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The Beautiful Basque Country

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8 days From £1,895 £1,845 per person
4.2 stars(24 reviews)

A first class discovery tour of the cuisine and culture of the Cantabrian Coast

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Save up to £150pp on selected Europe 2024 holidays when you book by 31st October 2023.

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Mobility Rating 2

2024 Tour code: SEG24

About the tour

Based in delightful Hondarribia, a small medieval town with a global reputation for great food, we uncover the gems of both Spanish and French Basque country, visiting the cosmopolitan cities of San Sebastián and Bilbao, tasting local specialities, wines and ciders along the way. We take a special trip on La Rhune Mountain Railway for panoramic views across the French Pyrenees, and stay in the fabulous Parador of Hondarribia, a fortified 10th century castle.

Unforgettable experiences

Enjoy lunch at a Rioja wine estate and visit medieval Laguardia
Enjoy lunch at a Rioja wine estate and visit medieval Laguardia
We take a trip into Spain’s finest wine region, La Rioja, visiting the medieval hilltop town Laguardia, and visiting a winery – each course expertly paired with a special Rioja wine.
A guided walking tour and pintxos experience in San Sebastián
A guided walking tour and pintxos experience in San Sebastián
Enjoy a guided walking tour of this glorious city, the world’s food capital, then join in with the local tradition of a lunchtime ‘txikiteo’ - socialising while enjoying traditional Basque-style tapas - before time to explore San Sebastián independently.
Ride on Le Petit Train de la Rhune
Ride on Le Petit Train de la Rhune
Journey aboard Le Petit Train de la Rhune, travelling in vintage carriages up to La Rhune, the emblematic mountain of the Basque Country, with views across the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean.
Step into the future and travel into the past, in fabulous Bilbao
Step into the future and travel into the past, in fabulous Bilbao
Visit vibrant Bilbao, the beating heart of the Basque Country, and discover the bold modern art of the Guggenheim Museum before savouring the cuisine, culture and shopping of the city’s beautifully-preserved old quarter.

What’s included


Day 1 – From London to Hondarribia, on the Basque Coast

We meet our Tour Manager and fellow travellers this morning at London St Pancras, ready to board the Eurostar to Paris. Travelling in spacious Standard Premier Class we are served a light meal at our seats. From Paris, we continue by First Class rail to the coastal French town of Hendaye, situated on a scenic estuary which marks the Spanish border. Arriving in the early evening, we're met by a coach to take us over the border to charming Hondarribia, where we spend the next seven nights.

Our fabulous hotel is the 4-star Parador de Hondarribia, a restored 10th century castle which overlooks the cobblestoned Plaza de Armas, the main square of the Old Town, and beyond to the Cantabrian Sea. Below us is the attractive La Marina, a vibrant neighbourhood whose pedestrianised avenues are lined with traditional Basque houses, with brightly-painted shutters and balconies overflowing with geraniums. La Marina has a lively but laid-back atmosphere with a great mix of restaurants serving high quality cuisine.

  • Dinner
  • Eurostar Meal
Day 2 – Sampling pintxos and soaking up the culture of San Sebastián

Today we visit the stunning city of San Sebastián, just half an hour away, by coach. With its idyllic setting, overlooking the gorgeous La Concha Bay, the city has a glamorous past as a wealthy seaside resort. Today it is regarded as the culinary capital of Spain, and is celebrated for its pintxos, a Basque interpretation of tapas. This style of eating is so much a part of the local culture, it even has its own name - 'El Txikiteo' - a tradition which essentially means to socialise while snacking on pintxos. After a guided walking tour of the city's sights we try it for ourselves over lunchtime.

After our pintxos experience, you're free for the rest of the afternoon to enjoy San Sebastián at your leisure. With the golden beach close by and easy to access on foot, you may wish to take a dip in the warm sea. Or you could take a boat trip out to the nearby island of Santa Clara. To discover more about San Sebastián's heritage you may like to visit the San Telmo Museum in the Old Town, which is dedicated to Basque culture and history. The building's modern façade hides a surprising interior - a beautiful 16th century Dominican convent which is the Basque Country's oldest museum.

We return to Hondarribia in the afternoon and your evening is free to spend as you wish.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 3 – Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Le Petit Train de La Rhune, and lunch in a French cider house

After a leisurely morning, we set out by coach just across the border to the vibrant French fishing port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, where you're free to look around and maybe walk along the seafront promenade. This charming resort is treasured for its architecture, beautiful swimming bay and colourful Basque houses. The quality of its cuisine is also highly rated, and there's free time over lunch to sample some of this.

This afternoon we enjoy two highlights of our holiday. First we board the Petit Train de La Rhune for a journey to the summit of La Rhune, the emblematic mountain of the Basque Country. Travelling in vintage carriages of this 1920s rack railway, we admire panoramic views across the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean. At certain times of the year, we may even see the small, semi-feral ponies - known locally as 'pottok' - who graze this high up.

After our descent, we are taken by coach to a wonderful artisanal cider house and restaurant in Ascain, named Txopinondo. Here, after a tour and short film about traditional cider production, we enjoy an authentic Basque four-course meal. This includes a delicious variety of apple-based drinks and condiments with rustic appetisers of chorizo, tortilla with cod and potatoes, followed by chargrilled prime ribs - rounded off with sheep's cheese, nuts, Basque cake and apple brandies - all produced on site.  

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – A free day in Hondarribia

Your day is free to get to know the coastal town of Hondarribia better. Considered to be one of the most beautiful Basque Country towns, this colourful fishing village has plenty to offer. As you may have noticed, the town is a characterful blend of French and Spanish Basque influences in its architecture, cuisine and culture.

The best way to explore is to walk through the well-preserved Old Town, signposted as the Casco Antiguo, from the Santa Maria Gate to the San Nicolas Gate of the fortified walls. Here you'll discover its main medieval street, with a mix of churches, traditional Basque-style houses and Baroque buildings which have stood for centuries.

This evening you could visit one or more pintxo bars to sample a variety of delicious flavours along with a glass of local wine. Although much smaller than San Sebastián, the town has an excellent reputation for cuisine and - with at least one Michelin starred restaurant - attracts many aspiring chefs who gain valuable experience here. Wander through the Old Town or down to La Marina and you'll find a variety of restaurants where you can indulge in typical Basque dishes.

  • Breakfast
Day 5 – A day to discover bold and beautiful Bilbao

Today we make our way by coach to Bilbao, a city set between the Cantabrian mountains on the banks of the River Nervión, known as the creative heart of the Basque Country. Our destination is the avant-garde Guggenheim Museum. Devoted to modern, contemporary work by artists such as Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois, the museum itself - with its curvy, titanium-clad exterior designed by Frank Gehry - is an architectural showpiece.

After time to view the different exhibitions, you're free in Bilbao to explore independently. Cross the bridge to the Old Town - Casco Viejo - where you'll find many restaurants or cafés with tempting pintxos or seafood for lunch. You may also like to visit the pretty Arenal Gardens, at the gateway to the historical quarter, to sit amid the peaceful shady foliage. You may like to visit the Baroque opera house, Bilbao's cathedral, or the popular La Ribera market, on the riverside.

Alternatively, you could ride to the top of Mount Artxanda by funicular railway, or take a boat ride along the Ría de Bilbao. Other modern buildings in Bilbao which are worthy of attention include the Alhóndiga Cultural and Leisure Centre, an innovative renovation of a former wine cellar by French architect, Phillippe Starck.

This evening back in Hondarribia we enjoy a wonderful three-course dinner at a local restaurant, Zeria, owned and operated by the same family since 1965 and located in a 16th century building.

  • Breakfast
Day 6 – A day in the heart of the La Rioja winelands

Today, the last full day of our time in the Basque Country, promises to be delightful and a highlight of our trip. We set out by coach after breakfast to our first destination, the medieval village of Laguardia, which has a dramatic mountain backdrop. This hill-top village is the gateway to the winelands, and we have free time to explore. We continue for a guided wine tasting in a fascinating cellar, beneath the Palace of the Samaniegos, where the 18th century writer Félix María de Samaniego was inspired to write his fabulist fiction.

We continue into the surrounding countryside for lunch at a modern winery in a fantastic building. The winery's glass frontage offers beautiful views of the Rioja valley and Cantabrian hills, which we enjoy with our food, which is creatively paired with more delicious local Rioja. We return to our hotel in Hondarribia at the end of the afternoon. With our last evening free, there's time to relax and revisit your favourite spot in the Casco Antigo, or La Marina neighbourhood.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 – A day at leisure in Hondarribia

With another chance to explore at leisure today, you could walk along the Hondarribia seafront promenade. From the marina, follow the Butrón Boardwalk along the waterside for wonderful views of the estuary across to Hendaye, on the opposite bank of the Bidasoa River. The Bay Path, or Camino de la Bahia, is a trail of around 14 kilometres that spans the waterfront between the eastern end of Hendaye's beach and Hondarribia's lighthouse. Hondarribia has an inviting sandy beach, which is a lovely place to swim and maybe relax on a sun bed with a book. Facilities include a lifeguard, bathrooms, showers and changing rooms, and the beach also has a few bars and restaurants.

If you'd like to explore further, there's a bus service from Hondarribia to Hendaye, which has a train station with direct connections to French Basque towns such as St Jean de Luz (12 minutes) and Biarritz (25 minutes). There's also a ferry service between Hondarribia and Hendaye which takes around 10 minutes. If you happen to be visiting in September, this is the month of the town's main festivities - the fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the city's patron saint. Expect celebrations, colourful parades and fabulous displays of fireworks.

  • Breakfast, Lunch
Day 8 – Homeward bound

We bid farewell to the Basque Country after breakfast today, transferring by coach to Hendaye for our First Class rail journey to Paris. Enroute there's time to reflect on our many experiences and perhaps to view some of our digital images. From Paris we join the Eurostar to London St Pancras, travelling in spacious Standard Premier Class with a light meal served at our seats. We arrive in London St Pancras International in the evening and say goodbye to our travelling companions and new friends who have shared these memorable moments with us.

  • Breakfast
  • Eurostar Meal

Additional information

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.


Parador de Hondarribia, Hondarribia

Parador de Hondarribia, Hondarribia

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La Rhune Mountain Railway

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4.2 stars4.2 / 5 · 24 reviews

  1. 5 stars
  2. 4 stars
  3. 3 stars
  4. 2 stars
  5. 1 star

Mr Colin Blackman

5 stars

Submitted 25/Sep

Very enjoyable trip. Lovely area, plenty to see ... and eat ... and drink ! Excursions well-paced, plenty of time to look around. Very knowledgeable and helpful Tour Manager available when needed, discreet when not. An unexpected bonus was that we caught the tail end of a festival in Hondarribia with street entertainment and a free concert.

Collected by Trustpilot

G Sturgess

4 stars

Submitted 24/Sep

Good balance of organised activities and free days. Great hotel in old town of Hondarribia. Very efficient and pleasant tour manager. All travel went well. We thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Paul Darlington

4 stars

Submitted 29/Jun

Beautiful part of Spain, impressive hotel ,lovely staff , helpful tour manager.Only criticism no meal arranged when we arrived arrived after exhausting journey from Paris.

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Bill Bower

4 stars

Submitted 29/Jun

Very good trip with an excellent tour manager Too much travel by coach in regard to organised trips

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Mr Geoffrey Dart

5 stars

Submitted 28/Jun

Hotel and location excellent .Tour manager very good indeed and excursions well planned. Overall a super holiday.

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Trish Porter

5 stars

Submitted 25/May

Lovely hotel the Parador. Really good excursions with the right amount of free time. Would recommend

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