Itinerary-Basque Coast

Basque Coast

Map of trek

Click to see larger map

10 Days: Thursday, May 21, 2020 to Saturday, May 30, 2020

Note: Trip host George Semler’s notes and comments are in GREEN.

  • ***THIS IS A LOT MORE THAN A CHANCE TO GORGE AND FROLIC THROUGH TWO OF SPAIN’S MOST IMPORTANT CULTURES: CATALUNYA AND EUSKADI (THE BASQUE COUNTRY). ARCHITECTURALLY AND ARTISTICALLY OUR CUP RUNNETH OVER: This is an anthological art and architectural tour covering some of Spain’s wonders: Gaudí’s Sagrada Familia; Barcelona’s Mediterranean Gothic Santa Maria del Mar; Gaudí’s first house, Casa Vicens; the Basque Country’s best Gothic at La Antigua in Zumárraga; the essential Basque farmhouse/ caserio / apple press; Mudéjar (Moorish art under Christian rule) architecture in Azpeitia, the quintessential French-Basque triple-tiered church at Biriatou, Piccolo’s (aka José María Orbe, Marqués de Valdespí) family fortress/palace in Astigarraga outside of San Sebastián, Eduardo Chillida’s sculpture garden Chillida Leku (which means Chillida Place in Euskera, the Basque language) near San Sebastian, and ending with Frank Gehry’s Bilbao Guggenheim (and maybe Norman Foster’s Bilbao metro/subway system)…Gastronomically, we go from top Catalan cuisine in Barcelona to Basque mountain cooking in Zumárraga to Basque seafood specialties along the coast in Spain and France.

Thursday, 21 May 2020/ ARRIVAL – BARCELONA


  • Arrival at Barcelona Airport / flight details to be advised
  • Luggage Assistance at Barcelona Airport
    • You will meet your luggage assistant at the luggage carousel
    • He will get your luggage and escort you to meet your driver
  • Meet your driver, who will be at the arrivals hall with a sign board
  • Meet & Greet Service
  • Private Transfer from Barcelona El Prat Airport to Hotel / Sedan
    • Water in the vehicle
  • Check in at Hotel H10 Metropolitan
  • *** All group together from this point
  • This first night George and Lucie Semler will host the group at their home. With George guiding–the group will take the subway –to their house for Cava and great hors d’oeuvre and then walked to the restaurant l.
  •  Accommodation in Barcelona: Hotel H10 Metropolitan (Double Superior Room with Terrace)
  • 8:30 PM Table to be booked at Tram Tran Restaurant for dinner (Cost of food NOT included – A la carte and direct payment)
    • Take the subway back to the hotel
  • Friday, 22 May 2020 / BARCELONA

            Breakfast at Hotel

      • Visit Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia Masterpiece from the inside
        • Local expert guide (ACUSTIGUIDE…SELF GUIDED)
        • Fast Track Entrance fees to sites–get tickets in advance
      • Transfer to the restaurant for dinner on own
      • 8:30 PM Table to be booked at Can Majo restaurant for dinner (Cost of food and wine included)
      • Transfer back to the hotel on own
      • Accommodation in Barcelona: Hotel H10 Metropolitan (Double Superior Room with Terrace)Seeing the Sagrada Familia, Gaudi’s unfinished church, is a must, The Sagrada Familia has nonpareil acoustiguides…all our guests will need to do is wander over there (following me, one assumes, 30 minute walk)…through some other great architecture…and then have lunch near the Sagrada Familia… there is a great restaurant nearby called “YA YA AMELIA”…and then maybe rest up and walk down to Santa Maria del Mar…which is a must?

Saturday, 23 May 2020 / BARCELONA – ZUMARRAGA

  • Check-out
  • Meet your host and your driver at hotel main entrance
  • 2:30 PM Meet & Greet assistance
  • 2:30 PM Private transfer from hotel to Barcelona Sants Train Station – Private Deluxe Vehicle
  • 3:30 PM Take Train to Zumarraga / Train ALVIA # 00530 (Preference Class Tickets included)
  • 8:18 PM Arrival to Zumarraga
  • Meet your driver at the Train Station
  • Private Transfer from Zumarraga Train Station to Hotel / Private Deluxe Vehicle
  • Check-in at Hotel Etxeberri
  • 9:30 PM Table to be booked at the hotel restaurant for dinner
    • Half board
  • Accommodation in Zumarraga: Hotel Etxeberri (Double Room)       

And our great adventure trekking the Basque Country  begins—watch the video:


Sunday 24 May 2020 / ZUMARRAGA – LOIOLA


    • Breakfast at the hotel
    • Check-out
    • 10:00 am Private deluxe vehicle with driver (non-speaking) for the day
    • Visit La AntiguaI and George will  try to get a Basque choral group to perform for us in La Antigua hermitage and traditional Basque farmhouse
    • Table booked for George Semler at Itziar Restaurant in Aizpurutxo (cost of food not included – Direct payment)
    • Arrival to Loiola
      • Check-in at Hotel Arrupe
      • PM Table to be booked at Ongi Etorri Restaurant (7 minutes walking from the hotel) (Direct payment and choose à la carte – cost of food NOT included)
      • Accommodation in Loiola: Hotel Arrupe (Double Room)


Monday 25 , May 2020/ LOIOLA – ZUMAIA – GETARIA

Nearing Zumaia

  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Check-out
  • Leave the bags at the hotel lobby –  Your driver will transfer them to the following hotel
    • Transfer of the bags included – Private Deluxe Vehicle
    • Walk through Zestoa
    • Start the walking from Loiola to Getaria through Zumaia The walk from Loiola to the restaurant Bedua in Zumaia is a about a 6-hour trek…taking our time with it…there are some wicked ups and downs near the end…and there is a perfectly good town, Zestoa, that we walk through, with some very good little taverns for a tiny tentempie (literally, “keep you on your feet”)…so we arrive at Bedua, another of the Basque Country’s famous places…in time for lunch…
    • 3 PM Table to be booked at Bedua Restaurant (Cost of food NOT included – A la cart and direct payment) This is a 3 pm booking…because we will need to take a little loop through Azpeitia as we leave town…this after looking through the Santuario/birthplace of San Ignacio de loiola…and then we can hop the bus short of Bedua to avoid the two massive uphills and one long downhill…Bedua is a pretty great place to spend some time…then we have the walk from Bedua we will want to take the bus to the Zuloaga house, if it’s open…and from there some might call it a day and bus over to Getaria with a stop at the Zuloaga museum/house…if we can manage to maintain bandwidth for it…Continue to Getaria
    • Arrival to Getaria
    • Check-in at Hotel Saiaz Getaria...the Saiaz is excellent, a beautifully restored old palace / townhouse…the town has wonderful restaurants and a great maritime feel to it…if the weather is right, a besugo (sea bream) at the sea wall (Mayflower restaurant) with a bottle of txakolí Txomin Etxaniz from Getaria is nirvana…(warning: besugos cost 60 Euros a fish these days, so 30 each…maybe three people could share one, or even four if we’ve really been poleaxed by lunch)…
    • PM Table to be booked at May Flower Restaurant (Direct payment and choose a la carte – cost of food NOT included)
    • Accommodation in Getaria: Hotel Saiaz
      • Double Room with views to the Gothic Fachade 
  • Visiting church, balenciaga museum and anchovy production process are all possible next morning attractions before we walk over to Zarautz…this is a relatively short (but initially steep) walking day…three or four hours.. 



Zarautz coast

  • Breakfast at the hotel
    • Check-out
      • Leave bags at hotel lobby. Vehicle only to transfer the bags from Getaria to hotel in San Sebastian
      • 9:30 AMStart the walking from Getaria to Zarautz (4,9 km)(3 hours)-but the way we’re going…over hill and dale and through vineyards…it might be longer but not too much from Getaria to Zarautz.. a good stomp.Before grazing in Zarautz and taking the narrow gauge rail into San Sebastián…where we’ll want to do some walking / exploring around the concha (beach) and the parte vieja, the old part of town where we’ll… walk through Zarautz…tentempies in or around the old market. and the central square…lots of pretty things to see in Zarautz…narrow-gauge Euskotren to San Sebastián…to the Londres…dinner at Aldanondo...
      • Walk through Zarautz, stopping for lunch at Txiki Polit restaurant.
      • Take Eusko tren from Zarautz to San Sebastian (cost of tickets NOT included – direct payment at the train station – around 2/3 Euros per pax)
      • Arrival to San Sebastian
      • Check-in at Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra
      • Tapas crawl on own or grab a burger at hotel after walk out to Eduardo Chillida’s “Wind Comb” sculpture. (2 km) (Cost of food not included)
      • Accommodation in San Sebastian: Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra (Double Sea View Room)


  • Breakfast at the hotel
    • 10:00 am Private deluxe vehicle with driver (non-speaking) for the day
      • 10:00 am Private deluxe vehicle with driver (non-speaking) for the day
      • Walk across San Sebastián to Zurriola beach and over to Pasajes de San Juan for lunch at Txulotxo restaurant.
      • Bus transfer to Artzu, starting point of the afternoon walk into Hondarribia or straight to the Parador for those preferring post-prandial slumber to brilliant walk around the Cape Higuer lighthouse.
      • Check-in at Parador de Hondarribia
      • Table to be booked at Zeria restaurant or the Cofradia de Pescadores in Hondarribia (Direct payment and choose à la carte – cost of food NOT included)
      • Accommodaation in Hondarribia: Parador de Hondarribia (Double Room Sea View)Check-out


  • Breakfast at the hotel
    • Vehicle to transfer the bags directly to San Sebastian
    • 10:00 am Private deluxe vehicle with driver (non-speaking) for the day
    • In Hondarribia…there are such gorgeous things to see…plazas, palacetes, ancient castles…we are going to need some down time in the morning just to browse around this lovely town. Cross the Bidasoa river estuary by ferry from Hondarribia to Hendaya
    • Take the ferry from Hondarribia to Hendaya (Cost NOT included – Direct payment 1,90 Euros per pax)
    • Departures each 30 minutes from 10 AM to 7 PM
    • Continue walking up to Biriatou (about 4 hours)
    • Enjoy time at leisure in Biriatou on own
    • Transfer to Xaia restaurant / tavern and Hendaya Train station after lunch with your driver
    • Take Eusko Tren – Topo from Hendaya to San Sebastian (Cost NOT included – Direct payment 5,80 Euros per pax)
    • Departures each 30 minutes from 7:03 AM to 10:33 PM
    • Approximate ride time to San Sebastian: 35 min
    • Arrival to San Sebastian
    • Dinner in Gaztelubide Sociedad Gastronomica
    • Accommodation in San Sebastian: Hotel Londres y de Inglaterra (Double Sea View Room)
  • Friday 29 May 2020 / SAN SEBASTIAN – BILBAO


  • Breakfast at the hotel
  • Check-out
  • Meet your driver at the hotel main entrance
  • Private Transfer from San Sebastian to Bilbao with stop in Chillida Leku Museum on the way
  • 10 am – 11:30 am Visit Chillida Leku
    • Guided tour of the Museum
    • Entrance fees included
  • Continue to Bilbao
  • Check-in at Hotel Miró
  • Visit Guggenheim Museum on own
  • The last night in Bilbao,  Lucie and I had a great outing with another couple…which, admittedly, would have been impossible with 16 people…and I know that many people become anxious about packing and resting before travelling…but I thought it was nothing short of tragic that we got 14 people…or 12 anyway…all the way to Bilbao without showing them the Casco Viejo…the old part of town…the walk back, down the Ría, the river or fjoord, really…was  amazing with the lights from the town hall reflected in the water…just taking it easy…no forced march…I think we should find a place up there for dinner…there’s a cider house called the Arriaga that I like…so we can have a little dinner and say a proper farewell and all…
  • Accommodation in Bilbao: Hotel Miró (Double Room)


Saturday 30, May 2020 / BILBAO – DEPARTURE

Breakfast at the hotel

  • Check-out
  • Meet your host and your driver at hotel main entrance
  • Private Transfer from Hotel to Bilbao Airport
    • Private car & driver – Private Deluxe Vehicle–1 hour to airport
    • Pick up time is dependent on flight schedule
    • Water in the vehicle