Basque country walking holiday, Spain

“An eight day guided walking holiday, travelling in a small group along the French and Spanish border and into Spain's beautiful Basque country. Not too strenuous yet all too sublime. ”


Ascain | Esnaur mountain | Col de Saint Ignace | Mountain train to La Rhune | Pasaia | San Sebastian | Getaria | Optional visit to Bilbao | Zumaia | Zarautz beach

Description of Basque country walking holiday, Spain

For walking holidays in Spain, this Basque Country one certainly takes you into the heart of the region and to some of its most exquisite beauty spots. Following an itinerary that straddles the French and Spanish border, this is a week of coastal hikes, journeys through remote mountain villages and valleys, many of which dip down to stunning waterfront towns such as Bilbao and San Sebastian. Walking at a gentle pace, this is a moderate walking holiday without lots of summiting and sweating. But plenty of time to enjoy the Basque Country’s natural and cultural highlights en route.

Starting on the French side of the border in the typical Basque village of Ascain, in a stunning location at the foot of Rhune mountain, we base ourselves here for three nights. From here we take walks up to the moderate peak of Esnaur Mountain (273m), but opt for the easier route up Rhune on the mountain train to a height of 905m, enjoying the descent by foot of course. We use transfers and local transport a few times on this holiday so that you are not on your feet all day.

In Spain, for example, we take a local bus to Pasaia where we start a stunning coastal walk all the way to San Sebastian. Here we have a guided city tour followed by a hike up to Mota Castle with magnificent views over the bay. Staying in the nearby village of Getaria for the next four nights, easily accessible by train, you have a free day to enjoy more of San Sebastian or nearby Bilbao. For the rest of the week, we use bus transfers out to different coastal villages such as Zumaia, from where we can enjoy more coastal walking including along the famous Compostela trail and waymarked GR-121 route. One of the most magical stops along these treks is at Zarautz, the longest beach in the Basque region, where you can take a fine farewell dip in Basque beauty.

Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.

01273 823 700


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08 Sep 2018
£ 1329
including UK flights
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Basque country walking holiday, Spain

Accommodation and Meals:
The Hotel de La Rhune and the Hotel Saiaz are both family run and locally staffed, providing valuable employment in the tourism industry on which the region depends. Fresh produce is sourced locally as much as possible and where meals are not provided, clients are encouraged to stop at local cafés on breaks. Local cafés are often seasonal and dependant on tourism, while providing valuable employment in areas where tourism is the principal, or only, employment option, particularly for younger people. Picnic lunches are sourced at local stores and markets, and evening meals are often taken in nearby restaurants. This whole trip contributes to supporting the local community and the promotion of local Basque culture.

Walking trips in general have a minimal impact on the environment as we use our own power to get around. Clients are briefed on managing food waste and other litter, which should be disposed of appropriately in respect of local recycling policies. We do believe in leaving no more than footprints although this tour actively encourages guests to talk to local people, visit local cafes and restaurants, use markets to purchase traditional Basque gifts and crafts. The trip takes the group through small villages and towns in the Basque Country, with many small local businesses and artisans that are reliant on our commerce for their livelihood; clients are encouraged to sample local wares when possible.

Water is a really important issue with walking trips and whilst we must stay hydrated, it is also vital that we have a system for providing clean water without causing lots of waste with plastic bottles. Water can be provided for clients on all walking trips and water receptacles are recycled or reused where applicable. As tap water in the region is drinkable, clients will be encouraged to use tap water and to reuse plastic bottles, rather than buying bottled water.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 15 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

1 Reviews of Basque country walking holiday, Spain

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 30 Oct 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?

Discovering that Mallorca is far more than a package holiday destination. Stunning scenery in the mountains along the coast and friendly people.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?

Would be hard walking in the height of summer due to heat

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

As far as the first hotel goes, not so sure. No obvious arrangements for recycling. Staff were local. Second hotel at monastery is local, recycling bins in room. Food appeared to be local. Guide was local and passionate about his country and the environmental protection. Money from tourism goes to protect the area.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?

A great trip with good walking, a couple of days a bit tougher but nothing that people with good fitness levels couldn't manage. No scrambling fortunately!

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