Pack your bags for a 10-day escape to Spain's northern Basque Country. Discover the flavors, history, and culture of this beguiling region by tasting its delicious pintxos on the streets of San Sebastián, exploring the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, and crossing the border into France. If that's not enough, you'll visit wineries in La Rioja and hike above the Bay of Biscay to complete the adventure.


  • Sample the famous pintxos of the Basque Country
  • See works by master artists at the Guggenheim Museum
  • Take coastal road trips in both Spain and France
  • Go wine tasting in La Rioja and San Sebastián

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bilbao, Pintxos & Wine Tasting Tour Bilbao
Day 2 Bilbao Walking Tour, Visit the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Day 3 Private Cooking Class, Txikiteros Pub Crawl Bilbao
Day 4 Drive to La Rioja, Optional Activities La Rioja
Day 5 Wine Tour in La Rioja La Rioja
Day 6 Drive to San Sebastián via Pamplona San Sebastián
Day 7 San Sebastián Walking Tour San Sebastián
Day 8 Day Trip to the French Basque Coast San Sebastián
Day 9 Hike Mount Jaizkibel, Visit Hondarribia San Sebastián
Day 10 Depart San Sebastián  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bilbao, Pintxos & Wine Tasting Tour

Pintxos & Wine Tasting
Pintxos are the star of the Basque Country's culinary scene

Welcome to the Spanish Basque Country! Like all other autonomous communities in Spain, this northern coastal area has rich cultural and culinary traditions that you must see and taste to believe. You'll arrive in Bilbao, the largest city in the region. Once an industrial port city, Bilbao today is a thriving cultural hub, as evidenced by the star of the show: the awe-inspiring Guggenheim Museum. On arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up and transfer you to your hotel in the city.

There's no time to waste because, after check-in, you'll meet a local guide and embark on a food and wine tour of Bilbao. During this 2.5-hour city walk, you'll follow the waterfront of the River Nervión to the historic Casco Viejo (Old Town) and contemporary neighborhoods, stopping to sample some delectable pintxos (pronounced "peenchos"), northern Spain's version of tapas. While you eat, your guide will impart knowledge about Bilbao's history, culture, and gastronomy and how they're all seamlessly intertwined.

You'll stop at four different eateries as you stroll through the city to enjoy pintxos paired with high-quality Spanish wine that adheres to the national DO (Denominación de Origin) system. You'll also stop at historic landmarks during the tour, such as buildings that date back to the 13th century. Highlights include the 14th-century Bilbao Cathedral, Fuente Plaza Santiago, the Church of Saint Anthony, and Plaza Nueva

Day 2: Bilbao Walking Tour, Visit the Guggenheim Museum

Bilbao City Center
Walk along Bilbao's romantic River Nerviób

In the morning, you'll meet another expert local guide and hit the cobbled streets of Bilbao's Old Town once again. During this morning tour, you'll pass the 700-year-old buildings and unique architecture that make this city so unique. Notable stops include Bilbao's many cathedrals (including the churches of San Anton and Santiago), the City Hall, local Basque markets, Iberian ham shops, designer boutiques, and more.

Next, go to the city's famous Ribera Market, the largest covered market in Europe. The energy is crackling here as locals shop for fresh produce, fish, and meats brought in fresh daily from the sea and Basque countryside. After sampling a few delicacies at food stalls, leave the market and stroll along the beautiful Nervión River. Continue through the city's expanded neighborhoods, learning the history of the Basque culture, its language, and incredible architectural transformation.

Of course, no visit to Bilbao is complete without stopping in at the Guggenheim Museum, a masterpiece of contemporary architecture by the legendary Frank Gehry. This glimmering titanium structure looks more like a sculpture than a building, with its sleek lines sensually curving in apparent defiance of physics. During this three-hour visit, you'll explore the museum's 258,300 feet (24,000 sq m) of space, which houses a treasure trove of works from great artists such as Andy Warhol, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, and Eduardo Chillida.

Day 3: Private Cooking Class, Txikiteros Pub Crawl

Unlock the secrets to Basque cuisines flavors during a cooking class

Today you'll go beyond a food tour and get to the heart of Basque cuisine in a private cooking class. This region is a hub of acclaimed and rising culinary stars pushing boundaries in the forward-thinking restaurants and creative pintxos bars in Bilbao, and this experience illuminates what makes all of it so unique. Under the tutelage of a pro-Basque chef, you'll receive a private hands-on lesson in preparing tapas-style dishes using top-quality ingredients sourced from the local markets.

The experience starts by visiting a market to pick up fresh, organic ingredients like fish, meat, and locally grown produce. Then you'll head to the kitchen to prepare three famous Basque dishes (and a dessert) inspired by the Basque region's coastal fishing villages and mountainous interior. Besides learning the cooking techniques, you'll hear all about the traditions that make this cuisine so special. At the end of the experience, relax and enjoy your creations.

After lunch, you'll embark on a three-hour Txikiteros pub crawl Txikiteros are a group of Basque retirees that spend afternoons hopping from bar to bar, singing traditional songs. In return, the bars' proprietors compensate them with a small glass of wine—in fact, the name of these wandering songsmiths derives from the word txikito, which is the actual name of the specific wine glass. Txikiteros are respected and beloved by the Basque community, and going bar-hopping with these convivial folks is one of the most unforgettable experiences in the country.

Day 4: Drive to La Rioja, Optional Activities

Take a drive to the vineyards and historic towns in La Rioja

In the morning, you'll pick up a rental car and embark on a self-guided road trip. It's a 1.5-hour drive south from Bilbao through the Basque countryside to La Rioja, one of the premier wine-growing regions of Spain. Known for its seven famous valleys blanketed in vineyards, this beautiful province is most known for producing delicious tempranillo wines.

But vineyards aren't the only thing to marvel at on this scenic drive. La Rioja is also home to UNESCO-listed monasteries and iconic medieval castles like Castillo de Sajazarra and Castillo de Aguas Mansas. Upon arrival in the region, you'll check into your accommodation and have the rest of the day free. Perhaps you want to hike to charming villages, go wine tasting (ahead of tomorrow's tour), or visit San Lorenzo Peak.

Day 5: Wine Tour in La Rioja

Walk through the vineyards
Walk through the vineyards of La Rioja and meet local winemakers
Plan your trip to Spain
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

In the morning, you'll embark on a comprehensive tour of one of Spain's most renowned wine regions. Accompanying you is a local guide who'll lead you to famous wineries in the two main viticulture areas of La Rioja: Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa. You'll stroll through vineyards at each one and meet the winemakers and their families. It's an excellent opportunity to learn all about the generational history of these operations.

At both estates, the winemakers will take you through the process, from cultivation to bottling. Learn about enology from the experts and tour the production facilities. At the end of each tour, you'll enjoy a tasting with the winemaker. Learn how to properly swirl and sip in order to best extract the flavors and identify the different aromas. At the end of the experience, you'll walk away with a new understanding of La Rioja and its coveted varietals. 

Day 6: Transfer to San Sebastián via Pamplona

Check out Pamplona's 15th-century Gothic cathedral

The grand road trip continues today when you drive from La Rioja north to the coastal gem of San Sebastián. The drive takes about two hours, but you'll stop along the way at Pamplona. Known for its world-famous San Fermín festival, which includes the thrilling running of the bulls, there are plenty of other highlights here that visitors can enjoy year-round.

When you arrive, head out on foot and visit the city's top attractions, including Castillo Square, City Hall, the 16th-century Citadel of Pamplona military fort, the Chapel of San Fermín, Santa María la Real Cathedral, local food markets, and plenty of historic locales in the Old Quarter—including some of Ernest Hemingway's old haunts. After exploring Pamplona, get back in the car and continue to San Sebastián.

Day 7: San Sebastián Walking Tour

San Sebastián is one of the loveliest resort cities in Europe

After breakfast, you'll embark on a half-day walking tour of San Sebastián. A highlight of Spain's famed Basque Country, this city is known for its stunning beaches and world-renowned cuisine that, like Bilbao, stars the delicious pintxo. After meeting your personal guide, you'll begin the walk across the city from east to west, enjoying the waterfront scenery, history, and hodgepodge of flamboyant architecture ranging from Gothic to Belle Époque.

You'll also hike up San Sebastián's three hills. The first is Mount Igueldo, on the west side, which offers some of the city's most amazing views. Then stroll the promenade along the crescent-shaped La Concha Beach, and perhaps take a ferry to the iconic offshore island of Santa Clara for more great views. Then cross the River Urumea and make your way to the famous Parte Vieja (Old Town), where you can feel like a local as you pop in at the many cafés and pintxos bars.

Day 8: Day Trip to French Basque Coast

Biarritz, in France's Basque Country, was known as the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic Coast

The Basque Country isn't merely limited to Spain—it extends into southern France as well. See the cultural similarities of this region that straddles two countries on a full-day road trip. Leave in the morning from San Sebastián and drive a mere 25 or so minutes north to the French border. Once you cross over, you'll visit charming coastal towns that reflect how international boundaries have no impact on this unique area's history, culture, language, and traditions. In total, you'll visit three towns: Biarritz, Bayonne, and Saint-Jean-de-Luz.

Biarritz is particularly interesting. Historically, it was a fishing village but rose in prominence in the 19th century, eventually becoming known as the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic Coast. For a while, it was a stomping ground for celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, and Ernest Hemingway. Even now, it retains its air of vintage glamour, particularly in the central focal point of the Casino Municipal on the Grande Plage waterfront promenade. You can also enjoy great sea views at the Rocher de la Vierge rock formation before stopping at a local eatery for lunch.

Next, you'll reach the region's capital city, Bayonne. Start by visiting a few iconic sites, such as the 16th-century Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne, the old fort at the Adour and Nive Rivers, and the buzzy Carreau des Halles market. On your way back to San Sebastián, stop to explore the historic Old Town of St Jean de Luz, known for its stunning 14th-century church, Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste. You can also enjoy time on the city's Grande Plage beach and wander its charming streets.

Day 9: Hike Mount Jaizkibel, Visit Hondarribia

Climb a scenic trail that overlooks the Bay of Biscay

After breakfast, you'll leave San Sebastián and head back toward the border with France, stopping to explore some of the most beautiful parts of the rural Basque Country as well as some charming coastal towns. During this full-day excursion, you'll enjoy an easy three-hour hike up the famous Mount Jaizkibel, whose scenic trails lead up to amazing viewpoints overlooking the Bay of Biscay.

Next, you'll visit a txakoli winery, where you'll tour the vineyards, learn about the production process of the Spanish Basque Country's most famous white wine, and enjoy some tastings. End the day trip in Hondarribia, a picturesque fishing village founded in the 13th century and adorned with elegant plazas and cobbled streets. Discover the city's ancient walls, visit the Old Town and marina, and enjoy some delicious tapas at one of the many bars. Afterward, you'll return to San Sebastián.

Day 10: Depart San Sebastián

Until next time, San Sebastián!
Unfortunately, your grand tour of the Basque Country has reached its terminus. At the appropriate time, your driver will transfer you from your hotel to the airport in San Sebastián, where you'll catch your flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Explore the Spanish Basque Country & More - 10 Days
Map of Explore the Spanish Basque Country & More - 10 Days