Basque Country itinerary

por Postcards from IvI

The Basque Country is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful areas of Spain. Cliffs over the Cantabrian Sea, incredible cities, charming towns, good food and landscapes literally out of a movie. In this post I help you organize your trip and plan what to do in the Basque Country itinerary in 4 days.

Basque Country itinerary by car

If you like nature, food and mountain routes, you will love the Basque Country. This itinerary through the Basque Country is designed to be done by car. After having traveled by car from Barcelona several times, I consider it to be the best way to explore the Basque Country because there are many small towns and places that you will enjoy much more having your own transportation.

If you prefer not to rent a car, you can choose to base yourself in Bilbao or San Sebastián and from there take tours to the different places.

Are you looking for car rentals in the Basque Country? I recommend booking your car on rentalcars.com, a website that compares the prices of all car rental companies and usually offers a much lower price.

Basque Country itinerary

DAY 1 – Bilbao

This first day will focus on Bilbao. Obviously it is a very large city that is worth more days… but in 1 day you will be able to visit at least the most touristic spots. For a complete guide read: Things to do in Bilbao

  • Bilbao free walking tour

A good option to start your visit in Bilbao is to take this free tour that begins at the Arriaga Theater. The tour passes through the main sites of the historic center of Bilbao. Book the free tour of Bilbao here.

  • Mercado de la Ribera

If you arrive in Bilbao that same morning you will surely be very hungry, and what better way than to start touring Bilbao than trying some delicious pinchos at the Mercado de la Ribera, located on the edge of the Nervión River. There are several places that offer different varieties of pinchos and a central space with community tables.

  • Bilbao Old Town

The Old Town of Bilbao is the oldest and most picturesque neighborhood in the city, also known as “The 7 streets”. It is a very nice area to walk since it is almost entirely pedestrian. A prominent place in this area is Plaza Nueva.

  • Nervión River and its bridges

A tour you can take is to walk along the edge of the Nervión River and see some of its 13 bridges. The views on this tour are very beautiful! Be sure to stop by the Zubizuri Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Qué ver en el País Vasco en 4 días

  • Guggenheim Bilbao

If you continue the route along the river, you will reach the famous Guggenheim Bilbao. Although this building is not at all one of my favorites, I must admit that it is impressive to see. The museum was opened in 1997 and offers a selection of modern and contemporary art.

Even if you are not going to enter the museum, I recommend that you go through the door since there are some outdoor exhibits such as the famous Puppy by Jeff Koons or Mama, the almost 9 meter high spider.

Book your ticket for Guggenheim Bilbao here

DAY 2 – Castillo de Butrón, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe & San Sebastián.

  • Butrón Castle

Start the second day in the Basque Country visiting the Butrón Castle. This castle, of medieval origin, is privately owned and cannot be visited inside, but the truth is that just seeing its exterior is worth it. It is also located just 20 minutes by car and is on the way to the next stop.

Qué ver en el País Vasco en 4 días

  • San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Without a doubt one of the most spectacular places you can visit in the Basque Country is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It is an islet connected to the mainland by a bridge. On the islet there is a small hermitage dedicated to San Juan which can be accessed. The views from this place are truly amazing!

Qué ver en el País Vasco en 4 días

Access to Gaztelugatxe is free but between April and September it is necessary to reserve access through this website. Without this reservation they will not allow you access since during high season days the capacity is limited.

This particular place became very famous for being a setting for the great series Game of Thrones. If you are a fan of the series, you can take one of the specialized tours that are offered, such as this half-day tour of the Game of Thrones sets.

  • Route to San Sebastián

From San Juan de Gaztelugatxe to San Sebastián the route is full of small towns that you can visit. Depending on the time you have, you can stop in 2 or 3 small towns or simply pass through them. Some of the Basque towns that I recommend visiting are: Bermeo, Mundaka, Lekeitio, Ondarroa and Zarautz.

Depending on how long it takes you to do this entire trip, you will arrive in San Sebastián in the afternoon so you can go out to eat some good pinchos and spend the night in this city.

Qué ver en el País Vasco en 4 días

Ondárroa

DAY 3 – Flysch de Zumaia & San Sebastián

  • Flysch de Zumaia

Start the day by visiting the Zumaia Flysch, another of the most spectacular places on the Basque coast. These rock formations house sediments and fossils no less than 60 million years old. That is why they are also known as “the Book of the Earth.” Before your visit it is advisable to check the state of the tide since it has to be low to be able to see the rocks and walk on them.

In addition to walking along the beach to see the flysch, I recommend taking the path that passes through the Ermita de San Telmo. The trail has spectacular views of the flysch and the Cantabrian Sea.

Once back in San Sebastián, I recommend that you spend the rest of the day visiting the most important points of this beautiful city. These are some of the places you can visit:

  • Playa de la Concha and El Peine del Viento sculpture.

Qué ver en el País Vasco en 4 días

  • The Old Town of the city and the basilica of Santa María del Coro.
  • Igeldo and Urgull mountains.
  • Go and taste Basque cuisine in some of the many restaurants in the city. I leave you my recommendations: Lo de Néstor (tortilla and steak), La Viña (try their famous tarta de queso), Atari and Casa Vergara.
  • Book a guided tour in San Sebastián or nearby:

DAY 4 – Hondarribia

Your plan for this day will really depend on what your home destination is. In my case, living in Barcelona, ​​we took advantage of the morning of this day to explore more of San Sebastián and then head back.

As a suggestion I am going to leave this option which is to visit another town, very close to San Sebastián before finishing the trip:

  • Hondarribia

Hondarribia is a town located 20 km from San Sebastián, right on the border with France. Its typical houses with colorful facades are characteristic and make this coastal town a very picturesque place.


Where to stay in Basque Country

If you are going to visit the Basque Country in 4 days, my recommendation is that you choose Bilbao or San Sebastián to base yourself and from there visit the different places. You can also combine and sleep 1 night in Bilbao and 2 in San Sebastián or similar, depending on your route. Here are some of my recommended accommodations in both cities:

HOTELS IN BILBAO:

HOTELS IN SAN SEBASTIÁN:

  • Boulevart Donostia: I stayed at this hotel and what I liked most was its location, it was really very comfortable to explore the city staying here. It is not a traditional hotel, but rather very well-equipped rooms in a protected building in the city. They welcome you, explain how it works and then give you the card with which you can freely enter the building. Click here to see prices and availability.

Other useful posts about Spain:

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