The Basque Country's Best Food, Wine, Art & Architecture: A Northern Spain Road Trip
Enjoy a luxury road trip around the wonderful Basque Country, taking in three of our favourite cultural cities as well as some of the best food, wine, art and architecture Spain has to offer.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Take to the pavements on walking tours of Bilbao and San Sebastian
- Sample the finest culinary morsels in the Basque Country
- Enjoy a cooking lesson with a member of one of San Sebastian's highly secretive culinary societies
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When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: Make Your Way to Spain
There are several daily flights to Bilbao - taking just two hours - so depending on which one we have booked for you, you will arrive between late morning and mid-afternoon. Once you have collected the keys to your hire car, you will make the hour-and-a-half drive to your first stop, the coastal city of San Sebastian, the Basque capital. Alternatively, jump in the car at home at head out on a road trip San Sebasian via charming France, including stops in beautiful Bordeaux.
After a quick private transfer to your hotel, head into the centre of the city to spend the rest of the day getting your bearings. Our handy Dossier is packed with our favourite things to see and do, so take it with you and find a spot to drink in the balmy evening with a sundowner or two, before heading to dinner somewhere recommended and booked by our expert local Concierge.
Day 2: City Tour
After breakfast this morning, you will be met by your expert guide for a private walking tour of the city. As you amble the streets, you will discover how Bilbao went from being an industrial port town to a thriving art and cultural hotspot. After a visit to the Mercado de la Ribera, where chefs and home cooks alike come to peruse and purchase the best local and international food in Bilbao.
After lunch, you will make your way to the Frank Gehry designed Bilbao Guggenheim museum. The architectural tour de force is home to countless modernist masterpieces from artists such as Jeff Koons and Robert Motherwell. As you wander around the outside of this monumental building, your guide will explain how Gehry drew inspiration from the sea and Bilbao's shipbuilding heritage when designing the museum. Inside, depending on your interests - be they sculpture, portrait or film - your guide will talk you through a few pieces before a well-earned sangria or two.
Day 3: Rioja
After a late breakfast this morning you will collect your hire car hit the road for the hour-and-a-half journey inland to Rioja.
The rest of today is about getting out and exploring, so drop your bags in your room and head back outside. Our excellent local Concierge has booked you a table at one of the best restaurants in the region for dinner, so we recommend spending the afternoon pottering around the vineyards around your hotel on the complimentary bikes, and enjoying a few glasses of the delicious local red.
Day 4: Bodega Tour
This morning your expert oenophile guide will meet you at your hotel for a tour of two of Rioja's best bodegas.
After a tour of the first vineyard and its cellar, you will enjoy a tasting of three of the producer's best vintages. Following a 20-minute private transfer to the second bodega of the day. Here, you will tuck in to a delicious lunch before a tour of the cellars and another tasting of two or three of the wines. We recommend pending the rest of the day relaxing (read: snoozing by the pool) at your hotel before dinner.
Day 5: San Sebastian
Today you will drive two hours back to the coast and one of our favourite Spanish cities - San Sebastian. As the coastal city is often referred to as the food capital of the world, we imagine you'll want to arrive by lunch time.
After you've dropped your bags in your room, head out with your Dossier to explore the city. This evening, you will meet an expert foodie guide for a private pintxos (Basque tapas) tour of the city. A highly civilised post-work ritual, San Sebastian's visit tiny bars - think four stools and four hundred bottles of wine behind the bar - to enjoy a few tasty morsels on cocktail sticks and a glass or two of txakoli - a delightfully sparkling local white.
Day 6: Playing with Food
This morning, a member of one of San Sebastian's highly secretive culinary societies will take you through the Michelin-starred magic that goes into creating San Sebastian's' restaurant's impeccable cuisine.
During your private cookery class you will learn to create restaurant-worthy Basque cuisine. Once you have whisked and whipped your ingredients into shape, you will sit down to dig in to a scrumptious lunch.. We imagine that this evening you'll still be feeling rather full from the day's activities so rather than heading for dinner, we would suggest hitting a few of our favourite bars for a spot of drinking and dancing.
Day 7: Say Goodbye to San Sebastian
After breakfast this morning, you will drive back to Bilbao to drop your hire car off in time to catch your two-hour flight home. Depending on which one we've booked for you, you will arrive back in the UK between early afternoon and early evening. Alternatively, you could continue the road trip fun by heading further into Spain, making your way west into Portugal or even looping back into France to explore Provence and the French Riviera.
Harriet is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.