Basque Region & Wine Country Road Trip: Bilbao, San Sebastián, La Rioja & Pamplona - 7 Days
- 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
|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|
Day 1: Arrive in Bilbao
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
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.
Day 3: Hike, Boat & Lunch on the 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.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Drive to Pamplona, Private History & Culture Walk
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
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
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
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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