine Tasting Bilbao
Day 7 Depart Bilbao  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bilbao

Bilbao City Center
Bilbao City Center

Welcome to Spain and the city of Bilbao, the capital of Basque Country. After picking up your rental car at the airport, you'll drive to your accommodation and settle in. Though you'll enjoy a full tour of Bilbao at the end of your trip, feel free to spend your first evening walking around the city at your leisure. Since the region is known for its gastronomy, a perfect first night would include hopping from one buzzy tavern to the next to taste all kinds of pintxos, northern Spain's version of tapas.

After dinner, the city's riverfront promenade is also perfect for an evening stroll. You'll pass under a few bridges and by the famous Guggenheim Museum, which is especially beautiful at night. 

Day 2: Drive the Coastal Route to San Sebastián, Pintxos with a Chef

Stop along the Basque Coast and visit places like Gaztelugatxe

Today, you'll start your road trip with your first destination, San Sebastián. The drive is relatively straightforward, typically taking a little over one hour, though no road trip is complete without stops, and the Basque Coast is full of them! Consider skipping the highway, enjoying the coastal route, and stopping at one or more towns, like Gaztelugatxe, an island with a dramatic coastline and hermitage connected to the mainland by a stone bridge. Learn about the site's nearly 1,000 years of history and enjoy some of the best views of the Bay of Biscay.

Then, consider stops in Bermeo, Lekeitio, and Zumaia for beach time, short hikes, and unique geology. Lastly, grab a traditional seafood lunch in Getaria and stretch your legs by walking up Mount San Antón to enjoy additional coastal views. Discover all the details of this epic road trip via the Basque coastline here.

After the drive and settling into your accommodation in San Sebastián, you'll explore the culinary heart of the Basque Country by eating pintxos with a local chef and walking through the city's Old Town. Learn about the origins of pintxos, which typically feature slices of bread stacked high with goodies, secured with a toothpick, where the name originated. You'll visit five taverns in the Old Town to sample this signature dish and sip drinks, from local cider to the slightly effervescent Txakoli white wine.

Day 3: Hike, Boat & Lunch on the Bay of Pasaia

St. James way
Enjoy hiking along the scenic Bay of Pasaia

Today you'll explore the beauty of the Basque Country's scenic coast and countryside with a hike, boat trip, and lunch along the Bay of Pasaia. San Sebastián is right on the beach, so you can easily escape the crowds and enjoy the surrounding nature. Your guide will lead you along the famous Way of Saint James route, a moderate trek just under 5 miles (8 km) roundtrip, with a few ups and downs. All your efforts will be worth it, as you'll enjoy incredible sea views of the region's wild coast. 

The hike is about its views, as you'll pass the scenic Zurriola Beach to reach your first lookout point. You'll enjoy several other viewpoints and observation decks, perfect spots to rest your feet and appreciate the scenery. The route features inlets, caves, and plenty of cliffs before turning toward the Bay of Pasaia, a natural basin with picturesque rock structures, fishing villages, and a lighthouse.
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Continue into the hamlet of Pasaia, a historic fishing village with some of the area's best seafood. Sit at an authentic tavern and replenish your strength with fresh fish and local drinks. This experience mimics the life of the 16th-century Basque whalers, which you can learn about at the town's living museum featuring wooden ships. Before returning to San Sebastián, you'll enjoy a boat cruise around the bay.

Day 4: Drive to Pamplona, Private History & Culture Walk

Ancient streets of Pamplona, Spain
Ancient streets and Ciudadela of Pamplona, Spain

In the morning, you'll set out for the inland city of Pamplona. Though this metropolis gets its reputation from the annual Running of the Bulls event, there's a lot more to see and do. But to make this route more scenic, consider stopping in the rural village of Etxalar, one of Navarre's most picturesque townlets, and/or the seaside walled city of Hondarribia. Both provide a dose of charm and history. Discover all the details of this road trip from San Sebastián to Pamplona here.

After settling into your accommodation, head into the Old Town for a guided walk through Pamplona. You'll meet your guide at ​​Plaza del Castillo, then stop at Bar Txoko, one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite taverns in the city. You'll also visit sites like the Palace of Navarre and the Monument to the Fueros, then cross the Tres Burgos de Pamplona. Enjoy Town Hall square, where the annual San Fermín festivities and Running of the Bulls begin, and walk along the same streets as the runners and view the fences.

You'll end the walk with a stroll along the city's ancient walls and by visiting the Cathedral of Pamplona, ​​where your guide will detail the building's facade and its many unique stories and legends.

Day 5: Drive to La Rioja, Self-Guided Day & Overnight at a Vineyard

Vineyards in La Rioja
Discover the numerous vineyards and Davalillo Castle in La Rioja

Today, your road trip takes you to the scenic province of La Rioja, home to Spain's most famous wine region. Though the area is renowned for its tempranillo and seven wine valleys, there's plenty more to enjoy in La Rioja. From visiting medieval castles (favorites are Castillo de Sajazarra, Davalillo Castle, and Castillo de Aguas Mansas) and UNESCO monasteries to hiking or skiing in Parque Natural Sierra Cebollera, the region is surprisingly varied for its small size. 

The day is yours to explore the area. You'll receive complete details on enjoying a self-guided day in La Rioja, though you might want to check out the picturesque city of Logroño, the province's capital. The city hosts its annual Wine Harvest Festival in September, where you can stomp grapes. Or, visit the Vivanco Wine Museum in Briones, known as the best wine museum in the world. Not only can you taste varietals, but you can also participate in workshops and dine at the museum's restaurant.

After enjoying this beautiful province, you'll settle into your hotel in La Rioja's vineyards. Choose from kimkim's hand-picked accommodations, including Palacio Tondón in a 16th-century palace with views of the Tondón Vineyards; Hotel Eguren Ugarte with its setting directly on a family-owned vineyard with exceptional countryside views; and luxurious Hotel Marqués de Riscal in the City of Wine (a winery and educational center), created by Frank Gehry, the same architect who designed Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum.

Day 6: Drive to Bilbao via Sajazarra, Pintxos & Wine Tasting

Sajazarra, Spain
Views of the village of Sajazarra

On your way back to Bilbao, you'll stop 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 taking in the views at the castle's promenade. Then, you'll ride your segway into the countryside and down the dirt roads bordering Sajazarra's vineyards and beautiful landscapes.

Next, continue to Bilbao and settle into your accommodation. The first activity is to enjoy a pintxos walking tour in Bilbao, learning about the city's history, culture, and gastronomy. You'll start in the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town) and follow the city's Nervión River. Pass well-known artwork like the Spider and Puppy statues, plus the Arati Isozaki Towers and the Zubizuri (White Bridge). Of course, you can't miss the unique exterior of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by the legendary architect Frank Gehry.

Despite all these modern buildings, the city's historic core is also home to 700-year-old structures and architecture dating to the 13th century. Enjoy walking along its cobbled streets and visiting iconic sites, including the Gothic Cathedral of Bilbao, Fuente Plaza Santiago, the Church of Saint Anthony, and Plaza Nueva. Along the way, you'll stop at four different eateries to relish more 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 Bilbao Airport, where you'll return your rental car. Safe travels and adiós!

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Map of Basque Region & Wine Country Road Trip: Bilbao, San Sebastián, La Rioja & Pamplona - 7 Days
Map of Basque Region & Wine Country Road Trip: Bilbao, San Sebastián, La Rioja & Pamplona - 7 Days