Walking in the Basque Country

8 days
from
£1,229
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Traveller ratings
5 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Trip code: 
TSB
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Walking & Trekking Holidays
Min age:
16
Group size:
5–15

Relaxed coastal walking through the very best of the Basque Country

Straddling the Franco-Spanish border but boasting a unique culture that pre-dates both its neighbours, the Basque Country has much to offer. The sparkling coastline with sweeping golden beaches, colourful fishing ports and dramatic Atlantic surf forms a perfect backdrop for our week of relaxed walking. Exploring its French and Spanish highlights, our walks vary from the cosmopolitan coastal resort of San Sebastian, to the lush mountain pathways surrounding the quaint village of Ascain.

Highlights

  • Picturesque coastal walks
  • Time to explore San Sebastian
  • Free time to visit Bilbao

Key information

  • 7 nights in two 3-star hotel, all rooms en suite
  • 5 days centre-based walking; 1 free day
  • Altitude maximum 905m, average 300m
  • Well-marked trails and paths, occasionally rocky

What's included

  • All breakfasts are included
  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers (if booking group flights)

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

5

Pace:

Approximately 4-6 hours walking per day

Terrain:

Low altitude; good paths, some rocky sections

Day by day breakdown
Day 211.0km/6.0miles
Day 38.0km/4.0miles
Day 58.0km/4.0miles
Day 612.0km/7.0miles

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrival

    We are welcomed by our guide at Bilbao airport before transferring to the village of Ascain (transfer time approximately 2hr). Ascain (or Azkaine in Basque) is a typical Basque village located at the foot of the Rhune mountain, the last big mountain of the Pyrenees and on the French side of the Basque Country. With a little less than 5000 inhabitants, Ascain has kept the charm of an old Basque village and yet has a  few restaurants, bars, shops and bakeries. The village square hosts the 'fronton' (pitch) with the traditional wall which is used to play the local pelote basque game. The chapel Saint Jacques is there to signify that this place was a stop for the Compostela pilgrims. We will be here for the next 3 nights. In the evening our guide will go through the program of the week.

  • Day 2

    Short transfer by public bus to the Col de Saint Ignace. Take mountain train to the top of La Rhune to enjoy spectacular views of the Atlantic Coast. Picturesque descent on foot crossing the French and Spanish border.

    This morning we take a public bus to the col de Saint Ignace (10 min). We then ride a picturesque mountain train (dating back to 1924) to the summit of La Rhune to see arguably the most spectacular views of the French and Spanish Atlantic coast. After stopping to appreciate the coastline and take some photos we will walk across the French and Spanish border before descending back down to the col de Saint Ignace (750m of downhill walking – there is an option to take the train down).

    Walk: Distance 11 km Ascent 350 m Descent 850 m Time: 5 to 6 hours

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Transfer to Pasaia, Spain. Coastal walk to San Sebastian for guided city tour. Transfer by train to Getaria.

    We start with a private bus transfer to the fishing town of Pasaia. From here we enjoy a stunning coastal walk to the bustling coastal capital of San Sebastian. It is easy to see how this vibrant city won the 2016 title of European Capital of Culture, brimming with the infamous pintxos bars, Michelin starred restaurants, museums and cafes. Once in San Sebastien we will have a city tour after which we head by public bus to our base for the next four nights; the charming fishing village of Getaria.

    Walk: Distance 8 km Ascent 250 m Descent 250m Time: 5 to 6 hours

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Free day; optional visit to Bilbao and the famous Guggenheim museum, spend more time in San Sebastian or simply relax in Getaria.

    Many options are available for our free day. Stay in Getaria relax by the sea, visit the incredible Cristobal Balenciaga museum of fashion, the church San Salvador or take a boat trip around Getaria. Re-visit the stunning city of San Sebastian including the playa de la Concha and the playa de Gros with its surfers or alternatively explore Bilbao and the iconic Guggenheim museum. Please note that using public buses to Bilbao is possible but can take approximately 1.5hr one way so an early start would be recommended. Alternatively your leader can help organise a shared taxi if there are others in the group who also wish to visit Bilbao.

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Transfer by public bus to the pretty coastal town of Zumaia. From here enjoy some of the finest coastline in the Basque Country.

    After a short transfer further up the coast on public transport we will reach the pretty seaside resort of Zumaia. From here we will enjoy a fantastic coastal walk following the Compostela trail and GR‐121 route. This walk offers some of the finest Spanish Basque coastline and is now protected to preserve its unique beauty and ecosystem. It is famous for being one of the world's best places to see rock formations called 'flysch', it is exposed here and tide permitting we will go down to the beach for a closer look before walking along the top of the cliffs to begin our walk.

    Walk: Distance 8 km Ascent 250 m Descent 250 m Time: 4 to 5 hours

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Following a short transfer by public bus, walk from Zarautz beach (the largest beach in the Basque Country) to Getaria.

    After a short public transfer, our final walk will follow fabulous, gentle route from a plateau above the coastline with views of Zarautz beach (the largest beach of the Basque Country) to Getaria along the coast. This route follows part of The Way of St James, formerly the main land route parallel to the sea in Gipuzkoa. We will then continue on a loop circumnavigating Getaria through the Txakolis vineyards.

    Walk: Distance 12 km Ascent 300 m Descent 300 m Time: 4 to 5 hours

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Farewell

    After breakfast we transfer to Bilbao to fly home.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Spain

No visa required for British passport holders.

Vaccinations

Spain

There are no specific health risks.

Eating and Drinking

In the itinerary we state which meals are included on each day (7 breakfasts are included). There is a nearby supermarket and bakery to buy packed lunches and both Ascain and Getaria have plenty of choices for your evening meal. There is something for most for most budgets and palates, including traditional Basque cuisine - your leader will be able to offer advice and will pre book restaurants for members of the group who wish to eat together.

The Hotel de la Rhune can provide sandwiches for €2 if ordered the night before.

Weather

Situated near the Atlantic coast Ascain and Getaria enjoy warm summer temperatures. Rainfall occurs mainly in April and November. Spring, from March to May, sees a high of 17°C in March, 17°C in April and 21°C in May. Light showers are fairly frequent. Summer, from June to September, enjoys long, hot days made pleasant by cooling sea breezes. The area sees an average high of 23°C in June, 25°C in July and 28°C August before dropping to 26°C in September. However, daytime temperatures often soar beyond 38°C. Seawater temperature peaks at 24°C in August. Autumn sees an average high temperature of 21°C in October.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is Activity Level 2 - Leisurely/Moderate. The terrain and type of path track will vary from manmade paved tracks (which are occasionally rocky) to tarmac and you should expect some ascent and descent. All walks take between 4 and 6 hours including lunch stops and require a moderate level of fitness. Public transport can be subject to delays and seasonal time tables, so some waiting at bus stops/train stations should be expected. The itinerary for all departures may also be altered or modified from time to time depending on the weather, the conditions of the route, the abilities and/or wishes of the group, or other local factors. The leader will discuss these changes with you if and when they occur.

All walks are optional should you wish to take extra days out of the walking itinerary. On some days, walks may be shortened if you wish to take public transport (again this is dependent on the time of year), however please be aware this may be at your own expense and the leader will continue with the group (they will happily offer advice and ensure you know which bus or train you need to take).

You may find our Fitness Training Guide a useful reference: http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/pdf/Exodus_WT_Fitness_Training_Guide.pdf

Public transport can be subject to delays and seasonal time tables, so some waiting at bus stops/train stations should be expected.

All ascents, descents and distances listed below have been measured by our local partners or tour leaders. Please note that different GPS measuring devices can give differing results dependent on the barometric pressures at the time. Measurements stated throughout these trips notes are given to
help you understand the types of terrain and distances you will encounter.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels

Hotel de la Rhune, France ***

Situated in the heart of Ascain, this family-run hotel offers comfort and charm. The garden terrace provides the perfect spot to relax and watch the traditional Basque game of pelota take place. All rooms are en suite, with TV, telephone and there is Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel.

Hotel Saiaz, Spain ***

With a 15th century gothic tower, this hotel is full of character. When you enter the hotel, the sea can be seen under the basements of the western walls - standing between the cliffs of Gatetape beach and Roke Deuna street. All rooms are en suite with minibar, safe, TV and there is Wi-Fi available throughout the hotel. Single rooms available on request - (double room for single use).

Please note that both hotels are situated in traditional villages church bells can be heard regularly.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed June 2017
    helen goward

    Hiking the Basque country

    Our group was a perfect size (9). The accommodations were amazing. The trails were beautiful and varied from day to day. This was my first guided trip with any company and Exodus certainly met my expectations. This was the first Exodus trip of this itinerary in the Basque Country and well worth it. I hope Exodus keeps it in the their inventory of travels. I would recommend it to anyone.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    .

    What did you think of your group leader?

    our guide, Bertrand, was superb in his ability to adapt the trails each day to the group and show compassion for everyone's needs. He went above what is was expected in many cases. His knowledge of the local area was helpful and interesting. Excellent guiding, Bertrand! And what a bonus to have Exodus's own Jenny on the trip. It was a pleasure to meet and get to know you on the trails. You can tell you truly love your job. Well done, Bertrand and Jenny to create a wonderful experience for our group!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Wonderful trip, thank you!
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Jenny Cox

    Beautiful Basque

    A fantastic walking holiday exploring both the French and Spanish Basque Country which have surprisingly different characteristics. We stayed in two different hotels during the week - both of which are brimming with character and excellently located in the village centres. The first few nights are in the picture perfect village of Ascain and the last part of the trip is in the historic fishing town of Getaria.  Each day brought something new - walking through farmland, vineyards, rolling green hills, forest, along the coast, following parts of the Camino de Santiago, exploring San Sebastian, and sampling indugent local pastries! The pace of the holiday was nice and relaxing and we had a leisurely start each morning and a good stop for lunch.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I loved taking the wooden train up La Rhune mountain - it chugs its way up and from the summit there are 360 degree views across the entire region. We had a beautiful clear day and could see from the coast to snow-capped mountains (presumably the Pyrenees) and the verdant hills inbetween. As we began walking down we came across several Pottock horses, many with young foals, grazing freely.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader Bertrand was exceptional - nothing was too much trouble. He was always prepared for any eventuality (lending out spare sunglasses, hats, walking poles, cups and so on), and in true French style, would produce a flask of hot coffee and a bottle of wine at each picnic lunch. 

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Pack swimwear - there's a lovely sandy beach at Getaria and also at neighbouring Zarautz, and depending on water levels, there may be a chance to tak a dip in a stream on one of the walks. I'd also recommend exploring the churches in both villages you stay in. 
  • Reviewed June 2017
    Mary Chow

    Basking in the Basque Country

    A wonderful walking trip visiting both France and Spain. Walks are easy and the scenery is beautiful and varied -forests, coastal walks, vinyards and farms. Also some of the walks were on the Compestelo trail and we did see some pilgrims. Saw quite a bit of wildlife including the local pottocks and local pigs as well as birds and also quite afew flowers. Food was good and reasonably priced. I'm not much of a drinker but the wine is plentiful and inexpensive (same price as my soft drink) and is often included with the meal. Accommodation was very good and run by very nice helpful people.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Enjoyed all the walking but the trip to the beach around Zumaia to see the rock formations was amazing! The evening at the apple winery was also great fun!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Bertrand was really great! He was knowledgeable and helpful. His car was like Mary Poppins carpet bag. If you forgot your walking sticks no problem! Feeling cold?? Bertrand has an extra jacket for you, Forgot your sunglasses Bertrand has a spare pair for you! His main goal was to ensure we had a great holiday, which he did superbly!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936