• 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 $575

See Tour Dates

Straddling the modern-day borders of Spain and France is one of Europe's most ancient, independent-thinking regions: the Basque Country. Starting in Bayonne and ending in Bilbao, this tour happily immerses you in the rich art, history, and culture of Europe's Basque Country — including the distinctive towns of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Pamplona, San Sebastián, and Guernica. You'll also enjoy the region's gourmet cooking, full-bodied wines, 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

2018

2019

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 2019
  • 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've been 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. We won't be dining as a group tonight, so if you've always dreamed of dining in one of San Sebastián's renowned restaurants, this is the night. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Guernica and Bilbao

We'll start our day driving along the rugged coastline of the Bay of Biscay as we make our way to the town of Guernica (Gernika). 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 today's 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.

Reviews

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."

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.

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."

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"

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."

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.."

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

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!"

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."

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."

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"."

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."

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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..."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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"."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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.

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."

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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"

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."

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 :-)"

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."

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."

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!"

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""

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."

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."

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"

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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"."

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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!"

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!"

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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."

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...."

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."

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."

Scott

Westmont, NJ

Tour: 09/08/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Great combination of culture, historical sights, and excellent food and wine. Francisco and Keith were a pleasure to have leading the tour. I doubt you could find better guides than them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Attending on our own (although have the group was there) a concert in Bayonne's cathedral. What a setting. It was a dark, stormy night with rain pouring down. The choir sang beautifully a capella in a building designed for that exact type of music. It was fantastic!"

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."

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."

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."

Michael

Dallas, TX

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We expected a great experience after taking the Heart of Italy trip in 2008, but our expectations were exceeded in every way. The locations were beautiful, often breathtaking. The group meals were all delicious and never redundant. The hotels were all first rate. The guided tours were packed with interesting background information. We really loved every day of the trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the Camino de Santiago was really the highlight of the trip, but viewing the Guggenheim museum from a boat on the river was a stunning moment. Finally, jostling for Pintxos in San Sebastian was great fun."

Mary Jo

Oakdale, MN

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was an amazing experience, our second Rick Steves tour did not disappoint. Amanda was so knowledgeable and very fun. I would go on any of her tours again!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the Camino trail, so peaceful and beautiful. Also Pamplona and the local guide was amazing."

Steven

Cupertino, CA

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Liked the itinerary and thought the fellow travelers were a pretty good group. Didn't get to know everyone, and there isn't much structure to help in that regard.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I did enjoy the sheep farm and cheese making adventure, which was unanticipated. The Guggenheim museum in Bilbao was the most anticipated event, and it did not disappoint."

Kathleen

Cupertino, CA

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed the history, culture, language,& politics of the area. It was appealing in its sense of the historically old buildings, traditions, and new and renewed. It introduced me to some new foods and eating traditions, think pintxos, wines, and the chocolate making in Bayonne. It exposed me to surprises like the walk on the El Camino de Compostela, the sheep farm, the root of Basque language, and ancient history of its people. Visually stunning & topographically versatile area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Danaratz chocolate in Bayonne, the river there at night, the sheep farm and cheese making, boat ride in Bilbao, the Bilbao Guggenheim, the vistas atop the Pyrenees. The most surprising was the walk on the El Camino de Compostela. As I booked this tour, I didn't give much thought to this part, but found doing this small part of the pilgrimage powerful, significant, meaningful, as well as an opportunity for thought, reflection, conversation, and a walking's eye view of the local scenery."

Alice

Aptos, CA

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my third Rick Steve's Tour and I enjoyed it immensely. Amanda and Rich were wonderful. There were a couple of days that seemed slow because we were on our own for the afternoon and evening.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was "Alto del Perdon, Navarre. The view was incredible."

Daniel

Oakdale, MN

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We really enjoyed our tour. The group was what you would expect from people going on a Rick Steves tour, happy to be there, on time, friendly,and no grumps. Amanda was amazing! I would go on any tour if I knew she was going to be the guide. She was that good. Rick was as kind and helpful as you can imagine. A good compliment to a very good Amanda.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view of La Concha from up high. Beautiful, like a post card, but only I'm in it!"

Nancy

Poulsbo, WA

Tour: 09/01/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda, our tour guide, created a warm, collegial atmosphere at the first kick-off meeting. The tour combined enough free time (after introductory, orienting walking tours in each city so we would know where we were going and what sites or experiences we wanted to explore) with informative guided experienced and, great food. The Basque region is rich in history, with a unique language and culture and the tour allowed us to learn and experience the best of the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day of walking the Camino was a total Wow - we were able to walk at our own pace and in so doing, meet modern-day pilgrims along the way and, experience complete tranquility. One volunteer at a local church in Puente la Reina took the time to give us in an overview of the church's own St. James statute in such a proud, passionate way we learned was a characteristic of the Basques. We then went for a magnificent lunch at a nearby winery and topped off the day at lovely San Sebastian."

Barbara Jo

Port Townsend, WA

Tour: 08/25/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was our first group tour, although we have used the RS guide books for years. We appreciated that the itinerary, hotel reservations, local tours, activities and some meals were planned ahead of time. It was just the right amount of togetherness. We found it to be a compatible group of Public TV Rick Steves travel fans and Francisco let us know what to expect each day of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our wow moments happened the day we walked the Camino. Francisco provided background information on the Camino as we rode to the starting point. When we arrived, it was raining and the trail was shrouded in dense fog. It wasn't as steep and scary as I anticipated, based on Francisco's description. The rest of the walk to the abbey with circling swallows was sun-filled and warm. We tried to be contemplative that day, which was difficult in the chattering group once we reached the valley."

Raymond

Brooklyn, NY

Tour: 08/25/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide Nice pace Daily schedule about right for my stamina No interpersonal issues in evidence Loved Francisco's demeanor & Personal stories about the environs Not a bus person, but it was beyond acceptable Thought there would be more hiking in the Pyrenees----wish there was

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim and Guernica----Two "WOW"s!"

Victoria

Bakersfield, CA

Tour: 08/25/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco was the ultimate ambassador on behalf of the Basque region. His knowledge of the cites, history, food, culture, government institutions and was unparalleled. Also, the sites, local guides and food were outstanding. The part I was least excited about, the Camino, was unexpectedly one of the highlights along with the Guggenheim. Overall, I have great praise for the route, accommodations, local guides, restaurants and the tour guides (especially the tour guides).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"1. The Camino - Franciso discussion before the Camino helped frame the event to be one that felt both spiritual and fulfilling. I am not a religious person but the spiritual aspect of walking on the Camino was remarkable. 2. the local guide's explanation of the various art installations in the Guggenheim made the visual experience more meaningful and impactful; she brought the art alive for me."

Paul

Bakersfield, CA

Tour: 08/25/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We learned much about the region and culture, which was one of our top goals, and we had fun! The itinerary was well crafted to make the most of our time but also give us free time to explore, plus it offered a good sense of different parts of the Basque Country. The rest of the tour group was exceptionally cordial and supportive of each other. And, an absolute highlight was our guide, Francisco. His knowledge, passion, energy, humor and warmth made this more than a tour, but an experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day we hiked a section of the Camino de Santiago! There was fog and mist in the air when we started, then light rain, which gave it even more of a mystical feel. Francisco ideally prepared us for the walk by explaining the history of the Camino, and how some pilgrims approach it. He encouraged us to walk at least part of it alone to gain a sense of a true pilgrimage and to feel the history at our feet and to think about our "uncried tears" -- and this made it evermore meaningful."

Arlene

Richland, WA

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It's always hard to pick a "best" tour, because they all have wonderful experiences but this may have been the most memorable on numerous avenues. Amanda and Robert were the best guides and as a duo that had so much fun together and included us in the total enjoyment of the tour. It was wonderful to have two tour guides so knowledgeable about the area and events happening at the time. One of which was the "Running of the Bulls". They made sure we took full advantage of the festival.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The entire town of Pamplona in white with red scarfs and belts. A sea of people and the enthusiasm of the locals for their San Ferme Festival. The "Running of the Bulls" and the replay on TV of the event every morning. We were able to relive the morning run over and over."

Osbaldo A

Victoria, TX

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another great Rick Steve's tour for my wife Marylynn and me. Totally emersed in the Basque culture, traditions and cuisine. Not to mention the beautiful part of Spain where the Basque live :-) It was also nice having both Amanda and Robert as tour guides. From the old village of Bayonne, to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, to the Guggenheim in Bilboa, the tour was a great mix of education, experience and fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"From all the WOW moments on the tour, the Toro de Fuego in Pamplona was the most fun !"

Marylynn

Victoria, TX

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a fantastic tour. The most difficult part was figuring out how to get to Bayonne. I think the amount of history, art, eating was perfectly balanced. Meals were fantastic. Every stop was interesting, informative, and enjoyable. Also, the boat ride in Bilbao was the perfect way to end our visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is difficult to mention just one. Running of the bulls and fireworks in Pamplona were impressive. Guernica was incredible - visiting the Assembly Hall and seeing the tile rendition of Picasso's work. We stopped at a small fishing village between San Sabastian and Bilbao. I believe it was Gerona. I especially liked the way the main street went so steeply down to the water. I would like to have explored there a bit more. Bilbao was a great end to the trip-the Guggenheim museum and boatride."

Ann

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guides, good pace, lots of interesting sites, great food

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Running of the bulls in Pamplona"

Dan

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved the cities visited, the tour guides, the tour group and associated experiences. Although we enjoyed the planned experiences we also enjoyed the opportunity to explore on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite was visiting Pamplona and seeing the running of the bulls. On the first day the tour allowed us to see the entry of the bulls into the bull ring. It was very interesting to see how the runners interacted with the bulls. The local tour guide, Francisco, was the most entertaining of the trip. In addition to being humorous, he also provided a great background of the city both during the San Fermin festival and afterwards."

Gail

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 07/07/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was great! We thoroughly enjoyed our two main guides, Amanda and Robert!!!! A+++ for them! Also loved Francisco and Emily! They, really were the key ingredient for us!! Plus other travelers with us! We loved the boat cruise! It was nice to relax and enjoy the group while seeing how the city is evolving, and also learn of plans for the future. That will encourage us to come back and see how the plans develop. We loved seeing Pampalona during the Festival of San Fermin! Great Experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Festival of San Fermin, and walking the Camino trail."

Laverne

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just as pictures don't always capture a majestic experience there is not enough space to give this tour it's just due. As a senior citizen I was able to keep up. The hike along the camino needs a walking stick or take the bus and do the last half. The running of the bulls in Pomploma AWESOME! First day at the arena, day 2 from a balcony above the course.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Learning the history of the Running of the Bulls. Guide explained the matador's roll in the bull fight. They are suppose to work the bulls to show how great they really are in order to save the bull. Only 35-40 are saved out of 1000. They are kept for breeding and live a great life. Being a matador takes alot of skill."

Mary

Appleton, WI

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was so much more than I could ever have expected! I loved everything about it, but mostly the incredible leadership & guidance given by Agustin and James. I would highly recommend it to anyone!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Of course, the running of the bulls and the impact the Festival of St. Fermin has on the city of Pamplona. We so enjoyed speaking with the owners of the apartment we were in to watch the running from overhead-such interesting people. Loved the town of San Sebastian & the view from the Jesus statue (atop Urgull) of the Bay & the incredible mountains! The terrain in the Basque country is gorgeous! I'd move there in a heartbeat!"

Joanne

Kirkland, WA

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have always dreamed about taking this trip before I was physically unable to do so and it exceeded my expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite 'wow' moments were the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, the walk on the El Camino Santiago, the stop in Guernica, and the Guggenheim in Bilbao"

Joan

Saint Louis, MO

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Augustin was a great guide and provided so much knowledge about the Baste region, culture, people and history. Area was beautiful. The tour had great variety I thought, some museums, hiking on the Camino de Santiago, cities, food and restaurants.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Enjoyed Bilboa, The Guggenheim, the boat tour and the shops. But the wow was Pamplona for the running of the bulls. This tour provided me the perfect way to experience the festival and the culture in the easiest way possible."

Kay

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We Could not have asked for anything better. Our tour guides (RS had an additional guide to help with us since Pamplona running of the bulls can be crazy). They were so helpful, professional, kind and fun. Just the right mix of Information, stories, free time. The food was excellent and the wine flowed like a river. Then just when you couldn't want for more, a delicious dessert would appear. The tour was well organized and our fellow traveler were very nice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Oh, too many. For me the small villages and beautiful churches were amazing. The detail in the buildings. The history and strong family traditions. I loved our day trip to Biarritz. That was a wow, so glad we did that. Love the tiny town of St Jean du pied do port, Start of the El Camino , walking on the trail for five miles and ending with a huge lunch at a winery in the country."

Anna

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steves tour, and while I had heard lots of good things about the tours, I was not disappointed! I had an amazing time visiting the different places along the tour, and learning more about the Basque culture and people. The guides did a terrific job of planning events for us along the way. Everything went very smoothly. I liked the size of the tour group; not too big, yet big enough to get to know lots of people. I really enjoyed this tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment definitely was attending the running of the bulls in Pamplona. What a special treat to be there in the city to witness a special event! And "thank you" to local guide, Francisco, for making arrangements for our tour to see the running from a balcony above the course. Really amazing to see this local tradition!"

Mary

Seattle, WA

Tour: 07/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Mine was an unusual experience as I had an injury during the tour which I've wrote to you about separately so I won't go into it here. Apart from that my overall experience was amazing. The pacing was perfect, the towns selected to tour and stay in were fantastic and the food was perfection. Our guides ran everything seamlessly and I never felt rushed or bored.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moment was being on the balcony to watch the Running of the Bulls. The crowd was tangibly excited and as the time for the run got closer the crowd got even more animated with shouting and singing. Hearing the Spanish sing national songs spontaneously and altogether is something to behold! I loved experienceing this cultural tradition first hand."

Gay

Yakima, WA

Tour: 06/23/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We enjoyed the tour immensely! Our guide was great and he taught us many things we didn't know about the Basque Country!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We loved the sheep farm!!"

Elyn

Chicago, IL

Tour: 06/23/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Excellent tour guide, size of tour good. Nice mix of people. Liked the selection of towns.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Not sue I had a favorite "wow" moment. Although it was a bit tiring loved the walk on the Camino de Santiago. Unexpectedly loved visiting the sheep farm and hearing from the shepherd and the cheese maker who was delightful and gave me and several others a felting lesson after I saw some in her workshop and asked her about it. So fun. Also love the small regional museums in San Sebastián and Balbao."

Jim

Chicago, IL

Tour: 06/23/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We really enjoyed it. Agustin was great, we are most grateful for his help in retrieving our camera from our rental car - prior to tour. His spirit and genuine attitude really made the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Basque people and culture."

Kathi

Huntington Beach, CA

Tour: 06/23/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first experience with Europe and a Rick Steves Tours. The perfect combination! Relax and enjoy the adventure! I loved how our "together time" was so well planned, and that we were given plenty of time to explore on our own as well. Our 27-year-old daughter remarked how thankful she was to see so many things she never would have seen if on her own agenda. Thank you Agustin! We loved the dynamics of the group - so much more than what we expected. Fun, friendly and fantastic! Thanks!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow. There were so many wow moments. The beauty of the Basque Country, its people, the cathedrals (wow), and the land. San Sebastian from the hillside above was spectacular! The Camino de Santiago - just so special. Can't believe we walked along the Camino in Spain. The Guggenheim - yeah, Wow!"

Adan

Brookfield, IL

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My first of many to come Rick Steves' tours set the bar unbeliabably high! The tour guide was more than a guide, he was our new friend. Food and drink were delicious! The guide, being a Basque himself , was extremely prepared to provide an unique experience!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was Francisco's explanation of Guernica. Not only did it demonstrate the amazing person that he is and the outlook that he has on life, but it also provided a reminder of how fortunate we are as Americans."

Rodney

Austin, TX

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

They was a great tour: beautiful area, great traveling companions, superb guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour included a lot of "WOW" experiences. I was deeply moved by the Gernika history and experience. Stumbling down the mountain on the Camino walk was inspiring and strangely beckoning. And, of course, there were numerous food "wows", scenery "wows", and group "wows". We didn't lack for wow moments."

George

Florence, SC

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I could not ask for a better organized tour. The hotels where all right on. They were in the heart of the action, and the rooms were wonderful especially in Pamplona, the Hotel Guendulain. The members of the tour group were all so friendly and had such a wide range of diversity. It adds so much to have a group with the same goals, good food, good wines and good companionship. The meals we shared were well chosen to highlight the cuisine of the region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Not having a good understanding of the Basque region of Spain was a primary reason for choosing this tour. Every day had a "wow" moment. Learning the art of eating in a tapas bar, enjoying the "old town" sections of the cities, walking alone the path of the bull runs, and actually walking on the Camino. The greatest "wow" of the trip was Francisco. See #5 below."

Linda

Santa Fe, NM

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved this trip! Francisco was absolutely the best, and the people on the tour were interesting, well traveled and nice. There was not one person who was "the one". I especially enjoyed the pace of the trip; we didn't start too early (9:00 am) and we weren't over scheduled and had plenty of time to do our own exploring. The communal lunch/dinners were particularly enjoyable. I did think that there would be a bit more walking involved but given the heat wave we had, shorter walks were fine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guernica visit and Francisco's explanation of the Picasso painting was a highlight as were the views of the countryside and hiking the Camino."

Joan

Charleston, SC

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I came to love the Basque region (the people and the food) and the other tour members along with our guide, as we were a family for nine days. Having the personable and amazing Francisco as our guide made the entire trip so memorable, as he shared his family history of being Basque and what this means to him. The trip was perfect in so many ways (the hotels, the restaurants, the museums, the sites, the experiences, etc.).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I am Eastern Orthodox, and we do everything in threes so have three WOW moments: 1)eating at a private men's dining club in Pamplona, 2) walking part of the Camino, and 3)being in Guernica and hearing the story while staring at the painting. All of these still bring tears to my eyes, as they were all special moments in time. And sharing these three with my tour family adds to the WOW factor."

Alistair

West Vancouver, BC

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

All great. Great hotels. Great Food. Great tour guide. Great itinerary. Great wine.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A beautiful part of the world."

Joanne

Barrington, NH

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was a great mix of communing with nature and visiting smaller cities and towns. From the Pyrenees Mountains, to the Bay of Biscay and the beaches of San Sebastian the sights were just stunning. The small towns we visited on the way to walking the Camino to the church we visited while on the trail added to a memorable trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many highlights, the stories our guide shared on Running with the Bulls, the men's clubs, the Camino and the churches, but I came home with renewed confidence that we still have a deep seated compassion for our fellow human beings. My WOW moment was seeing one of our fellow travels walk off the Camino with another traveler (a stranger to her several days before) who lagged behind to see that she completed the journey."

Mary Ann

Austin, TX

Tour: 06/09/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Taking this tour was the difference between "seeing" the Basque Country and "knowing" the Basque Country. I could have visited some of the places on my own but would have never had the rich experience and knowledge of understanding what I was seeing. I learned so much about the Basque culture and people that it enriched the sites we visited. From France to Spain, mountains to sea side, small churches to a world class museum and all this shared with a wonderful group of fellow travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" of this tour was our great tour guide Fransisco. He was so knowledgeable and was able to pass that on with passion and humor. The other "wow" for me was the wonderful shared meals. Not only was the food excellent, the places were nice and some were unique, but the company of the other tour members made all these meals outstanding."

Liz

Harahan, LA

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda was a skillful and astute guide. She always addressed the basics at the beginning of each day/event and insured that we had a good overview of the day. She was knowledgeable of the history and culture of the region & able to weave in contemporary information that shaped current politics & culture. This brought the past into the present and became even more significant when it was lacking in our second tour ( more of this on the next eval of Portugal).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Basque cultural museum in Bayonne and the local guide who took us through the museum. Gabrielle (?) made the history most interesting andillustrated how it helped shape the present."

Leila

Marlborough, CT

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Overall the tour was good not great. We had a wonderful group and guide but there was too much free time. Our local guides were very good and the hotels adequate, I was wondering if the tour was too long for the amount of places to visit

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Did not have one"

Diane

Millersville, PA

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country tour was amazing. The cities and countryside are beautiful, I probably would not have seen these places had I been traveling independently. I enjoyed learning about the Basque culture and was amazed at the beauty of the lush and rugged country.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day we spent walking the Camino was a nice break from touring and the meal that followed at the winery was spectacular."

Ann

Marlborough, CT

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Tour was well run. The people on the tour were all very friendly and compatible. I didn't realize until I returned home that many of the places we visited were related through the Camino. Wish I had been more aware of this.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking along the Camino de Santiago"

Donna

Exton, PA

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steves, you've done it again! Our Basque Country adventure is a trip we'll remember forever! Amanda was amazing and set the stage from our welcome meeting. Our group bonded very quickly and we enjoyed each other's company for the entire 9 days! Basque Country is more beautiful than I had imagined and Amanda offered the perfect amount of information regarding their culture, history, art and culinary expertise. We walked away with a great understanding of the proud Basque people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many to mention! The Camino day was a highlight because it was a perfect weather day, the scenery was spectacular, I had the opportunity to get better acquainted with my fellow travelers and Amanda, I enjoyed the exercise and learned more about the way of St. James and the history of the surrounding villages. We ended with a beautiful lunch at a local winery! It doesn't get better than that! The farewell dinner was a very special night, too!"

Jim

Boring, OR

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have been on seven tours organized by Rick Steves, and I can say without reservation that this was one of the best, from several perspectives. Not only a nine-day lesson in the history of the two countries and the region, it also was an event that allowed tour members to learn about local culture, lifestyle and cuisine by immersion in it. I can't imagine a more comprehensive lesson on any subject than one like this tour that allowed its participants to "learn by doing."

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We visited St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, the traditional start of the Camino de Santiago, where we learned the 500-mile walk (or bike ride) is about joining a community of pilgrims for an introspective study of oneself while walking over steep, rocky, uneven ground daily for a month. Then we became pilgrims two days later when we walked on a challenging section of the Camino for four hours. Knowing that day my wife was finishing her Camino in Santiago de Compostela made the experience more meaningful."

Andy

San Rafael, CA

Tour: 05/26/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was very well designed to provide an experience of Basque culture and history. Amanda, our tour guide, was one of the best we have encountered in many tours with Rick Steves and other organizations. The accommodations were good, and the free time was just about right.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I would have to say that the morning walking on the Camino De Santiago was my wow moment. I began somewhat reluctantly, thinking it would be a trendy but somewhat superficial thing to do. By the end of our 6 or 7 mile walk, however, I was deeply impressed with the physical beauty, and the genuine friendliness of people along the way. Another wonderful experience was standing in the square in Bayonne and singing Basque songs (or trying to) with a large group of local people who come there once"

Marilyn

Austin, TX

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best trip EVER!! It was like traveling with old friends! Group and guide immediately interacted to enjoy this tour and be friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to choose!! Hiking the Camino. Looking out at the water in San Sebastion. Being surprised by the sheep at the cheese farm. Each day of this tour held a moment of "wow"."

Glen

Davis, CA

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I finished this tour with a sense of regret. After the wonderful food, architecture, history and friendship on the tour, it hurt to say goodbye. I have to say that our guide Francisco was amazing. His warmth, knowledge and sense of humor were fantastic. His personal stories drawn from the land we passed through were unforgettable. Francisco's talk in front of the Guernica mosaic will stay with me forever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's talk in Guernica."

Lesley

Davis, CA

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour and like the first, it was amazing. We are already planning our next one. Basque Country is not known for the typical sites other than the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao (which was also quite fantastic). What distinguished this tour was the immersion into the history, culture and the people (and the food!) of Basque Country. I don't have enough superlatives to state how well our guide, Francisco, told the story of his people and his homeland.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco and his stories was my "wow" moment. In St-Jean-Pied-de-Port he explained the relationship between the villagers on the Camino with the pilgrims. Before our walk began, he discussed the different ways pilgrims approach the Camino, how they are traveling on it, the stone sculptures they leave honoring their loved ones. And at Gernika, Francisco shared his interpretation of Picasso's painting and told of his grandfathers, best friends separated by political ideals. Incredibly moving."

Robert

Lincoln, NE

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was great. The focus of the tour and the places we stopped at were great. They lent themselves to a tour. Our tour guide, Francisco was great. He provided great service. He was knowledgable. He was a good listener and responsive to questions. He had an enthusiasm for what he was doing and he had a sense of humor. He at no time was superior or condescending. This was our second Rick Steves tour. Francisco was much better than that guide.

Jerry

Springfield, OR

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my already high expectations in many ways. First, the participants were varied, intelligent, interesting, widely traveled, and polite. No grumps in the boatload. Secondly, I gained a new appreciation for the basque region and it's inhabitants. I have a tremendous respect for the people and the culture because off the commentary provided by our excellent guide Francisco, whose knowledge and expertise in presenting a running documentary of the Basque story was top notch.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think the overall tour quality was my "Wow" moment. Guide Francisco's personality, the education, the fun and camaraderie, the hotels, the history, the art, the food, the reasonable pace......it was a great package! Oh, and did I mention the fashion design tips?"

Marybeth

Denver, CO

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first Rick Steve's tour and will definitely consider another and another. The overall tour experience was excellent. Things that made for an exceptional trip - * Francisco !! * tour size - main reason choose a Rick Steve's tour. * hotel locations - All centrally located. * great mix of touring and free time * staying a least two nights in each location * buddy system * tipping included and no added excursion expenses

Favorite "WOW" moment

"* In Pamplano - Walking "the running with the bulls" route with Francisco and getting a true perspective from a local who has run it many times. * Hiking a stretch of the Camino de Santiago ! Loved it ! The scenery was absolutely beautiful / the towns passed were so quaint. Definitely highlight ! * Riding the funicular to top of Monte Igueldo - fantastic views ! * In Guernica - visiting copy of Picasso's masterpiece/ Francisco's speech on Hope. * The Guggenheim - awesome inside and out"

John

Silver Spring, MD

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an ideal trip but a bit short. I learned a lot along the way, including how to negotiate a tapa bar. The group was exceptional -- one of the best in my experience. The Gugenheim was all it is cracked up to be.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The visit to Gernika with the 5-6 mile walk on the Camino trail a close second."

Carolyn

Libertyville, IL

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We enjoyed the entire tour from our guide, to the venues, to the food and the hotels, all of the destinations met our expectations! One important point was that Francisco was very careful to ensure everyone's food allergies were avoided. In particular, my husband is celiac. Francisco ordered gluten free options which my husband found to be spectacular, even the gluten free baguettes. Of course, most important is that we learned so much about the Basque culture and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our day in Guernica, learning about how Franco sacrificed the Basques to Hitler, and viewing the replica of the Picasso painting was unforgettable. We enjoyed their parliament building and the Guernica tree as well."

John

Oakland, CA

Tour: 05/19/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was a complete success. Our guide Francisco was fantastic. The group was very compatible from the start and felt like a family (including the bus driver)after the fun-filled nine days. Everything felt very well-organized without being like a military operation. I really liked the ample free time built into the schedule that allowed everyone to head off to do whatever suited them.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It is hard to pick out one moment because there were many, but the visit to Guernica stood out to many. After touring the Senate chambers and the famous oak tree, Francisco gave a very wonderful presentation at Picasso's Guernica reproduction. His description of the events leading up to the painting, the details and meaning of the painting, subsequent travels of the painting from Paris to the US, and eventual return to Spain were very moving. I still get emotional recalling it."

Doug

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a fun, energetic tour that combined educational, culinary and physical rewards... all within a small group (26ish) setting. The main guide had a complementary staff of guides that provided a good balance as well. We learned much about the Basque people beginning in Bayonne from Claire and the town museum. Our guest tour guide in Pamplona mixed humor and personal experience to explain the running of the Bulls in a very exciting way. Who would have thought tapas would be so fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I think for many of us a day on the Camino de Santiago was amazing! But for me the power of the town of Guernica with it's billboard sized reproduction of Picasso's anti-war painting was incredible."

Debbie

Edinboro, PA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This being our 6th RS tour, we have come to know what to expect. Yet every tour, tour guide, group offers a new adventure and we are always pleasantly surprised. The Basque country is not so much about sight seeing as it is "feeling" the culture. At least that was my experience. It was refreshing to us as we had just come off of the Paris and Heart of France tour which was very much sightseeing. I certainly could see my going back to some of the towns, just to pause, relax and reflect.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Some of our main purpose in signing up for this trip was to experience the Camino...so for me...visiting the town where one could start the journey...and of course walking a few miles of it were awesome."

Lynne

Vashon, WA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We've generally had positive experiences with Rick Steves' tours, and particularly enjoy having the MyWay Tours available. In this case, we chose the fully-guided tour and we weren't disappointed. Our guide was superb. It was easy to have thoughtful exchanges with him, and his enthusiasm for the Basque Country was infectious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our stop on the hill above Donostia-San Sebastian was definitely a "wow" moment. It is a most beautiful city. Our boat trip in Bilbao, a newly added feature, was instrumental in our appreciation of the city and its environment."

Jacqueline

Minneapolis, MN

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a very good experience on this tour. Even the tour group turned out to be very pleasant. Usually we have at least one person that can be a pain but not on this trip. The food was great even though that is not the reason I go on vacation, but it was a nice plus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I didn't have a "wow" moment but enjoyed Pamploma and Gernika."

Gail

Tacoma, WA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was fantastic and a great deal of information was given to us. I learned so much more than I expected about the Basque people, the region, the food, language and history. The pace was very good, with lots of tour time and also individual time for exploring, and for mingling with the locals in restaurants, pubs, and on our many strolls.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was not prepared for the government building in Guernica with its 'congressional' seating. Imagining that this governing body has existed for centuries in such a formalized manner."

Linda

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I was totally pleased with the entire tour experience. This was my first Rick Steves Tour and it lived up to all I had heard from friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The day I was looking forward to the most was our morning on the Camino. We have friends who walked the entire way last year and I was anxious to experience part of what they shared with us. My only regret is that we were only on the trail for half a day. I would have loved to go longer...maybe another time. the cathedrals, the tapas & pintxos, the Guggenheim, daily city orientation walks...really, everything was a wow moment"

Maria

Concord, CA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Been wanting to take a Basque Tour for a while, and this tour covered everything: history, scenery, food and more!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St. Jean de Pied de Port was a surprise, I did not know about this little town but it was absolutely the most beautiful little town I've seen in Europe (been to Italy and Spain).There was a mass in process and loved hearing it sung in a foreign language (Basque or French?). Also, Pamplona (old town)! What a beautiful city with their winding walkable streets and little plazas everywhere."

Zata

Saint Paul, MN

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Competent engaging guides, lovely places to be, interesting travel partners, much to learn

Favorite "WOW" moment

"San Sebastian from the hill top. Even though I expected it. Walking along the Nive river in Bayonne and seeing a Basque house just like in the old books I had read. Being in Pamplona where the bulls run."

Judith

Ashland, OR

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having done much independent travel, and being very active, we were impressed with this tour. The itinerary was well chosen, and there was a good balance of walking tours and free time. The wireless earpieces worked well. The group size of 25 was comfortable and gave us the chance to interact with everyone. We enjoyed the group meals as well as the chances to pick our own restaurants. It was interesting to see the Basque country and learn more about it and its history. Highly recommended!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments[INVALID]walking into the hotel in Pamplona (a former mansion), the delicious pinchos in San Sebastian (a food haven), and walking along with other pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago."

Andrew

Issaquah, WA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best part - meeting great people. Close second - traveling to some very interesting locations and having someone else take care of the details. Very informative - feel I gained great deal of knowledge and saw first-hand places I have only read or heard about.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Many moments, including going out for pintxos and wine in Pamplona and San Sebastian, sunset in San Sebastian, dinner at Gastronomy Society in Pamplona (I realize these are all eating and drinking events), seeing where Camino de Compostela begins in St. Jean Pied du Port, and briefly walking on the Camino. Best "wow" moment was mass on Sunday morning in Roncesvalles on the Camino."

Kayla

Durham, NC

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Really enjoyed learning about the Basque Country and the Camino. The tour provided me with everything I was looking for. Agustin, the tour director, made everything seem to work seamlessly. Agustin gave us a number of things: the credential and info on the Camino; a tapas break where we learned to use our Spanish in ordering; mementoes of the trip, etc. ... very special!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was looking forward to doing some walking on the Camino so really enjoyed the walk we did and learn about the Camino. Having dinner as a "native son" was special in the private dining club. Taking the boat ride in Bilbao seeing the Guggenheim and area that is being re-developed was really great for I don't think I would have gotten to the re-developed area while in Bilbao."

Kim

Los Angeles, CA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another great time. Already beginning next years tour research and planning.

Miguel

Petaluma, CA

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

ii am forever grateful to the guide, Agustine and the Driver, Juan who commly waited for my arrival at each stop along the way. I was like a toddler in big eyed wonder at everything I was experiecing. I was always loosing track of time. Of course, Jet Lag had a part in it. the information Agustine deseminated to us was useful and entertaining . I also liked his accent,it added to the experieance of being in a far away land. Now Juan, the Driver, was excceptual. He's profesanle.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Camino treck was the most memerable experiance everyone shared with me. I have to agree, it is the first thing I tell people about the trip. Sure, that's where I got my blisters but they are my badge of hounor. A Spaniard came along side as I walked the trail and we bonded In conversation . I also bonded with certin members of our group on that walk."

Alison

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 05/12/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Augustin was an amazing tour guide: personable, organized, hard-working, accommodating humorous, pleasant, available. He surprised us with chocolates in Bayonne, cookies in St Jean Pied de Port, pintxos in another city and a beautiful architectural boat ride in Bilbao. It was a wonderful group who meshed well. Meals were delicious, abundant, served with local wine. The local tour guides were top notch: Claire in Bayonne Francisco in Pamplona. Nice bus. Reasonable start times. Ear pieces great!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking the camino, the beautiful scenery, being with other pilgrims, listening to some of their conversations, seeing the albergues, small towns. We were in one town, Ronceyvaux, on a Sunday, just wandering around. There was a church service and the sound of singing was broadcast well outside the church. The combination of this singing and the beautiful environment and lovely weather were a wonderful experience."

Lynda

Birmingham, AL

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved traveling through the Basque Country. Not sure what we expected since the Basque culture is uniques but we enjoyed learning about it! The French side was decidedly French while the Spanish side was different from the rest of Spain. So many beautiful stops along the way - San Sebastian, St. Jean red de Port, Pamplona, and on and on! So much history and church art.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So, so many. Visiting the Basque Culture museum in Bayonne gave real insight into the way of life defined by the conditions in the Basque region. Walking the Camino de Santiago was an inspirational experience. Dinner at the private dining club was wonderful! a little window into Basque society. Loved the visit to Santa Maria de Eunate - was it a Templar site?? Enjoyed the story of Francisco's wedding there."

Michael

Washington, DC

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour of a region of Europe that has a unique cultural background quite distinct from the two countries in which it resides. Our guide, Francisco, did an excellent job teaching us about the Basque culture and its history. He did it with passion and humor that was much appreciated by our group. The four cities we visited each had its own characteristics that made them interesting.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The view from the top of the hill in San Sebastion was absolutely stunning."

John

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Specific call outs are below, but, overall, enjoyed the tour and guide, the planning behind it, and the ability to relax and go with the flow. The balance of having one-half day structured and the other half open was a major reason for joining the RSE tour and we got what we wanted. The tour provided the right amount of structure while allowing us to wander and get lost on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of San Sebastian and anchovy tapas at Txepetxa. Many friends I spoke with pre-tour were familiar with San Sebastian, but not the Basque Country. I was expecting a tourist beach experience, but was pleasantly surprised. I think traveling on the shoulder season and missing some of the more crowded times of year benefited the visit. Without the tourist masses, I think it was Francisco who said we get to experience the place as the locals do."

Ann

Arlington, VA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time. It was our first guided tour ever. It was a nice balance of free time,, learning, exploring, walking.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed Pamplona."

Kay

New Berlin, WI

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Enjoyable tour, slower pace than 2 other Rick Steves tours I have done. Nice hotels.

Janet

Washington, DC

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a well-planned tour in that the places visited were interesting and even inspiring. Our guide, Francisco, was excellent. Everything went on without a hitch. I feel that I learned a lot about Basque country and Spain's history.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views of the beaches in San Sebastiano were so beautiful they made me catch my breath. I also especially liked the walk on the Camino di Santiago."

Lynn

Mechanicsville, VA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco Glaria is the perfect Basque emissary. He loves his culture so much and was passionate about sharing it with us. The tour was a good mix of the French and Spanish parts of Basque life, including our exposure to the various foods and drink of the region. The two nights in each city was just right, with the planned morning tours and free afternoons. I also enjoyed experiences 'on the way', like seeing St Jean Pied de Port, crossing the Pyrenees, and Guernica.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The opportunity to walk on the Camino was my "Wow" moment. I've read about the pilgramage to Santiago de Compostela and seen various shows/movies. I've been to Santiago and marveled at the joy of pilgrims as they stand in front of the cathedral after their journey. I am so grateful that I got the chance to do this - I could not physically do the whole route, but even doing a few miles was so powerful."

Charles

Fort Thomas, KY

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Each of the four cities in this tour was unique. The tour had good variety.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really enjoyed walking the Camino de Santiago."

Steve

Smyrna, GA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great experience. Trip was well coordinated, fun and informative. We are 4 for 4 with Rick Steves' tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Top of Mt Urguall looking back over the bay and San Sebastian."

Brad

Bena, VA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great tour of a historic region nestled among some very modern cities. It was an ideal time of year to travel since it was not overcrowded with summer travel. Besides the Basque area local guides, history, culture, culinary options, open daily agenda, many options for personnel interests, the glue that makes it work the best is the tour guide - Fransisco. A very gifted tour guide that is bright, and witty, fun with much laughter but has a depth of knowledge of this uniques region.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"As nature lover learning about the history of the Camino trail, see vast others walking in many towns and then conducting our own walking on the trail in a lovely rural region just outside of Pamplona was grand. I gained an appreciation why this is so popular. Another favorite is the beauty of San Sebastian form the hill tops and city."

Lynda

Martinez, CA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Every tour we take is better than the last! We've never had many complaints about any of our tours. This one certainly did not disappoint! It was a terrific group, marvelous guide, nice weather, comfortable hotels, and good food. I enjoyed learning about the Basque history and culture from a pro.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Day 5 was my favorite day of the tour. I found hiking along part of the famous Camino Pilgrimage Trail quite beautiful and moving. The little towns were fascinating, and I enjoyed the way Francisco worked so hard not to let any of us get lost. I loved all of the cities but our guide was able to personalize Pamplona so it was certainly memorable."

Elizabeth

Ashland, OR

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful tour. This was our first trip to Spain so were excited to do the Basque tour. The tour met all expectations with the places visited, restaurants and hotels. Francisco far exceeded expectations and as always I am so impressed by our fellow travelers on Rick Steves tours.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Easy. My favorite "wow" moment was the heartfelt, caring and inspirational talk Francisco gave in front of the duplicate of Picasso's Guernica in Guernica, Spain. I expected my "wow" moment to be the Guggenheim in Bilboa, but Francisco moved it to a distant second."

Maureen

Smyrna, GA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is my 4th Rick Steve's tour. They all have been phenomenal in understanding the cities, people, food, and culture. I truly feel connected to the local scenes and prepared to go on my own when the tour breaks for individual time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing at the top of Mount Urgull in San Sebastian. What a beautiful site with clear blue water, lovely city scene, and a warm breeze in my face."

Larry

Martinez, CA

Tour: 05/05/17

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour. The relative short distance between the cities we stayed meant minimum time on the bus with more time for sightseeing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The short walk on a portion of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail was inspiring."

Elizabeth

Milwaukee, WI

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I didn't believe my husband and I were "tour people", but this tour of the Basque regions of France and Spain disproved that theory! From the very start, Francisco was welcoming, gracious, and incredibly FUN! Every experience was intriguing and engaging.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"ONE?! The tour was filled with "WOW"s! After an incredible walk on the Camino de Santiago, visiting the Ermita de Santa Maria de Eunate, with its mystical charm, accompanied by Francisco's storytelling of the legend of this sacred spot, will stay with me forever. Another unbelievable moment was standing at the top of Monte Igueldo on the morning we left Donostia/San Sebastian, surveying the breaktaking beauty of that sparkling city on the Bay of Biscay."

Ernest

Damascus, OR

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great guide. Excellent hotels fabulous food

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Walking a portion on the Camino Santiago. But really, it was the dedication, knowledge and passion for his work of Francisco, our guide"

Ramon

Buffalo, NY

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

In the Basque country tour, both the principal guide and group were what I have come to expect from RS Tours, not so much with the 7 days Paris tour. I did not feel the guide made every effort to nurture and maintain comraderie with tour participants as there were many participants "peeling off" from tour programs, something I had not experienced with my other RS trips. Also, the food and wine experiences provided by RS Tours was excellent in the Basque country while in Paris mediocre at best

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Palace hotel stay in Pamplona and wine/meal tasting on way to San Sebastian. Also, the Bilbao overall was terrific. The evening tour of the Louvre was amazing as was our tor of Versailles and the meal at the Flotille there. The tours of the Orangerie was also memorable with our guide Joelle."

Michele

Escondidio, CA

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

So, so invigorating and satisfied my "Europe' fix" for the year (as usual)!!!! It was fabulous!!!! My son traveled with us this year and concerned that it wouldn't be a good fit for him but our group loved, welcomed and admired him so and he had a wonderful time! Very special!!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"* The Camino de Santiago (Francisco brought so much humanity, depth and meaning to the experience) * Finishing eating together at a restaurant at the same time a group arrived and hearing them sing together (They sounded like a choral group however learned that they were a sport group!) Their voices were rich, harmonious, and heartfelt; it was amazing and they loved meeting us! * Certainly Frank Gehry's Guggenheim! * I loved Guernica; Francisco's speech moved me to tears..."

Kathleen

Cody, WY

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved the warmth, beauty, and friendliness of the Basque Country and its people. Francisco is an outstanding tour guide. He is very knowledgeable, helpful, friendly, and gave us genuine insights into his culture. He also has a great sense of humor. It was so natural to feel connected to Francisco.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many wow moments, especially the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. Having dinner cooked and served by Francisco's friends at his private men's club, the beautiful beaches, and walking a short section on the Camino de Santiago are lasting and impressive experiences for me."

Bruce

Milwaukee, WI

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first Rick Steves tour and it was a delight. The very first meeting with our guide and fellow travelers was a perfect combination of wine, chocolate and name learning. All the food and housing were exceptional.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing San Sebastian from the cliffs above the city and the Santa Maria de Eunate."

Peter

Charlestown, MA

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Swimming in the beautiful waters of San Sebastián beach and, of course, walking a bit of the renowned Camino."

Anita

Ellensburg, WA

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The past and present of the Basque country was made real for us as we explored various cities and historic sites. The trip was very well organized ,many of the tour members were experienced Rick Stees travelers so we became fast friends in a short amount of time. Our guide was very inclusive and very much a part of the group even when he was not guiding. His passion for his country and history was very compelling. We explored Basque traditions ,food, and language.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The history of Guernica and Picasso's vision of horror and hope. The parallel to the present brought me to tears."

Virginia

Ellensburg, WA

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I really enjoyed our Basque Tour. I learned a great deal about the culture and history of the Basque people. Our tour guide, Francisco, shared his knowledge and experience in a personal and enjoyable manner. Our accommodations were very comfortable. Local guides were excellent, particularly the two ladies who shared--one in the Basque Museum and the other in Bilbao. I have a new and strong appreciation for the Basque people, culture, and country as a result of this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"When we were seated in a square in Guernica and Francisco was just preparing to tell us about the horrors of the bombing and aftermath that had occurred there, he spoke to two elderly ladies who were seated near us. He asked them if they had lived in the city at the time of the bombing and they confirmed that one had been 2 and the other 4. As he proceeded to tell us the tragic story, it was amazingly moving to think that their entire lives had been lived under the shadow of that horrible event."

Kathy

De Pere, WI

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Basque Country tour was my 5th Rick Steves tour and it lived up to all my expectations: beautiful scenery, great travel companions, wonderful stories of history and culture, tasty food, knowledgeable and friendly guides, interesting museums, and a relaxed, yet stimulating pace. I can hardly wait to sign up for my next tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide, Franscisco, shared with us stories of committed pilgrims walking on the Camino and I anticipated, that for me, I'd merely be going on a hike. I was surprised at how immediately I became overwhelmed and moved to tears. In just the first few steps, i was flooded with memories of dear, departed friends and family and overcome with the idea that millions of people had walked this path ahead of me. The scenery was stunning and unlike any I had ever seen before. I felt so lucky to be there."

Daryl

Bloomington, MN

Tour: 09/23/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of the all time best vacations I have ever had. Francisco presented a lot of information about history,architecture, culture and myth in such a way to make it more like a contemporary story than history. He was the most animated adorable guide I could have ever w One of the best surprises about this trip was the exquisite food - no matter where we ate, every meal and every pintxo bar experience was memorable. I mean vermouth olives? This tour should be presented as a Foodie Tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The presentation Francisco made in Guernica. It was so moving it had several of us in tears."

Caryn

Shoreline, WA

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time on this tour. Our tour guide was great! The hotels we stayed in were very comfortable, and different in style. The restaurants for the group meals were delicious and interesting with regards to theme and food. Overall, I would do this tour again, and would recommend it to anyone who wants to learn about the Basque area and people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One of our hotels was right on a tidal river in San Sebastian, I believe. The waves rolled into this river and hit the giant granite blocks used to protect the town beyond."

Peggy

Madison, WI

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Another great RS tour! Agust was so knowledgeable and an excellent teacher. Several nice surprise edible local samples. Also many interesting folks traveling with us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Realizing that I, too, will be able to walk the Camino. Currently training for 2018."

Elspeth

Sault Ste Marie, ON

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

1st RS tour after yrs traveling widely together on our own. We liked this tour's "off the beaten track" philosophy & focus on learning in some depth about a relatively small & unique area. We enjoyed the active nature of the tour but wished our ½ day Camino hike had been longer. We came with 3 friends from home & enjoyed being part of a total Canadian contingent of 9 altogether which seemed to mix very well with 18 fun & lively Americans. BTW-this is a pain: spaces count in character limit!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Pamplona Men's Gastronomic Club! Although the concept was unusual, the dinner was delightful. The menu with accompanying local wines was superb, the comraderie flowing, and the entertainment (provided by all) unforgettable! And all of the men willingly ventured out of their "comfort zone"! The huge smile on Agustin (our guide's) face was indicative of how much he enjoyed sharing this local experience with us. We wish there were similar clubs back in Canada!"

Frances

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A great experience. I had reservations about being "herded" in a group, but that was quickly dispelled by this tour. The scheduling of short orientation tours, more intensive walks, free time, group dinners was appreciated. The level of physical activity, for the most part, was just right- for us, at least.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to say, but probably Guernica. It was so moving, and Agustin's commitment to giving the background and recreating the scenario gave it added significance."

Daniel

Edmonton, AB

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

An excellent tour, with a guide that was vey knowledgeable. Well organized, informative and just the right weather for touring. Also a great group. I can recommend this tour

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The views from of the scenic stops."

Anna

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful overview of Basque country, incorporating all sorts of interesting experiences. The food, drink and conviviality were all wonderful. Granted, there were a few hiccups along the way, but the weather was great for the most part, and accommodations were made to be inclusive of everyone's interests. One of the best Rick Steves tours that I have ever been on, even though I did not get as much "bus downtime" to catch up on my podcasts! Museums closed in San Seb (sad).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the gothic interior of the cathedral of Pamplona, especially since it is so out of character from the neoclassical facade. The wealth of silver on display was fantastic. The local guide was very informative and amusing."

Michael

Morton, IL

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Augustin was a very engaged and knowledgeable tour guide. The tour was well paced and generally active. Hotel accommodations were well above average and the weather was great. All these elements added up to a great tour with great people. Meals and wines were great. Thanks Mike

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite moments we're on the coasts. Whether it was San Sebastián, Biarritz or St. Jean de Luz, there were all great water views."

Paula

Chico, CA

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

We had planned the perfect combo trip - 9 days traveling with the tour and then a week on our own in Barcelona. Many folks were doing the Best of Spain back to back with the Basque tour. I think that, for us, it would have been too much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow moment was the Guggenheim in Bilbao. Also the festival going on in Pamplona. Really fun."

Rebecca

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

John and I loved this tour! The group meals were so delicious and memorable. Again you provided a perfect balance of free and organized time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough one! Bayonne, Pamplona, San Sebastián, and Bilbao are all such beautiful places. My top moments were: 1. Visiting St. Jean Pied du Port and seeing where the Camino starts 2. Actually walking on the Camino. 3. Visiting Guernica. I've wanted to do that since seeing Picasso's painting on a trip to Madrid with you in 2013. 4. The group dinner in Pamplona at the "eating club"! What fun and so delicious."

Roberta

Redwood City, CA

Tour: 09/21/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was a great tour with a wonderful guide and one of the most delightful groups of members we've ever traveled with.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My WOW moment was the dinner at the gastronomy club! What a brilliant idea. The food was really outstanding & I loved it that only the men were allowed in the kitchen and therefore got to serve the ladies their food and wine. We had been together long enough to have gotten to know each other and it was such a fun group. I just had a fantastic time."

Kent

Farmington, IL

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Amanda was an excellent tour leader and all on the trip got along very well together - no complaining about the little weather we did have. The tour was interesting and educational. I did think there were some times that we had too much down time where there was not much going on.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't know that there really was such a moment, but probably the closest was seeing the Guggenheim Museum. I very much enjoyed Pamplona, San Sebastian, Bayonne, and Bilboa and wandering the streets."

Kathleen

Farmington, IL

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The 9 day tour was excellent in exposing us to the Basque region and culture, and Guide Amanda was so joyful and thorough in her presentations and preparing us for each new experience! I think my only criticism would be that the tour was not quite as "full" as other tour experiences I have had. One day, we had a period of 7hrs. to fill before the evening activity. I enjoyed all the travelers with us on the tour and the bus driver was excellent, too. Travel and stops were well planned!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorite WOW was the Guggenheim Museum in Balboa! Check that off my bucket list! I also LOVED the a cappella moment in the medieval church and burial site where our group sang "America the Beautiful!" I think the location was Auritz or Roncesvalles. This experience was spine-tingling as the echo in that round chamber was so amazing! I'm sure the buried king in his tomb which we encircled also was inspired! :)"

Nola

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had the most prompt group I have ever toured with-no stragglers. The group was all so nice. I had spent time in the Basque area 13 years ago and it was such fun to visit it again with a guide to explain the history to us. A little less rain would have been nice but, it didn't stop us from doing anything.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum was my 'WOW'moment"

Fred

Kelowna, BC

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our 5th Rick Steves guided tour and it ranks up there with the best. The Hotels were more than acceptable and the one in Pamplona was just outstanding as it was a former palace. The cities, towns and villages that we were at were all so beautiful and unique and we wished we could have spent a bit more time at some of them - maybe extend it by 3 days. The group of people on this tour were all there for the same reason and everyone got along ever so well and mixed with each other.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is always a difficult one to answer when you liked everything about the tour, however, I guess it would be walking the Camino de Santiago. Even though it was a short walk, thinking about the history of it with all the pilgrims that travelled it and still do today, it really gives you something to think about."

Deborah

Chico, CA

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations of places to see and participation in enriching activities. This was our 4th RS tour and the standard still holds - good orientation, guidance and information then go explore! It seems that travelers with RS tours are of similar mind-set so the fellow travelers were fun and interesting to be with and always eager for a new adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved getting to walk on the Camino de Santiago. Even though our time on the trail was short, just being on there was humbling and exhilarating to think we were traveling where so many pilgrims have walked to find their "way". We may never get to go back but at least we can say we did part. I also enjoyed our stop in Guernica - seeing the painting in tile and the Oak Tree."

Susan

Keene, NH

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really was able to learn about an area that not many people know about. My friends kept thinking that we were going to Madrid Spain, and not familiar about the Basque Country. I am happy to share my travels with them, and someday hopefully will go back and do Madrid.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I want to say all of it, but my husband and I are hikers and I personally loved hiking the Camino de Santiago. We started in the back of the group going down the rocks just taking in the beauty of the area and thinking about the pilgrims coming thru the area. I was fun getting our hiking passports stamped at each stop. We did meet up with a pilgrim who had just retired and was going it. I was get to hear his personal story."

Jan

Sunriver, OR

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda is an excellent guide. Lots to see. Great food. Good fellow tour members, as always.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking even that small part of the Camino de Santiago"

James

Chico, CA

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amanda was an amazing tour guide! She really made the tour an experience to remember. This was my fourth Rick Steves' tour and its quality made me remember why I so enjoy Rick Steves' tours. I knew little about the Basque Country before the tour but after the tour was over I felt so much more knowledgeable about the Country and its people. Excellent food and excellent sights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I must admit that the entire tour was a "wow" moment. Learning about and then walking a short distance on the Camino de Santiago was definitely a highlight of the tour. I also enjoyed our visit to Guernica and learning about how its destruction at the beginning of WWII led Picasso to memorialize the event in his painting titled Guernica."

Henry

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was essentially our first tour experience. We have traveled extensively on our own. The Basque tour was an addition to a visit on our own to the Dordogne area. We were impressed with the overall organization of the tour: bus, guide, hotels, free time, no whining, etc. At 72 we are in good shape for walking, but the standing around was taxing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were no "wow" moments, but lets call them highlights. The Camino de Santiago was unknown to me until preparation for the trip. The people on The Way were memorable. Met a guy from Tacoma and a group from Victoria, BC. Small world. The group lunches and dinners were lots of fun, but the night at the men's eating club in Pamplona was the best. Amanda was beaming with delite at her "children" enjoying themselves."

Lynn

Kelowna, BC

Tour: 09/14/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our fifth Rick Steves trip and it definitely is one of my favourites. Learning about the Basque culture and seeing all the sights was so interesting. Amanda our guide was brilliant. So knowledgeable and so much fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a hard question as there were quite a few. But narrowing it down I would say walking on the Camino. I have read different books about people's personal experiences on the Camino and to think I was actually on the path was very special. Sometimes there are not words to express how one feels but I will always treasure that memory."

Jim

Moscow, ID

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was fascinating to learn about the Basque culture, their history along with their passion to preserve their heritage. The countryside and coastline is gorgeous. Tour well worth taking.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking part of the Camino.....hearing Francisco's talk about the art of bull fighting....the beautiful bay at San Sebastian.....Guernica and hearing Francisco's heartfelt comparison of that horror and 9/11.....and the incredible Guggenheim."

Erika

Coquitlam, BC

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Saying that this was our 5th tour really says it all. We love everything about Rick Steves tours - our fabulous guide; Francisco, our travel mates, the sights and the food, oh the food! This tour introduced us to the passion and pride of the Basque people and their fierce love of their culture and history. Our experiences were outstanding from the second the tour started with the travellers introductions until our final farewell dinner.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There is never just one favourite "wow" moment and for us - the entire trip is always a delight. We particularily enjoyed walking on the Camino de Santiago and strolling the seaside in San Sebastian. Francisco's passioned talk about the events in Guernica in 1937 left us speechless and touched, his interpretation of Picasso's anit-war masterpiece brought clarity and understanding to our group and my husband and I were truly moved to tears."

Judith

Grand Marais, MN

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It's true that when you discover a place that is perhaps known less to most Americans than, say, Paris, you want to make it your own and return some day. That is how I felt about Basque country. What an experience! Each stop was so filled with meaning and learning. And beauty. Francisco is the most lovable and soulful of guides. We were all crazy about him. The local guides were all very good, but no-one could compare to our guy. His personal stories about growing up as a Spanish Basque and his

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Gernika Francisco gave a passionate and beautiful presentation on the Picasso work in front of a copy near the Basque parliament. He had us in tears, even the tough retired Calgary policemen. Another moment was sharing with my roommate a mass at a church being held in the Basque language. We got to do all the responses and songs in New Basque. What a great experience."

William

Falcon Heights, MN

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I had hoped to learn more about and somehow experience the life style of the Basque shepards

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Guggenheim in Bilbao"

Lilian

Las Vegas, NV

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This, being my first-ever group tour, met my primary objective of assessing the feasibility of trekking Camino in its entirety. The tour struck an excellent balance between group activities and free time, between "touristy" pursuits and food-for-thought. Along with photos of stunning geography and samplings of delicious cuisine, I came away with a new-found understanding of the Basque culture, its place in European (and world) history, as well as some new introspection.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick only one: WOW of wonderment – coming upon Santa Maria de Eunate, the mysterious yet evocative wayside chapel-in-the-field after miles along the Camino WOW of enlightenment – standing in Pamplona's Plaza de Toros and listening to Francisco's stirring account of bullfighting, its symbolism, and cultural significance WOW of reflection – contemplating Picasso's unsettling apocalyptic vision in Guernica, as well as Francisco's poignant artistic interpretation and social commentary"

Linda

Morristown, NJ

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Can I just say, I liked it all! This tour offers a good mix of guided activity and free time. It was very well organized so that we never spent more than 1.0 to 1.5 hours in transit at any one time...even on the days when 3.0 hours of bus travel were planned.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I really liked Bayonne's Museum of Basque Culture (day 2), as well as the town of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, one of the starting points for hiking the Camino de Santiago trail (day 3). This was punctuated by an opportunity to walk 5-6 miles on the Camino, ending a historic pilgrim's church (day 5). On this trip, my favorite town overall was San Sebastián on the Bay of Biscay (day 6)."

Julia

Athens, GA

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

I was pleasantly surprised at the pace of this tour. I was never rushed or overly tired. I have gained an appreciation for Spanish cooking.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Guernica"

Robert

Burlingame, CA

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Enjoyed the food on the tour. Was happy that wine was included on all the tour meals. Our guide Fran was very thoughtful and informative and had many interesting and funny stories. Hotel Guendulain was outstanding.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our guide Fran."

Ralph

Calgary, AB

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was one of the best tours that we have been on with your firm. All have been exceptional. Francisco is a very good guide, not only was he extremely informative, he was very professional. He was always checking with us concerning any questions, tips he could offer when we were on our own. We highly recommend this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me I think the Guggenheim Museum."

Sherry

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/09/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great group of people on the tour, outgoing, warm, friendly, and an amazing tour guide in Francisco. The days were full with lots of fascinating things to see and do and free time to explore further options. I did not want to go home!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were several: participating in a bit of the Camino de Santiago with the history, time for contemplation,wide open country; in Guernica seeing the mural of Picasso's work and having it explained in such a passionate way by a devout Basque, Francisco. The connection to our "9-11" was very real--too many innocent victims, but a people who would not stop living, trusting, keeping their faith; and staying in a hotel so close to the river and ocean in San Sebastian--it was mesmerizing!!!"

Myron

Gainesville, FL

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall I rate this tour as excellent. We had a talented guide with a with a calm and very pleasant personality. The group was congenial. The places visited each offered unique glimpses of life in the Basque region. The hotels were very comfortable with the exception of the hotel in Pamplona which rose miles ABOVE the normal RS Tour hotel(find more like that one) . Our group meals were wonderful!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were three: First, entering the bull ring through the doors used by the bulls and standing where the fight takes place just in front of Hemingway's old seats. Second, stop on arrival in San Sebastian to view the city and its waterfront from the top of a mountain. Third and most special, the mountaintop start for our walk on the Camino de Santiago."

Saleem

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

This was my fourth trip with Rick Steve's Group. I was very reluctant to go again with your company after our not so great experience in Turkey due to not so good accommodation [INVALID]ion. Hotel [INVALID]ion was much better than the usual 2 (or less) star in previous trip. Group was great. Food [INVALID]ion and restaurants were really good. Our guide was good and his helper was excellent. Basque country was just amazing and I thought it was overall much better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hotel at San Sebastian was really good and the city itself was nice. Dinner were really wow, we should not have our lunches to eat such great food at dinner"

Louise

Gainesville, FL

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour, with a wonderful guide. The towns/cities we visited all had something different to offer and the trips out into the countryside gave us a good taste of rural Basque life. We hit market days and interesting museums, plus learned the right way to eat tapas and pinchos! We learned a lot of Basque history, which is why we chose this tour. The food and wine on this trip(our 7th Rick Steves tour) was amazing!! The hotels were lovely!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing on top of the mountain, looking out into the wide valley where we were would hike the Camino; walking into the bullring in Pamplona and seeing Hemingway's seats; and seeing the beaches of San Sebastian from the mountaintop all got "wow's" from us."

Lora

Ukiah, CA

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 4 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"2 favorite wow moments for me on this trip. One being walking the Camino de Santiago. Beautiful scenery, towns, people and weather. The other seeing the Guggenheim in Bilbao up close and personal. Wanted to take photos from every angle and probably did !"

Holly

Poulsbo, WA

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a lovely time with a great group of people who were energetic and curious about cultures and lands unlike their own. After four tours, I can verify that the people attracted to Rick Steves tours are usually really interesting folks. The tour allowed me to learn about and experience the unique Basque culture as well as beautiful, livable cities, lovely historic beaches, mountains and pilgrim routes,delicious food, and exciting revitalized communities. I had a great time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I'm not sure this is really a "wow" moment, but I loved walking along the promenade on the bay in San Sebastian at night enjoying the lights of the city reflecting on the water. It was beautiful. I thoroughly enjoyed all of the promenades in the various cities. They were built along rivers as well as beaches providing pedestrian accessibility simply not available in the United States. I am so jealous."

Deb

Rupert, ID

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Let me begin with, this was my very first trip to Europe.The choice of Spain, was a gift from my husband, with the thoughtfulness of hopfully helping me find the many missing pieces, to the puzzle, of my Basque Family Tree. Once it was established that this was my mission, the wave of support was so heartwarming.Making the very fortunate decision to choose the Rick Steves Tour,and having the unfolding of all the magical events, will be that diamond I will add to my treasure chest of memories.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every single day on this tour was a "wow" moment,but the walk on the Camino still leaves me tingling.Shortly into this walk with history,we passed a set of pilgrims which turned out to be someone very meaningful in my life that I had lost track of over 20 years.Because of a extremely difficult time in my life, Ann was that rope I hung onto and she saved my life and made my children's lives what it is today.I am a "fate believer",but this far surpassed all I could imagine.I owe RST for this walk"

Mary

Northfield, MN

Tour: 09/02/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was a wonderful opportunity to learn about Basque history, culture, and traditions from a variety of perspectives. The tour was well paced and our guide took into account individual needs.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking on the Camino de Santiago and visiting the church of Santa Maria Eunate at the end of our walk."

Avis

Auburn, WA

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were wined and dined throughout this tour. We were told the food in the Basque country was wonderful, but we weren't prepared for just how wonderful. The presentation, the flavor, the fresh ingredients! Fabulous! Our tour guide, Francisco, shared his heart and soul with us on this tour. His love of his homeland and his heritage was so powerful, we felt like we were invited into his living room and treated to a true taste of life as a Basque citizen.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Picking just one moment is so difficult! Our walk on the Camino, our visit to a 12th century chapel where you could feel the spiritual energy, our meals together as a rambunctious fun-loving group? I loved every moment of this trip, and I was thoroughly surprised by the new discoveries each day brought."

John

Fort Bragg, CA

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my second RSE tour and the overall experience was excellent. I was interested in the Basque region but knew nothing substantive about it other than what I'd read in Hemingway.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't know that there was a single "wow" moment but there were three very memorable ones involving Francisco our tour guide: 1) His interpretation of the Picasso masterpiece Guernica (at the reproduction in Guernica)and relating that tragedy to 9/11 and what 9/11 meant to the Spanish people; 2)his description of the true artistic meaning of bullfighting while the group was centered in the bull ring at Pamplona, and3)describing the spiritual meaning of pilgrim travels on the Camino de Santiago."

Dan

Katy, TX

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a very relaxing tour. We were glad it wasn't a "get on bus at 7am and ride til dark" tour. Lots of free time. Especially since dinners in France and Spain don't start until later. We had heard this was one of the best Rick Steve's tours...and we certainly loved it!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"In Guernica, Francisco took some time to explain the Picasso painting of the Nazi bombing and it evolved into a tribute to America for her 9-11 experience and effort to preserve freedom against terrorism. Brought tears to my eyes."

William

Apollo Beach, FL

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

THIS WAS OUR SECOND RICK STEVES TOUR AND THE MOST ENJOYABLE. BEAUTIFUL BASQUE COUNTRY,GREAT FOOD AND FRANCISCO THE BEST GUIDE EVER

Favorite "WOW" moment

"WOW MOMENT WAS FRANCISCO'S BRILLIANT ESSAY ON THE GERNIKA TRAGEDY AND ITS PARALLEL TO OUR 9/11. I WISH I COULD GET A WRITTEN TRANSCRIPT OF THAT"

Ken

Emporia, KS

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour to the Basque Country was excellent. Francisco was excellent. He made the country and towns come alive with his knowledge and excitement for the area. The cities we visited were unique and interesting to visit. We enjoyed the history both recent and past. The members of our group were excellent. There was a wide variety of individuals that made the tour even better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum in Balbao. The architecture of the building was amazing. The displays in the museum were incredible. The environment around the museum was awesome and unique. All of the cities we visited generated "wow" sensations."

Janet

Mason, TX

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The Rick Steves Basque Country tour was absolutely the best, from the day to day surprises to our outstanding guide, Francisco. We did so much more than what was expected from the general description in the tour book. In addition to the sights, the group melded together and created an easy atmosphere.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's comments at three different sites moved us from awe to tears. It was a unique experience to stand in the middle of the bullring in Pamplona and hear a heart felt story about the relationship between the matador and the bull. Prior to our time on the Camino de Santiago, Francisco prepared our hearts and minds in a way that only he could do because of his passion, experience and understanding of the Basque people and country. Walking on the Camino was meaningful."

Mary

Dallas, TX

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed every minute. Franisco was absolutely perfect. Good balance of planned/open time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco's presentation in the Madrid bull ring and his passionate explanation of the bullfight. Closely followed by his presentation of Picasso's 'Guernica' mural in Guernica."

Virginia

Olympia, WA

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Francisco's enthusiasm and deep love of Basque Country created a magical tour experience. Each day brought new adventures and fun. Everyone on the tour was a delight -- no grumps at all! All our hotels were excellent, especially our Palacio Guendulain (definitely NOT a typical Rick Steves' B&B!) Francisco's personal story at Guernica moved us deeply. Following the Camino de Santiago brought us closer to the historic emotional experience of pilgrims even though we are not personally religious.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Francisco treated us to an extraordinary dinner at his private men's club. He and his friends prepared a feast for us. My husband and some of the other men on our tour helped prepare and serve the rest of us. We had so much fun! Francisco's generosity and hospitality gave us an evening to cherish."

William

Olympia, WA

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was one of the shortest tours we have taken. It was also one of the largest groups. After seven previous tours with Rick Steves we have become accustom to the type of touring they do. Our guide was Francisco, a local Basque and we could not have asked for more. However, there was actually only 3 1/2 days of an actual guided tour with the rest on our own. We appreciate the freedom but with a culture as convoluted as the Basgue we could have used more time in understanding it all.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Guggenheim Museum in Balboa was so impressive! It was one of the reasons for my taking this tour and it was better than I had hoped. We had a chance to be around the Guggenheim at night and it was really outstanding. The bus stopped at a park on a high hill before we went into the city and we got a view of the museum from above. I could hardly wait to see it up close!"

Carrie

San Jose, CA

Tour: 08/26/16

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fran made the trip! His knowledge, enthusiasm and great demeanor made the region come alive. He has a knack for making everyone feel special and included. The hotel in Pamplona was a real treat. The mixture of time together and on our own was perfect. Not too much time on the bus which was nice and two nights in each city was perfect. I would definitively recommend this tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow moment was going into the bull ring in Pamplona. It was so fun to see the ring, where the bulls come in and where Hemingway sat. No fights that day but with Fran's passion you could imagine it."

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 your online customer account. About one month prior to the tour departure, in your customer account you'll find the directions to your first tour hotel and a complete list of hotels where we'll be staying while on tour.

Flights

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

Most tour members arrange to fly into Biarritz, France and out of Bilbao, Spain ("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.