Complete Basque Country Tour featuring each of the main Basque cities in Alava, Guipuzcoa & Vizcaya in addition to the Rioja Alavesa Wine region.
Day ONE - VITORIA
Arrive in Bilbao where your rental car will await you. Enjoy a short 50 minute drive, through spectacular mountainous countryside, to the Basque Capital Vitoria and check in at your hotel. Spend the remainder of the day relaxing. Accommodation in Vitoria.
Day TWO - VITORIA
Today why not enjoy a walking tour of the city visiting the medieval quarter which takes approximately two and half hours. Begin the walk from the Virgin Blanca Plaza. See Stately homes and Renaissance palaces such as Villa Suso, Casa del Cordon, Escoriaza-Esquival, Portalon and Montehermoso. Visit also the unique Fournier Playing Card Museum, which holds one of the most important collections of playing cards in the world. You can also see sections of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town known as Gasteiz.
Tour the Santa María Cathedral where a very important restoration and excavation project is taking place. The writer Ken Follett´s statue can be found in the vicinity of the cathedral which was the inspiration for his novel World Without End. See also the Church of San Miguel, the Plaza del Machete, the Plaza de Esoana and finally return to the Plaza de la Virgin Blanca.
Make your way into the Plaza de Espana where you can enjoy a drink with tapas while relaxing on one of the many terraces.
Refreshed you might enjoy shopping along fashionable Calle Dato or at El Corte Ingles. Should you feel like visiting museums then head to the Museum of Fine Arts on the lovely La Senda walkway or if you like modern art head to Calle Francia where the Museum of Modern Art, Artium, will definitely appeal to you. Accommodation in Vitoria.
Day THREE - LAGUARDIA RIOJA
Today drive south to the Rioja region and head first to San Millan de la Cogolla where the Yuso and Suso Monasteries can be visited. These UNESCO World Heritage sites contain the first manuscripts written in the Castillian and Basque (Euskera) languages. You will travel through the typical landscape of vineyards, where the region´s internationally renowned wines, are produced. Visit en-route the Balcon de la Rioja, a viewing area in the Sierra de Cantabria which offers magnificent panoramic views of the Riojan plain.
Next proceed to Laguardia, capital of Rioja Alavesa, a splendid walled town that has carefully preserved its medieval characteristics. Walk through its narrow streets and be sure to visit one of the underground wine cellars; there are over 300 in the village. Stop at the Church of San Juan and afterwards see the extraordinary portico of the Santa María de los Reyes church.
Following a traditional Riojan lunch, head over to the Villa Lucia Wine Centre where you´ll have the opportunity to learn interactively about wine culture and production methods in Rioja Alavesa. From here you can tour other medieval villages in the area, visit the ancient ruins at La Hoya or you could, if the weather is good, spend the day relaxing by the swimming pools situated on the edge of the town. Accommodation in Rioja Alavesa.
Day FOUR - SAN SEBASTIAN
Depart for San Sebastian, a splendid city with one of the most beautiful bays in Europe known as La Concha. There are several scenic routes one can take to San Sebastian. On the way you might choose to stop in Hernani to see the Chillida Leku Museum where many sculptures by the internationally renowned Basque artist, Eduardo Chillida, can be viewed. You could also stop in the delightful maritime town of Hondarribia which is just east of San Sebastian. Hemingway fans may enjoy visiting Pamplona where the infamous Running of the Bulls festival takes place every July and which the writer wrote passionately about.
Arrive in San Sebastian and this evening soak up the local atmosphere in the Old Quarter sampling pinchos (tasty gourmet tapas San Sebastian style!) washed down with locally produced wines or cider. Accommodation in San Sebastian.
Day FIVE - SAN SEBASTIAN
Out and about in elegant San Sebastian. Explore the Old Quarter by day which is picturesquely situated at the foot of Mount Urgull. Visit the San Telmo Museum, stroll along La Concha Promenade with the Isle of Santa Clara in the distance. See Miramar Palace and at the end of the bay the distinctive Peine de los Vientos (wind comb)sculpture by Eduardo Chillida.
Afterwards make your way by funicular up Mount Igueldo which affords magnificent views over the city and bay.
Following lunch you might enjoy a stroll along the tree-lined Urumea River where you can see the Maria Cristina bridge and the Victoria Eugenia Theatre which, until recently, hosted the International Film Festival. Later you might treat yourself to a few hours at the La Perla Spa on La Concha beach. This evening why not dine in the one of San Sebastian´s many fine restaurants such as Restaurante Arzak, one of several in the city with a 3 star Michelin grade. Accommodation in San Sebastian.
Day SIX - BILBAO
Today make your way along the coast towards Bilbao visiting en-route the coastal towns of Zarautz, Getaria and onto the historical town of Gernika where you can visit the Casa de Juntas, Europe Park and see the Gernika Tree, a spiritual symbol for all Basques.
Then, take the coastal route along by the Urdaibai Reserve stopping on the way at the headland known as San Juan de Gaztelugatxe where you may enjoy spectacular coastal views. Later continue to Bilbao.
Day SEVEN - BILBAO
A full day in cosmopolitan Bilbao where you can enjoy visiting the Guggenheim Museum and later one of the most recent works by the architect Santiago Calatrava, the Zubi-Zuri Bridge, which crosses the Bilbao River near to the museum. From near here you can take the popular funicular and ascend Monte Archanda, from where you can appreciate a magnificent panoramic view of the city .
After decending, continue along the river walkway to the Plaza del Arenal, passing on the way many historic buildings including the splendid Town Hall. Next head to the Casco Viejo (Old Town) where many of the city’s most emblematic building can be found including the Teatro Arriaga, Plaza Neuva, Catedral de Santiago, Mercado de la Ribera, San Antón bridge and the Bidebarrieta library. The Plaza and the surrounding streets are full of bars, café´s and restaurants.
This evening enjoy a traditional Basque meal at any one of the many fine restaurants in the city such as La Vieja Zortzi or the superb Zortziko, where Basque cuisine is taken to a new level. Accommodation in Bilbao.
Day EIGHT - DEPARTURE
If you like the look of the above Suggested Tour we will gladly prepare a quote for you. The itinerary is not rigid and can be modified to suit your needs.
Below is a selection of the accommodation we would recommend for this tour. Click on the Hotel Code or symbol for photographs and detailed information about each property. If you have registered to use our Spain Travel & Holiday Planner, you need only click on to insert it into your itinerary.
|Basque Country Tour of Vitoria, Rioja, San Sebastian & Bilbao||Hotel Code||Classification||Information|
|2 nights in Vitoria||TBC55||Central Hotel|
|1 night in Rioja||RIO11||Country Hotel|
|2 nights in San Sebastian||TBC58||Central Hotel|
|2 nights in Bilbao||TBC48||Central Hotel|