Travel the Atlantic coastline from the vineyards of Bordeaux to the contemporary art of Bilbao on this 11-day itinerary. After exploring the wine regions of Bordeaux, you'll continue with bike tours of the countryside and the seaside glamour of Biarritz before you arrive in artsy Bilbao to wrap up your trip with a museum tour and a few more glasses of wine.

Highlights

  • Sip from the vintage vines of Bordeaux
  • Bike along the Basque Atlantic coast
  • Explore the food and towns of inland Basque country
  • Experience the art and architecture in Bilbao

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Bordeaux Bordeaux
Day 2 Farmers' Market & Wine Tour Bordeaux
Day 3 Bay of Arcachon & The Medoc Bordeaux
Day 4 Cycling in Saint-Emilion Bordeaux
Day 5 Travel to Biarritz Biarritz
Day 6 Bike & Basque Biarritz
Day 7 Basque Villages Biarritz
Day 8 Biarritz to Bilbao Bilbao
Day 9 Art & Architecture in Bilbao Bilbao
Day 10 Olive Oil & Wine Tour in La Rioja Bilbao
Day 11 Depart Bilbao  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Bordeaux

City of Bordeaux
City of Bordeaux

Start off your trip in Bordeaux with a free day to settle in and explore. Bordeaux is one of France's most dynamic cities, with half of the city marked as a UNESCO World Heritage site—the largest urban site of the category. A busy university population, booming tourist scene, and recent new buildings by world-class architects have brought Bordeaux to a modern urban identity all its own, complete with coffee shops, food trucks, and of course, more fine wine than you can shake a glass at.

Day 2: Farmers' Market & Wine Tour

Capucin's market in Bordeaux
Capucin's market in Bordeaux

Spend the morning at the Capucin farmer's market, taking in the spread of fresh local fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, cheeses, breads, and pastries. Navigate between the stalls and vendors, rubbing elbows with local chefs who are doing their morning shopping, mustached vendors, and beret-clad customers for a true French experience.

In the afternoon, take a Wine in the City tour starting at the Place Royale, home of the famous wine classification of 1855. Learn about Bordeaux's historic riverfront port and the role it's played in the wine trade since the Middle Ages. Then hop on the tram to visit the Wine Museum, le Musée du Vin et du Négoce, housed in the former wine cellar of an 18th century wine merchant. Follow that with a stroll through the Chartrons neighborhood, the city's historic district and home to wine merchants and barrel makers for the past 300 years, and top it off with a final tasting at a neighborhood wine bar with a broad selection of Bordeaux wines.

Day 3: Bay of Arcachon & The Medoc

Sandy beaches of the Medoc
Sandy beaches of the Medoc

Follow a full-day tour of beaches and vineyards across two landmark landscapes of the Bordeaux region: the shores Arcachon’s Bay and the  vineyards of the Medoc region. The inland sea of Arcachon's Bay is fed by the Atlantic, with its blue waters brushing up against a beach that's home to the Dune du Pyla, the largest sand dune in Europe. Then go inward to the Medoc region for more wine tastings, covering a full day of at least five wine tastings, an oyster tasting, and picnic lunch.

Day 4: Cycling in Saint-Emilion

Picnic lunch in Saint-Emilion vineyards
Picnic lunch in Saint-Emilion vineyards

Discover the vineyards of Saint-Emilion by bike on today's tour. Ride along the vineyards and famous chateaus of the region. Visit two of the chateaus, one scenic family-run estate and a Great Classified Growth estate, sampling the local vintages, particularly the standout merlot. Follow it up with a guided walk through the UNESCO World Heritage medieval village of Saint-Emilion.

Day 5: Travel to Biarritz

View on Biarritz beach and casino
View on Biarritz beach and casino

Travel over to Basque Country and the town of Biarritz. Once you arrive, spend your day exploring what was once the Monte Carlo of the Atlantic Coast and stomping ground of celebrities including Frank Sinatra, Bette Davis, Rita Hayworth, and Ernest Hemingway. It retains its air of vintage glamour, particularly in the central focal point of the Casino Municipal on Grande Plage and the streets between the casino and Plage du Port-Vieux.

Day 6: Bike & Basque

Biking along Basque coast
Biking along Basque coast

Cycle along 9 miles (14 km) of the Basque coast on an electric bicycle, taking in the views between Biarritz and Saint Jean de Luz. You'll cruise along the wild coastline, away from car traffic, with minimal physical exertion required thanks to the bikes' electric assistance. Your guide will lead you to stops along the route to taste Basque specialties from local producers.

Day 7: Basque Villages

Village of Ainoha in Basque Country
Village of Ainoha in Basque Country

Explore inland Basque country on a villages and culture tour, stopping at points including Espelette, Aihnoa, Sare, and Saint Jean Pied de Port. You'll pop into local producers' farms and facilities to sample specialties including Bayonne ham, Espelette chili powder, and local cheeses.

Day 8: Biarritz to Bilbao

Typical smoked ham in Basque country
Typical smoked ham in Basque country

Spend the day slowly making your way over the border to Bilbao, stopping at some of these charming cities along the way.

Your first potential detour is Bayonne, known as the City of Art and History to the French for its rich gastronomy and local tradition. Continue on to Saint Jean de Luz, known as the corsairs' town, to wander through its narrow alleys and snack on Basque food specialties.

Across the Spanish border, you can visit San Sebastian, land of golden beaches, lush hillsides, and a bustling dining and cultural scene. Make your way to Bilbao when you're ready to end the day.

Day 9: Architecture in Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao
Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Bask in the Basque language around you as you explore the mostly untouristed city of Bilbao.

You'll enjoy a private tour of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, one of the city's most iconic sights. The twists of its contemporary architecture reflect in the surrounding pool and are only a complement to the many works of art inside. A guided tour will take you through them up close. Then follow your guide out to the Abandoibarra district, a former industrial docklands turned art district thanks in part to the Guggenheim's proximity.

Day 10: Olive Oil & Wine Tour in La Rioja

Bodega Ysios in La Rioja's wine region
Bodega Ysios in La Rioja's wine region

Explore one of Spain's most scenic wine regions in La Rioja, with rolling hills and medieval hamlets set against the backdrop of the Cantabrian Mountains. A full-day olive oil and wine-tasting tour will start you off with the former, teaching you how to properly taste this Mediterranean staple. Then continue to two wineries where you'll taste two to four of their classic vintages and enjoy the views and architecture of your surroundings. You'll also pay a visit to the village of La Guardia, home to medieval streets and subterranean wine cellars seated behind a 13th century wall.

Day 11: Depart Bilbao

Abando Indalecio Prieto train station in Bilbao
Abando Indalecio Prieto train station in Bilbao

Wave goodbye to Spain as you head homeward or off to your next adventure.

Map

Map of Basque Country from Bordeaux to Bilbao - 11 Days
Map of Basque Country from Bordeaux to Bilbao - 11 Days