• Bayonne, France
  • St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
  • pamplona-bullring
    Pamplona’s Bullring
  • San Sebastián, Spain
  • Tapas in Spain's Basque Country
  • Camino de Santiago in Spain
  • Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Best of Basque Country of Spain & France in 9 Days Tour

Straddling the modern-day borders of Spain and France is one of Europe's most ancient, independent-thinking regions: the Basque Country. Starting in Bayonne and ending in Bilbao, this tour happily immerses you in the rich art, history and culture of Europe's Basque Country — including the distinctive towns of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, Pamplona, San Sebastián and Guernica. You'll also enjoy the region's gourmet cooking, full-bodied wines, and a time-tripping hike along the centuries-old Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. Join us for the Basque Country of Spain & France in 9 Days!

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of the Basque Country come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 12 group sightseeing events • Bayonne walking tour • Bayonne Museum of Basque Culture tour • Bus excursion to walled French town of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port • Drive through the Pyrenees • Pamplona walking tour • Pilgrimage walk along the Camino de Santiago trail • Navarre wine region excursion • San Sebastián walking tour • San Sebastián Private Dining Society (sociedad) dinner • Guernica visit • Bilbao walking tour • Guggenheim Museum tour...and more
  • All group transportation from Bayonne, France to Bilbao, Spain
  • 8 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves Spain guidebook, Spanish phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2015
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key

  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Basque Country

We'll gather at our hotel in Bayonne, France at around 5 p.m. for an introductory meeting. Then we'll take a neighborhood orientation stroll, and start getting to know one another over dinner together. Sleep in or near Bayonne (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Basque Bayonne

This morning we'll take a walking tour through half-timbered Bayonne, the capital of the French Pays Basque. After getting to know the cobbled-street ambience of the city's Old Town, we’ll take a tour of Bayonne’s superb Museum of Basque Culture — setting the foundation for all we'll learn about Basque culture and history. This afternoon you’ll have free time to enjoy Bayonne, or take a short train or bus ride (20 min.) to the seaside towns of St. Jean-de-Luz or Biarritz. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 3: St. Jean-Pied-de-Port and Pamplona

Today we’ll say au revoir (agur in Basque) to France, but not before we make one last stop for a visit to the walled French town of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, a traditional starting point for hiking the 500-mile Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. Here we’ll learn about the humble pilgrims who have trekked across the north of Spain since the Middle Ages to pay homage to the remains of St. James. This afternoon our bus will take the scenic route into Spain, crossing over the impressive Pyrenees mountains. Our destination is Pamplona, where we’ll eat dinner together and sleep (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Proud Pamplona

Let’s run with the bulls today — figuratively speaking, of course — as we take a walking tour through the historic heart of Pamplona (Iruña in Basque), including its cathedral and ramparts. We’ll learn about Pamplona’s importance as capital of Spain’s Navarra region, and as a key stop along the Camino de Santiago trail. We’ll also learn about Pamplona’s association with author Ernest Hemingway — the Illinois native who is celebrated here as a native son. You’ll be free this afternoon and evening to explore more of this proud and prosperous city. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: All Day on the Camino de Santiago

Today, we’ll board our bus and drive deeper into El Pais Vasco – the Spanish Basque Country. But we’ll also make our way to San Sebastián as pilgrims, hiking along a stretch of the famous camino. We’ll stop for a well-deserved lunch and tasting of Navarre vintages at a local winery. We'll arrive in San Sebastián this evening — just in time to enjoy a tasty tapas crawl.  Sleep in San Sebastián (2 nights).  Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 6: Savoring San Sebastián

We'll begin our day with a walking tour of elegant San Sebastián (Donostia in Basque). Our guide will give us a view of Spanish Basque life and culture as we tour the lively Old Town, step inside the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd, and walk the promenade down to the town's beautiful beach. You'll be free this afternoon to spend more time in the Old Town, at the beach, ride the funicular up to Monte Igueldo's viewpoint, or hike around Monte Urgull. Tonight we’ve been invited to dine like the locals at a traditional private dining club (sociedad). No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Guernica and Bilbao

Let’s drive along the rugged coastline of the Bay of Biscay this morning, and stop at a fishing village or two. This afternoon we'll learn more about the independent Basque spirit with a visit to the town of Guernica (Gernika), site of the infamous 1937 air raid that inspired Picasso's anti-war masterpiece (now housed in Madrid). Today, Guernica is considered the very heart of the Basque nation. We'll learn more about the Spanish Civil War and today's political issues as we tour the Assembly House and its symbolic Oak Tree, where Basque leaders have met since medieval times. We'll then make a beeline for bustling Bilbao, where we’ll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Bilbao and the Guggenheim

This morning we'll devote our time to Frank Gehry's dazzling temple of modern art: The Guggenheim Bilbao. We'll take a tour of the museum's best architectural and artistic attractions, then set you free for more museum meandering — or to explore more of Bilbao’s Old Town maze, its Maritime Museum, and other sights. Tonight, we'll rendezvous for a farewell dinner together, where we'll share travel memories and toast new friends. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Tour Over After Breakfast

Breakfast is provided, but there are no group activities today. Bilbao's airport provides easy connections to Madrid and all major European airline hubs. Your guide will help you get pointed in the right direction for home, or to continue your travels in Europe. Agur!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Basque Country of Spain & France in 9 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

Reviews

John

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was truly fascinating to explore the Basque Country with all its history, culture, architecture, museums, and landscapes. And the food and fellowship during the tour were wonderful. All-in-all, a well-paced, informative, and enlightening tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the beautiful bay of San Sebastian and the unique architecture of Bilbao (especially the Guggenheim Museum, but other buildings as well) were definite "wow" moments."

Joanne

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It is a demanding tour but one learns so much. Bilboa and the Guggenheim did not disappoint! What interesting cities we saw. Pamplona was a special surprise. That tour guide was so interesting and quite hilarious. Frederico's explanation of the painting "Guernica" was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was seeing the Guggenheim Museum and Puppy. What a piece of architecture!"

Cathy

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first group tour and I enjoyed it a lot. There was a nice combination of group activities and time on your own. The guide made suggestions about what people could do and where they might like to eat when it was time to turn us loose, so that was helpful. The tour members were not the kind of people who needed to be baby sat all the time. I enjoyed meeting all of them and hope to see them at the tour reunion.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Guernica Federico took us to the copy of the Picasso 'Guernica' painting. He explained the painting in such a vivid and moving way that it almost brought tears to my eyes. I have seen pictures of this painting many times, but I never really understood it until Federico basically acted it out. Thank you, Federico."

Susan

Bainbridge Island, WA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The Tour was well organized, and covered many highlights of the Basque country region. The diversity of our activities certainly provided us with a good eduction about the area, as well as being fun along the way. The schedule and selected walks, activities, and dining experiences reflected sound policies on the part of Rick Steves Tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour included a dinner at a Basque Society "club" in San Sebastian. Not only was the event special (in that we were the main diners in this traditional setting) for all of us on the tour, it was clearly fun for the Basque men who prepared the meal and provided the musical entertainment. The crowning touch was our amazing tour guide, Federico, bursting into song with his Pavoroti-like voice. It was a truly memorable evening."

Mary

Syracuse, NY

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Can't say enough about the great hotels, delicious food & wine, wonderful tour guides, & "special" surprises! Loved every minute of every experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As many others before me have written, there were many "wow" moments on this tour. This was my first European vacation in many years so it was some of the little things that made the trip special: walking into our hotel room in Bayonne and realizing that we had a balcony with a table and chairs overlooking the street below; savoring a simple breakfast of cafe au lait and croissant outside; taking in the beauty of San Sebastian from Monte Igueldo and running into a someone I knew on Monte Urgull!"

Laura

St Louis, MO

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

The group of travelers was great, the local guides were engaging and intelligent. All of the meals were really good; the meal at the winery in Navarra was especially wonderful. It's a good itinerary overall - a mix of free time but many things still included. I wish we had been given more info from the guide about the Basque Region at the beginning, and not much was mentioned about the importance of the trail to Santiago de Compostela.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved walking the Camino. San Sebastian was also fabulous - I didn't want to leave."

TJ

Long Beach, CA

Tour: 07/13/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Federico was a knowledgeable and able guide, very informative, flexible, fun, able to make everything interesting and he shared his many talents, one of which is singing (he sang opera for us in small rural churches). I learned about an area I knew little about and came away with more of an understanding and appreciation of the people and culture. The towns were interesting and the level of activity, with lots of walking, good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'd say, my Wow moment was the men's member-only private dining club in San Sebastian. That was a once in a lifetime experience, which I would have never gotten on my own, and probably not with any other tour group but Europe Through the Backdoor. The atmosphere was warm and informal and the food absolutely fantastic. It was a wonderful and memorable experience!"

Chris

Aurora, IL

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great variety of activities and visits including a few museums, churches, a hike, a pintxos crawl, several local markets, funicular rides, history talks, a delightful gastronomie club, unannounced visit to Pamplona, public art, and two winery visits. All three hotels were more upscale than we typically see on a ETBD tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Never in my lifetime would I ever imagine that I would be so excited about visiting a modern art museum. Our terrific local guide made the Guggenheim explode with fascination."

Paul

Tiburon, CA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Previously we did the Italy tour. This tour was much different in that the guide, Agus,had to introduce and explain Basque culture. In Italy the structures and history are well known and require less or a different approach. I felt Agus did an outstanding job. He was patient and gave balanced and intelligent insight into his culture. We had a great group, there was only one mishap and Agus handled it well. We stayed ontime and the pace was well balanced. This tour gets my recommendation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Bilbao was really inspiring, the old and new architecture meeting. Of course the other "wow" was the food and cost of wine!"

Claudia

Waco, TX

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This is my third Rick Steves tour and I will go on another...and another!Every place on our itinerary is someplace I would seek out if traveling on my own. I appreciate the mix of structured activity and free time and the emphasis on the history and culture of the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It came after the tour. My grandfather was Basque, from the fishing village of Lekiotio. My husband and I took a bus from Bilbao to Lekeitio after the tour and walking the streets where he grew up and seeing the harbor he and his father fished from was very meaningful for me. On the tour, walking the Camino was one of many favorite activities. And seeing the Guggenheim for the first time after seeing photos of it was exciting."

Elizabeth

Burke, VA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I learned a great deal about the Basque culture. There was a wide variety of scenery, from pristine beaches to lush mountains, and it was all beautiful! I enjoyed staying in multiple cities, but I do not feel as though I had enough time at any of the places where we went, except for Bayonne and Bilbao because I was at both locations for an extra day or two before/after the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I walked up the mountain in San Sebastian one afternoon and it started pouring down rain, which actually made the short hike perfect. It was like I was hiking alone in the mountains, yet there was a city right below me! When I reached the top of the mountain, where the old fortress and the statue is located, the view over the inlet and San Sebastian was beautiful. On my way down, I got to see the lighthouse on the little island. I had to ditch my soaked shoes, but it was totally worth it!"

Dorothy

Aurora, IL

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour buddies; wonderful food; outstanding guide; beautiful countries.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our dinner experience at the private eating club (thank you Augus!)"

Elizabeth

San Anselmo, CA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Good group, good guide, good sights/experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pamplona, Basque Museum in Bayonne, Guggenheim"

Ellen

Woodburn, OR

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is the third Rick Steve's tour we have been on and once again it was fabulous. Because it covered less 'mileage" it was more relaxed and we felt we got to know the area much better than some other tours. I loved the people and the villages were lovely. The cities of Bayonne, San Sebastian, and Bilbao were beautiful and so full of vitality. Agus was an excellent guide and the hotels were the best of any trip we have taken - charming and so comfortable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every dinner was a WOW moment. This was the best food of any trip - better even than Paris. San Sebastian and Bilbao are now number two and three on my list of favorite European cities - right behind Prague!"

Timothy

North Bethesda, MD

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was absolutely one of the best vacations I have ever had. We loved our guide and his knowledge of the area and the way his tour was laid out.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Bilbao was a magnificent and the art in the city was incredible we will return someday on our own."

Leslie

Tiburon, CA

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our overall experience was great (as we have come to expect from RS tours). We enjoyed the sights and activities. Our guides were excellent. We got to know some great people and had a very copacetic group in general. The weather could have cooperated a little more but there is no controlling that!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite day overall was walking on the Camino followed by lunch at a winery. I love hiking and wine so that was my kind of day! Another fav was the pinchoxs crawl. But, the biggest WOW had to be the Guggenhiem."

Martha

Idaho Falls, ID

Tour: 06/29/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful! Very educational. I cannot imagine visiting the Basque Region and enjoying it without the enrichment of this learning experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to enumerate, but the beauty of the region, the food, the wine and the real sincerity of friendliness from the local people will always stay with me."

Rae

Pebble Beach, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was grand in every way. There were many unexpected parts of the tour that added much to our knowledge of the area as well as experiencing the culture through participation, i.e. walking the bull run in Pamplona and a small part of the Camino de Santiago. Francisco Glaria's enthusiasm about the area is unsurpassed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day of the tour produced a "wow" moment or two. The ultimate one would be Bilboa's downtown tour including the Guggenheim Museum. The physical presence of being near and in these architecturally dynamic buildings is the "wow" factor."

Anne

Virgina Beach, VA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves tour. So far, we've thought the last one was by far the best. The point being, we've loved them all. We learned about the people, the culture, the food, the art, the complex history, as explained by a wonderful guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We took a detour into Pamplona and am so glad we did because that became my favorite wow moment. The way Francisco described the meaning of the running of the bulls, standing in the square where it started, what the objective is and how it feels to do it (as told by someone who has done it many times) was fascinating. Never having really understood it, he explained the history as well as the meaning for the young runners, very well. The Guggenheim in Bilbao was a close second."

Thomas

Cambridge, MA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first guided tour of any kind and it far exceeded expectations because of our excellent tour guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Bilbao, we took an evening walk from our hotel up the South side river toward the Guggenheim. I found the beauty and power of the museum as it came into view overwhelming."

Marla

Bonita, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved, loved , loved our trip!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every single day!"

James

Huntsville, AL

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thoroughly enjoyed this trip. Francisco was an engaging host. Although we had traveled extensively in France, this trip took us to an area we had never been able to visit. Getting to know something about the Basques and their history was probably the most significant aspect of the trip. Walking on the Camino de San Diego de Campostella was an experience I had never expected to have; I found it very satisfying. Francisco arranged for us to visit Pamplona which we thoroughly enjoyed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The eating club in San Sebastian was a lot of fun; it may rate a "wow." The Guggenheim museum was a main reason for choosing this trip and we were not disappointed. Bilbao as a city was a pleasant surprise; it is much cleaner and welcoming than I had expected. We could easily have spent another day there. Guernica was a very significant stop on the trip; it helped me understand the attitude of Basques toward Spain."

Claudia

Bolivar, OH

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed the whole tour and other tour members. We had a GREAT guide, Francisco, who had such a sense of fun about him. That rubbed off on all of us. He was very knowledgeable and passionate about the Basque culture. We all loved the side trip to Pamplona and his explanation of the running of the bulls and bullfights. (The matador is not the bad guy, as Francisco would say.) We also thought the tour was a great value. The included meals were sumptuous.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My Wow moment was Guernica. While I knew Picasso's painting, I did not really know the story behind it. Guernica is the emotional center of the Basque culture. and I really felt the weight of history while standing in the parliament chamber. A highlight for me was the visit to the cave-like air raid shelter that saved some citizens, now used as a storage area in a restaurant. The earthy smell and closeness gave me a sense of what those people went through waiting out the attack."

Tania

El Granada, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall tour experience was amazing. This was my first Rick Steves' (RS) tour. The group was a good combination of like-minded individuals, professionals, retirees, and a few youngsters; just a good balance to make the tour enjoyable. The best part of the tour was how Francisco was able to "manage" the group and adapt to possible changes. Francisco's combination of knowledge of Spain's history, of the Basque, and his experience as a tour guide made my experience a great one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had several WOW moments, at the top was the passion Francisco used to describe the Guernica mural. This moment was deep and touching. The meal at the private club in San Sebastian was incredibly amazing. The walk on El Camino was challenging; it made me deeply respect the pilgrims walking all 500 plus miles of El Camino."

Laura

Des Moines, WA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our trip was great. Francisco is absolutely wonderful. What a nice, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and funny guy. His description of Picasso's Gernica should be taped and shared with others. The trip would not have been as good without our side trip to Pamplona. This is a fun city particularly with the Hemmingway history/cafe and bull running. I am not a bull fight fan,but seeing the street and l earning about it from Francisco was fun. 3 hr in St Jean was too much. Other cities were great

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino. For someone actually planning to do the walk, this only encouraged me more!! I love hearing the history of the area - Gernica, little town where Hitler met Franco, etc."

Nevenka

Emeryville, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent learning experience about the Basque Country. Excellent tour guide Francisco. Excellent driver Fermin.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visit to the cafe in Pamplona, where Hemingway had frequented."

Robert

Pebble Beach, CA

Tour: 06/22/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 4th tour and one of the best. The hotels and meals were very good but the main reason we enjoyed it so much was the outstanding tour leader, Francisco Glaria. He was personable, funny, informative and spoke with passion about the people, culture and history of the Basque region. All of the tour members were friendly and blended well together. Toward the end we had become friends and were enjoying the great two hour Spanish lunches starting at 2 o'clock including wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The unexpected day trip to Pamplona was special as the town was getting ready for the "Running of the Bulls" in two weeks and we traced some of that path. We also visited Iruna Café which Hemingway frequented."

William

Fairfax Station, VA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Basque culture, all the guides, the sites and food were all fantastic! Even the bus driver was super friendly and loved to chat at lunch and breaks.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim Museum was the outstanding wow. Yoko Ono's art exhibition in stunning modern art building was great. The walk on el Camino de Santiago was memorable and the side trip to Pamplona was a special treat. Tapas and the dinner club in San Sebastian were terrific."

Dana

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

(This relates to the Portugal tour - I forgot to mention. I REALLY appreciated the use of the audio system. It worked well, and enabled those of us who like to wander off a bit and take photos to be able to do that without becoming separated from the group) I've wanted to check out the Basque country mainly because I was told they had "Seattle-like weather" - which was true while we were there - my favorite thing about the area! As an artist, I loved the visit to the Guggenheim.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick out any ONE moment because the entire tour was wonderful! The "wow" came in, though, with the tiny "single supplement rooms" on air shafts. At the end of the tour, in Bilbao, we paid only 10E each to upgrade to a full-sized double room (each). I can understand getting these tiny rooms if one is not paying a single supplement, but paying it should buy us a regular room, as it seems the single sup. is paying for the "other" person in the room. The walk on the Camino was very special."

Kimberly

Columbia, MO

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino."

Ellen

Belle Harbor, NY

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

In the past, I have only traveled independently. This was my first tour experience and all I can say is WOW! First off, our tour guide Francisco was wonderful! He was knowledgeable, well organized and created a sense of family among the group. His wonderful personality made the trip a fun experience. The Basque Country is extremely beautiful, and I loved learning about the culture. As a painter, the sights were a visual treat. Bravo Rick Steve's, I will be back for another tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Camino de Santiago"

Elaine

San Mateo, CA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Beautiful scenery, good food & wine, excellent lead tour guide, and like-minded fun loving travel companions-- all these made the trip very enjoyable. Learned a lot about Basque history, people and culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several "wow" moments: - the spectacular views of San Sebastian from Monte Igueldo - the transformation of Bilbao from an ugly industrial city into a modern city with attractive contemporary buildings and bridges designed by world renowned architects and artists. Guggenheim Museum is amazing! - eating tasty pintxos in San Sebastian and Bilbao. - memorable walk along the Camino de Santiago."

Marge

Keizer, OR

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing a part of Spain that was new to me. The Basque country is so beautiful and I enjoyed the people, culture, food and so much more. I think it was timed perfectly. Francisco somehow managed to share his hometown, Pamplona, with us which was a special treat. I would recommend this tour to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"On a beautiful sunny day we took the funicular up to view San Sebastian. That was my "wow" moment."

Emily

Perkasie, PA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am 76 and decided to see if I could still do a RS tour. RS is still the best and recommend them to anyone who is physicaly able and open to new adventures and unexpected fun experiences. This Basque tour was one of the best. Beautifl country, intersting and very pretty cities and villages. Francisco a humorous, knowledgeable, helpful fantastic guide, which, incidentally, turned into a Gastronomy trip for those who appreciate a variety of good quality food, wine and unforgatable desserts.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, San Sebastian from the funicular view, surprise vist to Pamplona, smaller port villages, the Camino de Sandiago Pilgrimage walk and the delicious food and fantastic guide."

Julie

Kerrville, TX

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour, although my traveling companion and I have used Rick Steves guide books in our travels for many years. I expected an active and informative tour, and it was certainly that. However, what made this tour exceptional were the many opportunities to "experience" the culture, not just learn about it. Our guide's knowledge, passion, and sense of humor stimulated our curiosity, and we felt free to ask questions not only of him but of the city and museum guides too.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a number of "wow" moments, including the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, but the one I would choose as my favorite was the tour of the Basque Museum in Bayonne. I knew very little about the Basque culture until our visit there. Our guide seemed well-informed and passionate about the Basques and their culture. She presented clear and fascinating information that provided meaning and context for the rest of our experiences on the tour."

Carol

Fairfax Station, VA

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

To start, Francisco was top of the line as a guide. He really made the entire trip so memorable. The length of the trip was just right. The cities were varied which kept my interest. We were very fortunate to go to Pamplona, as Francisco was able to share his home town with us. You may want to add Pamplona as a permanent visit on this tour. Lodging was very good. Food was spectacular. History and cultural information given by Francisco and Augustus excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino experience was #1. A real treat to mingle with the Pilgrims after reading several books on The Camino experience. The spiritual time alone was very rewarding. Close 2nd: The Men's Society Club evening was very unique. What a treat spending time with those three chefs. Tons of fun. Great evening."

Alice

Snyder, TX

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves' tour although I have used his books for years as my "travel guide" in Europe. I was nervous about losing "freedom" or being "constricted" by being with a tour, but this was a wonderful experience. Our group was great, and Francisco,our tour guide, was exceptional!! I loved every minute of this tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many WOWs! To walk on the Camino de Santiago was one of my reasons for choosing this tour. That did not disappoint, but I really think the surprise moments like last minute side trip to Pamplona and special treat of dining with the Itzalpe private dining club top the list! I knew so little about the Basque region and its people before this trip. Now, I want to know more!"

Shawn

Chelsea, MI

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We selected this tour because we had not traveled to Spain before and felt we need an introduction to Spain. This tour would be harder on your own, and we thought we could navigate/explore the easier cities of Barcelona and Madrid afterwards. This theory proved to be true. Beyond that, the tour - with its exploration of the Basque Country -- was even more than we expected. It was fascinating, wonderful, different, and lovely. But it was truly our guide that brought all to life.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Mens Gastronomy Club. It was so fun to see our guys interact with the Basque hosts. The hosts were gracious, seemingly allowing us to be a part of their world. Good food, good fun. You just don't get this type of experience traveling on your own. It's trademark Rick Steves."

Loi Dene

Yuma, AZ

Tour: 05/25/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves' Tour and it exceeded all my expectations from the quality of the hotels and food to the professionalism and warmth of the guides. Just an amazing trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many "wow" moments that it is difficult to choose! One "wow" moment was when we looked out over the countryside from an winery and were able to see miles and miles of vinyards as well as homes and grazing animals and small vegetable patches."

Linda

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Charmed by the intimacy of the tour, our exceptional guide (Augustin), and the relatively untouristy places we visited. The group melded well and our accommodations were excellent. The weather for the Camino was challenging, but we managed to walk the trail without any severe weather hampering our journey. The initial descent from the starting point was easy for me, but it might have been a little challenging for tour members who aren't as agile.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum is so much better than I expected. I was completely awed by the siting, the construction and the collection. Not to mention the Jeff Koons dog at the entry! Wow!!"

William

New Bern, NC

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque region was more beautiful and interesting than I had anticipated from my reading before tour. The land was beautiful full of history, the people were very nice and the food was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day of the pilgrimage walk was a very interesting day. I'm not particularly a religious person but to walk the trail was very moving. Thinking of all the people over hundreds of years that walked the trail really made you think. That day was rainy and heavy wind but it sure was interesting. We then went to lunch at a winery, it was the BEST !"

Diane

New Bern, NC

Tour: 05/18/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Prior to this tour I had little knowledge about the Basques but this tour was a great learning experience. Our tour guide Agus brought the Basque region and its people to life. Was an amazing experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a few. The hike along the Camino de Santiago trail. The beautiful scenery of the Pyrenees, small villages, vineyards the great food and wine."

Gail

Colorado Springs, CO

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I LOVED seeing Spain and thought our group of travelers was very congenial and Francisco was a GREAT guide. It was nice that we could hear about, and see, his own hometown of Pamplona. His description of the "running of the bulls" was fascinating. I felt very safe with our bus driver and the scenery was FANTASTIC! I still envision the beautiful rolling hills dotted with white stucco homes with red tile roofs. I really enjoyed being on the N coast of Spain and seeing the beautiful ocean.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"On our way to San Sebastian we stopped for a FABULOUS many-course lunch. Every bite was full of delicious flavors. (The WOW moments.) I have never had such an elaborate 5 course meal and had never eaten "beef cheeks" before. Everything was very tasty and I didn't leave a crumb on my plate."

Tom

Colorado Springs, CO

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time with an excellent guide - Francisco - an enthusiastic and congenial group, fantastic weather - no rain and pleasant temps, and an outstanding agenda of places, people, sights, and experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing a dead ringer of my former college roomate, a Basque from Idaho, "looking" at me from a large photo as I toured the Basque Museum in Bayonne."

Gerald

San Jose, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time in the Basque country. Francisco, our guide, really took the time and care to provide us with an experience that we will remember. I was especially pleased with the food on the trip. The places and menus were some of the best I've had on a any tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was the walk on the Camino. It was really why I went on the trip. When we looked down on the hill overlooking Pomplona, I felt very fulfilled."

Judith

Medford, OR

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall tour experience exceeded my expectations. This is my 7th RS tour, and I always find that my last tour was my favorite.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a lot: the arrival in San Sebastian, up the funicular and viewing the spectacular bay and city was WOW; the visit to the village of St. Jean Pied d' Port in the Pyrenees made me feel like a pilgrim--WOW; the Camino Santiago walk itself gave me a new perspective--WOW; discovering the transformation of Bilbao impressed me with the people's ingenuity--WOW. I could go on and on...."

Ellen

San Jose, CA

Tour: 05/11/14

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I started the tour with great anxiety as I was having a knee problem. My husband and I had been in France for ten days and it was getting more difficult for me to walk. At the orientation meeting I told our guide Francisco. He told me about what to expect. I took out my fold up cane and was able to do the trip with help of museum elevators.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beautiful Badque cities which I knew little about Bayonne, San Sebastián and Bilbao."

Chris

Crescent City, CA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my first Rick Steves' tour although I have been a follower for many years. It was exactly what I had hoped for. It was a real joy to be with 24 like minded travelers all discovering the Basque Region together but at the same time having enough free time to discover areas on your own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After seeing the movie "The Way" and researching the Camino I was anxious to see St. Jean-Pied-du-Pont. I also thought the view from atop a mountain looking down to San Sebastian was awesome. Another WOW moment was when Francisco announced that we were going to Pamplona for a short visit to see where Hemingway hung out and the streets where the Running of the Bulls takes place."

Jason

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country of Spain and France differs from many tours in that it is not about monumental sites, but about the way the Basque Country made me feel! The Tour provides a first hand experience which I will never forget.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking four miles on the Way of St. James, "El Camino de Santiago" Walking on the beach at night in San Sebastian"

George

Waynesboro, VA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall, the experience was very good. My only objection was excessive free time, while we could have been doing specific visit. Otherwise It was a very good experience. Maybe there wasn't things that would have interested the whole group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In my experience the visit to Guernica. My LOW moment was the visit to the White winery. The wine was a big let down. How can any body drink it!"

Kristin

Dublin, OH

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a really fun trip, with great tour mates. The group gelled quickly. We saw a lot in short period of time. I liked being where it was less touristy. Being places without a lot of Americans was also good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it was the beauty of the region. Also the building within the building in Bilbao, along with the architecture of the Guggenheim. Lots of memories."

Michael

Galloway, NJ

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The best combination and balance of the five ETTBD tours since 2003: tour members, guide, food, wine, culture, terroir, bus driver, people, sites, weather.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the camino."

Mary

Glen Ellyn, IL

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I sensed at our first group meeting that we had a good group of people, and everyone enjoyed traveling together. One nice aspect of the Basque tour is that there are no long days in the bus and we were in San Sebastian for three days. It made for a more relaxed experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment of the tour was looking out from the top of a mountain overlooking San Sebastian - what a panorama! the ocean, beautiful beach, town all surrounded by mountains. A view I will not forget. Walking the Camino was a "wow". I could not walk the entire Camino, but I appreciated the chance to walk a bit and be a part of the experience."

Jeff

Crescent City, CA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco made the tour[INVALID]he is most excellent as a tour guide and took the time to address each individual's questions and concerns as they came up. Another big plus was the restarants chosen for the group meals[INVALID]fantastic. Way beyond the quality I was expecting. Thw wine and water were never allowed to go dry either. Overall, a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking a section of the Camino."

Lois

Belfast, ME

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, I have to say that I gained more knowledge about the Basque country and peoples than i expected. The accommodations were better than expected with the best locations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was amazed and touched by the depth of feeling in Gernika. This was the place where you can really feel the history and tragedy of the Basque culture."

Tamio

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Francisco was outstanding. He was funny, knowledgeable, very meticulous with schedule and care for tour members. Length of the trip was great, except I would have liked to spend another day in Bilbao. Have I known that Bilbao had a lot offer, I would have stayed extra days. As usual, local guides were excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dinner at local private fisherman's club was great. This is the kind of extra event that we appreciate through Rick Steves' tour."

Kate

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was a very knowledgable guide. He seemed personally familiar with every place we stopped. More importantly, he had a great sense of humor. His conversations with the group were entertaining and informative. The location of the hotels was great, the hotel in San Sebastian had a perfect location. Group dinners were also excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Even in poor weather, San Sebastian was beautiful with the river and the ocean, the harbor. It was just a lovely place to visit."

Jonathan

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The cities and accommodations where beautiful throughout the trip. Our fellow travelers where a joy to explore the Basque country with. Francisco, our tour guide, managed to exceed our expectations of a Rick Steves' Tour, and this is our third trip. We enjoyed wonderful food, culture, art, and company throughout.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing above the trait-head where we joined the Campostella Camino. First seeing, and then first entering the Guggenheim. Pretty much every pintxo...can't pick one. Sorry."

Thomas

Glenview, IL

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. The towns we visited, the Camino, and the Guggenheim were all fantastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Guggenheim Museum"

Pamela

Glenview, IL

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque seems to be unique and our guide, Francisco, claimed it proudly. It's hard to separate the Basque from Francisco because the whole trip was so personal. I shared a walk with him to the Guggenheim the night after we went to Guernica. He goes there to release all of the emotions that stab at his heart in Guernica. I got to experience that with him and the rest of the Basque culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's a toss up between The Camino and The Guggenheim. The whole trip seems to build, just like Ravel's Bolero, with the constant cadence and rhythm of the sea and footsteps."

Daren

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the best tour I have ever been on. It was a good mix of group activity and free time.Our group seemed to bond quickly as our guide Francisco, set the stage for success. It was a nice change from tours that emphasize hours of bus travel, a few minutes at a site then being herded into a "shopping" expedition. The emphasis on culture, history and politic gave us an in depth understanding of the lives of the Basque people. I know I came away with a better appreciation. The food was FAB

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to count. Maybe it was viewing a wall mural in an obscure location hiding behind a trash barrel, the mural depicted the Basque historic struggles and pride, brought to life with Francisco's explanation. Or maybe it was the lively tapas crawl, ending with an impromptu traditional Basque dance down a midnight street. Then again it could be the visit to the Camino de Santitiago, a truly spiritual place. Bilbao was a pleasant surprise."

Francie

Sunriver, OR

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything from Bayonne to the Guggenheim was exhilarating! Even the rainy weather could not dampen our spirits while exploring this beautiful country. The Basque culture is fascinating and no one could have shared it better than Francisco. The tour went well beyond my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment came the day I first stepped foot on the Camino de Santiago. Rain was predicted but a no-show. It was a beautiful sunny day, the wind at our backs, exceptional landscape, and a cold beer in the village! Our guide stressed the essence of a pilgrimage, even for those doing a short distance. For me, this meant being in my own zone resolving issues in my own life. The experience was profound, leaving me wanting more yet feeling I had achieved some peace in my life."

Pamela

Vashon, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I feel very fortunate to have travelled with such a great group. Our guide, Agus, was so kind and patient and seemed to have as much fun as the rest of us even though it was his job. Overall, the tour was wonderfully varied regarding places we visited and activities we enjoyed. I was sorry to have the tour end and wish it could have lasted longer.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Waking up on a bright, sunny day in San Sebastion was fabulous. It's a beautiful city with so much history, charm, great food, great shopping. Of all the places we visited, it's the one I'd love to return to."

Reid

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour, and only the second tour we have ever taken, so we don't have a lot to compare it to. However we were quite satisfied with the experience and would certainly do another.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Spectacular views of two towns we stayed in from high points above them -- an excellent way to get one's bearings in unfamiliar territory, and a great way to introduce the towns to us."

Melinda

Arlington, VA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

One of the best. The guide was excellent -- well informed and very pleasant. The specific guides we had for tours of museums, cities and other places we visited were also very good -- the guide for the Guggenheim in Bilbao was a particular highlight.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dinner at the 'eating club' Museum tour of the Guggenheim"

Leslie

Sharpsburg, GA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fabulous. The cities were beautiful, our guide knowledgeable. He was from one of the cities we stayed in, so was passionate about it: the history, political background that formed it. Everything was taken care of for us. The bus was clean and comfortable, (the driver was great, we really enjoyed him!)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum. The building was amazing set in the beautiful city of Bilbao."

Nikola

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first tour with Rick Steves and it was absolutely great. My travel companions were terrific, we were all on the same page, A couple of us were traveling alone and we did meet and certainly enjoy some time together but, everybody mingled and it became such a relaxed and fun time everyday.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think my "wow" moment was just moving through the countryside. The area of Spain that I travelled thru' and experiencing the beach, the mountains, beautiful settings was breathtaking. I do know that seeing the plazas in each city we stopped in are such a great thing. People eating and visiting in an outdoor setting gave such community. Also, the children are so cared for...they are truly enjoying childhood and it was so evident. "WOW""

Renda

Austin, TX

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the tour of the Basque country. I was very interested in learning about the culture as well as experiencing the beauty of the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was looking down on San Sebastian--the water, beaches, and town. It was breathtakingly beautiful."

Neal

Sharpsburg, GA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I've never considered myself a "foodie" but this tour may have turned me into one! The food and wine were all outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gastronomy club in San Sebastian."

Wynne

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed the Basque Country Tour. Our guide Francisco is a gem, the group was cohesive and I had a great experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the Camino was my "wow" moment. It was a very personal experience and meant a lot to me. I am not a hiker and the first part of the journey was very hard for me. I was the last person to the meeting place and sure that I held up the group. Francisco helped me assess whether the next 2 miles were possible and accepted my belief that I could do this quickly and not hold up the group. I appreciated his support and encouragement. And I did it."

Diane

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having been on tours with other companies I was so happy to travel with your company. There was none of the kitchy touristy stuff and we felt completely immersed in the culture of the Basque country. .

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't even narrow it down to five WOW moments! There were multiple WOW moments every single day."

Marjorie

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Before this experience I would have said I was totally not a tour person. Who wants to feel like cattle being herded from one main attraction to another?! Not me. Our guide made each of us feel individual, and the places we visited, whether city or countryside, restaurant or museum, church or historic site, were unique. 'Through the Back Door' works for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first thing that comes to mind is the Guggenheim Museum, mostly because from photos I've seen, the building seemed totally unbelievable. Mostly, I was wowed by just plain being in the Basque region, so beautiful, diverse, and yet unified by the history of the people."

Meredith

Aloha, OR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide Francisco was amazing and definitely made the tour. He was knowledgeable, friendly and most important of all to me, had an awesome sense of humor. It's hard to pack so much into only 8 days but I thought it was the right amount of time in each city, great exposure to the culture and gave me a really good idea of where I'd go when I go back.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we went up on the hill to over look San Sebastian. Amazing. I fell in love with this town. So beautiful. Another Wow moment was coming down the hill on the first leg of the El Santiago and looking back at the hills (and down at the valley). It was beautiful."

Richard

Brooklyn, NY

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was my best vacation ever and that had to do with great people as fellow travellers and the best tour guide one could have.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two one was the view of San Sebastian's beach and harbor after the ride up the vernicular . The other was when our guide said we were going to make a stop in Pamplona and I got to see Hemingway's bust and room at the hotel and had a coffee in the bar where he write A Sun Also Rises"

Bruce

Mesilla Park, NM

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Thanks to a thunderstorm over Chicago and Air France, we arrived 24 hours late, just as our tour group was finishing its introductory dinner. But aside from that, everything about the tour was just great. We enjoyed all the sights, the hotels, the meals, and especially the good company of our guide, Francisco Glaria, and our fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough question, because there were so many. Our hike along the Camino de Santiago was wonderful, combining good exercise and bird spotting (I'm a birder). Another highlight was our "insiders' tour" of Pamplona, Francisco's hometown. Guernica and Bilbao were both unforgettable and "must sees'" for anyone visiting the Basque Country."

Rosalie

Brooklyn, NY

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have travelled a bit in other parts of Europe and have had very good experiences with "the locals." However, having said that, their was something quite unique about the warmth and pride of the Basque people. The lack of pretension was evident from the first evening when we had dinner at La Chistera. We felt welcome, on an evening when the restaurant was full, large groups are usually rushed to free up the tables, such was not the case. The tone was set for a great holiday!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many "wow" moments! Hiking on El Camino de Santiago (what vistas), walking on Puente La Reina (to think how many others have walked across this fortress of a bridge in the 1100 years that it has been around), the view from Monte Igueldo in San Sebastian!"

David

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my 4th tour and each seems to get better. Kudos for the first rate job your entire team does.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guernica stop was sobering but a "wow" visit. The Guggenheim in Bilbao was just a "wow"."

Linda

Mesilla Park, NM

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour doesn't cover a large area but it offers lots of variety and great experiences. I liked the mix of city walks and a walk in the country on the Camino, market day in St. Jean Pied de Port, coffee in Hemingway's bar in Pamplona, wine and chocolate tastings. We learned so much about Basque history and culture and the Spanish Civil War, so a lot is packed into eight days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino experience: seeing and talking to some pilgrims as they were just starting out in St. Jean Pied de Port, and then walking for a few miles on the route on a beautiful sunny day."

Kathryn

Louisville, KY

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first guided tour. I am used to traveling independently. But the overall plan (cities and sites visited), our magnificent guide Francisco, and wonderful traveling companions made the tour a delight. I would have liked to reduce the overnight stay locations to two rather than three (we had 2 nights, 3 nights, 2 nights) but I think that would have compromised the route, so am happy as is. We had just the right amount of free time vs guided time. And the group meals were delicious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two "wow" moments: Walking the Camino de Santiago, a change of pace from city touring, a chance to be a non-tourist for a few hours. Our tour of Guernica. When our local guide turned off the lights in the bomb shelter and played the sounds of sirens, it was chilling. That followed by a visit to the Picasso, plus our guide's words about 9/11 ("we" experienced Guernica) were life confirming."

Chase

Bend, OR

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time. It was a joy to go to Pamplona and have Francisco show us where the running of the bulls take place and Hemingway's cafe. I think all the tours should have this experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had expected it to be the Guggenheim Museum, but in reflection the small things we experienced walking around the city of San Sebatian were more meaningful. I enjoyed the meal at the men's club, tapas, and seeing a local ballet studio as part of being in the city."

Patricia

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

While it was a good trip, it did not compare in richness to our Rick Steves' tours to Greece, Italy, GAS, and Turkey. Other than the language and food, the Basque area was not much different than the state where I live. I was expecting something more rustic based on the pictures on the web site and my interpretation of the itinerary. Instead, Bayonne and Bilbao were much like Portland Oregon, San Sebastian like a California resort town, and

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino de Santiago in the footsteps of thousands. It was easy to imagine being one of the pilgrims walking with Martin Sheen in the movie "The Way.""

Patricia

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous from the moment we met the group in Bayonne to the night we had our final dinner together in Bilbao!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All the history we learned from both our RS guide and the local guides."

Jorge

Mountain View, CA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second tour and it was was just as fun as the first one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beaches."

Mona

Pasadena, CA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour group was great. We were a group of 14 so we bonded very quickly. Amanda was great. She was energetic, flexible,and well informed. The local tour guides were excellent as well. I would highly recommend the Basque Country tour. The beautiful countryside, The picturesque towns, the fabulous food and wine all made the tour a wonderful Experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Taking the funicular to the top of the mountain and getting a panorama View if San Sebastián."

Leslie

Reston, VA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had thought about going to San Sebastian and Bilbao for a long time and although I knew it was in the Basque Country, I never really gave much thought to what that meant. I certainly didn't think of the French Basque Provinces at all. I learned so much on this trip about the Country, the history, the people, their struggle, their lifestyle, their architecture, their games - it was a real eye-opener and just the reason that I love to travel. I would highly recommend this trip to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Just one????? The market at St Jean de Pied a Port; our last night dinner at the Guggenheim Museum; looking down on San Sebastian from Mount Igueldo."

Barbara

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an iexcellent and nteresting tour. I had exposure to aspects of Basque culture that I would not have had if I had taken this trip on my own. The tour had a nice mix of activities and locations. Highlights included walking on parts of the Camino, pintxos in San Sebastion, visiting Guernica, seeing the Guggenherim in Bilbao, and of course all the great food and wine!. I had a great guide and a nice group of fellow travelers

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to name just one! A definite "wow" moment was dinner at the Basque social club in San Sebastian. The food was excellent but more importantly this was an insight into the Basque culture. It was definitely something unique to the tour that I would not have experienced otherwise."

Weather

Spain / San Sebastián

Spain Weather

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Trip Resources

Learn more about the Basque Country. Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Transportation

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

Many tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. Most tour members will arrange to fly into Biarritz, France (a 20-minute bus ride from Bayonne, where the tour begins) and out of Bilbao, Spain (“multi-city” on flight booking websites). Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, and an additional overnight stay.

Tour members who spend extra time in Europe before or after the tour often fly in to or out of Barcelona, Madrid or Paris, connecting to Bayonne or Bilbao by rail or air.  

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

Read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips to decide if your travel plans merit a rail pass.

If you have additional European travel or tour questions, contact the Tour Department at 425-608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive a day or two early, note that we’ll be visiting all of Bayonne’s major sights as a group. Your best independent sightseeing options are day trips to the nearby towns of Biarritz and St. Jean-de-Luz — easily reached by bus or train. See Rick's guidebook for more details.

Packing

Clothes that can be easily layered to accommodate all types of weather conditions are recommended. We also recommend a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction. Portions of the Camino walk will be along dirt paths that can turn muddy if it's raining.

For advice on what (and what not!) to pack, see Rick’s packing tips.