• 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? See our FAQ | Call 425-608-4217

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

from $2,295 + Air

Optional Single Supplement $575

See Tour Dates

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!

Dates & Prices

2016

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 • Pamplona Private Dining Society (sociedad) dinner • Pilgrimage walk along the Camino de Santiago trail • Navarre wine region excursion • San Sebastián walking tour • 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
  • Rick Steves Travel Store credit to use toward guidebooks for your trip
  • 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 2016
  • 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 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, crossing over the impressive Pyrenees mountains to Pamplona. After a short orientation walk our guide will introduce us to the unique culture of eating tapas. Sleep in Pamplona (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. Tonight we've been invited to dine like the locals at a traditional private dining club (sociedad). 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 in time to get oriented to our new neighborhood. The evening is all yours to simply soak in the sights of the beautiful Bay of Biscay surrounding you. 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 and evening 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. We won't be dining as a group tonight, so if you've always dreamed of dining in one of San Sebastian's renowned restaurants, this is the night. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Guernica and Bilbao

We'll start our day driving along the rugged coastline of the Bay of Biscay as we make our way to the town of Guernica (Gernika). This afternoon we'll learn more about the independent Basque spirit as we visit the town made infamous by the 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 enjoy lunch together and 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. Topa! 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.

Physical Demands

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

Rebecca

Bronx, NY

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the tour very much. Our tour guide, Francisco, gave us a great insight into the Basque culture. He discussed the running of the bulls, Basque men's social clubs, the rules of inheriting land, and personal inspirations from Basque strong religious beliefs. It was great to see so many families out together every night, all generations out in the town plazas playing and enjoying each others' company. And the countryside and seaside were beautiful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I guess the "wow" moment for me for the Basque tour was when we walked 6 miles of the pilgrimage trail. While walking, I thought about the pilgrims who had a long way to travel before they got to the official starting point. While we may have been slipping a little on the rocks, I realized they didn't have sneakers or hiking boots with good tread, no walking poles, backpacks,credit cards,and yet they made the long trip. It made me have a greater appreciation for their sacrifices."

Janet

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco is among the top 3 guides we have had on all of our 8 Rick Steves tours. The itinerary was perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's discourse about Picasso's Guernicka painting"

Phyllis

Crete, IL

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was the absolute best tour guide ever! We learned so much about the Basque people, culture & language. He was also great at organization, enthusiasm and caring for all in our tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking a few miles as pilgrims on the Camino outside of Pamplona, we stopped at a small round church. We sat inside this church while Francisco told its history, ending his talk by describing how the rain turned to sunshine as he was married here. I still get tears of happiness thinking about this moment."

Caroline

North Scituate, MA

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful experience. An excellent variety of experiences,scenery,and friendships. Our guide was enthusiastic, very knowledgeable, and friendly. Walking the Camino de Compostelles was unforgettable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I will always remember our time in Guernica when our guide, Francisco, described Picasso's picture. Such an emotional and insightful story of the background on the picture and its relevance today."

Charles

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I can't say enough about Francisco, he was a wonderful guide. I felt that Francisco made us feel informed about the Basques. The only problem was our local guide in Bayone at the Basque museum. I felt that she was not very good at explaining what we were seeing at the museum.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's explaining the about the bull run in Pamplona and taking us to the Bull Ring."

Joan

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Learning about the Basque culture was fascinating, as was the rest of the history. The pace and variety of experiences was excellent, as we have come to expect of Rick Steve's tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's explanation of Picasso's painting as represented by the mural in Guernica was so sincere and emotional. He related the components of the mural to the time it was created, the history of the actual painting, and its relevance to world history, including 9-11. Few dry eyes when he was done."

James

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another wonderful tour; how do you manage to surpass my expectations on every tour. I have to give most if not all of the credit to the exceptional guides that we have had along the way. Francisco was incredible!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's talk with us at the mosaic of Picasso's Guernica."

Anita

New York, NY

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was really great. The only less than outstanding experience was the time in Bayonne which does not have that much to offer. The rest of the places were terrific and I see the value of visiting the French side of the Basque country - perhaps a different city would be more interesting. Although the group had a subgroup of 9 Canadians who were long=time friends, everyone was friendly and the group worked well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the walk on the campostella of Santiago. I also thought that the city tour of Bilbao was great."

Janet

Baltimore, MD

Tour: 09/25/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

While the trip covered a fairly small area of territory, and I thought that perhaps it would feel repetitive, I thought all the four places we stayed were varied and memorable on their own merit. While I am not sure that I have a distinct sense of Basqueness, the region felt different than other areas of Spain in appealing ways. The highlight for me was walking the Camino, something that I've heard about for decades. This introduction I hope will spur me to walk the whole length.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing San Sebastian (Donostia) from the mountain top upon our arrival in the city. Such a breathtaking setting! I liked that it was the introduction to our visit, as it gave me the lay of the land and also gave such a clear signal that I had entered a beautiful place."

Jim

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"local guide in Pamplona, Guggenheim museum, Guernica, San Sebastian"

Jake

Berwyn, PA

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful group of travelers, excellent itinerary, beautiful place to visit. The Guggenheim was out of this world good; food great, guide good, hotels mostly good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim was the top moment, followed by San Sebastian. Swimming in the ocean along that beautiful beach is a good memory."

Deborah

Kalamazoo, MI

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations, from the history and it's influence on the rest of France and Spain, the food is truly incredible, the beauty of mountains and seaside, a tour I would recommend without hesitation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The unexpected beauty of the Basque region, from the Pyrenees Mountains, villages, gorgeous port city of San Sebastián, St Jean-de-Luz, walking the Camino de Santiago, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the food was wonderful (the best food we have ever eaten) and very nice, friendly and helpful people."

Anthony

London,

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall we thought this was a very good tour, with the right balance of organised and free time, journeys not too long and a very good guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim museum , the building rather than the exhibits, which lived up to expectations, with the added bonus of high diving from the bridge next to it ( courtesy of Red Bull) whilst we were there."

Debb

Andover, MA

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 3rd RS tour with my husband (previous - Ireland, Italy-Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terra, Rome). It met all of my expectations - informative, well organized, nice balance of tour vs personal time. We love your format, recommend it often, and will be back for another!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino and lunch at the winery - nature followed by nurture."

Sue

Andover, MA

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was wonderful and affirming for me. I had no expectations except to know, having been recently widowed, whether I still found joy in traveling and whether it would be ok to do alone. Of course, I wasn't alone. Had a really great group of supportive people along the way. The tour far exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The windmills lining the tops of the mountains for as far as I could see."

Kenneth

Kalamazoo, MI

Tour: 09/18/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Augustin our guide was fantastic as was the food and accommodations! Just the right blend of history, culture and food to give us a wonderful exposure to the Basque area. The walk on the Camino de Santiago although short was an excellent way for us to feel the excitement of hundreds of thousands of pilgims over the past years.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Absolutely the time spent walking on the Camino de Santiago and the excitement of actually having a stamp in our "passport". By the way....our guide was able to surprise us with these when we began the trek."

Pat

Wauwatosa, WI

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We feel the tour was a wonderful blend of culture, history, food, and ambience. Our guide, Francisco, was one of the best guides we have had. His ability to blend knowledge and humor made a very comfortable atmosphere. The four regions we visited each added to the overall experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For my husband and I the "wow" moments included Francisco's passionate explanation of Picasso's Guernica, walking the Camino, and experiencing the Basque culture through the perspective of our guide."

Mary Jo

Burns, OR

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my 8th RS tour, and it was a little more laid-back than most. I guess that because we covered such a small area, we had more free time and less bus time. We really got a good feel for Basque life and culture, thanks to Francisco. Such natural beauty, interesting traditions and proud people!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking part of the Camino, touring the Guggenheim, walking the route of the bulls in Pamplona and touring the bullring, going through the Basque Museum in Bayonne, seeing the bay above San Sebastian before driving into the city, and hearing Francisco's explanation of Picasso's 'Guernica' (which brought me to tears)...all were 'wow' moments!"

Raylene

Santa Barbara, CA

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Educational, Inspirational, Good Company and Fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino de Santiago was a wow moment for me. The Camino is what drew me to this trip and it was everything that I hoped for. Another wow moment was the visit to Guernika. Learning about the horrific bombing and listening to our guide, Francisco, explain the history in relation to current events was quite emotional for me."

Kitty

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tour guide, Francisco! This is a region of smaller, subtle moments - having the perfect guide made each one come alive. Francisco's knowledge born both of being Basque and being a proud citizen of Pamplona carried into each lecture, talk, and conversation over a meal. Architectural "wow": Bilbao's Guggenheim. Cultural "wow": walking the Camino de Santiago. Food "wow": Sorbete de cava Art/history "wow": Francisco's explanation of Picasso's "Guernica"."

Rashad

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded all my expectations largely because of our outstanding guide Francisco. He was informative, funny, personable and amazingly open in discussing life as a basque and living in Spain today. His grasp of the area's history is phenomenal and his ability to communicate "just enough" of that history in an accessible and often humorous way is perfect. If the other guides on your tours are anything close to Francisco I can't wait to sign up for future tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several...Francisco's presentation of Picasso's Guernica, his explanation of the purpose and culture of bullfighting, and his prelude to our walk on the Camino de Santiago are moments I will never forget."

Frank

Lincoln, NH

Tour: 09/11/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As in past tours, our outstanding guide made the whole experience special. His passion for the Basque history, people, and pride in his hometown of Pamplona made our tour so much more than just visiting these special cities and places. Great personal stories that fit in so well with what we were seeing, also brought home where we were at the time. Special hotels beyond expectations as well as an interesting and kind tour group make a Rick Steves tour outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A number of them: walking with the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, being served dinner by the members in the oldest men's club in Pamplona, hearing Francisco's heartfelt talk on the tragic bombing of Guernica."

Timothy

Denver, CO

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I found the tour to be both informative and well organized. Maybe a few too many cathedrals and churchs for my taste, although I did enjoy the initial visits. We seemed to have ongoing problems with the headsets but they were appreciated when they worked. The changing of hotels every third day tended to get old but at the same time there wasn't anyway around this given the tour schedule.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The drive through the Pyrenees; a very beautiful area, and the associated stops. St.Jean-Pied-de-Port was a interesting town and I would have enjoyed a little more time there. The hike alone the Camino de Santiago was also very enjoyable."

Mary

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour. I like the small size of the group and how well organized the entire tour was (quick check in to hotels, clear instructions everyday, bus well air conditioned). I like the free time after the City tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first meal of the tour. Absolutely delicious and the dessert choices capped the evening. The views of San Sebastien and Bilbao. The delicious lunch at the winery"

Doreen

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very good. Just the right amount of time between guided tour and free time. The tour guides suggestions for places to eat were excellent. The hotels were all centrally located and within walking distances of all places of interests. Bus was comfortable and larger bus than needed gave people a chance to sit at window or aisle seat, together or separate (for couples) as desired.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Eating at a local winery where you got the wine right out of the barrel. The ocean view at St. Sabastian. Seeing the Gugghenheim at Bilbao. The Peace Museum at Guernika."

Jeanine

Oakland, CA

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was well-organized. Tour guide Agustin was knowledgeable, helpful, and kind. I appreciated that there was plenty of free time. A couple of the morning guided tours could have been shorter by a half hour to an hour. Tour guide Francisco in Pamplona stood out as an interesting and delightful character. The food, along with the advice on local cuisine and good restaurants, were wonderful. The hotels were all clean and well-located.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Lunch at the winery and dinners at the gastronomy clubs, and the hike on the Camino"

Mary Jane

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino."

Susan

Barrington, NH

Tour: 09/04/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I so loved my Eastern France tour in 2014, that I didn't think you could top it, but the Basque Country tour was right up there. My only suggestion would be to add a third night in San Sebastian. I was ready for "a vacation from my vacation" at this point, and would have enjoyed the extra time there. But please don't cut anything else out!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several[INVALID]the view from the hilltop in St. Jean Pied du Port, the Guggenheim in Bilbao, and the walk on the Camino."

Lori

Sparta, MI

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fourth RS tour, and we were not disappointed. The Basque country is very beautiful, and very captivating. I learned so much about the Basque culture from our tour guide, Francisco. He was wonderful. We had a nice mixture of tour and free time. Overall, the tour was very well planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although I wasn't terribly interested in the Camino de Santiago before the tour, Francisco's explanation of the Camino, both physical and spiritual, made our hike a highlight. Our stop in Guernica to see the reproduction of Picasso's painting, and to hear Francisco's passionate description of the event, was very moving. The dinner in Pamplona at the men's dining club was also a favorite."

Eric

Shoreline, WA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco took an excellent tour itinerary and made it a fabulous experience for all of us. Francisco has a degree of passion, wonderment, curiosity, and perception regarding life experiences that are beyond his years. This was my first Rick Steves tour and it far exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was Francisco's talk while standing before the copy of Picasso's painting in the town of Guernica. He explained the significance of each figure in the painting and then linked the tragedy of that bombing with everyone's experience of being victimized by terrorist acts. In the few minutes of sharing his thoughts, international, national, and regional differences fell away and we were all linked together as compassionate human beings."

Tracy

Carmel, IN

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous. The location of the hotels was perfect, and the agenda allowed time to see the sights with your guide and still have free time to enjoy whatever city you were visiting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Wow moment was the hiking and learning the history of the Camino de Santiago."

Nancy

San Jose, CA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the Basque Country tour experience. It was a good combination of time with the group and time on our own. The group time was very well spent with detailed information about the sites we visited as well as time to relax and get to know each other. Because the Basque region is fairly compact, we didn't spend much time traveling, which gave us plenty of opportunity to see the sites and learn the history of each place we visited.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That's a tough one. The places we visited were so varied that it's like comparing apples and oranges. If I had to pick one it would have to be our 1st view of San Sebastian from Monte Igueldo. It is such a beautiful panoramic view of the entire city, inlet, and beach."

Tom

Chester, VA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Certainly enjoyed the 9 days spent with Francisco. His passion and enthusiasm for his Basque Country is without doubt. Rick, you must certainly raise the price of this tour, for Francisco provided a value far above the cost of this trip. Local guides were excellent, accomodations likewise. I thought the overall plan for visiting the Basque Country was well organized.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moment was Francisco's discussion of the mural at Guernica. Before then, I knew about Guernica, but did not know much about the symbolism of Picasso's masterpiece. Francisco's very emotional presentation left many in tears. Why did the Nazis and Franco allow this to be done?"

Lauren

Carmel, IN

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am 25 and went on this tour and had an incredible time. I was by far the youngest person by many years but enjoyed everything this tour had to offer. I came home from vacation wanting more of Europe, feeling cultured, and had many history facts and stories from the trip to tell my friends and loved ones. The experience was truly a basque one; getting to incorporate history,language,pilgrimage,towns, and sites of this region was truly outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco talking about the Gernika painting. The way he related how Picasso created the painting from the pain he was feeling for the people of this small town, to our own country terrific events of September 11 was absolutely so hair raising. He showed that everybody has there own wars but all people need a little flower of hope when tragedy arises. It was absolutely incredible."

Barbara

Burley, ID

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had done a river cruise in southern France previously, and found the Rick Steves tour gave us much more independence in scheduled free time to explore on our own, to try local restaurants and transportation, to peruse local shops, to interact with the locals. The tour group size was ideal, and we appreciated having a multi-lingual and multi-cultural guide with us for instruction and support.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment had to be driving through the Pyrenees, visiting St. Jean Pied-de-Port and witnessing one of the beginnings of the Camino de Santiago, then trekking a bit of the Camino beginning at El Perdon. After leaving Pamplona first thing in the morning in the rain, the weather became ideal for a hike, and it was meaningful to me to walk with the pilgrims, if only for awhile."

Steven

Sparta, MI

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although we visited the countries of Spain and France, one felt a sense of regional Basque identity. The culture and cuisine were unique. The experience of hiking the Camino de Santiago showed the rural beauty of the Pyrenees. Our guides were instructive and fun to be with. Our lodging was always situated to our advantage. For me the trip was both relaxing and informative; I would certainly return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide Francisco treated us to a men's supper club. The men were allowed to enter the kitchen to help the members with serving and preparing the excellent meal. Our group seemed to enjoy it so much that they started singing a variety of songs....much to the amazement/bewilderment of the club. The men's club seemed to enjoy the energy and were very hospitable."

Barbara

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The food was exceptional, so fresh and healthy. I loved the restaurants and eating places chosen for us. The scenery was beautiful especially when we walked on the Camino. We saw lots of churches and old buildings but my favorite sights are the people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard choice. I was really looking forward to walking on the Camino and also seeing the Guggenheim Museum and was not disappointed in either. The first downhill stretch of the Camino was a bit difficult as it was slippery from the rainfall the night before, but we all made it down. As usual, the group of people was great!"

Irene

Puunene, HI

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the Camino. It was a great sample to experience the Camino without any worries."

Cynthia

Santa Cruz, CA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first organized tour and I was a bit trepidatious. I figured that Rick Steves has such a fabulous reputation that I shouldn't worry, and it's good that I booked with Rick Steves Tours. I had a fantastic time. So well organized. So informative. Everything went super smoothly. Our group was small, fun, and I can't say enough about our tour guide, Francisco. All of our one-day tour guides were fabulous as well. Each was a native of their city, which lent itself to special insights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we got to have a special, private tour in the bullring in Pamblona. Not open to the average tourist, it was evident that we were special and got special treatment. Our tour guide gave us behind-the-scenes and passionate stories about bull fighting. I had no idea any of it was going on and it was really great!"

Roderick

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We enjoyed the nine days we were together with Francisco and all the tour members. We learned quite a lot about the Basque people, their culture and their food. We enjoyed the scenery and our day walking on The Camino.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Strolling the beach area of San Sebastian."

Jan

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I always enjoy my RS tours - especially when I am in the small group of 24 or less. Francisco added so much extra by getting us into the bull ring in Pamplona and his explanation of the bull fighting culture

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco discussing the Guernica painting in Guernica. He is passionate about his region of Spain and he is passionate about Americans. He made me feel very proud and helped me relate to the passions of the Basque people. Also, I learned that everything good in Spain, maybe even the world, has it's basis in the Basque Country."

Greg

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 08/28/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco led us on a truly wonderful tour of the Basque Country. The entire tour was a gastronomical paradise of pintxos and wines. San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful beach cities in the world.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was equally wowed by Francisco's heartfelt description of Picasso's Guernica painting and his vivid description of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. The personal tour of the bullring in Pamplona was outstanding."

Catherine

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyed this opportunity to see Basque country, something I've looked forward to for many years. The trip involved an excellent variety of events and locations with adequate unstructured time for independent activities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching a pelotte tournament and talking with locals in a small village outside Bayonne during "free time." Though I'd investigated sites in advance, the Tourist Info office helped me finalize public transportation plans."

Janna

Truckee, CA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our 4th Rick Steves' tour, and like the three prior, lovely tour mates, great guide, pedal to the metal itinerary, and excellent introduction to the culture and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from the pass where we began our hike on the Camino de Santiago. I also greatly enjoyed the tiny Romanesque octagonal church where we ended the hike, lovely and humble."

Linda

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The only thing I would have changed about the trip was the heat - I guess Rick doesn't have every detail in his grasp! As a Seattleite I have been a fan from the late 70's. Rick's books have been a standard resource for our independent travel. The group was very enjoyable and I look forward to our reunion in January. It was a treat to sit back and leave everything to the team that was there for us. The daily tour schedules were also very helpful keep us oriented. The buddy system was good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One of the big draws for me in booking the tour was the chance to walk part of the Camino. Agus made it easy to "join" by providing passports for each of us; I am proud to have a couple of legitimate stamps in mine. I was the very last one to complete the first leg (Agus may have been wondering if he needed to send out a search party). He was very supportive and I was able to take the bus for the second leg. After this break I was able to complete the final leg."

Anthony

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was all I hoped it would be and more. Agus was a very knowledgeable and thoughtful guide. The choice of cities and "group sightseeing" was spot on. I liked that we first had a general walking orientation of each town/city so we could feel confident when we strolled around by ourselves. Angus gave great tips on places to see and dine at when by ourselves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in the bullring in Pamplona and listening to the stories from the local guide. (This was after the Fiesta de San Fermin!)"

Maxine

Salt Lake City, UT

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved this tour. I thought the pacing was excellent and the 4 cities we visited particularly representative. I did find the siesta time in the afternoons a little awkward. Don't know if there would be a way to schedule the bus trips for that time period, to maximize our time in various towns. We signed up for this tour very late and didn't have a lot of prep time. Agus did a magnificent job of filling us in and giving us Basque experiences, like dining at a few dinner clubs. Highly recommended

Favorite "WOW" moment

"While it is always difficult for me to identify "favorites," and I definitely found something to delight in every day on the tour, I'd say I had 3 "wow" moments. The first was hiking on the Camino de Santiago. The second was the vegetable pintxos served at Lezaun (rabioli(?)). The third was the Guggenheim museum, which I expected to be impressed with, but was actually blown away by...."

Bruce

Salt Lake City, UT

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time on the tour. The tour was a good length and well paced. Agus was an excellent guide, who had an in depth knowledge of the culture and the history of the area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to pick a wow moment, there were numerous highlights. All of the cities seemed special."

Nicanor

Glen Allen, VA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our sixth tour with Rick Steves and it was one of the best. The four cities we visited were very nice and with lots to do. Not only as a group but on our own. There was no "down time" The restaurants chosen were above average and we enjoyed the food and wine. The hotels all centrally located. The tour guide excellent. We ended the tour very pleased that we had chosen it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When I saw the beach at Biarritz. How beautiful! So many people enjoying themselves. Another "wow" moment was when we went inside the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. I could not believe the majesty of such building. It was not straight up but with curves. Something very unique."

Helen

Jersey Village, TX

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have taken several RS tours, and each one always seems to surpass our previous experience. We enjoy the unique mix of "guided tour" time and free time to explore on our own, and we learn so much more on RS tours than we ever could on our own. The Basque Country tour was no exception. Our guide, as always, was excellent, giving us a wonderful new perspective of the Basque people and their culture. And what a great group of compatible tour members! This tour far exceeded our expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are too many highlights to cite only one: I enjoyed each of the unique cities: the Old Town of Bayonne, the gorgeous beaches of San Sebastian, Biarritz & St. Jean-de-Luz (where we side-tripped on our own), Pamplona's historic Cathedral and dinner at the gastronomic club, St. Jean-Pied-de-Port's ramparts with views of the red rooftops against the green Pyrenees mountains, our amazing 5-mile hike on the Camino, and especially the incredible architecture of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao."

Charles

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour, and it surpassed my expectations. The pace, the local tour guides, the tour leader (Agus), the accomodations and the amount of free time was just perfect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the old towns of Bayonne, Pamplona, San Sebastian and Bilbao."

Tina

Duvall, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We chose this tour because of the time it was offered. It turned out to be a lot of fun, and we so enjoyed meeting the other tour members and guides. That is what makes a Rick Steves tour! I also love how we felt immersed in the culture of Basque Country and were given information on customs. Every detail is thought of, with knowing when to have a sit, and knowing when to have a bite to eat! Would have liked one morning with a bit later start time- although understand why everything is early.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really loved walking along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail. It was so peaceful and the terrain lovely. It was also fun to meet up with fellow tour members long the way! The beaches of St-Jean-de-Luz, Biarritz and San Sebastian were fabulous. We did some sunbathing and swimming and felt like a local! I enjoyed seeing how the Basque people interacted with one another, and with their children. It was really a lovely experience. We were pleased to not see a lot of cell phone use!"

Robert

Jersey Village, TX

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I have taken several Rick Steve's Tours and have enjoyed every one of them. This tour was no exception. It was well planned with a good mix of guided tours and free time to explore on our own. The Basque countryside is beautiful, from the coastal cities and villages to the green foothills of the Pyrenees, and the people very friendly and helpful. I feel like I came away with a much better understanding of the history and the struggle of the Basque peoples for greater autonomy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's difficult to pick a single moment as outstanding, but I remember sitting on the pier at San Sebastian waiting for the sunset on the ocean between the two islands at the mouth of the harbor, when two of the local Trainera "racing whaleboat" crews rowed across the bay in the distance, continuing a part of the Basque whaling tradition."

Elsa

Glen Allen, VA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall experience was very positive. The tour was very well organized and very relaxed. The fact that we stayed two nights in each city, was enough time to visit the most important points, and enjoy the flavor of the city.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was when I could complete the 5 kilometers walk on the Camino de Santiago, at my age of 84!"

Chris

Seattle, WA

Tour: 08/21/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized, wonderful people, excellent tour guide (Augustin), and very active and educational. I learned a lot about the Basque region and the Camino de Santiago. I don't know what to do about this, but some of the walking tours were truly exhausting. I liked being active and on foot, but there tended to be a lot of standing, which I find more tiring than walking. Hiking the Camino was much more enjoyable and less tiring.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Views of the Pyrenees as we passed through St. Jean de Pieds de Port and Roncasvalles. The theme of the Camino de Santiago was great as was the day spent actually walking the trail."

Elizabeth

Houston, TX

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. We spent a few days in Paris and Biarritz pre-trip and made a pilgrimage to Lourdes. I HIGHLY recommend Biarritz - so much fun! Our guides were fabulous, especially our local guide Francisco. I HIGHLY recommend going during The Running of The Bulls - the Festival of San Fermin was AMAZING. It was great having two tour guides and only 21 people in the group - we didn't lose anybody :)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hands Down - The Festival of San Fermin. The Running of the Bulls, the people, the dancing, the parades, the fireworks, the sangria - What an amazing experience!!!"

Randy

Morgan Hill, CA

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was a first timer with this tour group and the whole experience exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pamplona and the running of the bulls. The energy and excitement of the people created almost a surreal feeling."

Ellen

Vancouver, WA

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my fifth Rick Steves tour and I was not disappointed. What I most appreciate about your tours are the balance between group time and individual time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"How to pick... Running of the Bulls in Pamplona... walking the Camino... oh, the food, the food."

Kenneth

Beverly, MA

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Excellent guide and assistant - very nice and informative folks. Also a fine group of tour participants - one of the best groups in our eight tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Guarnica (Sp?) and learning of the Franco and German bombings which needlessly almost totally destroyed the town."

Doris

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great experience in Bayonne, Camino hike, San Sebastion and Bilboa!!! Love our tour guide, Agus who was informative, thoughtful, timely and thorough in all his information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Absolutely oved loved loved the Basque cultural experience w/ their community weekly dances! The indepth knowledge of Agus and the local tour guides were invaluable for understanding the current historial social and cultural ties."

Peter

Sherwood Park, AB

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a very good group to be in, and We got a very good overview of the Basques and their unique place in France and Spain. It was interesting to have pointed out that the street names on maps in San Sebastian were in Spanish, but the names on the street signs themselves were in Basque. If you think that they bear any resemblance to one another, think again! Nice to walk briefly on the El Camino. It was a breeze, given the lovely weather.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I particularly liked the experience of being in Pamplona during the Running of the Bulls. I was impressed by the family festival atmosphere of the city, and how virtually everyone, down to the tiniest tot, was dressed for the occasion. In my experience, events where there is a lot of drinking generally have an ugly underbelly, but this was certainly not a characteristic of any of the festivities that I saw. The nightly 11 p.m. fireworks displays were the most impressive I have ever seen."

John

Houston, TX

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, it was a good trip. I went in with little knowledge of the region and came out with a better appreciation for the Basque people and their culture. Our guide Agustin was a great tour leader, a bit quiet at times, but always helpful and confident. The Pamplona local guide Francisco gave one of the best tours I've ever had.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The running of the bulls from the balcony. The run event itself is a bit anticlimactic due to its brevity, but the pageantry leading up to it with all of the nervous anticipation, pre run rituals and of course the adoration of the San Fermin statue as it passes through the crowd is electrifying. The scenery and the beaches were also nice, but there's a reason Pamplona is the one city in the region I'd ever really heard of."

Mary

Kansas City, MO

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We chose this tour because the Best of Spain tour didn't work with our schedule this summer. We did not have terribly high expectations (especially compared to what we expected, and received, from our Paris & the Heart of France tour). We were blown away! The tour was great, and we have already recommended it to our friends. We loved the chance to learn about Basque culture, the geography and climate were very much to our liking, and the food was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Can't choose just one. I dreaded Pamplona during San Fermin, and LOVED it. I would go back. Walking the camino was amazing, and I think our whole family wants to do all or part of it in the future. Our two meals in private clubs were fun and delicious, and a very unique experience."

William

Kansas City, MO

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was very nice. Beautiful weather, great pacing. San Fermin was a great addition and the atmosphere was exciting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was amazed by how Pamplona could be a complete party on one block, and on the next a beautiful, pretty, and quiet town."

Victoria

Henderson, NV

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As always, I like knowing the daily activities to plan accordingly my meals, the free time to wander around town or just relax in my hotel room. The schedule that is posted for each day at the hotel lobby was quite helpful. Moreover, both Agus and Michelanne were always very attentive and mindful if I ever needed any type of assistance. The surprise snacks like chocolates in Bayonne, cheese in San Sebastián, energy bars during the Camino walk AND the GELATO in Bilbao were FANTASTIC.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW moment happened when the bus pulled up in Pamplona and the San Fermin Festival was in full swing. Seeing the crowd wearing white and red everywhere and buzzing with excitement made me buy a couple of t-shirts and bandana and join in the fun around the town. Fellow tour members felt the same way and dressed appropriately. Our hotel was perfectly located in the heart of the city. As a single female traveler I felt safe roaming the streets even at night."

Jill

Las Vegas, NV

Tour: 07/10/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour as a result of our knowledgable tour guide Agustin. Prior to this trip, I was woefully uninformed of this great culture, it's rich history and proud people. Each place had something new to taste, visit and explore. "Agus" was very courteous, well-informed and organized. He taught us about the Basque people, their history, music, and politics. He wove the Basque culture into each town, cathedral, museum and point of interest that we visited. I highly recommend this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"First, I loved watching the Running of the Bulls from the balcony. It was worth the extra cost since looking down on the street provided an great vantage point. A close second was eating at the two gastronomic (men's only) clubs where we were served delicious meals prepared and served by members of the club. Third, was visiting Guernica. The walk through the museum was an touching, and heart breaking experience that I will never forget."

Bill

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time. Wonderfully well integrated and great balance between tour time and free and open time......Amanda's short side trips were special!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sum was greater than the sum of the parts, hard to isolate just one WOW moment.....but...1. very much enjoyed San Sebastian, 2. the short 2-3 side stop at the small fishing village on the coast between San Sebastien and Bilbao, and 3. the Picasso mural in Guernica was extraordinarily moving (we saw the original in Madrid three days later!)."

Sarah

Santa Barbara, CA

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was fantastic. It was an area I know nothing about, so it was literally a thrill to learn so much, experience the Basque country, and eat the food. Amanda was lovely, efficient, organized and helpful. It was great to have an extra person "from the office" there to pitch in too. I did an Ireland trip with Declan and I knew it would be hard to top. It was. But not for lack of trying. I just don't think the other tour members on this trip were as interesting and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Just not possible to pick a single moment. Camino del Santiago was inspiring, Guernica was fascinating, and I loved the hotel in Pamplona, the food at the winery lunch, San Sebastian etc. Never mind...I really loved it all."

Susan

Houston, TX

Tour: 06/26/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved learning about the Basque people and culture and seeing the wonderful sights. I was looking forward to the food and was not disappointed (actually thought the food was better than Paris where I spent the next week). The tour group was amazing. Amanda, I can't say enough about her.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino & walking in the footsteps of millions before me."

Stanley

Verona, NJ

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I always enjoy Rick Steves Tours. This one is no exception. I've been to Spain and France before, with RS and on our own but this is a very different region. The cities were quite unique and interesting. The city guides were very knowledgeable and entertaining. I didn't know what to expect each day and was always pleasantly surprised. Loved the Tapas and Pinxtos.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Overall the trip was excellent. The one wow moment (actually a day) was negative. Almost 24 hrs of only cold water in the hotel was not exactly enjoyable."

Martha

Rocky Hill, CT

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Beautiful countries, both France and Spain, delicious foods and unique Basque culture. It was a very enjoyable trip. But the airline lost my luggage , thus put a damp on my trip. By the help of RickSteves travel guard and airline, my luggage showed up the 4 th day at my hotel door! Overall I still enjoyed the trip very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"First seeing St. Jean Pied de Port, a walled town, starting point of hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail! Early morning start hiking point at San Sebastián pilgrimage way, a stretch of beautiful, beautiful hiking trail, among the farmland and wild flowers, only too short before it's over, wish the hiking is longer. After hiking, the lunch at local winery, the lunch is also a "wow" moment, what a delicious food served here!!"

Christine L

Wheat Ridge, CO

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our trip was organized very well and we had a terrific guide. I appreciated the wireless ear-pieces and the guided orientations. The tour guides were very informative and our lodging was much better than we anticipated.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I didn't know much about the Basque region (only what I had read from the Rick Steve's information), so it was great to learn about the people and that part of the world."

Thomas

Altamonte Springs, FL

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My overall rating was very good, but not as amazing as my 3 prior Rick Steves Tours. I think it would have been enhanced if more Basque related performances ie Jai Alai, or dance performances with more flare and excitement than the one we saw in San Sebastian were co-ordinated with the trip dates.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "WOW" moment was an encounter with two elderly lady patriots during the walk to our Farewell Dinner in Bilbao. They looked at me fondly on a street corner in my Basque red beret, red neckerchief and red sash, they smiled and said I reminded them of the Requete', the Basque freedom fighters who opposed the Franco years of repression. Made my day! As a hiker the Camino De Santiago Pilgrimage Trail hikes and hiker encounters were a super highlight."

Megan

Cumming, GA

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All of the sites were interesting and I think we spent just enough time at each of the stops to get the flavor of the places. We chose this tour specifically because of my husband's Basque heritage and our guide answered lots of questions about the Basque people and how to research further information. I know my husband left with an increased appreciation of his background and what it means to be Basque.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pick just one! Walking on the Camino- what a beautiful memory- the wheat fields, the blue skies, the wild fennel.... It was awesome! My husband and I also really enjoyed being in San Sebastian- we thought the town was beautiful and hiking to the top of Mount Urgull to see the city from above was wonderful. Bayonne, which I thought was going be sort of dull, turned out to be fascinating and beautiful- a great surprise!"

Juan

Cumming, GA

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about the Basque people and their legacy. Agustin as well as the local guides provided valuable insight into the rich history of the Basque country, traditions, and current state of affairs. I had an awesome time interacting with the locals, dining out, and tasting the local wine. My tour experience was everything I hoped it would be, and then some.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved our brief stop at Roncesvalles because of its historical significance."

Terry

Pleasanton, CA

Tour: 06/19/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had a very nice time and thoroughly enjoyed the company and learning about the basque country and the towns associated with the Basques. We also enjoyed and didn't expect the pilgrimage portion of the tour. What beautiful country and it was so great to be part of the experience, if only for a little bit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of Pamplona was really a wow. Francisco was just down right awesome. I felt like I had experienced the running of the bulls even though I wasn't there for the event!"

Linda

Boulder, CO

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour. I liked all the tour members and all the places we went (loved San Sebastian; and though I am not supportive of the running of the bulls, I still learned a lot in Pamplona). Francisco was excellent, as were the local guides. Also, I really liked the Whispers (or whatever they're called), even though they didn't always work perfectly. They gave us more freedom to wander a short distance from the guide (e.g.,for photos) without missing out on information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"More than one: Francisco's heartfelt description of Picasso's Guernica; the Church of San Salvador (Getaria?), with the floor that slopes upward toward the altar, a simple architectural feature that profoundly demonstrated the relationship between the human and divine in the Church. Also, I felt it was important to include the role of the Jewish community in chocolate making, and not to avoid how Jews were treated in Spain during the Inquisition, WWII and in general."

Daniel

Morgan Hill, CA

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my fifth Rick Steves tour, and again it was an outstanding educational and cultural experience. Having a professional & personable guide, Francisco for this tour, makes for a wonderful, positive experience. Adding Pamplona to this years Basque itinerary was brilliant. Every region and city we explored was unique in its own way, and helped to tie together Pays Basque/Pais Vasco.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The 9K hike on Camino Santiago was very special; an opportunity to experience nature, beautiful scenery, and feel the cultural history. When I saw it on the itinerary, I expected it to be only mildly interesting, but I kept an open mind. Visiting St. Jean-Pied-de-Port and the small villages gave it context, as well as seeing pilgrims on the trail and wishing them "Buon Camino", while receiving a smile and "Merci" or "Gracias" in return. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao was an amazing "wow" too!"

Frank

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 6th Rick Steves tour and Francisco was one of the best if not the best guides we have had. His knowledge of the Basque Country and its culture was excellent and he imparted this knowledge to us with enthusiasm. A highlight of the trip was walking The Camino. Our visit to the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and our farewell dinner there were also exceptional. We have enjoyed all of our Rick Steves tours but this one ranks at the top.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being able to complete the over 5 mile trek on the Camino."

Donald

Happy Valley, OR

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Francisco, our guide, was excellent. He knew the areas and history and was very friendly and very good with the group. It was good to learn about the Basque country and history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two things stand out in my mind. The first was walking along the Camino de Santiago. Even though it was only for part of a day, I got a glimpse of what it might be like to do the Pilgrimage. The second highlight was our guide, Francisco, explaining the painting "Guernica." He gave a very clear and meaningful interpretation."

Marilyn

Frederick, MD

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

My favorite city was Bayonne, also very much enjoyed the trip to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port and crossing the Pyrenees. San Sebastian was also spectacular. By contrast, Pamplona was a bit disappointing, not as clean and quaint, graffiti everywhere. Perhaps it would be better as a side trip instead of a 2-night stay.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I never thought I'd make the whole hike on the Camino de Santiago but I did and was pretty proud of myself. Views were spectacular and lunch at the winery was great."

Doralee

Bend, OR

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an exciting, informative, and fun trip with a just right pace. Our guide led us through the Basque experience of culture, food, drink, politics, and beautiful countryside. We felt as though we achieved what we had hoped, a better understanding of a unique culture and thrills to the eyes and mouth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to pick just one as there were so many, but I think my favorite was visiting the men's clubs both in San Sabastion and in Pamplona for wonderful food and drink and companionship."

Shelley

Davis, CA

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour. Really immersed in the culture. Learned an incredible amount. Good balance of free time and structured. The guide was exceptional. Local guides well-versed as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick from several wow moments - but have to say Francisco's explanation of bull fighting was remarkable. He really introduced us to the subtle aspects of the performance - all without us having to witness an actual bull fight. His description of Picasso's Guernica very moving."

Laura

Milton, VT

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Though I have traveled internationally fairly extensively, this was my first tour, Rick Steves' or otherwise, and I was very pleasantly surprised. The tour was extremely well organized, from start to finish, and I enjoyed the balance of time with the group and time on our own. I enjoyed the progression of the trip with respect to cultural and historical focus, and our guide was exceptional. As the trip progressed, I found myself connecting with the Basque culture in unexpected ways.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have many favorite "wow" moments and memories, so it is impossible to pick just one. Highlights include visiting the Basque Museum in Bayonne and the bull fighting ring in Pamplona. Both of these visits offered critical cultural insights thanks to our guides. I also loved the walk along the Camino de Santiago, arriving at the Iglesia de Santa María de Eunate, and dining afterward at the winery. I really enjoyed exploring spectacular San Sebastien on my own and admiring architecture in Bilbao."

Joel

West Hartford, CT

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country was fascinating. San Sebastián was a beautiful surprise. Bilbao had a rich array of architecture. I learned a lot about Guernica - all I knew before was the bombing and Picasso's painting. Pamplona and Bayonne had far more than I expected. Francisco was a fabulous guide - knowledgeable and very funny.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian"

Judith

Bremerton, WA

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Far exceeded expectations! Francisco's guiding skills, his warmth and humor, created Basque cultural immersion that solo traveler could never experience simply by reading guidebook text. Nuances of culture and history came alive. Curiosity about Guernica, and lure of Pamploma, Camino de Santiago, surreal Guggenheim prompted my taking this journey. Bussing through Pyrenees foothills, countryside and villages, and seaside settings provided perfect context. Eskerrik asko!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Outstanding events - not so much because of the physical places, historically and culturally interesting though they are, but because of the context provided of shared "human emotion and insight" that binds us all together - Guernica, walking slowly on the Camino, standing in the Pamplona bull ring as Francisco related Basque perspectives on matadors and bulls. Then too - late afternoon light reflections on Guggenheim titanium walls."

Paula

Happy Valley, OR

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I did not know very much about the Basque Country before taking this tour. I found the tour to be very informative and complete and now have a much better idea of the area and respect for the people who live there. So much history! and a beautiful part of the world. Before joining the tour, we had spent a week on our own in Barcelona and another in southern France. It was really nice to next be with a group and have everything arranged for us. We absolutely loved our guide, Francisco.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"What immediately comes to mind is the time we spent in Guernica, a quiet village compared to some of the more touristy areas we visited. It was a beautiful day, calm and peaceful. Specifically, what emotionally moved me as I haven't been before was standing in front of a replica of Picasso's Guernica and listening to Fransisco give us his interpretation of the painting. What he said was truly heartfelt and beautiful, a magical moment."

Daniel

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 05/22/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I learned a lot about the Basque people and Country, a lot of history, a lot of politics, and a lot about the food and culture. The tour group was very good, a very compatible group, and Francisco facilitated that result with his upbeat attitude and engaging manner. I particularly appreciated that he seemed to be himself and not "just" a tour guide. I think we got to know him a bit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino was a high point for me. We did it on a blustery day, with rain threatening but not actually occuring. So it was overcast and not too hot. The scenary and the wildflowers and the fields along the short section of trail we did were just wonderful. I kept asking myself "Where in the US would I ever see a sight such as this - just gorgeous". The second best moment was Francisco's explanation and insight into bullfighting. It made sense. And his speech the Picasso Guernica."

Beverly

Roswell, GA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Agus was fabulous!!! I am a history/art history teacher and his knowledge and ability to explain the history of the region was exceptional! He made sure everyone was familiar with dining options and other sites for the free time. The group was most congenial, the hotels comfortable especially in Pamplona! Loved the walk on Camino de Santiago and the vineyard lunch that followed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Experiencing the Camino!"

Martha

Canton, OH

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour to the Basque Country. From the charming and historic streets, beautiful churches, gorgeous countryside and exciting cities, the days were varieid and interesting. There is such contrast to this area, with both old and modern. The cold rainy weather was unfortunate, but did not detract from the tour. These tours are packaged and planned so well, that the group quickly bonds over the shared experience. We became friends very quickly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The walk on the Camino through the countryside was very special. I also liked the dramatic vistas of both San Sebastian and Bilboa. The Guggenheim in Bilboa was breathtaking in its size and structure. I could have spent more time there."

James

El Macero, CA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 6th RS tour, 2nd to Spain and both rank at the top of our experience. The whole tour might be considered a WOW from the welcoming discovery of Bayonna to the titanium castle of Frank Gehry in Bilbao. It was a step into a fascinating history and resilient culture, lovely people, marvelous food, famous places in literature, both ancient and 20th century, modern pilgrims on the Camino, beautiful varied country, inviting resorts and guides that made it a wonderful lifetime experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many WOWs,fabulous high views of San Sebastian and Bilbao, but to pick a single one, it was the visit to the Guggenheim in Bilbao. No picture of great sculptures match the experience of being in the presence of the piece. So it was with this architectural fantasy. Being in and around and experiencing this gigantic sculpture of titanium, steel and glass with the compelling outdoor pieces did make it seem that the Emerald city had met Star Wars and made both all the more beautiful."

Carol

El Macero, CA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our sixth Rick Steves Tour and this one ranks right at the top! Agus was a wonderful tour leader. The people on the tour were so nice and easy going. We made many instant friends in this very nice group!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had many WOW moments... the beautiful seaside resort of St. Jean de Luz and Bayonne in France, walking the route that the bulls run in Pamplona, the power and drama of the crashing surf in San Sebastian, the titanium-roofed Guggenheim museum and the Bilboat ride in Bilbao. And... the food! Our group meals were outstanding, plus my husband and I splurged at 3 Michelin starred Arzak Restaurant for a once in a lifetime early anniversary dinner!"

Jacqueline

Cody, WY

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So much more than I ever expected. The towns, the food, the people, our group, our wonderful guide Augustin and all the city guides, especially Emily at the Basque Museum in Bayonne. Our hotels ranged from the eclectic (hoof prints on the carpet - really) to the elegant (a palacio too) to a corner room on the Atlantic Ocean. All were wonderfully located. Special unexpected events (the private tour of the bull fighting arena in Pamplona - a sweet snack with the morning breaks). Exceptional!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This trip was one new, fascinating, beautiful thing after the next. Standouts included: The Peace Museum in Gernika - so moving. The gourmet lunch at the Winery Lezaun - not to mention the barrel samples. And there is not a photo in the world that stands up to the Guggenheim in person."

Lynne

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Augustin, was beyond outstanding! And the group was composed of unusually compatible people with travel experience, good humor and interesting backgrounds. We got along very well with no grumps. Agus was thoughtful, well-prepared, very knowledgeable about the Basque Country and Spain, and the places we visited were unusual and gave me a different look at the Basque Country and industries. I grew up near of Boston/Cape Cod;the whaling/fishing history of SS was fascinating

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino de Santiago. What an experience! At 74, I was hoping all would go well, but it was better than well! Along the 5 miles, I met several people who were making the entire trip. I guess two other WOW moments were San Sebasian's waterfront (see response above) and Pamploma with Agus and Frederico. A special extra: when we visited the bullring itself, Frederico and Agus demonstrated techniques and philosophy using a red cape and paper mache bull mounted on a wheebarrow."

Joan

Loudon, TN

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Extremely interesting. The special touches (like a tour of the bull ring in Pamplona), the walk on the Camino Real, the special care given to dietary restrictions, the smaller, more intimate restaurants whose owners showed how much they appreciated their food and customers, were wonderful! The area is fascinating in itself, and the pacing on the trip was spot on, not too long or too short in any area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Irun Cafe in Pamplona where they so admired Hemingway."

Christine

Springfield, VT

Tour: 05/15/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My experience on tour was superlative. How I appreciated the pampering from the first night's orientation with Agustin. I immediately knew he loved his work and had our best interests in mind. He remembered my food allergies so the attention to detail was quite amazing and he had done his homework. This trip was my first with RS and I have praised the organization and the small nuances like "no grumps" folks! to all the people I know. I would sign up again in a heartbeat.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a difficult question to answer as each day and place provided me with beauty and appreciation for the culture and landscape, places and people. I love scenery and vistas, always inspiring so the walk out on the breakwater in San Sebastian watching the waves crash and seeing the sculpture was amazing. Guggenheim in Bilbao was also a huge WOW."

Bernice

Willows, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was very knowledgeable about the history of Basque Country. He has the ability to notice things and make remarks about Basque life. Some things are obvious to locals and tours don't notice. His comments make the trip very rich.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Gerniko and Francisco's explanation of Picasso's painting."

Joanne

Spokane, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was another truly wonderful Rick Steves tour with another amazing, phenomenal guide and terrific assistant. I found the history of the Basques fascinating, the story and experience of walking the Camino stunning, touching, and beautiful, the countryside truly lovely--reminding me at times of Switzerland--the special events set up by the company, the gastronomic highlights of the tour, and the Guggenheim, the architectural cherry on top.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were two "wow" moments for me. The first was the introduction to and experience of the Camino de Santiago on ALL its levels the historical, the practical, but most profoundly and touchingly, the spiritual, and the second was actually walking the course where the bulls are run in Pamplona and learning all about its history and the dangers/intricacies of the course."

Dorothy

Hayden Lake, ID

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first RS tour. We were very happy with our experience. The size of the group was just right. We had lots of room on the bus to spread out, which made it very comfortable. The local guides for each city were knowledgeable and the pace of their narration and tours made each experience very enjoyable. The hotels were very good with two exceptions: The hotel in Pamplona was amazing; the hotel in Bilbao was nicely appointed but the staff were rude.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment? Lots of them due to our guide, Francisco. If I had to choose one it would be his explanation of "Guernica." His passion and knowledge of the work was most memorable for me. The beauty of the country also wowed me."

RoeJean

Sammamish, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have traveled to Europe many times in the last 15 years, always using the Rick Steves guidebooks, but this was our first time to join a tour. We were delighted. The information we received enhanced all that we were seeing and all the travel transfers were easy and on time. The new bluetooth system was great. You were able to listen to the information, but still break away a few feet to take a picture and not miss a word.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, it was the camino. With the historic info given to us on the bus while enroute by Fran, by the time we stepped outside the bus to start our walk it was a very moving moment for me. For my husband, the day in Pamplona was a wow. Most memorable was our visit to the bullfighting arena where we stood in the middle while Francisco explained the art & elements of the bullfight. Also, the running of the bulls. We both were moved by Francisco's interpretation of Picasso's Guernica."

Thomas

Port Austin, MI

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

typically outstanding tour. Enjoyed Pamplona most but other places were great as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the running of the bulls route."

Catherine

Sunset Beach, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best tour ever. Our tour guide,Francisco, made the tour enjoyable and made us all fall in love the the Basque country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tapas and Francisco explanation of Pamploma's running of the bulls and the bullfights in the bull ring."

Louise

San Juan Capistrano, CA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have traveled extensively all of my life alone, with my husband, and with friends. I never expected to be on a tour. I was going to Paris for a wedding and my friend suggested we add a tour to our visit. So we added two. My first one was with another company and more expensive by a few hundred dollars. It was fine but not even close to the Rick Steve's tour. This tour was just fantastic and I have recommended it to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"No one moment. I fell in love with this region. I will go again. The entire experience was such a gift. Every destination was joyful. Our hotels were excellent for both location and rooms. My greatest compliments go to all of our guides and the small group experience (20) people."

Susan

Lacey, WA

Tour: 05/08/15

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An excellent guide who loves his country and culture, Francisco exudes energy, kindness, concern for each traveler, and a bounty of good humor. He teaches and answers questions honestly, with an admirable openness and care for each traveler's questions and interests. He has expanded my knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of Basque history, and educated me with his love and caring approach to explaining places, people, politics, history, food, sports, etc. Wonderful leader!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning that the matador's job is to show off the bull's skills so well that the bull is saved by the President of the Bullfight!"

Weather

Spain / San Sebastián

Planning Tips

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.

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 Snapshot: Basque Country 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.