• Bayonne, France
  • St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
    St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, France
  • Bullring during San Fermín, Pamplona, Spain
    Pamplona’s Bullring
  • San Sebastián, Spain
  • Tapas bar in the Basque Country, Spain
    Tapas in Spain's Basque Country
  • Along the Camino de Santiago, Spain
    Camino de Santiago in Spain
  • Basque Sheep Farm
  • Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain

Tour Questions? See our FAQ | Call 425-608-4217

Basque Country of Spain & France in 9 Days Tour

from $2,495 per person + air

Optional Single Supplement $625

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, a working sheep farm, 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

2019

2020

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 13 group sightseeing events • Bayonne walking tour • Bayonne Museum of Basque Culture • Walled 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 tasting and lunch • San Sebastián walking tour • Guernica • Basque sheep farm • Bilbao walking tour • Guggenheim Museum…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
  • A tour kit including a guidebook (or books) and a moneybelt
  • 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 2020
  • 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 your tour

Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions 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 of 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 minutes) 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 hours. 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 — who hailed from Illinois but is celebrated here as a native son. Tonight we'll be invited to dine like the locals at a traditional sociedad private dining club. 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 hours. 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. Tonight, you'll be ready to make your own San Sebastián dining discoveries. 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). We'll dive further into 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 current political issues as we tour the Assembly House and its symbolic Oak Tree, where Basque leaders have met since medieval times. This afternoon, we'll head to a sheep farm where we'll learn firsthand the importance of sheep to the Basque culture and make our own yogurt. Then we'll make a beeline for bustling Bilbao, where we'll sleep (2 nights). Bus: 3 hours. 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 Fine Arts 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 can be easily reached by taxi or bus and 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 (possibly several blocks) 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.
  5. Eat group dinners as late as 9 p.m.

Reviews

Felene

Lake Elsinore, CA

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have never been on a tour before so we were not expecting anything special. The tour guides were wonderful and the area spectacular. We were impressed with the group of people we were with. We became friend during the trip. Thank you and we will see you in the future!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"the entire basque region!"

Michelle

Shoreline, WA

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the region, the language and culture. I think Agustin and Claire infused us with their love of their home in such as way as to entice me to want to explore the area more in the future. I could have enjoyed a few more days in Pamploma, San Sebastian, and Bilboa. They all were unique and interesting. I had a couple of days in Bayonne at the start of the trip so feel as if I got to experience it. I understand why it was chosen as a starting point to educate us on the Basque culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think for me it was the first night at dinner when we go to laughing so hard that everyone thought we had been drinking when in fact we were enjoying ourselves and getting to know one another. The fun loving attitude continued with singing on the bus, theme songs to old TV programs, while sharing photos in airdrop, eating and drinking together! So probably the eating and drinking,scheduled and spontaneous!! Boat cruise and dinner on last night! None of us wanted to sat goodbye!"

Susan

Media, PA

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was somewhat unfamiliar with Basque region before this tour but Agustin brought it to life beautifully. What a gorgeous area!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching the running of the bulls in Pamplona was a true bucket list experience."

Joe

Orlando, FL

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 15-th RS tour and as all in the past have been the Basque Country tour met our expectations. The directions to the first hotel in Bayonne are bad! We got lost trying to find the hotel. There is construction in the plaza where we think we were supposed to go to get towards our hotel. I would have expected that real time updates to these type directions would be a standard part of the RS office. The opportunity to hike the Camino was rewarding, although we did not need our treking

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Well this one is easy since our tour included the running of the bull in Pamplona. The experience of seeing the running from a safe 3-rd floor balcony is certainly a valid reason to select this slightly more expensive tour. You only go around once so thoroughly enjoy it."

Patricia

Oxford, MD

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I both enjoyed this tour very much. It was well organized, and our tour guide, Agustin, was a joy. His knowledge of the Basque region was phenomenal, and he did an exceptional job managing a group of Americans! The only disappointment was the Cider House restaurant. We understand that this was perhaps a last minute restaurant change because of the San Fermin Festival in Pamplona; however, knowing that San Sebastian has several Michelin Star restaurants......

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Without a doubt, the San Fermin festival in Pamplona. View from the balcony during the running of the bulls and the morning watching the masses and bulls enter the ring. I did not approve of the "taunting" of a single cow by masses of people....should have had more bulls in the ring to make it even!"

Bill

Escondido, CA

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was better than expected, and we were expecting a lot. The complete tour delivered. I must caveat my evaluation in that this was our first RS tour, and I am not that much of a traveler. I thought we were on a Rick Steve's tour that was out of the ordinary, but everyone we talked to that had been on previous RS tours said this tour was pretty much typical of what you get from RS. The guides, what we saw and the hotels were the best.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Running of the Bulls in Pamplona was definitely the highlight. Everybody must experience this event once in their lifetime and to do it properly, you have to go thru a RS tour. First off the City of Pamplona runs a great event, which is the biggest festival in Europe. Going thru RS made it a lifetime experience. The accommodations could not be better, throw in the guides, balcony view and, bull ring seats for the run, and being part of the festival made it an event I will never forget."

Francie

Orlando, FL

Tour: 07/08/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking on the Camino Trail and the Guggenheim Museum."

Ann

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A truly delightful trip through four cities and the back roads of the Basque Country. We chose this tour as an introduction to the Basque region, language, history and foods before traveling for a couple of days on our own. My heritage is from the Viscaya villages of Ea and Bolibar near Bilbao, so the tour stops in Getaria, Gernika, and Bilbao were much appreciated. Four of my family found our "Roots".

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino de Santiago was our outstanding memory. We had our Credencial del Peregrino stamped at 9 different churches and cathedrals. We even walked part of the Camino del Norte at my grandfather's village of Ziortza-Bolibar! The pintxos at Donostia as well as the gastronomic society dinner were a close second.Put the Nervion River cruise on your tour, too (good architecture tour before an outstanding farewell dinner!)."

Peg

Prescott, AZ

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderful Encore from a great previous RS Basque tour, 2012. Excellent itinerary with Pamplona added and a different, 5-mile Camino walk. Versatile, compatible tour mates, of mixed generations. Hotels and meals a bit more upscale, a nice touch. Enjoyed the unhurried Cafe Iruna stop and more time in the Hemingway wing. Catching up with gregarious,home-grown Pamplona expert Fran(cisco),special treat for me. Activities well-paced. Consider more time in Bilbao, with more to see than Guggenhenheim.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Basque Museum was full of "wow" information. Perhaps due to different museum guide (and I don't recall having the hearing device last time). The tour was absolutely fantastic! A longer and somewhat tiring tour, but so full of information about Basque culture, I persevered in want of more. Nice that the docent invited participation among our group to demonstrate the cultural rules and generational expectations. "Wow" that I completed 5 Camino miles on challenging terrain."

Abbie

Beaverton, OR

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am so happy my in-laws recommended we take this tour together. What a great introduction to the Basque country, no way could we have put together a similar experience ourselves. I brought along a book to read and barely touched it the whole trip - there was too much to do during the day and I was too exhausted in the evening.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The walking tour of Pamplona was excellent. Francisco is such a great tour guide - weaving personal experience and history together in masterful storytelling. It was special on this tour to see both the bull-fighting collection and the bar in Cafe Iruna."

Leanne

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So much fun, as usual. Great guides, group, meals, and experienced!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino!"

James

South Salem, NY

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed every aspect of this tour. James is an excellent guide, very personable, always going the extra mile for the clients. The hotels were very good to excellent, the food th3 same, the local guides the same. Not a bad one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me there were two: The first was crossing the pass at Roncesvalles and thinking of the pilgrims, and WWII Resistance members and downed airmen who crossed these mountains, sometimes in winter. Second was the first view of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao."

Don

Atlanta, GA

Tour: 06/21/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 3rd tour with the Rick Steves organization and for the 3rd time in a row - we had a blast! Everything was thoughtfully planned and the schedule was excellent - plenty of activity but also built in time for rest, relaxation or just being free to do what you wanted on your own. Loved learning a lot about the beautiful Basque people and their history in France and Spain.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Thoroughly enjoyed the communal meals with the gastronomic society in Pamplona and the winery (Bodegas Lezaun) on our way to San Sebastián. There was much singing of CANTOS REGIONALES after that sumptuous meal (the wine flowed freely)!"

Lawrence

Covington, WA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guide Francisco was great. The hotels were well located. We had time to explore on our own, but the guided part always felt like we were learning and visiting places we wouldn't othrtwise know about or see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The mountains,"

Lauri

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well planned, interesting, and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guernica and Francisco's explanation of the events and his passion for his country. Also loved the lamb birth, but I realize that doesn't happen every time!"

Mario

Feasterville Trevose, PA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've taken multiple tours with you, so obviously we think highly of your approach. A good tour goes beyond the obvious landmarks, which is why we especially appreciate your guides' often going beyond merely showing us the obvious sights and discussing their personal lives, culture, history, food, music, current events, etc.; making us comfortable using local transport; patiently helping us overcome our disorientation and navigate cities on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was Francisco's heart-felt and stirring talk in Guernica in front of the ceramic tile reproduction of Picasso's "Guernica." It stirred an emotional reaction from the tour members, some teary eyes, and applause."

Steve

Seattle, WA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every RS tour we have done (this the 6th) has been outstanding but this was just about the best. While the Basque country is not that unusual or has any of the big famous spots the tour is very well balanced and our guide , Francisco brought it to life in a way I have not had happen on other tours (OK, maybe Declan in Ireland was similar). Rather than just experiencing a list of pretty places and their history I felt a deeper connection to the land and the people than on any other tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guernica! From the story of the attack to the detailed interpretation of the Picasso painting to the symbolism of the Guernica tree Francisco brought a powerful, personal perspective that had me in tears by the end. WOW and then some."

Kathy

Charlottesville, VA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a fantastic time - sites were interesting and varied, group was cohesive and fun, and Francisco kept things moving and the food and wine flowing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think there were three - 1. Francisco's heartfelt interpretation of Picasso's painting of Guernica and the background and lessons thereof that brought tears to everyone's eyes 2 Our visit to the sheep farm learning to make cheese and petting the goats and sheep, when all of a sudden one sheep decided to give birth! 3. Walking about 12 miles of the Camino (6 on our own on a free afternoon and 6 the next day)- with gorgeous views of Pamplona and the countryside in the distance."

Ellen

Glen Allen, VA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

Interesting but not a WOW tour. Others have been full of more interesting material and filled with more meat. I was disappointed, but this tour was the only one that fit out travel schedule. There was too much down time. The scenery was beautiful. The tour guide was great.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The birth of "little Ricky.""

Gail

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the tour was wonderful. The other guests were friendly and easy to get along with. Our guide, Francisco, was knowledgeable and entertaining. The hotels were nice. The buses were comfortable and the drivers were safe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco, our guide, was born and raised in Pamplona. I enjoyed the tour of his hometown and his stories about growing up there and running with the bulls when he was a young man. I know many Americans are very opposed to bull fighting but his presentation helped us to understand the history and tradition."

Noreen

Arden Hills, MN

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a very good tour of the Basque Country for a number of reasons including the following: an exceptional tour director, beautiful countryside views, wonderful views of the ocean, interesting history lessons about the cities and the Basque culture, great food and drink, and interesting tour companions. The tour was quite active with many opportunities for walking. The hotels were well located so that we could walk to numerous restaurants and other activities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several wow moments so it's hard to pick just one. I thought the Pyrenees mountains provided many "wow" moments as did the architecture in Bilbao especially the Guggenheim museum."

Jennifer

Fair Oaks, CA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved traveling around the Basque Country and learning about the Camino Trail, the people and their culture. The hotels were excellent, the food delicious,made better with the complimentary wine. The towns we visited were all interesting thanks to Francisco. All of our tour members were enjoyable company

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We saw a lamb being born on a sheep farm. There was a suggestion that the lamb should be called "Ricky" We rode up the mountain on the funicular and saw the beautiful view of San Sebastion The visit to the town of Guernica which was very emotional"

Peter

Fair Oaks, CA

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As usual everything was ready to go, from the first meeting until the last dinner, the group was good size and the guide exceptional

Favorite "WOW" moment

"View of San Sebastian Bay from the tower"

Rogene

Madison, WI

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide Well organized schedule Tour members were compatible Plenty of free time Good choice of restaurants for meals Nice hotels

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Food and wine"

Brenda

Madison, WI

Tour: 06/07/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderfully focused itinerary provided rich opportunity for in-depth learning about Basque history and culture. I had done lots of preparatory reading, but I was still delighted and surprised every day. Great cities, experiences, faces, places to stay, and group meals. Amazing how different the cities were from each other. Especially, the best guide and local guides, inspiring tours and lectures, something for everybody. Totally satisfying.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had wanted to go on this trip for many years because of my wish to put my feet on the Camino. Our day of walking was certainly a WOW for me. Francisco also helped me get a pilgrim passport, reminded me to get it stamped as we traveled, and offered help and advice for continuing our journey to Santiago de Compostela."

Donna

New York, NY

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was very well organized. It was a perfect combination of guided time, free time, bus time, etc. What makes these tours special are the unexpected stops along the way. ie. the visit to the woman's home in Pamplona, visiting the sheep farm, dinner at the private club in Pamplona. It was a real treat. Our guides were terrific. Francisco is a true professional and Claire is well on her way to being an impressive guide. I would have given an "outstanding" but have feedback on hotels

Favorite "WOW" moment

"i have to admit, everything was very impressive. i am a big Picasso fan so probably visiting Guernica and understanding what happened there."

Laura

Berea, OH

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved seeing the Basque country--one country (unofficial, I suppose) that incorporated parts of France and Spain. The other people on the tour were part of what made it fun--we were lucky that everyone seemed accepting and happy to share. We had a good mix of free time and planned time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking part of the Camino de Santiago (out of Pamplona) was wonderful. A neat thing happened later, days after the trip, when I crossed paths with a young woman in an airport lounge and she looked at me and said "You were on the Camino." We had met only briefly in a church, hadn't even talked, yet there was a sort of bond--that was acknowledged in those minutes. (That was it, we didn't have much else to say--but it was special to me.)"

Joanne

Reno, NV

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fascinating tour of the Basque culture, language and landscape. A great introduction to an epic culture, its food and customs. Great accommodations in the center of historic cities and towns. Outstanding food and thoughtful insight into cultural practices.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's talk in Guernika in front of a tile copy of Picasso's masterpiece. He was eloquent discussing both the painting and the troubled political history of Spain and the Basque countries in particular. I'll never forget his passion and humility."

Robert

Robbinsville, NC

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

we had a great time on this tour. We had a great group on this tour, easy going and fun. Our guides were also wonderful.The towns we visited were interesting despite being smaller than some we have visited on previous tours. We thoroughly enjoyed our "Basque" experience.We found the food and wine excellent.I would recommend this tour to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian"

Debra

Westminster, CO

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country tour was my 4th RS tour, and the best one so far! I loved learning about the Basque people and the Basque history, so much I didn't know (isn't that the best thing about traveling?) Every village we visited, every city we explored, spending a day walking the camino - I walked the Camino Frances in 2016, so this was a very special day for me! What really made everything mesh together effortlessly was our guide Francisco and his assistant Claire. They were outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day I woke up in the morning and said "WOW! I'm in the Basque Country!" Was there a non-wow moment? My first glimpse of San Sebastian, seeing the Guggenheim at sunset, drinking delicious txakoli (learning how to pronounce "Txakoli"), exploring Pamplona with Francisco, so proud of his city, realizing how tall "Puppy" really is when you stand next to it! Roncesvalles nestled in the trees of the Pyrenees. And Guernica... so much emotion that day. And I found out fresh anchovies are good!"

Gay

Lenexa, KS

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fifth RS tour. People ask us which one was the best, and we don't know the answer. They were all wonderful as was this one. Why? In no particular order, we like the small groups, compatible tour members, big busses, great guides, lots of free time, and interesting places to visit that we would probably not have discovered on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Guernica was my WOW moment. Before 9/11 I had seen the painting in Madrid. I read the placard and thought to myself, Picasso is so weird. Fast forward 18 years later. We visit the town and learn the story behind the painting first hand. Francisco takes us through the once demolished town and explains the significance of the details in the painting. He passionately compared it to 9/11 in the US and brought us all to tears. I don't think I will ever forget that moment."

Doane

Norman, OK

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Also enjoyed walking the Camino de Santiago."

Susan

Breckenridge, CO

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The guides were excellent, Francisco was exceptional in the history of the area and the people of the region. His enlightening and passionate descriptions were wonderful and personal, such as a local's view of bull fighting and historical perspective on Guernica. A true highlight of the trip. I enjoyed the variety of experiences on the itinery. Free time was appreciated for further investigating or taking in a local cafe or ice cream stop. The pace of the travel was great!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many WOW moments and I will not pick a favorite."

Rose

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fourth Rick Steves' tour. All of them have been wonderful but this topped them all. Our group was fun and friendly. The guides were outstanding and made the trip extra special. The Basque Country is full of surprises and special experiences. What a "country!" We learned so much. The trip also provided a good balance of guided and free time. We loved it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every moment with Francisco and Claire in our midst was a WOW moment. Francisco is the consummate professional guide/historian/teacher/friend and Claire is well on her way. Three experiences that stand out for me were Claire's sweet singing at the farewell dinner, the Camino hike, and Francisco's heartfelt, moving, and beautiful speech at Guernica ~ worth the entire trip!"

Lynn

Fort Walton Beach, FL

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour guides made the tour! Don't get me wrong, the country side was beautiful, food and drink spectacular, but the love of their country made it a special trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Overall, on this trip - wasn't a big "Wow" moment. It was more just experiencing this area. However, San Sebastian was truly a beautiful place. Views, walks and area was breathtaking. A different but very fun day was when we hiked some of the Camino and then went to a winery for lunch. Another shout out to Francisco and his interpretation of Picasso's Guernicca."

Ronnie

Westminster, CO

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great blend of culture, cuisine, and history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Great selection of food and wine for our lunches and dinners."

Gregory

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fourth Rick Steves tour with each one better than the last. All have been outstanding. We know what to expect when touring with you and we have not been let down. Tour preparation materials were excellent and all arrangements for travel and transfers were good. Bus drivers were expert and buses clean and comfortable. Bags loaded and unloaded with no effort or delay. The itinerary was well laid out with wow moments well dispersed and with crescendo near the end. Guernica and Bilbao

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is rare to me that my WOW moments were inspired by my guides rather than a place or event. Francisco's interpretation of Picasso's "Guernica" was moving and profound. His soliloquy at the end where he compared it to our 9-11 brought me to tears. Walking the Camino Santiago. This experience was enhanced by Francisco's introductory comments which explained the history and significance of the trip. we learned of its spiritual nature and came away with a life experience nonpareil."

Brian

Oak Ridge, NC

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Nice tour which focused on a unique region and culture lead by passionate guides from the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking along the Camino and Francisco's passionate explaination of Picasso's Guernica"

Ron

Loveland, CO

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best RS trip ever - 4th trip overall. Great guides and wonderful itinerary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino right from Pamplona with a small group. Also Francisco's Guernica talk - I was in tears."

Suzanne

Loveland, CO

Tour: 05/24/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From the opening meet and greet to the final dinner, this was a WOW trip. We were a compatible group of travelers from the get-go and having Francisco and Claire at the helm started us off on a great footing. Both of them were so friendly, knowledgeable and inclusive and made us all feel special. We laughed and had such a good time sharing experiences and comparing cultures as well as learning so much about their different background experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning about and walking a portion of the Camino de Santiago was a highlight. Another fun memory was when 3 teenage boys nervously approached us at the Guggenheim Museum in Balboa and asked in their best English to answer some generic questions for a school assignment. Francisco stopped them when they asked us how old we were! I love watching the people who live and work wherever we travel and this trip did not disappoint."

Melinda

Boise, ID

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I appreciated the diversity of this tour, medieval Romanesque towns, charming small cobbled-street villages, alluring Pamplona, wide open countryside busy with agriculture, attractive old fishing villages, tantalizing chocolate factory, small interesting museums, provocative Guernica, seducing San Sebastian, the Guggenheim in Bilbao BUT the Camino de Santiago was absolutely mesmerizing. I loved the history surrounding the walk, the actual physical trek and seeing all the pilgrims.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The monument at Alto de Perdon and the view was a WOW moment. The view of San Sebastian from atop the Monte Igueldo lookout was also a WOW moment."

Nancy

Portland, OR

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A wonderful introduction to Basque Country and culture. I loved the combination of group walks and site visits balanced with plenty of free time to pursue our own interests.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim in Bilbao. Pictures don't begin to capture the magic of that building or the art inside."

Lori

Redwood City, CA

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour overall. The pace of each day was good, allowing for rest and exploration on our own. Just when we felt tired a coffee break was offered. There is a lot of walking but at a reasonable pace. Walking around a town or city allows for the best views and best way to get immersed quickly in the culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to list! Chocolate factory in Bayonne, Camino de Santiago trail in the rain and in the sunshine, views of San Sebastian from the hilltop. There were more but jet lag takes over at this moment."

Joanne

Carmel, CA

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Agustin was the most informed, patient, and awesome tour guide. He oriented us to each new city/town and pointed out areas of interest as well as shared the history of the area. As a result I learned so much about the Basque culture which is of particular interest to me as I have a relative who lives in Biarritz. Now I see why she loves it there. The tour was well paced - 9:00 am start time was much appreciated. We had just the right amount of time to be on our own. The food was incredible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao from the river was breath-taking. The walk on the Camino de Santiago was a high point and the reason I was on this tour. Agustin's narrative on the Guernica by Picaso really brought home the ravages of war. Every meal was a "WOW" moment!"

Ronald

Pensacola, FL

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Interesting region. We had a lot of rain, which had some negative impact. Best day was the sunny walk on the camino. Guernica raises some questions: very important place for Basque history and because of link to Picasso masterpiece. Isnt that enough? But otherwise, the town is not so interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking in the Bilbao old town saturday night and watching all the people snacking, drinking, chattering, enjoying themselves and their friends. Why arent they home watching tv!"

Theresa

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Agustin Ciriza, our guide, was fantastic. He knew everyone's name from the first day! He kept us entertained with his wealth of knowledge. He really made the trip. He even helped us arrange a birding guide for an extra day we stayed in Bilbao. The hotels were are lovely. The food plentiful and good. The one thing I would advise is to get the "bibliography" from Agustin that he sent out after the trip and send it out beforehand. (If you haven't access to it, drop me an email and I will forward

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It to you.)"

Melissa

Carmel Valley, CA

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful tour. Learned a lot about a region I knew very little about

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have wanted to go to the Guggenheim Museum for years and finally got there!!!"

Catherine

Los Altos, CA

Tour: 05/17/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very organized. The experience was more pleasing and enjoyable than my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I especially enjoyed walking the Camino. The Camino was never on my bucketlist and the experience of walking portions of it was calming, inspiring and motivating all at the same time."

Elizabeth

Malvern, PA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A thoroughly pleasant and enlightening tour. I feel I learned so much about the Basque region from Francisco's ability to share his native culture through knowledge and humor. A terrific, personable guide! The local guides, as always, were excellent. I expected food to be a highlight of this tour, and it did not disappoint. This introvert even got comfortable ordering in tapas bars.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Because every day was filled with interesting, wonderful stops, choosing one WOW is difficult. Perhaps the one moment that will stay with me always is Francisco's passionate description of Picasso's Gernika, relating it to other world events, during our stop in Gernika."

Francis

Richmond, MA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour focused on a people and culture about which little is known. It was very informative. The only short-coming was the absence of any discussion about who the original basque people were and where they may have come from. Even a modicum of research in Wikipedia would have helped with this understanding, and it could have been included in the written materials we received prior to the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's hard to say. The Guggenheim? Guernika? The walk on Camino de Santiago? The food? The tour group, including Francisco?"

Sue

Wheaton, IL

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time. The amount of free time left plenty of opportunities to explore on our own and all group activities were interesting and informative. The food experiences were delicious and so much fun! Our guide, Francisco was great! He is informative, friendly and funny, with a serious side that is a joy to behold. The wine was great, the cheese was great, the bread was great, the culture very interesting. I loved it all,

Favorite "WOW" moment

"If I had to pick one, it would be the dinner that the men cooked at the supper club."

Magda

Seal Beach, CA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim museum"

Don

Wheaton, IL

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Superlatives for every aspect of the tour. The history of the Basque people/ culture was fascinating, brought to us by our fantastic guide, Francisco, who created a wonderful atmosphere through his knowledge, sense of humor, and professionalism. His heartfelt delivery of Picasso's "Guernica" had me in tears. The group dinners were all superb; from the food and wine to the venues. Also, I really liked the small amount of road time because of the small geography covered. Nice group too!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Someone said it best, and I paraphrase " There wasn't a "wow" moment as that would denote some activities better than others. They were all so good!""

Sue

Torrance, CA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I was quite impressed by the quality of the hotels and food. I have done four prior Rick Steves Tours and traveled on my own with my husband a lot on our own in Europe. I was also greatly impressed with Francisco, probably the best guide we have ever had. I was a little disapointed in the local guides and would have liked more historical information.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"seeing the Guggenheim in Bilbao from across the river from our bus as we arrived in Bilbao. Our driver took us on a route that allowed a panoramic view of the museum, artwork and bridges."

Mary

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My 3rd, and absolutely the very best tour. Everywhere we went was beautiful. Everyone we encountered in the various towns/cities were friendly and helpful. As close to perfect as a tour could possibly be.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's speech in Guernica. The Men's Gastronomic dinner. Walking on the Camino Santiago. Bayonne San Sebastian (And everything else!)"

Valerie

Olympia, WA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

As this was the first tour I've ever been on, I wasn't sure what to expect. The Basque country is absolutely gorgeous in the spring! I loved the special experiences that were part of the tour, absolutely adored our tour guide, and learned a ton.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the Camino on a perfectly sunny day, looking out over the expansive vista of rolling green hills, thinking about the thousands and thousands of pilgrims who have walked that same stretch of land, and feeling connected to all my friends and family."

Robert

Lincoln, NE

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Although I had been to France and Spain several times, I had not been in the Basque regions. I was sure a Rick Steves tour would be a great way to learn about this part of Europe, and I was not disappointed. This was my eighth Rick Steves tour. As always, most everything was great, and I don't think I could have done this trip on my own any better or cheaper. This was the shortest of my eight RS trips, and it covered the most compact geographical area (no long bus rides).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were really no WOW moments, but there were several very moving moments. One was the walk from Uterga to Muruzabal on the Camino. Another was Francisco's very touching talk in front of the tile replica of Picasso's Guernica. There was not a dry eye in the group."

William

Auburn, WA

Tour: 05/10/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I knew very little about the Basque Country before going on the tour with Francisco. I came away with profound respect for the people, the history and the culture (not to mention the food!). Each day was an adventure. Our tour group was what you'd expect on a Rick Steves tour -- good folks to travel with. This is one tour I'd consider doing a second time (as long as we could have Francisco as our guide).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino de Santiago. We got a taste of what pilgrims experience in St. Jean Pied-de-Port as we obtained our passports and seashells. We walked a small bit of the Camino there and in Pamplona. When we arrived at Alto del Perdon, our Camino experience went to a whole new level. Francisco prepared us well for our memorable six-mile hike. It was only a fraction of the distance "real" pilgrims walk, but it gave us a much better understanding of why people undertake this 500-mile odyssey."

Lollie

Victoria, BC

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the Basque tour in spite of some nasty wet windy days. The variety of activities was well balanced and we had a very companionable group of seasoned travellers. The accommodations were well beyond our expectations, especially the palatial hotel in Pamplona. The invitation to Francesco's eating club was a wonderful opportunity to really get in "the backdoor". Thank you for that opportunity and the great food they cooked for us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many wonderful moments and none that were more outstanding than the others. The serenity of walking on the Camino, the Basque Boat Regatta in Bayonne, the hike up to the castle in San Sebastián - all were wonderful experiences and are memory makers for sure."

Lynn

Fair Oaks, CA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

There was no moment that I did not love, even when it was raining sideways. The tour was well thought out and well organized. The guide was as good as it gets and the group coalesced quickly. I especially loved opportunities not available to the general public like gastronomic club, sheep farm, etc. I've already recommended this tour and guide to several folks.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"BIlbao, although I must admit, my favorite wow moment in Bilbao was on the architectural boat trip that was not part of the RS tour. I and the several RS tour members on the boat tour wondered independently and then collectively why that boat tour is not part of the trip. It provided excellent context and detail that presented the city and recent history really well. If you can't include it, it should be strongly recommended."

Monty

Victoria, BC

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The first guide we had in Bayonne, Claire, was excellent and gave us an excellent Basque Country history of how the family hierarchy works. She had a sense of humour and was very engaging.

Maureen

Northampton, MA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I feel like I came away with an appreciation of an area I had known little about. I loved Bayonne . The museum of Basque life was charming. I spent the rest of the afternoon exploring it. All the guides to specific areas were outstanding and Agustin could not have done more.Sending resources for further exploration of Basque culture after the tour was a perfect ending by Agustin I could have spent less time in Pamplona and San Sebastián. I would have liked an extra day in Bilboa

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim-it was breathtaking ,the museum guide was excellent,a free afternoon gave me time to explore furthers I also loved Bayonne- the guide was great introducing basque culture and the museum charming"

Jacob

Santa Fe, NM

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another excellent RS tour. We enjoyed all the cities, buildings, locations, and sites in the Basque region, its long, interesting, and colorful history, great art and architecture, beautiful scenery, delicious food, great wine, and congenial, interesting people. It just felt good for us to be there - one of the best trips we've ever had. Our fellow tour members were experienced with RS tours and all followed your guidelines; we hope to see many of these new friends again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Watching the sunset as we walked along the San Sebastian promenade. Or maybe walking the Camino, enjoying the beautiful scenery and chatting with friends. Or maybe seeing the Guggenheim at Bilbao. Or maybe enjoying pinchos and crianza at one of the many bars. Or maybe seeing St Jean Pied de Port from the top of the ramparts. Or maybe dining at a local Sociedad Dining Club. Or maybe learning about Spain's civil war and their recovery. Or maybe....what a minute, this is an unfair question!"

Patricia

Los Altos, CA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Crossing the Pyrenees on a beautiful day."

Barbara

Urbandale, IA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim museum."

Susan

Lees Summit, MO

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Top to bottom it was AMAZING! Very organized. Great group of travelers. Wonderful guide Augustine!! I will take another Rick Steves tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our group dinners"

Robert

Lafayette, CA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

another wonderful experience ! each trip[INVALID]my second as a single- has been very enjoyable. there's lots of planning by the RS organization & it consistently shows...it's a pleasure to watch the schedule unfold with the aid of a wonderful guide Agustin....the local guide(s) were very informative and kept us interested. after many trips to Europe (using Rick's books), I want to also emphasize the "time well spent" and "bang for your buck" his trips provide ! the group ???...CLASSIC !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim Museum (the structure !!) absolutely LOVE all the old towns....it really makes the experience worthwhile.... the same "wow" as Italy, France, Britain, Germany etc p/s thank Agustin for putting up with my 'humor'"

Liesye

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed the tour tremendously. The itineraries are well-thought out and it showcased the beauty and abundance of the Basque Country, its culture and food. The food is fantastic and visit to the private bull-fighting collector's home is truly special. Plan to go back someday.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Highlights: 1) The visit to the bull-fighting collector's home. To come so close to the outfit and paraphernalia is so special. Francisco's narration educates and entertains at the same time. 2) Walking the Camino Santiago (appreciate the passport). 3) Stopover in the scenic Zarautz area and finding out about the Balenciaga connection. 4) Taking pictures of the raging sea without leaving our room--priceless (altho Hotel Parma is the worst of the lot). 5) Patxi's farm visit. 6) San Sebastian."

Indra

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoy the tour very much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"(1) Walking on Camino de Santiago. (2) Visiting the sheep farm."

Becky

Sacramento, CA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was great- fellow travelers, tour guides, hotels and restaurants. Augustin was an exceptional host, the local guides were all good. It was a wonderful introduction to an area that I knew nothing about prior to the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the camino- I'm not a religious person, but walking in the footsteps of pilgrims from the middle ages really touched me."

Carole

Half Moon Bay, CA

Tour: 05/03/19

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This felt like a smorgasbord of a corner of France and northern Spain. It was ideal that our guide was a native Basque from San Sebastian.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I've not been a fan of modern art, so I was shocked just how excited I was seeing the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao. The Sagrada Familia on the previous tour of Barcelona left me cold, so I was surprised how much I truly enjoyed and delighted in the Guggenheim's art AND architecture! A visceral experience!"

Jean

Fort Collins, CO

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great. The places where we stayed in particular in Pamplona. Loved the guggenheim in Bilbao. Loved walking on the camino. Loved Bayonne.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim tour with our guide and the guide/private showing of bullfighting in Pamplona."

Jeffrey

Danville, CA

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first time, but won't be the last. Outstanding!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hotel in Pamplona. Also most of the meals on tour were great!!!"

Ann

Santa Cruz, CA

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first visit to the Basque country and we loved it. Our enthusiasm was sparked by our guide, Augustin, who is from San Sebastian in the Basque Country. His knowledge and love of this area was evident. Not only did we get first rate history, but wonderful personal insights as well. Plus, we had a few additional surprises in the tour itinerary.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide gave us a great background to the Camino de Santiago and then to actually be able to walk part of it was amazing. I am sure each of us had our own experiences with nature or spirituality or sport, but it was a lifetime experience for me. Getting my own "Credencial del Peregrino" stamped was awesome! Guggenheim Museum was impressive too!"

Julia

Woodland, WA

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a great combination of history, food, culture and countryside. Especially enjoyed Pamplona and our local guide, there. Loved hiking the Camino de Santiago and the visit to Guernica.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite wow --- the Modern Art Museum in Bilbao!!!!"

Stephen Sanborn

Santa Cruz, CA

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, this was a great tour. I learned so much about the Basque country and felt that we received a very personal insight.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really liked the visit to the sheep farm - the free range hilly land, all the farm animals, getting up close to the sheep (and milking them). But the most impressive part was meeting the farmer. He was so down to earth and very passionate about his sheep and taking care of them and producing an authentic regional cheese. Also learning about making cheese and doing it ourselves. Delicious tastings."

David

Lake Orion, MI

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We usually travel with just a Rick Steves guidebook and our own wits, but having our guide Agustin with us made for an even more relaxing, enjoyable experience. We would start each day knowing he'd already done a ton of work to make sure it was a great day. It allowed me to only have to worry about couple of extra itinerary items that Agustin would even help with. Can't say enough. We will certainly go on more!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it was Agustin sharing with us his experience of the troubles in the Basque region during the height of the separatist movement. He shared a touching story of when he was with his son and saw an exhibit of that era and was overwhelmed by how many people who had died. As far as sites, the bullfighting museum in Pamplona was an interesting experience. It was so neat to have the homeowner walk us through her husband's collection."

Barbara

Burlington, VT

Tour: 09/26/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amazing, well planned, thoughtful, educational, fun, groovy time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many WOW moments to say: Figuring out bus in Bayonne, shuttling hubs and I too Biarritz, for a walk one day then A swim the next day. Driving to the top pinnacle outside the city of San Sebastian before we reached hotel for a great overview. Pamplona, and meeting the gracious woman who shared her husbands bull fighting collections. Walking across the bridge in Bilboa early morning. Seeing The Guggenheim in all that early morning light. The Gastronomy Club. Walking the Camino. Many Thanks."

Marti

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour! Loved our guide, Francisco, our group & the experiences we shared. Saw beautiful scenery & architecture, and learned about a fascinating culture. In general I prefer the countryside & smaller towns to the larger cities so particularly enjoyed our stops at Roncesvalles, the cheese farm Alluitz, Saint Jean Pied de Port,and Guetaria. Of the cities my favorites were Bayonne and Pamplona.The chance to walk a bit of the Camino de Santiago was a big draw for me and it did not disappoint.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two: Santa Maria de Cunate on our Camino walk was peaceful and beautiful, the perfect culmination to a day of introspection which I won't forget. Guernica was gut-wrenching but also unforgettable, as were Francisco's touching words there."

Paula

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco is an outstanding tour guide, and it is very important to me to have a local guide. Our tour group was compatible and fun, and we all were interested in the Basque culture. I really think this tour should be longer than 9 days and include a free day as well as an overnight in a smaller Basque village.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had a wonderful group dinner in a Basque "Men's Club." I do not think this cultural experience would have been possible without our Basque guide from Pamplona."

Carter

Los Angeles, CA

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Prior to the tour, I knew very little about the Basque Country. Now, thanks to Francisco, I have a newfound love and appreciation of the Basque Culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Fracisco took us to his private dining club in Pamplona, where two of his friends prepared us an exquisite meal. I appreciated this rare opportunity that I could not have hoped to experience on my own."

Joy

Byron Center, MI

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the private collection of everything to do with bullfighting in Pamplona."

Anita

Madeira Park, BC

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Loved the area, loved the specific slant of the tour (Basque culture), loved the tour guide, loved the group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Had to be Francisco's passionate talk at Guernika."

Susan

Alcoa, TN

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Even better than we were told it would be. (Learned about on another RS tour)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"First glimpse of the Bay of Biscay"

Bill

Cleveland, TN

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an excellent trip mixing small towns, beautiful countryside and Bilboa. We came in 1 day early and the start in Bayonne was enjoyable. We took this time to visit the beach at St. Jean de Luz. Your guides add so much to the trip. Francisco taught about the Basque people and local culture. He showed us how to get tapas the local way. Then there were the fine meals and wine. The fellow tour members were a great group for sharing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There wee so many WOWs. Based on the number of photos: Bilboa and the Guggenheim. The fine food, included the special meal in Pamplona at the sociedad private dining club. Then how about the Palacio Guendulain hotel. Just relaxing good times were in San Sebastian. Or learning about the bulls in Pamplona. Especial our fellow travelers helped make the trip special."

Jola

Cleveland, TN

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an extra special trip. The Basque country is not an area well known to American tourists, and as this was our 9th RS trip, we were looking forward to something new...it did not disappoint. I loved the small hilly villages and the seaside towns in both France and Spain. Before the tour, I read quite a bit about the Spanish Civil War and the town of Guernica. To actually go there became part of my "bucket list". Our guide, the great food-wine and companions completed it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our tour of Guernica had to be one of my wows. Our guide, Fransisco, not only introduced us to the famous Guernica Tree (who knew about that?) and the horrific bombing of this village, but gave a very emotional talk in front of the replica of Picasso's painting, Guernica. We were in tears when he finished. Also won't forget Camino day!"

Janet

Paso Robles, CA

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the Basque Country! We learned so much that we didn't know about the culture, government, & people. Our son-in-law is part Basque, so this had particular relevance.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably Francisco's speech at the Dali painting in Gernika."

Sue

Shoreline, WA

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco MADE this trip. We were thoroughly immersed in the Basque culture and loved every minute of it. Francisco's knowledge of the region and its people were imperative to the trip's success. However, Alan and I both felt that it was Francisco's warmth, humor, compassion and ability to build our little traveling community that made this trip the hit parade. We've been on three of your tours and hands down, this was our best guide. Francisco made us all feel like family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino. Wow, wow, wow. And the little church we we're left to at the end of our walk.Also, Francisco's speech to us in front of the "Guernika" wall. It brought us to tears. It came from his heart, was off the cuff and unrehearsed."

Rebecca

Medford, OR

Tour: 09/21/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What a special tour! Instead of focusing on a country or even a geographic area, this tour zeroes in on the unique culture and history of the Basque people. It stretches you linguistically as you move from French-speaking Basque towns to Spanish- and Basque-speaking towns, and you learn so much about the rich folk traditions, family structures and incredible food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, there were two WOWs: Guernica and the Church of Saint Mary of Eunate near Muruzabal. As a teenager and art student, I studied Picasso's painting, Guernica, and learned the history, but to finally be in the town where the horror of April 26, 1937, unfolded was incredibly emotional--this is what travel can do for us. The Church of Saint Mary of Eunate was an unexpected surprise and intriguing mystery. On a warm day on the Camino, this place sent chills up my spine. Not to be missed!"

Robert

Hamburg, NY

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour offered and fulfilled my expectations on the history, culture and cuisine of the Basque regions of France and Spain.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian was an absolute delight. The ocean and the city were a delight. The grilled octopus dinner was amazing."

James

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country tour included varied and interesting experiences, expert local guides, great food and the best RS guide (Amanda). Amanda conducted herself as a consummate professional at all times, she had a sense of humor, corralled her geriatric field trip attendees with firm grace, compassion for our needs and a love of her adopted country. She steered us through a maze of activities and handled unexpected events with calm and deliberate action.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was touched by the Camino, walking in the footsteps of thousands beforehand. It was privilege to be called a "pelegrino" by the locals and to stop at so many stops along "the way.""

Linda

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third tour with a RS group. Our guide, Amanda, masterfully set a positive tone for our time together at our initial group meeting. She was friendly, knowledgable and humorous yet made expectations clear. Little time was lost waiting on "stragglers" and the group stayed positive throughout. Experiencing the rich culture of the Basque region was an experience I won't soon forget.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is always difficult to answer because there were many memorable moments. I might have to say the time spent in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. I have never been a big fan of modern art but I may have to change my mind after touring this museum. I was captivated by the creative approach to finding new ways to express art. The building itself is a wonder and the exhibits inside were creative, clever and stunning. My way of thinking about modern art has been transformed."

Linda

Albuquerque, NM

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything I wanted from the tour of the Basque Region was present and more. I wanted to learn more about the history, culture, women's issues and past and currrent politics and was easily able to do this. Amanda and the various day leaders were excellent. I was hoping the food was as good as the late Anthony Bourdain said and it was! The weather was perfect. The transportation was very comfortable and the drivers excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Waking in a parade with a band at night in Pamplona celebrating the little San Fermin festival. The energy was incredible. I also made it to Beatriz for those chocolate filled delicacies so it was a great night!! Music, fun people, red wine and chocolate, can not go wrong!"

Paul

Eastham, MA

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a wonderful tour led by our kind, caring and knowledgeable guide, Amanda. My fellow travelers were also very enjoyable and we all had a fine time. My only regret was that it was too short, as I certainly would have liked at least one more day in San Sebastian, especially since we were there on a Sunday and Monday.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The coastline of Biarritz was breathtaking, right up there with San Sebastian."

Elizabeth

Ellington, CT

Tour: 09/19/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As usual, the tour itself was spectacular as was our guide Amanda

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being caught up in the parade of the "Giant Heads" was awesome. Just experiencing that camaraderie was spectacular!"

Gerry

East Berlin, PA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Loved the region, places we visited and tour members as always with the RS tours. Our guide was not as terrific as we find RS tour guides. He seemed perhaps tired and burnt out. He seemed to be counting his days until his tours were done.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite was the visit to the collector of all things bull fighting in Pamplona! That she opened her home and this wonderful private collection to a group of American tourists was just amazing!"

Michael

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a great time. The tour was well organized. Our guide, Jorge, was outstanding. He was well prepared and had the perfect guide personality.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had several "wow" moments. The walk on the Camino. The beautiful hotel in Pamplona. Jorge's advice on pintxos. The visit to the bull fighter museum. Lunch at the winery. Dinner at men's club. Tour of the Guggenheim."

Sam

Boerne, TX

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The tour was well worth the time. Enjoyed the town experiences, people and food. The Camino Walk was just about the right length to give a feeling of the overall walk. The people were all helpful. The Hotels were up and down but overall very acceptable. The pace of activities was just right and the time to explore on our own was some of the most memorable. We especially enjoyed Biarritz on our own and San Sebastian.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The private tour of the home in Pomplona with all the Bull Fighting memorabilia. She was most acceptable and gracious on sharing her home and items."

Douglas

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Lots of great food & wine - we were well fed. Jorge our guide was excellent. All the local guides were also excellent. The tour had a good mix of experiences to maintain interest. Also, there was sufficient free time on our own. It would have been nice to have another day in San Sebastian.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a difficult question. There were many great experiences (typical Rick Steves). Here are some of the highlights: Bayonne Hotel in Pamplona 1st leg of the Camino hike San Sebastian Guernica Gugenheim in Bilbao Food & wine"

Keith

Milton, MA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great! Great guide, beautiful country, fantastic food, just overall fantastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino de Santiago was incredible and such a unique experience."

Cassandra

Milton, MA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour surpassed our already high expectations. It offered a diverse set of great experiences; the blend of culture/art/history, food/drink, and natural beauty was even better than we could have anticipated. To allow for this, the itinerary was paced perfectly. We saw and did an incredible amount, but at each stopping point, there was just enough time to wander, relax, and enjoy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many to pick just one. Top four, in no particular order: the group dinner at a "sociedad," a private Basque men's gastronomic club; the multi-part hike along the Camino de Santiago followed by lunch at a family winery (with excellent and inexpensive wine for purchase); the stop at a farm outside of Bilbao, where we milked sheep and learned about the production of cheese and yogurt; and the visit to the town of Guernica."

Rosemarie

El Segundo, CA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We really enjoyed learning about the Basque culture....their dedication to ancient traditions, the proud Basque people we met, the beautiful countryside we saw. Hiking on the spiritual Camino de Santiago,eating pintxo and vino and beer,strolling along the beautiful beaches of San Sebastian and Biarritz, visiting a sheep farm and milking sheep, drinking wine with the wife of a famous bullfighter in her home dedicated to bull-fighting...were some of the awesome experiences we won't forget!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our wow moment would have to be visiting a Basque sheep farm, learning about the process of raising sheep, feeding some of the sheep and goats on the farm---and then milking a sheep! Plus, we had the opportunity to make sheep cheese with a charming young lady as our guide. And... at the end of our visit, we ate the cheese we made, drank some wine, and made friends with the roosters! Actually felt like we had a little Basque in our blood during that experience:)"

Mary

Williamsburg, VA

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great tour. Wonderful group of people, and Jorge was excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say. So many!"

Alicia

Owego, NY

Tour: 09/14/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I learned so much about the Basque culture. Always like the museums. the tour guide in Pamplona was great, lots of fun and interesting. The Camino trail interesting and a change of pace. Food was great and so much fun to go to bars and try different things. .

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a number of them . The Basque museum because it showed the basque in such a different light. The small old church on the Camino trail, and the Guggenheim Museum . Also the goat cheese at the farm."

Sylvia

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour left me energized and excited about the Basque region. It was an excellent mix of activities. I always enjoy touring the cities and visiting the museums, but the activities outside of that were really value added. I had not done my homework prior to the trip, so exploring the roots of the Camino de Santiago was a great surprise and an amazing experience. In addition to the cultural aspect of the area it gave a nice focal point to trip. Agustin was an amazing guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to the sheep farm! Meeting the sheep and making cheese was a fun and educational experience. The family that runs the farm were fun and engaging. I personally loved the dogs, sheep, goats and horses. It was a really fun break from museums and cities. I also loved the bull fighting collection. It was a WOW moment to see how many artifacts had been collected by the family. It was really interesting. And who doesn't love the post glass of wine on both of these tours!"

Mark

Long Branch, NJ

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Plenty of structure and also plenty of free time. Guide was very good. Great fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking on the Camino de Santiago"

Maxine

Farmington, MN

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steve's tour, although my husband and I have traveled many parts of Europe using the detailed guidance of the Rick Steve's books. Knowing the bus transportation and the hotel accommodations were always ready and waiting, made the trip effortless and relaxing. I learned a lot about the Basque Country culture, history and cuisine (and met a lot of neat people in the process). It was a great experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite memory from the tour was walking along that portion of the El Camino trail! It was a glorious day, a beautiful hike and a great way to either gregariously connect with others or reflectively gather inspiration from the journey. Having lunch at that winery after the hike was also a delicious highlight! (The best gazpacho I've ever tasted!)"

Susan

Salem, OR

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Beautiful country we'd never want to drive it. San sebastien lives up to image- great swim there. Reading before departure really increased experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going into the ocean"

Paul

Monroeville, PA

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Overall the tour was very good, organized and well thought out. Pamplona was a horrible, over-hyped, lack luster, dirty, graffiti laden town with one claim to fame...the running of the bulls. I would reduce the experience there to a stop-over with the local guide who was very good. Other than running of the bulls (and I am far from a PETA person) the town has nothing to offer. In my European travels from Ireland to Istanbul, Pamplona is bar none the least enjoyable European destination.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"RS gets a big WOW for having tour members in their late 70's risk their health, well being and the remainder of their tour by trekking a rock strewn, down hill frankly dangerous segment of the Camino de Santiago. Augustin described the initial trail as down hill and rocky but no one was truly prepared for having to carefully place each foot fall along the rock strewn path in order to avoid injury. Yes, he stated no one HAD to take the trail but I think it misguided to offer it at all."

Teri

Davis, CA

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our first time on any tour. Our guide, Augustin, was wonderful, as were the members on the tour. The transportation, hotels and activities were very well organized. We personally were not thrilled with the food [INVALID]ions during the large group dinners, but that was just us. We did feel that we got our money's worth with the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was the walk on the Camino de Santiago. It was divided into two days and was just the perfect amount of time and two well selected areas."

Janis

Eagan, MN

Tour: 09/12/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

the tour was interesting, very well organized, provided excellent tour guides, and excellent locations for rooms and food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino. It was way more of a spiritual, connecting to others and the history, event than I anticipated. It was a beautiful location and having learned more of the history it had all the more depth of an experience."

Sara-Jane

Lake Oswego, OR

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour definitely enriched my knowledge of the Basque region. Having Francisco as our guide was especially great as he added many personal reflections on life in Basque Country, always ready to answer any question we might have. His pride of country was heartwarming. The three guides who assisted him were very knowledgeable and added more dimension to their territory. Places I had been before were better, having insight from these people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, Francisco's talk about the Guernica painting was a highlight. I loved visiting the home of the bullfighting memorabilia collector. I had visited the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao before but was absolutely amazed by the stunning fabric art installation in the center court. I think after seeing all of the lovely churches,windows,countryside and cities that this was a perfect finish to this trip. A modern gift I will not soon forget."

Lauren

Somerville, MA

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide. Couldn't have been better. Great co travelers. All levels were accommodated. Great food. Great choices of sites. Right balance of personal and group time. Well organized. Not a lot of waiting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Don't have one favourite. I guess learning about Basque culture and feeling like we weren't exactly in Spain!"

Clay

Raleigh, NC

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Very good as usual. The only negative was the Overlord guide whose facility w/ our English needs work!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pamplona"

Linda

Raleigh, NC

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

What an interesting tour of an area we knew little about with fun, curious folks! Our guide, Francisco was fantastic!! There was a good balance of free time for individual interests & meals on your own as well as local tour guides & group meals. The Basque Country is lovely with beautiful beaches, old towns, & the Pyrenees mountains. We had a morning to walk some of the Camino. We spent several nights pre-tour in St Jean de Luz at Hotel de la Plage which was one of our favorite spots.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We visited Picasso's painting of Guernica on a previous RS tour to Madrid so the visit to the town of Guernica which was bombed by Hitler in 1937 was very much a "WOW" moment for me. Francisco's moving speech in Guernica had us in tears - showed us his love for his Basque country & for the US. The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, the town of St Jean Pied de Port in the Pyrenees, the beaches of San Sebastian, St Jean de Luz, & Biarritz were all "WOW" moments."

Wayne

Soquel, CA

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

On September 11, 2018 the group was to walk down the Camenio Santago trail. We were give ample warning that this short first part of the trail was very difficult and were told that only experienced hikers should walk the first four kilometers. I have had both of my knees replaced so I intended to take the bus to the next village, four kilometers away. I was taking photos of my wife walking when the bus drove away. (my fault) I started down the steep, rough terrain and fell. (See below)

Rhonda

Austin, TX

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything we saw, heard or experienced was grand. My favorite Rick Steves' tour yet!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was all wow. Guernica and the Picasso painting with our guide explaining it was the most emotional moment and walking the Camino de Santiago was the most physical and spiritual."

Priscilla

Littleton, CO

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved it all; delightful small towns, learning our way around the old districts, the fabulous food & wines, specialized local tours, extras like the cork farm visit & meal, great fellow travelers, and an accomplished and enjoyable guide. As always the balance between time with the group and time on our own was just right.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dinner at the members only dinner club in Pamplona was one of my highlights. The underground setting was so special, the food was delicious & Basque-centric, and the group had bonded so that we all delighted in the joint experience. Other highlights were the camino walk, the little but meaningful Santa Maria De Cunate church, eating pintxos, the heartfelt discussion at Guernica, and the architecture of Bilbao."

George

Leaburg, OR

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Learned a great deal about the Basque country and its people. Guide provided us with a variety of rural and urban experiences

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our expectations on Rick Steves tours are very high. We were not disappointed. Perhaps a very high point was Francisco's impassioned discussion of Gernika conducted at the mural in the city. Also, the bull fighting museum in Pamplona was a gem, as were the varied architecture of Bilbao and the old town section of San Sebastion"

Charles

Littleton, CO

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We tell our friends that Rick Steves tours give the traveler a great overview of the country or region being explored. In addition, the tours include visits to a carefully refined list of top attractions. There are no "duds" or hokey tourist traps. The buses are comfortable with enough seating that everyone gets a window view of the countryside. Hotels are all clean and safe plus they are close to the top attractions. All these factors make the Rick Steves tours a great value.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "WOW" moment was the group dinner at the "Members Only" Dinner Club in Pamplona. By Day 4 of the tour our group had gotten to know each other and bonded into a "merry band of travelers" so there was plenty of camaraderie. This dining experience let us rub elbows with the citizens of Pamplona and gave a special insight into the flavor and culture of the Basque people. The physical location in the cave and the great food added to the experience."

Randy

Austin, TX

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well organized, excellent tour guide, meet really nice people, love the country

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Beauty of the Spanish beaches and mountains, Francisco's talk at the "Guernica" tile reproduction picture"

Mary

Bradenton, FL

Tour: 09/07/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This Basque Country tour visits jewel box cities, both medieval and avant garde, each of whom serve memorable cuisine. Mountain passes, thousand-year-old pilgrimage paths and world class beaches provide a fitting backdrop for immersion in one of the most fascinating and hospitable cultures on earth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Santa Maria de Eunate Chapel on the Camino de Santiago was a moving encounter with ancient architecture and spirituality. Very profound."

Sara

Mesa, AZ

Tour: 09/05/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I found our tour leader Jorge to be extremely knowledgeable about the Basque region, our hotels were excellent and there was more food and drink than anyone could finish.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"After a walk on the campo we stopped at Santa Maria de Eunate. That was amazing experience. I also loved Bayonne and had fun practicing my french in the pharmacy."

Elaine

Plano, TX

Tour: 09/05/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guernica"

Jane

Bellbrook, OH

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I took this tour primarily for the opportunity to walk on the Camino de Santiago and for the Basque food I had heard so much about. But as soon as the tour started, I knew it was going to exceed my expectations. The city of Bayonne was so charming, as was the nearby seaside town of St. Jean de Luz. I loved the energetic vibe of Pamplona where I first experienced the fun of ordering pinxtos and a drink at a bar. San Sebastian was a delightful blend of old and new,

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the metal sculptures of the pilgrims on Alto de Perdun was my first "wow" moment of the day, followed by walking on the Camino. I loved watching the pilgrims walk by with the scallop shells attached to their backpacks, and I actually did feel like a pilgrim for a few hours. I loved the cautious challenge of the rocky descent on the first 2 miles of our hike. Finishing our pilgrimage at the ancient and sparely beautiful Eunate Church enhanced the spirituality of the experience for me."

Janet

Tuckahoe, NY

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As usual it was a great RS tour. We saw the highlights as a group and had sufficient time to see other sights of interest (or just sit and observe the city we were in). All hotels were in the center of the city and food and points of interest in the guide book were spot on. Along with a few not in the book "lets try this place" turned out well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We saw some wonderful sights and heard interesting history but the place I will always remember was the Peace Museum in Gernika. I visited it during a break and found it to be a positive experience despite the worldwide need for its existence."

Ann

Saint Louis, MO

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved the itinerary and the guide was awesome!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the Camino!"

Laura

Winston-salem, NC

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Very positive. The group guide was excellent both in his leadership skills and knowledge of the region. The tour group itself was just the right size and comprised of interesting and fun people. It was a nice mix geographically as well as personalities and backgrounds. The towns and museums and local guides enhanced the historic settings. Physical activity was another plus, with lots of walking to keep us limber and enough free time to round out individual goals.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several. Having an art background, the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao was certainly one of these moments. Not only the exterior of the building and accompanying sculpture but also the interior. The collection we were shown, was fabulous and added to the amazing architecture of its surroundings."

Suzanne

Phoenix, AZ

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Agustin was as excellent guide and a true pleasure to be with during this tour. He is a great ambassador for the Basque Region as well as an outstanding representative for RSE. I did not know what to expect and found it is definitely underrated and the tour exceeded my expectations. I had not anticipated such a beautiful region -- and food was delicioso!! The itinerary was diverse and a very good introduction to the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was the view of San Sebastian from the hilltop. What a spectacular introduction to a fabulous city. It still takes my breath away when I look back at my pictures."

Gary

Bainbridge Island, WA

Tour: 08/29/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am once again very surprised how much I learned on this tour. I walked away with a deep understanding, admiration and appreciation of the Basque people and their culture. Having Agustin,a Basque, be our guide was the reason. His personal stories growing up with friends and family brought us so much closer to a proud and amazing culture!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"By the time we got to the hallowed ground of Gernica, we had a great appreciation for the Basque culture. The evil created by the two dictators, Hitler and Franco, working together was horrific! Still they could not break the Basque spirit!"

Andrew

Chapel Hill, NC

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Perfect balance of a professionally led group tour of awesome venues and the appropriate amount of alone time to explore on your own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views overlooking the beautiful city of San Sebastián. I will never forget that breathtaking view!"

Terry

San Carlos, CA

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We didn't know what to expect as this was our first Rick Steves' tour. Specifically I didn't know if we could keep up especially on the Camino de Santiago day. The trip exceeded our expectations. We had memorable experiences and learned about Basque culture as well as try new foods. It was definitely a trip to remember.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We booked this trip for the day on the Camino de Santiago. We knew we would never have the time or stamina to walk the whole trek but the 5 miles was doable. Standing at the top of the mountain and looking down to the valley where we would be walking was absolutely breathtaking."

Ann

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We really enjoyed this tour. The food was delicious-best octopus I have ever had; our tour guide was enthusiastic and it was good to have a second guide. It was easy to get to know and to get around the small cities. It was a bit difficult to adjust to eating such late lunches and dinners; once I figured out to have a snack around 11:30, I did better. We really didn't know that much about the region before we leaft so we really appreciated learning about the history, culture and language.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, hiking the Camino Santiago, the beauty of the Pyrenees and the city of San Sebastian. I just wish the weather had been better in San Sebastian-will have to return! We also enjoyed St. Jean de Luz on our own-it should be included in the tour. The city of Bilbao is beautiful!"

Allison

San Francisco, CA

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We really enjoyed this tour. We were lucky to have Francisco as our guide- he was wonderful. We really enjoyed seeing these parts of Spain and France, which were new for us. It was nice to be in quieter towns and cities to experience more of the culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We really enjoyed the day trip to Guernica and learning about the history there. Francisco did a fantastic job interpreting the history of the town and connecting it to Picasso's famous painting. The Camino de Santiago was also really cool and Francisco did an awesome job explaining the history of the chapel there (where he got married!). We also loved the Sheep Farm/Cheese trip. We're still enjoying the cheese at home."

Richard

San Carlos, CA

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For my wife, her wow moment was the explanation, history, significance and walking the Camino de Santiago. For me, I will remember more of the Basque culture and how proud they are of their heritage (language, customs, historical significance, shepherds/fishermen) and Guernica."

John

Wichita, KS

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Outstanding in all respects.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the sheep farm was realy special. Also, the last night farewell dinner in the local restaurant nearby."

Carol

Wellsville, NY

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country is an area of which I previously knew little. I now feel very enriched with a great understanding of the people, their history and culture. The tour enables one to take in the entire area within the allowed time, easily moving from town to town, savoring the scenery, experiencing the local customs. It's a perfect adventure for those who have done the big focal points of Europe.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW's were not locations, but the in-depth and very moving preparatory talks by our guide Francisco. He set the stage giving so very much from his heart. Guernica was not just a bombed town; it is more. The Camino is not simply a hike; it is a solo chance reflective with nature. Basque is not just an area between Spain and France; it is people with heart and soul."

Virginia

Cambridge, WI

Tour: 08/24/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide's take interpretation on Guernica."

Ann

Los Altos, CA

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I loved this trip! The scenery was so beautiful and the tour group was very fun. We enjoyed our tour guide, James, very much. We have seen most of Spain in previous trips and this area of this beautiful country was new to us. Gorgeous!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "wow" moment was the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona! The hotel we stayed in was lovely and in a perfect location to see and experience all the festivities. We loved putting on our red scarves, sashes, and white shirts and joining the crowd to celebrate this yearly event. Standing on the balconies and watching the bulls chase the 3,000 plus participants was exciting! We loved the bands playing and crowds cheering and eating pinchos! Fabuloso!"

Norman

Boise, ID

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour of the Basque Country was a great experience and we would highly recommend it. The Basque culture is rich and interesting. I would strongly recommend the San Fermin festival for a raw look at this endearing culture. The Rick Steves staff put together a perfect itinerary and facilitated it with top notch guides.....really impressed with the value. Furthermore, we had a fun tour group loaded with great personalities.

Bruce

Southwest Ranches, FL

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very well organized. Our guide, James, was awesome - extremely knowledgable, helpful, tactful and dedicated to making our trip meaningful and memorable. Our group was a great mix. The choice of sights visited was excellent. James went out of his way to help us make reservations at a restaurant in San Sebastian, which turned out to be one of many highlights of our trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Running of the bulls in Pamplona; Guggenheim in Bilbao. Hard to say. So many."

David

New York, NY

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was impressed by how much I enjoyed the activities and how well timed they were. Some tours spend too much or too little time at the stops. I really liked the age diversity of people on the tour. James, our tour guide, did a masterful job of engaging every individual, including the locals he was working with. His assistant, Lisa, was also a joy and extremely competent. I think of them both as friends and would gladly join another tour led by either of them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The sheep farm was unexpectedly awesome. I also loved having time to wander around the old part of Bilbao alone at night."

Bridget

Sugar Land, TX

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved all of the tour, the tour guides were outstanding and made the tour even more special. The restaurants were just great and a wonderful experience. The hotels were fine, there is room for improvements.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything was great, I loved running of the bulls, the Camino de Santiago and the Guggenheim the most."

Ann

Columbus, OH

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

james and lisa were great....lots of walking which I expected; organized, well informed; inclusive, cohesive, fun, spot on the tour outline never had to wait for hotel room; all was ready when we arrived

Favorite "WOW" moment

"by far the running of the bulls but a wow for the Guggenheim in bilbao; exhibit by joana, and marc chigall the walk on the camino was also a wow moment...like wow am I ever gonna get there?....peaceful, beautiful, pastorale"

Gary

Denver, CO

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour so we had fairly high expectations given our past experience. This tour did not disappoint. All of the towns we visited were charming, our tour guide and assistant were friendly, knowledgeable and helpful. We would definitely go on another Rick Steves tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Pamplona for the Running of the Bulls.The hotel we stayed at was fantastic, and our local guide Francisco was very knowledgeable of the Corrida. He was also quite helpful. We had tickets to the bullfight and he had his mother take me down to the hotel to pick them up."

Barbara

St Augustine, FL

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second Rick Steve's tour and I'm already looking at the 2019 trips for my third. I truly enjoy the rhythm of these trips; two days at lovely hotels that include historic walks and talks and fabulous meals with plenty of free time for independent activities. I enjoyed my guides and the people I traveled with. I'm a solo traveler and it's very comfortable having my own room but enjoying meeting new people while discovering new cities and activities. This trip was incredible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning the history of the running of the bulls and having balcony seats for the experience. I enjoyed both James and Franco's explanation of the history and also the respect shown for the culture of the bull ring and the bull fighting. We had a unique experience of visiting a personal museum in a private home. I also loved walking part of the Camino de Santiago! Again, learning the history and being able to actually partake in part of this journey was very meaningful."

Robin

Richmond, TX

Tour: 07/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was jam-packed with memorable experiences. Pomplano, the Camino Santiago, and Bilbao were standouts. I learned more about Spain and the Basque Country than I ever understood before. We had a great group and the best guides! It didn't hurt that France won the World Cup during our trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum needs to be experienced - just describing it does not do it justice. The architecture, the whimsy, and the Joana Vasconcelos exhibit were all mind bowing! Such fun.."

Malcolm

Modesto, CA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent activities and relevant, meaningful tours and exploration. Superb group meals (dinner and lunch) engaging first-rate local cuisine. Good balance of group time vs individual free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pamplona, esp. the private bullfighter museum and the private balcony for the bull running. These are local people who graciously invite us into their homes. We felt humbled and honored for each moment, receiving a highly unique experience not covered by other standard tours. That is, we aren't merely "American tourists," but genuine guests engaging regional traditions at a very intimate level."

Sinde

Modesto, CA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was excellent. Agustin Ciriza was a first rate tour guide. He showed the culture , families, traditions of the Basque Country. First, the meals provided were fantastic. I really enjoyed having lunch and dinner experiences. ( trying new foods and spending quality time getting to know our tour members). Also, I was able to learn and experience many different activities that were exciting and I had never experienced.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Meeting the people in their private homes in Pamplona and learning about their experiences."

Wayne

Webster City, IA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide was amazing. His first hand knowledge helped us understand why the Basque is a proud people and the history is truly colorful on the Spanish country they have occupied all these generations. Thank you for so carefully selecting the best guide we could have ever imagined.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Of course it was the ringside seats in the bullring when the chaos arrived in the bullring, and then the next day on the balcony watching "The running frenzy"."

Agustin

New York, NY

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a lifetime experience for my family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Fermin festival was the icing on the cake when visiting Pamplona, Basque County."

Gail

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed every part of this well planned tour! Our guide, Agustin was knowledgeable and passionate about the Basque region of France/Spain. Each day held a new adventure whether it was a visit to a museum, an event (such as the Running of the Bulls), a walk on the Camino de Santiago, or just taking in the beautiful scenery while on the bus. We traveled with a great group of people and had delicious meals together that featured traditional Basque foods.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As with all Rick Steves tours there is always more than just one "wow" moment for us. The top three were: being in Pamplona and feeling the energy of hundreds of thousands of people during the Running of the Bulls, hiking a bit of the Camino de Santiago trail and the view of San Sebastian from the Monte Igueldo viewpoint."

Melvin

Bedford, TX

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything was great - well planned - just the right amount of free time

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very difficult to say - the Running of the Bulls and Pamplona experience would probably win but the experiences on the Camino de Santiago were a close 2nd."

Ann Marie

Webster City, IA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour and our guide was exceptional. Beloved evry stop and tour he planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was the running of the bulls and every spot we had to watch the constant celebration. We were excited that every TV in Spain is tuned to the running during the entire two weeks."

David

Gilroy, CA

Tour: 07/06/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Visiting the Basque region of France and Spain was a terrific experience. It was great to learn about the culture, history, and customs of the Basque people. It was a very enjoyable tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite WOW moment was being able to see the running of the bulls in Pamplona from a balcony. It was so much fun to be a part of one of Europes great festivals!"

Theresa

Bloomsdale, MO

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything about the trip was fantastic! Francisco and the local guides were clearly extremely familiar with, and passionate about, the culture, landscape, art, and cuisine of the Basque areas in France and Spain. I recommend this trip, without reservation, to anyone interested in Northern Spain and Basque culture. We plan to return again to walk the Camino de Santiago. The tour has inspired us to make this incredible pilgrimage!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's explanation of the meaning of being a pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago."

Andrew

Steilacoom, WA

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The overall experience was excellent. The amount of time in each place, the quality of each separate experience, the choice of the 4 cities where we spent two nights each, and the free time were all great. I would have preferred a slightly later start time for the tours to allow for sleeping in a bit longer, but that is not a complaint. I also was less excited about the sheep farm field trip, and felt it could have been shorter, but again my comment is not a complaint. Our guide was excellent!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My "wow" moment was the introduction to the Camino de Santiago walking, and our guide Francisco's carefully structured verbal introduction which set the stage for a very meaningful reflective walking experience. His thoughtful introduction was exemplary. The other "wow" was Francisco's spirited introduction to our viewing Picasso's Guernica mural. Again, Francisco set the stage for a much more meaningful experience there."

Terry

Everett, WA

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We prepared for the Basque Region tour, reading, watching the video, studying the map. And then we arrived at Bayonne for our experience. The Basque Region was much more than we expected. Excellent in every way. We have traveled extensively from Australia to China to Turkey, all of Europe and further. This trip was terrific.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We would not limit our "favorite" to one moment because there were several, each different from the others. Pamplona was exceptionally pleasant; lunch at the small winery was very good and relaxing; the fresh, colorful markets were inviting; Gernika was emotional and so thought provoking; and the six-week old puppies at the sheep farm stole my heart."

Patricia

Concord, CA

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of the best trips to Europe we have taken. The tour was a good length and our guide Francisco, the hotels, coach trips, local guides, and food were perfect! It was a delightful contrast to other tours that focus on large cities. I enjoyed the balance of guided time and free time. Most importantly, the group was friendly and enthusiastic.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Like many others who have taken this tour, my WOW moment was provided by our guide, Francisco. His description of Picasso's "Guernica" brought most to tears. As a wife and daughter of US veterans, the European perspective of our history and 9-11 was a unique one for me and touched me deeply. There were many other WOW's as we learned about the rich, proud Basque people and their culture."

Leigh

Fairfax, VA

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

First RST. I loved the organization and very well thought out itinerary. The tour was interesting, fun, and yummy. I was a little hesitant at first, thinking we may be staying in iffy hotels. I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the hotels!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenhim at night was most impressive. Francisco made the whole trip a delight. He is professional, yet personable and fun. He spent a couple of free nights helping us order tapas, and that made the trip more memorable and better than the Roads Scholar trips I had taken, where the guide distanced themselves for dinner, and did not want to participate with the group 'after hours.'"

Nicky

Flora Vista, NM

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great tour. We enjoyed each day.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"All of them."

Paulette

Odessa, DE

Tour: 06/22/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque tour was just an incredible adventure! Everything from the sites of San Sebastián, the delicious meals in unique settings, the trip to Guernica made even more memorable by our guide Francisco, to the walk on the Camino de Santiago, made for a perfect trip. The itinerary was also perfectly planned -- providing just the right mix of touring and free time. Would definitely recommend this trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but I would say crossing the Pyrenees Mountains, the dinner at the Men's Club in Pamplona, and walking the Camino de Santiago were definitely among the highlights of the tour. Just unforgettable experiences..."

Linda

Hanover, MA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Francisco was passionate about his country and in teaching us about the Basque Country. He gave us an excellent understanding of the culture and shared stories with us about the positive power of people . He was so knowledgeable about history and art that he made our trip, unexpectedly for my family, a Spiritual journey.. The fact that it rained almost every day made no difference!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't say there was a specific wow moment, but our day on the Camino and our trip to Guernika we're especially moving."

Melanie

La Crosse, WI

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide Francisco was fabulous. So friendly, approachable and knowledgeable. I liked how the tour switched from city tours to hiking to a sheep farm to modern art museum. The variety was great!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When Francisco gave us the history of Guernica and gave a short but powerful speech about the Picasso mural. The El Camino day was also very special."

Alex

Menlo Park, CA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Franciso was engaging, knowledgeable and loads of fun! The variety of activities was unmatched: we visited a cheese farm full of sheep and Border Collies, enjoyed dinner at a men's club, and heard a choir in a tiny village sing goodbye to St. Mary, which happens only once a year.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In the town of Guernica we saw a replica of Picasso's painting of the same name. Francisco explained the history behind it and its importance for the entire world. It was a menlo Vung, extraordinary talk."

Arthur

Alameda, CA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As this was our fifth adventure with Rick Steves staffers we had high expectations and were not surprised to have them met. Almost everything was a good as promised - excellent guide, fine hotels, first-rate bus, comfortable pace and schedule, and worthwhile tour sites. One or two massive Cathedrals would not be missed. PLEASE see box 16 below.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although it was NOT part of the Tour (albeit it had been earlier) that "wow" moment came in the PEACE MUSEUM where I learned extremists persisted in damaging the War Monuments of the opposing side - a painful indicator of lingering deep wounds from the Civil War. Close to that was hearing Francisco eloquently discuss Guernica in front of Picasso's iconic artwork."

Alexandra

Canton, MA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco and Jorge did an amazing job of making this tour a wonderful experience. We were constantly learning new and exciting information about the Basque Country and I am so thankful for the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When Francisco told us all about the Bombing of Guernica and Picassos painting was a very big "wow" moment for me. Francisco opened up to us, showed us a vulnerable side and truly put his heart into the explanation of his interpretation of the painting. In that moment I felt that we were all very connected as a group, and we were all able to relate to it in some way."

Lynn

Alameda, CA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has been high on our wish list for years so we were thrilled to be able to enlist a Rick Steves tour to get us there. Along the way, we thoroughly enjoyed new neighborhoods and towns, new language and culture - Basque. The tour was a thoughtful, smart combination of activities and events, culminating for us in the time we had in Bilbao. On the way, our stop in Guernica was a highlight & we highly recommend you include the Peace Museum there: it is worth it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Listening in Guernica to Francisco rhapsodize about the US and 9/11."

Anthony

Kirtland, OH

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything met my high expectations of a Rick Steves tour. Beautiful and historic area, excellent guides, friendly and adventuresome fellow travellers and all coordinated flawlessly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guernica and El Camino de Santiago. Both were especially touching and somewhat emotion laden due to the explanations by Francisco. He added so much to the overall experience."

Julie

Decatur, GA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful exploration of Basque Country with fantastic guides and friendly tour mates. I chose this tour for the unique culture and small geographic area and because it would be easier than my usual solo travel by public transport. Good content (cities/sights seen), pace (2 nights/city, 9 am starts to offset late Spanish dinners), and group/free time balance. Travel days had interesting stops. If looking for big, iconic sights, this isn't your tour. Its beauty is on a smaller scale.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Half-timbered buildings reflected in the river in Bayonne early Sunday morning, walking the quiet cobblestone streets of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port before the crowds arrived and hearing the church bells of one church after another across the valley calling villagers to Sunday Mass; the sheep farm and cheese demo; Picasso's Guernika; the Guggenheim glowing in the setting sun; the chapel on the Camino where our guide had been married; but above all the morning spent walking the Camino in silence."

Peggy

Garden Grove, CA

Tour: 06/08/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved it all! The people were all very kind and welcoming. Spain was very different from what I expected. All the more reason to travel and learn.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the outside of the Bilbao Guggenheim museum both in the daytime and after dark. The spider, the flower dog, the tulips are all so impressive. The building itself is absolutely amazing. My daughter and I saw an exhibit on Frank Gehry in New York many years ago and I watched the construction of the LA Disney Concert Hall so I really had an interest in his architecture in Bilbao."

Candace

Tampa, FL

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first tour "with" Rick Steves, and it exceeded my expectations. Our tour guide, James, was perfect - he provided our group with a balance of history of the Basque country, experiences, social time, and down time. The group participants were a nice cross section of Americans and Canadians, and we were all very compatible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning about and then hiking on the Camino de Santiago for a morning - and getting a pilgrim passport in St. Jean-Pied-de-Port to collect stamps in was a highlight."

Joe

Wadsworth, OH

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A very typical well organized, well planned and meaningful Rick Steves tour. We enjoyed the experience of learning about the Basque culture along with the unique food and sights of France and Spain. We have come to expect the best and we get it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pamplona was wow! We had a walking tour from our local guide Francisco who was a lifetime resident. He gave us the insight of the city and the running of the bulls we couldn't get anywhere else. We visited a private museum and gained a deep understanding of bull fighting as an art."

Nina

Portland, OR

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I wanted to visit the Basque country for several reasons. When I was 10 yrs old I was able to go camping in the Blue Mountains of Oregon and we met a Basque sheepherder-he gave us some sourdough bread and it was delicious. I had also seen the documentary about Basque sheepherders and their carvings on trees in the NW. My family hosted a teenager from the San Sebastian area 29 years ago and I wanted to see her again. Tour was well planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My personal 'wow' moment was when I met w Miren, our exchange student from 29 years ago. Tour 'wow' moment was being able to walk part of the Camino De Santiago with my own walking stick. I was able to get the Camino passport and had fun collecting the stamps. Negative 'wow' moment was the farm visit w all the muck. It had been raining which made everything worse. Several of us were not prepared for the quantity or quality of the muck. It was tracked into the bus and the very nice hotel."

Bill

Austin, TX

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A good, solid group dynamic enabled me to take in this very different part of Spain. The day walking the Camino de Santiago led to new, enlightened conversations. Clouds and rain tried to dampen our spirits, but we soldiered through that (and all of the food presented during group meals!). The Basque Country is not Catalan, not Castille, not Andalucia. It is Basque, and you need to go there to understand that.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The manner in which our guide, James, analyzed the mural depicting Picasso's GUERNICA. He simply and clearly presented his thoughtful understanding of the iconic painting. Francisco's tour of his home town of Pamplona was another highlight."

Mary Alice

Columbus, OH

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Our guides, including our main tour guide, James Scanlon, were terrific, and the variety of activities and experiences was very satisfying. Basque country was all new to me and my curiosity was so whetted that I got books on its history and people the minute I got home. I think the main thing about a Rick Steves' tour is that there is such attention to every aspect of the tour, from giving tour participants information on each other, to accommodations, and every travel need.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to beat the Bilbao Guggenheim, but Gernika and its Parlement come close."

Peter

Boise, ID

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The well informed guide and the knowledge shared was appreciated. The guide, James, had a spirit of love for the area that came through all of his sharing as we traveled through France and Spain. And yes, James was an enjoyment and pleasure to share the tour with ... Thank you, James The accommodation were appreciated and enjoyed. Along with the countryside and walking the Camino de Santiago was the highlight for myself.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian along with my walk to the Jesus on the mountain was a WOW moment. But I would say the the beaches of San Sebastian was the icing on the cake. At the same time Bilbao, Spain was the cherry on top. The community, the people, food and the experiences were off the chart. Guggenheim museum was all I imagine. Full of history, arts, unique displays, fantastic metal interactive art pieces of the museum was just inspiring. Loved the various artist and their pieces of art in all mediums."

Carol

London, ON

Tour: 05/25/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

PLEASE NOTE: I cannot find my copy of the evaluation, so this one is being done by CATHERINE BURR, not by Carol (who shared this template with me). Also, we're late with this evaluation as we just returned last week from Europe - and we were having such a good time (and were so busy AND relaxed) that we didn't do the evaluation when it came in. Overall tour experience: If you had an "excellent" category I would have checked that. Very glad we took this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Surprising, my partner (Carol Agocs)and I - in separate assessments and discussion - both selected the same experience: when James took us to see the tile replica, his explanation of the history and terrible story behind Picasso's "Guernica", and illustrating it by interpreting the various parts of the "painting". Yes, it was informative, but even more so it was heartfelt and moving. I thank James for this."

Norman

Avon, CT

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was really delighted with the tour. I have had mixed experiences on tours. This is actually just the fourth we've taken. I love the size in the mix of people. I loved all the free time. We use that to eat very well on our own or with small groups. I particularly like the mix of places we visited. Nice surprises like the hike on the Camino, the mysterious church at the end, the meal at the eating club, the visit to the sheep farm, and the church at Roncesvalles (Blow that horn Roland!).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That incredible hotel in Pamplona."

Barbara

Oakland, CA

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a terrific window into the Basque culture and geography. All hotels were good and the guide is outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's 20-minute dissertation in front of Picasso's Guernica. It was insightful, moving, historical and had me in tears several times."

Trudy

Yalaha, FL

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This area of France and Spain offered many historical areas, wonderful sights, delicious foods and a great traveling experience; and I was delightfully pleased with entire trip including the chosen hotels and the restaurants. I would recommend this trip to anyone interested in seeing this area of the world. I would like to add that truly what made it so memorable was our guide Francisco.......what a wonderful, upbeat, funny and knowledgeable guide.......he ABSOLUTELY made the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastián was the wow moment.....our introduction to the city was from the hilltop, which allowed us to see the harbor and city from an overview that was breathtaking.......this was a surpurb way to see a city for the first time and it was an excellent way to mix things up a bit......nice touch."

Robert

Tavares, FL

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was an excellent guide with a vibrant personality. He loved his Basque country and it showed every day. The accommodations were fine although the hotel in Pamplona was excellent. (A former city chateau that had transformed into a hotel.)

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views above San Sebastian. The walk around the sea wall with the water pounding below and the sun setting was almost magical."

Margie

Tucson, AZ

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was friendly and knowledgeable about the region. Absolutely great food from the private club dinner, lunches and pinchos. The scenery along the Camino was so beautiful, perfect weather,too. All travel and scheduling arrangements were carefully explained. He handled one of our tour members who was unwarrantedly disgruntled in a professional manner and minimized the discord.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view at the beginning of our day trek along the Camino."

Patricia

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide, Francisco, and the food were fabulous! The tour was at a good pace and the places we went were interesting and varied.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our favorite "WOW" moment was in San Sebastian when the bus driver took us up to the top of hill where we had a fantastic view of the city and the beautiful harbor. It really was breathtaking. Our favorite "wow" was the beautiful scenery along the El Camino. We were lucky in having a clear day and you could see "forever"."

Dotty

Tempe, AZ

Tour: 05/18/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The hotels were very nice, the food was excellent and the events and trips started on time. History, scenery, politics, religion, architecture, culture and food were very well covered.. There was a good balance of planned excursions and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide, Francisco Glaria, gave a presentation about the painting, "Guernica" explaining the symbolism of the different scenes. The talk was highly insightful and passionate and made a tremendous impact on me."

LouVina

Fresno, CA

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Good guide, great drivers, good hotels and good tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Very much enjoyed going into the home of the lady in Papalona who had a museum of bullfighting mementos. She was very nice and had wine and olives for us. A very special event."

Benjamin

Media, PA

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved almost every second of it . An alcoholic in recovery, I simply do not enjoy bar settings. Hence, tapas and pintxos restaurants weren't my thing . A fine sit down meal was just the ticket for me. I had daily fine dining experiences on this tour. Amanda and our local guides did a fantastic job of overwhelming my senses, in a positive way, with the beauty, culture, history, people, and language of the Basque region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were two WOW moments . 1A , every second on the Camino de Santiago was a WOW moment. From St. Jean Pied de Port , where I met several pilgrims beginning their journey's, to Roncevalles, from Camino Pedron to Puente de la Reina , and walking Camino routes during our time in Pamplona, San Sebastián, and Bilbao. And 1A , Guernica . Very powerful in many ways; from its importance to the Basque people to its importance as a message about the horrors of war."

Donald

West Chester, OH

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent guide, great group of fellow travelers. Particularly enjoyed the food in the Basque area. Balance between free time and tour activities was just right.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Restaurant recommendation from Amanda in San Sebastian. A bitt of a splurge cost-wise, but one of the best meals of the trip. Otherwise, I can't pick one moment as the best. They were all good."

Jay

Cocoa Beach, FL

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I felt bad about dissing the small hotel rooms in my previous RS EFrance tour comments and NOT mentioning how much I enjoyed the tour. I have been going to small room therapy but it was not necessary for my back to back Portugal & Basque tours. I have decided on 6 future RS tours- that is how much I have enjoyed the overall experience of RS tours. I was enriched and gained real world knowledge about the countries, its people, and the local food & drink. Basque Tour Leader Amanda did a great job!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Aside from the lookout view of San Sebastian, after returniing home, watched the movie 'The Way' (starring Martin Sheen). WOW! Had to watch again last night. Took me right back to an excellent place and tour adventure."

Laurence

Clovis, CA

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Amanda is an amazing guide Very detailed and well accomplished.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting the Gugenheim building in Balboa."

Tamara

New Albany, IN

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda was very knowledgeable about the different cities we visited. I enjoyed the down time to explore the area on my own.

Debra

Suisun City, CA

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very joyful tour guide Amanda. She found and brought joy to our group everyday. The Basque Country was beautiful. Glad to have experienced the beautiful country and culture of the Basque people. Highlights were walking the Santiago Trail and visiting the sheep farm.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Santiago Trail as a pilgrim and sensing the presence of the pilgrims who walked in the past and those who will someday walk it."

Alan

Suisun City, CA

Tour: 05/11/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country was outstanding and our tour guide made our trip wonderful. Thanks to Amanda. Debra and I have always enjoyed Rick's trips and the special guides we meet to help learn about the local history and explain our many asked questions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Viewing the overlook of San Sebastian along Bay of Biscay! Also learning and walking the Santiago Trail for a short couple of sections."

Wendi

Jacksonville, FL

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience! Our guide Agustin was perfect. He shared his passion for and knowledge of Basque country history and traditions. The city tours he had set up were perfect. The local guides gave us more than a history lesson, but also insights into the people & the culture. We walked along the Camino in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims before us. The food was great and Agustin made sure we got a little taste of different types of regional and local food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian. Absolutely beautiful. The meal at the local winery was probably the best meal of all time :-)"

Catherine

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We really loved the Basque Tour. Augustin was a wonderful guide and of course Fredrico in Pamplona. Augustin explained the history so well and of growing up a Basque. By the end of the tour due to his wonderful guidance and conversations, we felt we had a real experience of the Basque area and it's culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would have to say The Camino de Santiago. But also the visit to the Matador Museum in the woman's house in Pamplona. This was a first time ever for the tour to visit and I hope it will be a regular on all future tours. Also the view from the top of the hill when the bus first arrived in San Sebastian and stopped there."

Jim

Glennville, GA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having read your tour description and liking it, you met my expectations in full. The no grumps clause was very important. Our travel companions were all delightful. We travel a good bit independently but had experienced only one tour company a couple of years ago and were a bit put off with the whole idea. Your trip changed that. Well organized with limited 'time on the bus.' And... when the bus did make a 'pit' stop, there were things there to experience. Loved it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We took a quick trip to Biarritz prior to the tour's beginning and I just loved it! So different from our land joining the ocean... the Church, the beach, the food... all just wonderful! Having watched the movie The Way, trekking down a bit of the Camino was very special. Loved the spot on top of a high hill with the silhouettes of past pilgrims! Lovely spot and walk."

David

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had wanted to tour this area for a long time, and was not disappointed. Augustin and the other guides were excellent, as were the places visited. Good group of people on the tour, and made some new friends. Agustin gave us an excellent history of the Basque peoples struggles and added to our knowledge of the turmoil during Franco's rule. Beautiful scenery throughout the tour, and enjoyed the trek along part of the Camino de Santiago.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The time spent in Pamplona, the local guide (Fredrico) we had met in Edmonds last January, and were very pleased he was with us that day. The visit to the lady's home, on the running of the bulls route, and her gracious hospitality, with beverages and food, after showing us her bull fighting memorabilia that her late husband had collected. Only on a Rick Steves tour!"

Tamara

Coronado, CA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves' Tour. I found it to be a good value for the cost.

Samuel

Pittsburgh, PA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 2 of 5

Unlike Sicily, this lacked content. Bayonne had little going on. Other cities better, but imbalance of free time. I took RS tours to get something I can't on my own. Did not feel this trip had much of that. Good tour guide, good city guides, but not enough content. All seemed like pseudo-experiences, nothing in depth. Started at 9:30 or 10 on non-travel days.The bus trips were short, leaving more time, and tour lacked the wow moments I experienced in Sicily.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim museum was exceptional, as was our tour guide there. But I could have done that myself. The value moment was the tour of the Matador maniac's shrine to the sport. That was special."

Edward

Lafayette, CA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a lot of fun and I learned things about the Basque Country that I hadn't known. Our guide Agustin was excellent. Since this was our first tour, I didn't know what to expect. For me, the audio transmitters were not all that useful since I have hearing aids. I ended up with a hearing aid in one ear and the audio in the other so I didn't catch everything. Still, I got enough to make the tour enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of the bullfighting museum in Pamplona. It was outstanding and the local guide provided a good explanation of bullfighting."

Carolyn

Lafayette, CA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first experience being on a guided tour. I have used your guide books in the past when I have traveled throughout Europe. So I was very familiar with the quality of research and care you take to inform your readers. This same quality and care translated well to your guided tour of the Basque Country. Our tour guide, Agustin, was outstanding: Very informative, fun, personable and approachable. The accomodations were outstanding and the food of the region delicious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Tough question. Walking part of the Camino de Santiago."

Dan

San Diego, CA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

It was a very good overall experience; I enjoyed the countryside immensely; we had a very companionable group of tour members; beautiful scenery; excellent food; a knowledgeable, friendly, and competent guide; some outstanding local guides; and pretty cool special activities along the way. Even the weather cooperated most of the time. AND we went to the Guggenheim--hard to top that.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, it was visiting the Guggenheim with a wonderfully knowledgeable guide who brought a wonderful piece of art (the museum itself) alive, resulting in a truly unforgettable experience"

Elise

Boise, ID

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We really enjoyed the tour. Great director and nice group of fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the "El Camino""

Mary

Fort Worth, TX

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country Trip was a surprise every day. I did not know how much I would love every city. I knew about the reputation of great food in this part of the world. But I was still pleasantly surprised. Such contrasts from small towns in France to lively Pamplona to gorgeous San Sebastián to amazing Bilbao with its progressive plan for the future. Walking the Camino was extra special

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the harbor open up in front of us in San Sebastián was truly a wow moment. But being able to walk the Camino was quite moving when we got to visit with pilgrims walking the whole 500 Miles. I loved spending time in Bayonne and traveling to Biarritz. But Bilbao was the most surprising of all. I loved the energy of that city and what a great vision for the future the city leaders have"

Eric

Goodview, VA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first guided tour. Our guide, Agustin Ciriza, made it a fantastic experience. His knowledge of the Basque region, history and people made the trip!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Honestly the whole trip was a "wow." I started to list the things I will most remember and it just sounded like I'm reciting the itinerary."

Kenneth

Boca Raton, FL

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour group was friendly and generally on time. Sights were good, but there could have been a better balance between guided and free time. Bus excellent. Weather not so good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao."

Deneb

Glennville, GA

Tour: 05/02/18

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was well organized and included numerous must do experiences. I especially appreciated having a balance of guided and free time. The hotels were centrally located, and allowed easy access to sightseeing and dinning. Bus time was short with proper pit stops and traveling with a small group was just lovely. Overall, I was very pleased with the Basque Country Tour so I would recommend this tour to family and friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino de Santiago was a "wow" moment for me. Observing pilgrims following the path markers, and having my credential stamped along the way was a surreal experience. The sights and sounds of the countryside gave me a taste of their quest. The hilltop view of San Sebastian and its beach was another "wow" moment. This incredible view will be long remembered. Our visit to a private museum about bull fighting was something you won't find on other tours. WOW!"

Susan

Mashpee, MA

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steve's Tour was fabulous from start to finish. Our guide, Francisco, was wonderful. His personal insights and stories of the area helped make the cultural experience richer and more meaningful. He attended to all the needs of the group and helped build a cohesive dynamic which remained throughout the tour. The itinerary itself provided a range of experiences and gave the tour members a broad understanding of the area, its people, history and culture. FABULOUS TRIP!!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW moment was the visit to the church at the end of the Camino de Santiago walk. It was where our guide was married and carried much personal meaning for him but also offered a spiritual aspect to the whole camino experience. Again, Francisco's explanations provided a broader understanding of the pilgrimage and its spiritual journey."

Mary

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide, Francisco, was wonderful. He is so good at explaining differences in culture & expressing how Basque feel about their history. Since we had a 16 year old Basque girl live with us as a foreign student over 30 years ago, this gave us so much insight into the problems she had adjusting to life in small town Minnesota. We were also able to reconnect with her & Francisco met her & talked to her, which was very generous of him.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Having Francisco give us his interpretation of the Guernica painting in Guernica. He had several of us in tears. I will never forget that. I've seen the painting at the museum but wasn't able to fully comprehend what Picasso intended when he painted it. Since Francisco has an art history background, he has some insight into the meaning of the painting, & it was a beautiful, but very sad, explanation of what war does to people."

Craig

Pacific Grove, CA

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A few of my volunteer activities involve being a docent. The highest compliment I can be paid is "your passion for this comes through...." It is from this perspective that I say the tour was better than outstanding. Our guide's passion for the Basque Country, the people, culture and history was palpable. The day to day logistics, etc. were as expected - flawless. Excellent blend of free time, guided tours, art and museums, and unique experiences such as milking sheep.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide's eloquent description and interpretation of the reproduction of Picasso painting Guernica IN Guernica. It was like stepping into a documentary film and living through what happened. A very close second was guys serve girls at the men's club in Pamplona - an unforgettable experience."

David

Toluca Lake, CA

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent from star to finish.Good balance between group time and time on own. Francisco went above and beyond to get and maintain great group morale. Really felt I got an insight into Basque culture.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to the sheep farm. Felt like I was off the tourist track and into how people in rural Basque Country live."

Grace

Camarillo, CA

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my sixth Rick Steves tour and as with the others, it exceeded my expectations! I had a great time with the wonderful members on this tour, who were friendly, fun and inclusive. I saw an area of France and Spain I had been interested in and had never been in. I enjoyed the places we visited, the food, the well chosen locations of the hotels, group dinners and functions we enjoyed together and well as some free time to go off on our own and explore more interests.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to and learning the history of Guernica. Standing in front of the replica of Picasso's masterpiece and listening to Francisco's talk of the events and what you could see in Picasso's art , moved me to tears. Francisco was so sensitive and respectful to what happened there and spoke from his heart."

Richard

Walnut Creek, CO

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour time and free time. No grouches. Every part of the tour went smooth.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The overlook of San Sebastian as well as the sunset over the Bay."

Thomas

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful tour, well planned and executed. Our tour guide was amazing. Our interests and wellbeing werealways a priority.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was our visit to Gernika and Francisco's discussion of the history, culture and art related to that visit. It was and continues to be extremely moving."

Barbara

Plymouth, MN

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We thoroughly enjoyed our tour through the Basque Country and look forward to another Rick Steves trip someday. I especially appreciated the kind attention given to my special dietary needs. Meals are normally a challenge for me when traveling, but our guide made sure I had outstanding gluten free food. THANK YOU, Francisco, for your extra effort to make dining a delightful experience for me!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visiting Gernika was an emotional experience and one I will never forget. Francisco's heartfelt narrative brought tears to many of us."

Paul

Hainesville, IL

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was what I have come to expect from Rick Steves,... FANTASTIC! The stops along the way, the hotels, the food, the tour group and our guide, Francisco were all wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many WOW moments on this tour, the market in Bayonne, Pamplona with tapas and all it had to offer and the visit to the sheep farm were wonderfull. The most spectacular was the time we spent in San Sebastián, the view of the bay and the promenade at sunset were unforgettable. And how can I not mention Bilbao and the Guggenheim museum, I had heard about it but actually being there was an amazing experience. I did not want the tour to end, it was truly that good!"

Debra

Hainesville, IL

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was very enriching and definitely focused on a specific regional experience. The Basque area was one we had never heard about until signing up for this tour, and we learned so much about the people, customs, food, and history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we arrived at Bilbao, we were at a summit overlooking the city & the river. And there on the banks was the Guggenheim Museum - a shining beacon to welcome us and a capstone to the river view. As a former art teacher and a fan of Frank Gehry, I was so happy to experience that visual Big Welcome!"

John

Toronto, ON

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful tour experience, in large part due to our guide, Francisco, who made everything fun as well as interesting. He has a true passion for the Basque region and was able to pass that on to all of us. We enjoyed getting to know all of our fellow travellers, each of whom had a very positive attitude. The scenery and weather were beautiful and we weren't overloaded with museums and churches. Lots of great food and drink to enjoy. We will be back for a third Rick Steves' trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking barefoot along the gorgeous beach in San Sebastian."

Jeanette

Boise, ID

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour was extremely well-organized, with a nice balance of group activities and free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Three "wow" moments for me. The beach at San Sebastian. The sheep farm and cheese-making demonstration (with day-old lamb and border collies). The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao."

Gail

Vienna, VA

Tour: 09/22/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I generally prefer independent travel. However, joining a tour in this case made sense as my friend and I did not want to do the driving in the Pyrenees. And as tours go, this one was very good. Our guide was excellent, and I liked the fact that there was a nice balance between group activities and free time to do our own thing on the days we were not changing hotels. However, the days that we changed hotels were a little too long, particularly the day we went from San Sebastian to Bilbao.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm not sure that I would say there was a "wow" moment. I've been to the Basque coast, including San Sebastian and Bilbao, before; and this is not an area that has a lot of "wow" sites. I think it's more about soaking up the local lifestyle and culture. I did find the scenery in the Pyrenees to be beautiful."

Samuel

Hansville, WA

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Amazing and informative tour. I had no prior information about the Basque regions or its culture. I have met people who informed me that they were Basque but without explaining what that meant. This tour experience caused me to do further research into basque history and culture upon my return. The tour opened my eyes and piqued my interest. If I meet someone who claims Basque heritage I feel that I can now understand a little of what that means.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The long and unique Basque history and how it is now being preserved."

Janet

Hansville, WA

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda was a great tour guide. I have to admit that i found her a little too wordy to begin with, but then realized she was just trying to share "all" the information she could. Also, enjoyed the local guides, such as the one in Bayonne for the Basque Museum and the one in Bilbao for the Guggenheim museum.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Probably the Guggenheim museum will be a definite "lasting impression", but also very much enjoyed being able to be part of the El Camino de Santiago and walk some of the trail and visit cities along the way."

Elsa

Raleigh, NC

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a short but wonderful tour. We went to great places, saw beautiful scenery, and experienced delicious food.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was seeing San Sebastian from the viewpoint but other wow moments were also walking on the Camino de Santiago and watching the fun the locals had in Pamplona during the little San Fermin festivities."

Steve

Raleigh, NC

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having lived in Bakersfield, California, we were made aware of the Basque culture, both by the several Basque restaurants in town and by having a next door neighbor who was the son of a Basque immigrant sheepherder. I signed up for this tour in order to learn a bit about the culture. And I was not disappointed. Besides the interesting culture and history, the green, mountainous countryside, the adjacent beautiful coastline and the wonderful cuisine made this an enjoyable experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"+ San Sebastian- both the town and the setting, and the food. + The sheep farm. Fun and interesting. + Lunch at the Bodegas Lezaun winery. Think Michelin. Who would have thought that we would get an elegantly presented and delectable meal at a winery. And the wine was good too. + Guggenheim Museum. The building, not the "art" inside. + The crowded yet happy party atmosphere in the streets of Pamplona for the "Little San Fermin Festival"."

Jan

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque area of France and Spain is fascinating, unique, and beautiful. The people share a unique language and culture, and would love to be a country or state of their own...humorous that they also have a French/Spanish rivalry. Our guide, Amanda, has a vast knowledge of the area and culture and delights in sharing that with the tour members. Thus, the tour was outstanding and ranks high among the other seven Rick Steves tours I have enjoyed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite WOW moment was seeing the San Sebastian beach and bay for the first time...it is magnificent a most beautiful."

Rebecca

Aptos, CA

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent city choices Outstanding, well organized, helpful, thoughtful, seasoned guide

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved Biarritz (biked there w free bikes) Loved San Sabastian Not a museum person, but loved Guggenheim, the guide was probably the reason why."

Kathleen

Prescott, AZ

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great tour filled with very good local guides (Bayonne, Pamplona, Guggenheim museum guide who was new to Amanda so we told her what a good job she did. The group had a lot of repeat RS members so people jelled well, were on time, sometimes ate together, shared info etc. We happened to be in Pamplona during their festival which was a real perk. The hotel, former castle was great! I felt the pace of events, bus time, free time was very good. Especially since there aren't as many wow attractions.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim museum, the building, exhibits well knitted together by the local guide. (Great weather helped) Close to the hotel. After lunch we could go back to it. The boat ride on the river Nervion past the museum allowed for a great view of the museum and also the city is coming back with development. I like Pamplona very much including the "Men's dinner" which was unexpected."

Jan

Nanaimo, BC

Tour: 09/20/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide Amanda Was for me perfect. She kept things moving at a pace that I enjoyed, we had all the information we needed clearly provided. I enjoyed the panoramic views we stopped for in San Sebastián and Bilboa. The food we had was very good and was very happy with the number of meals provided, and those we found on our own. We were very fortunate to experience celebrations in San Sebastián- movie festival, Pamplona's celebrations Sept 23 and the pepper harvest celebration in the village.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the Guggenhiem gallery architecture in Bilboa and the surrounding landscape and art."

Teresa

El Cerrito, CA

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although I've traveled alone or with family, I'd never traveled on a tour before so I wasn't sure what to expect. Now that I'm getting older I'm more cautious about traveling by myself and I signed up with RickSteves so I could get away in a more secure mode. The tour worked well for me. I was able to see places and activities I'd never get to see on my own and there was sufficient free time so I didn't feel too constrained...I love to wander around a city to see what I can see.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are several: the food...authentic Basque cuisine, yummy! Walking on the camino de Santiago, inspiring. The Bilbao Guggenheim, probably the most amazing building I've ever seen!"

Liam

Novato, CA

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful experience learning about the Basque culture, architecture and people. Loved exploring Bayonne and on my own in St. Jean de Luz. The French people I encountered were very polite. The Camino was also a great experience. San Sebastion is a top notch resort and the swimming was excellent. Loved Bilbao with the Museum and old town. Great trip !

Favorite "WOW" moment

"since I am an architect, I would say seeing the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. But I also really enjoyed the little chapel by the Knights Templar on the Camino. Wonderful architecture new and old."

Judy

McLean, VA

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of my favorite tours. I really appreciated all the pre tour reminders and contacts from your company. Whenever I called I was able to talk to a real person. The group that we were with was amazing! I don't know how you chose 24 people who would be so compatible and interesting! I loved the pacing of the tour, not too much time on a bus. The extra things we did; farm visit to make cheese, milk sheep, special dinners in some interesting places, walking the Camino.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastián was our favorite city. We loved walking through the city with our guide who was from there. He shared so many interesting landmarks and the history . It is such a clean city with parks filled with flowers and an abundance of excellent restaurants. We loved the sunsets. My husband enjoyed all the raciones and tapas. Second was walking the Camino de Santiago. During our short walk we met people from all over the world. We want to go back and do some more!"

Ruth Ann

New Ulm, MN

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I like the cultural exchange aspects. Loved the sheep farm, making cheese, holding puppies, petting cats, milking sheep. I never thought I would appreciate bull fighting but now I do.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pn the Camino, blue sky, sunshine, sitting under an almond tree, cracking almonds to eat with my tour mates."

Maureen

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just the right mix of time spent touring with the group and independent time. I know that we experienced parts of the Basque Region that I would not have been able to find on my own. Agustin and the other tour guides know so much about their country and culture and they made it fun to learn. Plus, Agustin has developed relationships with the local people so we were treated very graciously. The tour was way more fun that I thought it would be.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many but probably my first sight of San Sebastian. What a beautiful place."

Gay

Delray Beach, FL

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Totally enjoyable! Our guide was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful and friendly. The group was great to work with and we had a great time. Accommodations were great!.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Views from up on the mountains."

Gerry

Chadds Ford, PA

Tour: 09/15/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country is beautiful, full of wonderful people, great food and beautiful countryside. While our least favorite part was the beginning of the trip in Bayonne, we did enjoy visiting the museum and walking through the market. The rest of the trip just got better and better. Our guide, Agustin, was friendly and knowledgeable and truly finds joy in watching people experience and learn about his culture and where he lives and works.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our first view of San Sebastián was breathtaking!"

Joan

Bainbridge Island, WA

Tour: 09/13/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

The Basque Country is a fantastic destination. Interesting history, lovely locales, great cities and beautiful landscape. Oh, and wonderful food. We had a variety of interesting activities and a reasonable amount of free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day on the Camino was a good adventure - and the well earned lunch at the winery after was awesome. Must say I also really enjoyed the boat ride in Bilbao as it really showcased the "before and after" of the city still undergoing renovation. An aside, we had a short stop in Getaria. I loved that little town and would be happy to spend a night there. Keep in on the agenda!"

Vincent

Brisbane, CA

Tour: 09/13/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Terrific, informative tour. Good immersion into the Basque country, which I admittedly knew very little about going in. I am glad this tour is offered, as this area for the most part is still under the tourist radar.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm still buzzing over successfully ordering tapas and getting over the learning curve. I was in Pamplona on my own in 2013 and I still remember my failure at being able to order tapas. I felt lost, intimidated, AND HUNGRY. Armed with Robert's guidance, I confidently marched into packed bars in Pamplona, San Sebastian, and Bilbao and was able to order AND ENJOY tapas and drinks. I felt like a local, or an the least, less like a clueless tourist."

Maurice

Waban, MA

Tour: 09/13/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I enjoyed the itinerary. The choice of communities visited was excellent. The local guides were excellent and quite informative. We felt that the amount of free time was excessive for the communities visited, resulting in more time "hanging out" than we would have chosen.

Virginia

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/13/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

A lot was packed into 8 days. I grew to love the Basque Country and people. Everything went smmoothly, well-placed hotels, terrific buses, great tour leader and lovely group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wandering alone in Pamplona on gorgeous medieval ruins, Sylvia and milking sheep and goat at sheep farm near San Sebastion, boat trip on beautiful evening in Bilbao."

Peter

Oakland, CA

Tour: 09/13/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thoroughly enjoyed this tour. The scheduling and itinerary were great; on my own, I never would have been able to see all of the important sites we saw and yet still have built in enough down time. The hotels were great, one was amazing. The local guides were uniformly informative and accessible. Our tour leader seemed to work constantly and provided us with very thorough information about where we would be going and what we would be doing. The group meals were much better than I expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments. I thought the evening river cruise in Bilbao was amazing. I thought the Guggenheim was amazing (I'll bet I'm the first person to say that). But I was so very impressed by the commitment to public space that all of these towns displayed. I was particularly impressed by the work that Bilbao has done to convert a dingy industrial area into a beautiful riverfront walk."

Ruth

Somerville, MA

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our first of Rick Steves, or any, tour....and we loved it. so nice to have all the work done for us and just to enjoy being carted about and taught so many interesting things

Favorite "WOW" moment

"i think that all the background info as we saw pilgrims and then going on the Camino for even a little bit was very powerful. so glad that you worked that in! also loved Pamplona and esp Francisco's inside knowledge, having grown up there and experiencing it from a child and onward...."

Karen

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my first Rick Steve's tour and I would honestly have to say that 26 people felt like too many to me. We seemed to irritate others by the size of the group. Franciso is a gem not only with regular folks but we had a young man with Asperger's syndrome on the trip who he was respectful but firm with. Francisco's presentation at Guernica was great. I liked the progression of the cities....glad we did it in the order rather than that in the book.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had two.....the natural beauty of San Sebastian really surprised me. I had heard it was a wonderful spot but no one had ever described the surrounding mountains and beach. Seeing the Guggenheim--what an exciting space."

David

Potomac, MD

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first Rick Steves tour. A nice group of people, excellent tour guide. I think it was a really good itinerary. Fulfilled high expectations. Normally I travel independently but really enjoyed this group tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking the Camino was great. The spot that was chosen was very scenic and our guide gave the experience extra meaning."

Anne

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an excellent tour with nice variety of sights and activities. I loved that we got to walk a segment of the Camino de Santiago and learn so much about the pilgrimages, past and present. Hotels and food were excellent, and tour companions were an interesting and lively group for the most part. Pacing was a good balance between structured time and free time, as is usually true with Rick Steves' tours. And Francisco was an outstanding guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Arriving at the viewpoint overlooking San Sebastian and gasping at the incredible - and unexpected - setting, with the beautiful city, the bay, the mountains and the fabulous beach."

Richard

Houston, TX

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent guide, and as usual, terrific people in our group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian is as beautiful as any city we've visited. It's a "wow" kind of town."

Byrd

Houston, TX

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fran's knowledge of the Basque Country provided us with the history and culture of which I wanted to learn more about. He always held my interest. The events, including Cathedrals, a sheep farm, the Camino de Santiago, and the fabulous Guggenheim are just a few of the sites that filled our days. My thanks to Fran and Keith for being our guides and opening us up to the beautiful Basque Country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim was fascinating, and the guide was very informative."

Kay

Ojai, CA

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We chose this tour not out of a driving interest in the Basque Country, but because it was convenient, we liked our previous Spain tour, and it was an area we knew little about. Boy, was I pleasantly surprised! I did not expect the vibrant but manageable cities, the beautiful countryside, and the rich culture and heritage that awaited us. With 3 easy bus days and lots of free time it wasn't physically challenging, and seemed like a vacation as well as a learning opportunity.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had three very different types of "wow moments: (1) The quiet time walking in the steps of centuries of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago was a personal, introspective "wow" moment. (2) Being blown away by a physical structure - the utter genius and ever-changing beauty of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. (3) (Most unexpected "wow" moment was Francisco brilliantly interpreting Picasso's masterpiece Guernica, while standing where the tragic event that inspired this work took place."

Brooke

Potomac, MD

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Francisco was an amazing guide. He really made the trip. I thought there were too many people on the tour, although everyone was very nice. The local guides were not that good and I really think Francisco would have done a much better job. I also thought there was a bit too much free time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think it was Francisco's moving commentary on Guernica and relating it to 9/11 which brought back the horror of that day so that you could really feel Spain's agony"

Barbara

Collingswood, NJ

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent tour. This was our first Rick Steve's tour and if it is any indication of the quality of the tours, we sure will be back in the future. Overall, the tour had an excellent mix of set activities vs free time for exploring. Not strenuous but just enough activity a day to keep "active". Personally, could have gone for a few more active group activities.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to choose from. I loved the touring, the sites. The two things that stand out though are the dinner at the Mens Club in Pamplona (incredible tour bonding) and the walk along the Camino."

Ellen

Ames, IA

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was rather surprised by the beauty of the landscape in this section of Spain. I learned a lot of history and gained a far greater appreciation for the Basque culture and heritage. I appreciated greatly the insight and assistance that both Francisco and Keith provided. The itinerary and guides are consistent with the quality we expect from a Rick Steves tour. Bravo! And, our traveling companions were, as always, an interesting and compatible group.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved walking on the Camino and reflecting on its history. The visit to the sheep farm was a typical, unique RS experience that was interesting and extra fun."

Weather

Spain / San Sebastián

Hotels & Flights

Tour Hotels

In case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations, the contact information for the tour's first and last hotels is included in your tour confirmation email as well as in the Itinerary section of your online customer account. One month prior to the tour departure, you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour in the Documents section of your customer account.

Flights

Our tours don't include airfare, so your flight arrangements and transfers are completely up to you.

Most tour members arrange to fly into Biarritz, France (BIQ) and out of Bilbao, Spain (BIO) — choose "multicity" on flight-booking websites. The Biarritz airport is a 20-minute bus ride from Bayonne where the tour begins. Booking round-trip to one city will require a connecting flight, train trip, or additional overnight stay in Europe.

We suggest arriving a day or two before your tour begins to allow ample time to get over jet lag and be well-rested for the first few days of your tour. For more information about transportation options for getting to and from your tour, see your Rick Steves Basque Country guidebook.