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The Basque Country

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8 days From £1,799 £1,699 per person

Discover the best of the Basque country from charming Hondarribia, including San Sebastián, Bilbao and La Rhune Mountain Railway.

Operated by our sister company Rail Discoveries
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Save £100pp on Europe 2024 last-minute holidays, when you book by 27th August 2024.

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2024 Tour code: 24BHS

About the tour

Explore the beautiful Basque coast of Spain and France from the delightful seaside town of Hondarribia, visiting coastal fishing towns and stylish cities, discovering the celebrated cuisine, art and culture of this fascinating region, and riding the Petit Train de La Rhune with its panoramic views across the Atlantic Ocean and the Pyrenees.

Unforgettable Experiences

Travel on Le Petit Train de la Rhune
Travel on Le Petit Train de la Rhune
Take a trip to the summit of La Rhune mountain, travelling in 1920s vintage carriages and enjoying panoramic views of the Pyrenees and across the Atlantic.
Enjoy a guided tour of beautiful San Sebastián
Enjoy a guided tour of beautiful San Sebastián
Discover a gorgeous city on a great coastline, that’s celebrated for its cuisine, especially pintxos, a Basque-style tapas.
Stay in the colourful Basque coastal town of Hondarribia
Stay in the colourful Basque coastal town of Hondarribia
This characterful town has a well-preserved medieval wall and a 16th century castle, now a heritage hotel, and a thriving foodie scene to explore.

What’s included


Day 1 – From London to Hondarribia

We meet our Tour Manager and group at London St Pancras and join the Eurostar to Paris. From Paris we continue by rail to Hendaye, France. We are transferred by coach, just across the estuary and the Spanish border, to the town of Hondarribia. This attractive coastal town has historic plazas and traditional Basque houses with brightly painted wooden shutters and balconies of colourful flower boxes. We check into our central hotel for seven nights, where we enjoy our first three-course dinner together as a group.

  • Dinner
Day 2 – A day to explore Hondarribia

Today is free to relax and get to know Hondarribia at your own pace. Considered one of the most beautiful spots in the Basque country, this vibrant fishing village has plenty of character and a lot to offer. Our hotel is in La Marina neighbourhood, close to the port and a few minutes from the beach. You can reach the medieval old town - signposted as the Casco Antiguo - by following the preserved walls which once protected the castle of Charles V. The 16th century castle stands at the highest point of the village, now restored as a hotel and facing the main square 'Plaza de Armas'. Just behind the square is the Gothic church of Santa María de la Asunción.

A free day means dining independently and there are lots of inviting places to choose from. Close to our hotel, the main street of La Marina is pedestrianised, lined with trees and wooden fishermen's houses with pintxo bars and restaurants. Pintxos, or pinchos in Spanish, is a type of tapas which is unique to the Basque Country. Other traditional Basque food is mainly fish and seafood, and specialities may include fish soup, tuna and hake. At lunchtime, many places offer a menú del día which is usually excellent value and a great way to sample what's in season.

  • Breakfast
Day 3 – San Sebastián

This morning we're taken by coach to the exciting city of San Sebastián for a guided tour of the historic sights, followed by free time to look around independently. Known as Spain's culinary capital, San Sebastián is world famous for its cuisine. Set in the fabulous La Concha Bay, San Sebastián has a glamorous past as a seaside resort.

After our tour you're free for a few hours. With the beach easily accessible on foot, you could have a refreshing dip in the sea, or maybe take a boat trip out to the nearby island of Santa Clara. If you'd like to know more about local culture, the interesting San Telmo Museum in the Old Town is dedicated to Basque culture and history. Despite its modern façade, the original building is a beautiful 16th century Dominican convent, and this is the oldest museum in the Basque country. Later we return by coach to our hotel for a three-course dinner.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 4 – Free time in Hondarribia

Today you're at leisure to discover more of Hondarribia, or to explore the surrounding area. Set along the estuary of the Bidasoa River which links Spain with France, the sea here is the calmest in the Basque region. If you haven't already discovered it, there's a wide and sandy beach, popular with both locals and tourists. This is a lovely place to swim and maybe relax on a sun bed with a book. There's a lifeguard, bathrooms, showers and changing rooms, and the beach also has a choice of bars and restaurants.

This evening you could follow local tradition, visiting a number of small bars to sample a variety of delicious pintxo. Although much smaller than San Sebastián, Hondarribia has a reputation for great cuisine and the town attracts upcoming chefs who gain valued experience in the town's restaurants. The town is packed with a wide variety of restaurants where you can indulge in typical Basque fare.

  • Breakfast
Day 5 – St Jean de la Luz, Petit Train de la Rhune

Today we travel by coach, just across the border to the nearby coastal town of St Jean de la Luz, a lively fishing port in France's Aquitaine province. Right on the ocean, St Jean is known for its beautiful beach and excellent seafood. You're free to look around here over lunchtime and maybe sample the catch of the day.

This afternoon is one of the highlights of our holiday - a trip on the Petit Train de la Rhune, an authentic 1920s rack railway, which takes us to the summit of La Rhune. We transfer by coach to join the railway at Col de St Ignace, ten kilometres away from St Jean de la Luz. Travelling in vintage carriages - up above forests, ravines and mountain peat bogs - we experience fantastic views of the Pyrenees and Basque coast, from San Sebastián to Biarritz, across the Atlantic Ocean. After this stunning trip, we travel back to the hotel by coach for a three-course dinner.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 6 – Discover more in and around Hondarribia

With another chance to explore at leisure today, you could enjoy a walk along the Hondarribia seafront promenade. From the marina, follow the Butrón Boardwalk along the waterside for wonderful views of the ocean, the estuary and 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.

If you'd like to explore further, there's a bus service to Hendaye, which has a train station with direct connections to French Basque towns such as St Jean de Luz (12 minutes, 3 euros), Biarritz (25 minutes, 6 euros). There's also a ferry service between Hondarribia and Hendaye which takes around 10 minutes.

If your holiday happens to be in September, this is the month of the town's main festivities - the fiesta of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the city's patron saint.

  • Breakfast
Day 7 – Bilbao

This morning we are taken by coach to visit Bilbao, a modern city with a charming Old Quarter, to see the amazing Guggenheim Museum. With entry included, you can look around at your own pace. The contemporary gallery features the work of artists including Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois, but it's the museum building - with its curvy, titanium-clad exterior designed by Frank Gehry - which often gets the most attention.

After you've viewed the exhibitions you're free in Bilbao, maybe look around the Old Town where you'll find more tempting Basque tapas or seafood for lunch. Or maybe visit the Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park which has beautiful gardens, architecture, and fountains. After a coach transfer back to Hondarribia, enjoy a final three-course dinner with your group at the hotel.

  • Breakfast, Dinner
Day 8 – Homeward bound

After our final breakfast we are taken by coach to Hendaye then travel by train to Paris. Changing trains here, we join the Eurostar service to London St Pancras. On your journey home there's time to look back on the last week of adventures and maybe share memories with your group.

  • Breakfast

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.


Hotel Jauregui, Hondarribia

Hotel Jauregui, Hondarribia

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La Rhune Mountain Railway

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