This is an area of Spain relatively untraveled. The Basque countryside is truly beautiful and we had the added luxury of being the only Americans on many of our walks. The Basque people could not have been more welcoming and hospitable. The country inns and hotels are suburb, and the food on par with the finest restaurants of Paris and Italy. The tour has a wonderful mix of countryside and bustling city, architecture and art, with the Guggenheim museum one of many highlights. The area is very safe, yet unspoiled. Word of this idyllic region will spread and likely bring many more visitors to this beautiful area. All the more reason to go now.
Spain: A Walking Tour of Basque Country Reviews
The Basque Region - a Best Kept Secret
uffda, Annandale, VA
Venues were great .Walking moderate but always interesting.
Some issues with logistics but not a big deal
Personally , the Gugenheim was the longest 2 hours of my life.
SQUICK, Burlington, VT, USA
Enjoyable trip, but it needs refining.
The routes were mostly beautiful, except the paths from the hotel in Bidaia to the restaurant for lunch were not well maintained. A prettier route with better footing would have been good. Mud would have been a real nuisance if it had rained that day. The paths on Mount Jaikizbel and the French coast were much better. Accommodations were first rate — actually fancier than we needed. Our fellow walkers were pleasant company. Many were interesting people. The leaders helped us learn about life along the way. Nevertheless, the leaders could have been better informed about local events. We just stumbled into two events. Surely a little web research would have found them and let the leaders incorporate them better into the day. There was also too much waiting around, probably because the leaders tried too hard to ensure walkers could “bail out” at various places. With only one small bus, this didn’t work out well. After the first day, one bail-out place would have sufficed.
Response from: Product Team
Thank you for taking to time to submit a review. The path in Bidania you are referring to is the more difficult option that we offer to our guests on this day and the Trip Leaders explain the condition of the road and the possibility of it being muddy in the route review, however many guests enjoy it and feel it is the more scenic route, so the best advice is just to be prepared for wet weather if necessary. For the second half of this walk, guests do have the option to switch to a paved one-lane country road or shuttle to the end of the dirt path. We have researched various options and believe this is the best option this day.
Regarding the value rating, The Basque Region is not struggling economically—like the rest of Spain is—and the costs here are on par with more other European countries like France & Italy, and therefore reflects pricing similar to those tours. This program also has 15 meals compared to many tours we offer with 13 or 14 included meals. Finally, as with any new tours and leaders, we are assessing and addressing the feedback we get from our travelers in order to continually improve upon future departures, so thank you for providing your input.
The trips keep getting better!
The Basque Country Walking Tour was my fifth VBT trip and was a terrific experience, just like all the others. It was a group trip, with 17 people who had either traveled together or were friends of others on the trip. Ten of us met on an earlier VBT trip and now meet each other all over the world to keep up the fun. The Basque trip was not the most strenuous of trips – rain contributed to a couple missed walks for me. But the hotels were superb and the food even better. The two guides were fantastic, as usual with VBT. The trip presented a range of experiences from a visit to a family-owned and operated pig farm to a guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilboa. There is a reason why I keep coming back to VBT — they offer terrific vacation experiences at excellent prices.
SBS50, Alexandria, VA, USA
Wonderful Guides -- Great people in our group
The trip was terrific. Everything was well organized and on schedule. All of the hotels we stayed in were first rate. The food was delicious and plentiful. This was our first VBT trip, and it was fantastic.
Nance, Wayland, MA 01778
I chose this tour for two reasons: the first was to get first hand knowledge of
the Basque people and culture after reading about their unique story, and second,
to enjoy an active walking, socializing, and somewhat adventurous vacation. VBT
delivered fabulously on both counts, just as they did on a previous trip my wife and
I took last year.
I can’t say enough great things about the guides. Itziar, with her energetic personality, cheerfully explained the subtleties of Basque life at each encounter, whether how to correctly eat local dishes to Basque attitudes about family life; and Luis, carefully weaving the many aspects of the trip together, ranging from local politics to how to place an order at a crowded Pintxo bar. Both guides graciously extended themselves (even on off nights) to ensure we had a great time; this included accompanying us on our self made Pintxo bar tour into the late night on
an “on your own dinner night”, to explaining the nuances of the Franco regimes’ impact on Basque history while sipping espresso in lieu of siesta.
The accommodations were first rate and the food and wine superb. Our hotels included a Belle Epoch style hotel overlooking the beach at San Sebastian and a kind of converted medieval stone castle with enchanting views of Old Town in Hondarribia. The proprietors were welcoming and often gave small talks on local topics during cocktails. Basque cuisine is unique and delicious , and we had plenty of it, sometimes prepared directly in front of us.
The walks on this trip, as rated, are easy, and in my view , longer options on the more classic paths would have been worthwhile. For example, the Way of St James on the upper ridge at Mt Jaizkibel was one of the most thrilling paths I was ever on; vistas both ways, one overlooking the sea, the other, the mountains. The soft meadowy grass made it seem like I was walking on a cloud, and the entire ridge was replete with wild horses , grazing cows and sheep. At one point, one of the chestnut colored horses looked at me , as if saying, ” Wouldn’t you want to walk up her all day?” .
We also extended our stay with the pre and post options. We loved Madrid with its young lively nightlife and excellent museums, while in Bilboa, we ran out of things to do on the last day
Overall , a great trip and I highly recommend it.
All good things happened in Spain
Here are some ‘bullets’ on our trip to Spain:……
-The leaders were fantastic, helpful, supportive, fun, and expert
-Spain was delightful, the people, places and activities
-The hotel accommodations were great. Class A
-The walking portion was just right; we were ale to do it easily, with energy remaining to enjoy tapas afterward.
-The museums in Madrid and Bilbao were outstanding, love to return sometime.
-The VBT organization of our trip was perfect, thank you. We had special arrangements for our return trip; all connections, seating in planes, connection times etc. worked wonderfully. (Heathrow should be avoided at all costs) .
-The meals VBT arranged were excellent, including the breakfasts. We enjoyed the dinner and choir performance at the Gastronomical Society.
-Loved the Basque culture.
-Our first walking tour; we loved it.
Jeff Barnes, Wellfleet, MA, United States
Tour Guides were responsive and knowledgeable, Hotel were both charming and had many amenities , different too! .
A fabulous cultural and gastronomic experience
The Basque country has so much to offer in the way of history, beauty, and fabulous food and wine. Our trip included plenty of walking and new experiences. Trails were interesting and well marked, and we even visited a pig farm.
Gail 73, Toledo, OH, United States
Wonderful experience,beautiful part of the world
The tour was well paced and the itinerary/guides flexible so that you can do more or less walking. Very well organized. We saw interesting and picturesque small cities and towns and beautiful countryside, and walked in all of them. Hotels excellent. We sampled lots of local food, had two fabulous gourmet dinners (at the 2nd and 3rd hotels), a fun time at the gastronomic society, and some lunches that may or may not be to everyone’s taste. Also appreciated the couple of lunches and dinners where we could explore on our own. This was a great way to see, experience, and learn about the Spanish Basque country. Every day was different.
active senior, Arizona
loved the Basque region
Great trip, beautiful scenery, good walks, great food (and way too much of it:-) loved Pello’s farm and all the cute little piglets, wonderful lunch, accommodations first class, enjoyed Ebon’s family history (Iriarte Jauregia) lovely dinner last night at Hotel Obispo – all around excellent trip, Itziar “Itchy” and David were the best guides – fun, patient, and full of local knowledge
plumo, New Hampshire, United States
This was my first VBT vacation and it won’t be my last! The tour was well organized and included experiences unique to the area. Our hikes were generally easy and provided views that were spectacular. Our tour leaders, David and Itziar, worked well together and were fun! Great food, good wine and fun times – just what I wanted!
Judy T, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Beautiful country landscapes
This is a great trip with wonderful hotels, gourmet food and great guides. This is the perfect trip for someone who wants an easy walking trip but disappointing if you want a challenge and more exercise.
Utah Wilbur, Salt Lake County, UT, United States
A fascinating area of Spain
We have always wanted to go to Basque Country and we weren’t disappointed. This trip gave us 3 different Basque experiences. We loved them all and loved walking in each area.
Liz71, Syracuse, NY
Great seaside cities in Spain
Easy hiking in an out-of-the-way part of Spain. San Sebastion is one highlight (the only change I’d suggest to VBT is switch to 3 nights in San Sebastion and 2 nights in Honarrabia). The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a second highlight. I’d recommend the pre-trip in Madrid over the post-trip in Bilbao– you’ll get enough time to see Bilbao outside the museum visit at the end of the tour plus Madrid has a lot to see you’d miss otherwise.
JimTr, Boulder, CO, United States
A Lovely Week in Basque Country
This tour was well-organized, with lots of options to suit everyone’s walking ability. Our guides were excellent, and I enjoyed the company of everyone on the tour. The hotels were centrally located and comfortable. The walks were varied and interesting–we saw some beautiful scenery and learned a lot about the local culture.
MARION E, New Jersey
Walking and Pinxtos in Basque Country
Great places to stay. Good mix of countryside and city walking and historical old areas of cities. A compatible group of walkers and bilingual native guides. Introduction of Spanish food through Pinxtos.
Elsa and John, Antigo, WI, United States
Great trip. Beautiful country. Good guides. Good people to travel with.
xyyt, Hilton Head Island, SC, United States
A Full Experience of Basque Country
This was our first VBT tour and exceeded our expectations. The accommodation were splendid. The guide were knowledgeable, professional and friendly — also looking after differing needs of all participants. The type and amount of walking was true to tour description. We loved it and will use VBT again.
Joe Paul, Burke, VA, United States
Scenic and tasty!
Beautiful scenery and amazing food. A few wet days but the emerald green of the countryside was a nice reward. The guides are well suited for this trip and having a “local” on hand for impromptu Basque lessons made it all the more enjoyable. The hotel selection was better than I expected; very good choices with nicely appointed rooms and central locations.
katkwiltr, California, United States
Fun trip to a unique part of the world
This trip through the Basque country offered a fascinating glimpse into the Basque culture which would have been nearly impossible to access on our own. Highlights included a chance to cook in a Basque Txoko and a visit to an Euskal Txerria pig farm. The accommodations ranged from good to excellent. Both of our trip leaders were exceptional and we appreciated their flexibility when unexpected opportunities arose – a Basque Fesitval – to rearrange the schedule to take advantage of the unique experience. The walking portion of the trip was limited and easy. There were only two hikes that were memorable. The only major downside we experienced was the subcontracted guide on the Madrid pre-extension who was completely incompetent, uninformed and at one point actually failed to show up to transfer us to the airport.
Response from: Customer Service
Thank you for this excellent review. Your feedback will be helpful with improving our guest’s experience in Madrid.
racerrick, Brooklyn, NY, United States
Basque Country, Up Close and Personal
This trip provided such personal connection with Basque families and their history. An independent traveler could not duplicated this experience. Walking this wonderful part of Spain during the day then arriving back at 4 star hotels with dinners prepared by our personal chefs, WOW.
SusanB, Phoenix, AZ, United States
Great Food! Great Leaders!
Fantastic agenda beautiful scenery and the best food and drinks. Tour leaders were friendly, knowledgable and bent over backwards
Walking tour of the Basque country
This was an excellent trip. The pre-trip to Madrid gave us a few days to recover from travel. The Prado and Sofia Reina museums were wonderful.
The tour of northern Spain and the Basque region was marvelous. Food and accommodations were excellent. We did the post trip also in Bilbao and went again to the stunning Guggenheim. There was an excellent restaurant at our hotel that brought tears to one travelers eyes. We ate at another Michelin restaurant and were amazed by the food and service. Our guides, Luis and David were excellent.
I would recommend taking an umbrella or poncho for times of drizzle or rain.
mark67, Santa Barbara, CA, United States
An extraordinarily enjoyable trip, every day.
The Basque Country walking tour was highlighted by the personal touches and lively and interesting commentary of the tour leaders. Every day was a unique experience that couldn’t be achieved on one’s own.
Tomas, San Diego, CA, United States
A beautiful hike and great history
I picked this hike/walk because I had not yet been to Basque Country, and I was intrigued. I like to see the world on foot, but I was not up for a challenging hike, and this fit the bill. I wanted to be able to stop and smell the roses, and food, as well as taste and view them as well.
BFK1, Santa Rosa, CA, United States
beautifully designed trip
Loved all the varied countryside we experienced, from the cliffs above the sea, to the medieval towns, to the local vegetable plots, to the elegant French beaches. All in all, a fantastic trip.
This was our first trip wIth VBT and it surpassed all expectations. From the gorgeous scenery along the coast to the verdant mountains around the village of Bidania, we were constantly being inspired by the beauty of this region of Spain. The food and lodging were top rate. Our guides were organized, accommadating and very knowledgeable about the history and culture of this region. Best part was getting to participate in the annual festival of the Virgin of Guadelupe in Hondaribbia. Basque culture at it’s finest!
kpeck56, Lititz, PA, United States
In a word, this trip was perfect! Beautiful scenery, incredible food, luxurious hotels. Our guides were informative, accommodating and funny. They offered daily walking options and activities to suit everyone’s needs and desires. What more could we ask for. We’re ready to sign up for our next VBT vacation.
Brenda DeLuca, Lancaster, PA, United States
Variable weather but wonderful trip
This was our seventh VBT walking and biking vacation. I was a little skeptical at first because there were twenty guests, more than I had experienced on previous VBT trips. However the participants were friendly, non-complaining, and engaging fellow travelers. The food was suburb and the walking covered varied terrain. The guides took very good care of us and were personally invested in our education and enjoyment.
martharobb, Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Great tour guides, interesting participants
Our tour guides were knowledgeable, accommodating and gracious. All the tour participants had interesting things to say; I learned a lot from them, as well as from our excursions. The accommodations were more luxurious than expected; staying in a palace in Basque country hills was a tremendous treat.
Melanie, Baltimore, MD, United States
VBT came highly recommended, but my expectations were all surpassed ! The guides, landscapes, cultural resources, hotels, and dining were all superb. Already looking forward to my next VBT vacation!
Jimbob, Columbia, MD, United States
Basking in Basque
Basque is lovely. I enjoyed the diverse terrain and varied experiences. Our guides were most attentive and provided for all our needs. They were knowledgeable and informative. The weather was ideal and the entire trip was interesting and lots of fun.
Rebecca, Potomac, MD, United States
Basque Country in Spain -Excellent!
This trip was wonderful for walking, clean air, nice people, local information, simple and fresh food, plus are tour guides were knowledgeable and kind
Linda Jo, Austin, TX, United States
Our 17th VBT trip but our first walking trip and it was a gem!!! Perfect mix of walking and free time for exploring and ,of course, enjoying wonderful Basque Country food!! Gorgeous scenery, quality accommodations, enthusiastic guides…our first but not our last walking tour!!!
janejoe, Coronado, CA, United States
My best trip yet
I believe this was my favorite VBT trip among all we’ve taken. I was very pleased with the variety of walking, sightseeing and eating/drinking experiences we had. These experiences were further enhanced by our energetic and passionate group leaders. It was great that Txaro is native Basque. Additionally, the leaders were always vigilant about watching the weather and changing itineraries if possible to give us a better trip experience. They were also quite generous with our daily walking options to accommodate the variety of desires within the group. They could not have done a better job. I highly recommend this trip!!!!
BeckyR, San Antonio, TX, United States
Wonderful cultural experience!
This was our first VBT Walking tour and it was great. The cultural interaction, the touring of cites and small villages, and our fellow travelers, exceeded our expectations. Our guides also provided cultural insight, and took very good care of us. Just a great vacation.
Ben T, Charlton, MA, United States
Great place to renew the spirit and just enjoy!
Basque Country offers lovely scenic walks, great food, friendly people, and fine hotels. VBT does a great job taking care of the details, so the traveler can relax and enjoy the experience. On our tour the itinerary was rearranged so we could enjoy a local festival. This type of commitment to service sets VBT apart.
Amazed, Denver, CO, United States
Plunge into the Basque Experience!
Are you hardy enough? The Basque way is an earthy and determined one, as were our walks in the countryside of Northern Spain. Our group was up to the challenge, through hills and walks along the coast, sun and chilly rain, everyone welcomed the variety of new experiences that VBT had in store. Their choice of accommodations respected the history and culture of the area while providing a high level of comfort. We witnessed farming life, walked the way of the pilgrim on the Camino de Santiago, helped with cooking a Basque meal and absorbed the fascinating family history from one of our hosts. Our guides, Txaro and Luis, had a deep familiarity with the area, providing our group with the enjoyment of hiking trails of great visual beauty and many opportunities to meet and learn from interesting Basque people. The highlights (too numerous to recount here) kept us all pleasantly surprised and contributed to the positive spirit of camaraderie we all enjoyed.
JohnG, Calistoga, CA, United States
Beautiful Basque Country
Every plan & detail to make this trip memorable was well received by everyone in our group. Thank you so much itzi & Txarro!
all the way from Hawaii, Kailua, HI, United States
A very authentic experience in Basque country
Our VBT walking tour of Basque country exceeded all of our expectations. The combination of scenery, food, company and most importantly guides was superb. The one word that best summarizes the trip is ‘authentic’. Everything was entirely unique, unspoiled and unrushed.
Our two guides deserve special credit for imparting local knowledge. More importantly they both showed unparalleled knowledge of local customs and unique attributes of Basque country that made the trip highly memorable. Txaro’s cooking club was something we would never have seen on our own. Itziar’s humor and helpfulness also made the trip special.
Pat and Pat, Ballston Spa NY
This was the 4th trip we had taken with VBT and I think the best. In addition to wonderful experiences in Bilbao and San Sebastian, we spent several days in 2 unexplored treasures of Spain. Hodarribia was a beautiful coastal town and the Hotel Obispo was a lovely locale within the town.
I also loved the hotel and countryside near Bidania. Th hotel was a treasure in the tiny village of Bidania. It was great fund to go to the church that was established by our host;s family that was located near the hotel . The countryside that we walked through while there was beautiful, reminiscent of the foothills of the Alps .
Our trip leaders were outstanding. Both Txaro and Itzi were bot extremely informative and a lot of fun.
Tim VA, Sheboygan, WI, USA
Despite Some Cloudy Skies, A Beautiful Trip
Both Itzi and Luis were a joy to be around, and had a wealth of knowledge about the country that made each hike more much more interesting. They were great hosts and guides!
Mike18, New York, NY, USA
Hiking is the best way to see Spain! The hikes, leaders and accommodations were fabulous!
The Beautiful Basque Country
This trip exceeded my expectations. The countryside was gorgeous, the leaders extremely informative and helpful and the accomodations were outstanding.
wildcat, Reno, NV, USA
Basque Country and Culture
This is a great hiking tour with beautiful hikes. The guides provided flexibility in the hikes for all levels of ability. They were also very informative about the history and culture of the Basque People. It is not just hiking, but is also a great learning tour.
Gumba, Reno, NV, United States
Great tour, immersed in Basque culture, food, wine
Great tour, immersed in Basque culture, food, wine, and exploring off the beaten path locations, ending in spectacular San Sebastion.
Brent, Charleston, SC, USA
Walking tour - Basque Country: Awesome!!!
Fabulous vacation in the Basque Country. Opportunity to visit a variety of locations and experience Basque culture. The walks were not challenging – offering beautiful scenery, and tour guides able to meet individual interests and needs. Excellent trip for foodies…the pinxto bars and restaurants are outstanding. Opportunity to meet the Basque people…which included lunch on someone’s farm, meeting a local chef who prepared our dinner, and touring a 19th century church built by our guide’s great-grandfather. I see an extended stay in San Sebastián in my future.
Cathyb, Texas, USA
This was a great trip as all of our previous VBT trips have been. The weather was perfect. The food and accommodations were terrific. I cannot say enough great things about our trip leaders. They were outstanding.
I have no nickname, Knox, In
Beautiful architecture and scenery
Scenery in Bidania was the highlight for me. Guides were a bit flat and less knowledgeable compared to other VBT tours I’ve taken. Take note this tour is almost exclusively walking on paved surfaces which is very hard on the feet and back for those who are use to off road conditions. The food was supposed to be fabulous, but I found it quite heavy; lots of bechamel, seafood always with a sauce or fried and Iberian ham (which is great but not for every meal)… Really enjoyed cooking with the group at the gastronomy club in Hondarribia. The hotels in Bidania (mountain view) and San Sebastian (beach view) were beautiful.
Response from: Guest Services
Thank you for your review. We greatly appreciate your detailed feedback and suggestions! We have moved some of the walks off of pavement beginning this fall. Our guest services manager has reached out to you with her contact information should you wish to discuss any further.
LAB1, New Hampshire