Proudly original and indulgently sensuous, Northeastern Spain crams an incredible amount of diversity into a compact area of old-world destinations. You will discover crumbling castles, medieval bodegas, and coastal grandeur along with cities of cobblestone and charm, and the monastic birthplace of the Spanish language. This private 11-day tour celebrates the best of one of Europe’s most suggestive regions, with the proximity of destinations allowing for a very relaxed 11 days of indulgence.
Bilbao – Welcomed with a Basque Pintxo Trail
Cuisine reveals so much about the culture of a place. Land in Bilbao and the afternoon is at your leisure, a time to relax at your boutique hotel in the old city and to walk the elegant banks of the river. Join your guide in the early evening for a tour through Bilbao’s late 19th-century neighborhoods, where glamorous townhouses overlook a seemingly endless row of pintxo bars. Pintxos are small dishes, piled up on the bar, ready to eat. You just point to what you would like to try. A minor comparison could be made with a revolving sushi bar, where the plates are ready, and you choose what you would like to sample. The big difference, other than the actual food, is that the idea here is that you try multiple bars, rather than a single restaurant.
Each bar has its specialty, and the guide knows exactly where to look for what. And the guide can help pick from the menu of wines, distinguishing whether a La Rioja or Ribera del Duero best complements the dish. You will find adventurous choices such as liquidized sea urchin served in its spiky shell, baby octopus lightly fried, roasted peppers stuffed with fresh crab meat, in addition to all manner of cheeses, tortillas, hams, and tomato-based dishes. Each is held together with a stick, and you can find them anywhere between six and 10 in the evening, spread across three to four pintxo bars. This cuisine symbolizes Basque where choice is revered, and quality is paramount, yet the presentation is informal, reflecting a laid-back style that encourages strangers to become friends.
Bilbao – From the Old-World to Tomorrow: A Detailed Insight into Bilbao’s Architecture
Haro to Laguardia – Indulging at the Famous Wineries of Rioja
Laguardia – The Birthplace of the Spanish Language
Logrono – Hopping Down the Lanes of Heritage in Rioja’s Capital
Pamplona – The Bull Ring and the Beauty of Tradition
Pamplona – History and Fortifications of the Kingdom of Navarra
San Sebastian – Spain’s Most Elegant City
San Sebastian – Cuisine and Culture of the French Basque Coast
San Sebastian – Free Day Amongst the Grandeur of San Sebastian
San Sebastian to Bilbao – Departure
- Uncover the depths of Basque tradition in its capital city, Bilbao, where the Guggenheim reflects tomorrow and a crumbling old city a is testament to centuries of history
- Indulge your senses in La Rioja, Spain’s most legendary wine region, where winemakers guide you around world-renowned wineries, and small underground cellars celebrate the best of the Tempranillo grape
- Wander through the ancient lanes of Pamplona, the same stretches of cobblestone that have been pounded by rampaging bulls for centuries
- Relax in Spain’s most elegant city, San Sebastian, a destination of coastal glamour for your final three nights
- Find the birthplace of the Spanish language in La Rioja, ascending to a tiny monastery high above the region’s vineyards
- Journey through the glorious breadth of northern Spanish cuisine, from a guided pintxo (small plates) trail in Bilbao to World Top 50 Restaurants inclusions around San Sebastian
- Explore the fortifications and crumbling villages of the old regions, day trips revealing why these northern regions should also be known as kingdoms
- Spend a day along the French Basque coastline, comparing and contrasting how the local flair mixes with the national identity
- Enjoy private tours and transfers, and a handpicked collection of accommodation that reflect the destinations, including bodegas and boutique guesthouses in the heart of old cities
Travel for an hour in northeastern Spain, and the atmosphere changes at short intervals. Cross a blanket of low mountains, and proud Basque culture becomes the wonderfully slow rhythm of La Rioja. Traverse open plains and the vineyards give way to the castles and cobblestone of the Navarra Kingdom. Follow the road north for another hour, and there is decadence and glamour along the coast, Spanish Basque such a contrast to French Basque. This compact region of Spain is the home of diversity, each neighboring region having its own means of celebrating indulgence. It is an area where you can travel slowly yet feel like you have experienced enough for a whole month’s vacation. It is an area that demands you move slowly because there is so much to uncover when you settle into the atmosphere of the northeastern regions.
This 11-day private tour starts and ends in Bilbao, looping around the major and unknown destinations of Spain’s northeast. Bilbao itself is a poignant insight into originality, the capital of Basque blending heritage with post-modern design, without ever losing a sense of specific culture. Spend two days in La Rioja, a rural region that is famous for red wine yet also the home of the Spanish language. Disappear into its bodegas and tour world-renowned vineyards with the winemakers, then hop across a heritage that is completely different to neighboring Basque.
The next day, you reach Pamplona, historic capital city of the Kingdom of Navarra, home of the very famous bull running for one week of the year. You are not here for the Running of the Bulls, but this festivity is an indication of just how unique Pamplona has always been. Spend a day exploring the maze of alleys, then a day amongst the fortifications of the Kingdom, including some tiny villages tucked away from the world. You will return to Basque where the coastline around San Sebastian has its own ambience, Spain’s most glamorous town packed with fine dining restaurants and an air of excess. European dignitaries have been holidaying here since the 19th century and thoughts of indulgence dominate everything that takes place. Spend a couple of days relaxing in the town and the beaches, plus a full day hopping into French Basque, where culture and cuisine surprise some more. It is then just an hour by road back to Bilbao for your departure flight.
$2,635 per person (excluding international flights)
Your Zicasso trip is fully customizable, and this sample itinerary is a starting place for your travel plans. Actual costs are dynamic, and your selection of accommodations and activities, your season of travel, and other such variables will bring this budget guideline up or down. Throughout your planning experience with your Zicasso specialist, your itinerary is designed around your budget. You can book your trip when you are satisfied with every detail. Planning your trip with a Zicasso travel specialist is a free service.
- In-country transportation
- Some or all activities and tours
- Expert trip planning
- 24x7 support during your trip
Your final trip cost will vary based on your selected accommodations, activities, meals, and other trip elements that you opt to include.
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