Over 1,000 years ago the original way to Santiago worked its way along the Northern Coast passing through the fabled Basque Country. Come with us and discover this mysterious land of proud people and marked contrasts. A culture that has always been tied to the land, we get a closer look of the Basques as we stroll their lush rolling hills, wander their imposing mountains, and skirt the tides of their rocky coves. We'll get a glimpse of sophisticated cosmopolitan centers and century-removed hamlets. Have a taste of full-flavored cheeses, the freshly caught seafood, and the crisp subtle wines.
Experience and Expertise
Your two bilingual guides that accompany the tour are either Spanish or live in Spain year round. This is our home and we love to share it with you!
All your meals (B,L,D) are included, so you only need to worry about enjoying the trail! Weather permitting; our gourmet picnics showcase the freshest of local flavors.
Charming restored manor homes and 3-4 star hotels that offer the best in hospitality, comfort, and location.
On all our trips, your walk is accompanied by a support van and multiple shorter walking options are available on a daily basis, including the opportunity of taking a day off for a rest! We can accommodate your walking needs and desires.
Expect to have a wonderful time! We've designed each trip to enjoy the stunning beauty of the Spanish landscape, while giving you a true sense of the soul and magic of these exciting people and their culture. We love to share this magnificent country and want you to feel a part of it - for us it is more than just a trip, it is our home.
Bilbao & HondarribiaSleep: Hondarribia (D) / Walking: 5 KMs or 3 miles
In the afternoon, we meet our group in Bilbao, the one-time industrial powerhouse which is currently undergoing its own Renaissance. After introductions, we hop in the van and head for the pleasant fishing village of Hondarribia, where we stretch our legs and take our first steps on the Northern Camino de Santiago with a short climb to the Sanctuary of Guadalupe. We finish in the old quarter of town, which is surrounded by medieval walls that have protected the villa for centuries.
Sanctuary de Guadalupe to Pasajes San JuanSleep: Hondarribia (B, L, D) / Walking: 11 KMs or 7 miles
Starting from Guadalupe, the yellow arrows take us a bit higher as we cross along the Mountain of Jaizkibel enjoying the views of the beaches and sea below! After strolling the ridge, we work our way down to the port of Pasajes de San Juan, decorated with small fishing boats of another time. After a zurito (small glass of beer), we return to Hondarribia, where we finish the evening with a fine meal of Basque Cuisine.
Pasajes San Juan to San SebastiánSleep: San Sebastián (B, L, D) / Walk: 8 KMs or 5 miles
This morning, we return to Pasajes de San Juan and cross over to the other bank of San Pedro just like the pilgrims did a thousand years ago - via boat! We then work our way past large caseríos, old stone Basque farm houses, and are soon greeted by the stylish resort town of San Sebastián, a place that has long been popular with the Spanish bourgeois. Here the beauty of the Concha beach makes it a wonderful place for an afternoon stroll.
San Sebastián to OrioSleep: San Sebastián (B, L) / Walk: 16 KMs or 10 miles
With boots on, we leave San Sebastián to ascend Monte Igeldo and stop to enjoy the views of the bay below. The rocky coast of the Basque Country has us going up and down hills and through small hamlets. The many flocks of sheep remind us that the Basques are not just men of the sea, but also pretty good shepherds! With the sea to our right keeping us company, we quickly make our way to the busy fishing port of Orio. Here we regroup and return for another evening in San Sebastián.
Orio to ZumaiaSleep: Getaria (B, L, D) / Walk: 16 KMs or 10 miles
Returning to Orio, we pass through Zarautz and continue along the walkway that borders the sea and enter Getaria, whose famous sailing son, Juan Sebastián Elcano, was the first to sail around the world. We follow the Northern Camino de Santiago passing the local vineyards of txakoli, the local white wine, until we reach the village of Zumaia, a Basque port famous for its whaling and now its shipbuilding.
Zumaia to DebaSleep: Getaria (B, D) / Walk: 12 KMs or 7 miles
Our walk quickly takes us to the coast where we alternate between cliffside paths, rolling green farmland, and views of the blue sea. Greet a local with Kaixo - Basque for hello - and watch them warm right up! Our day on the trail ends in Deba, where after a dip in the Cantabrian Sea, we get our appetites ready for a visit to a popular Basque cider house, a meal you won't forget!
La Rioja Wine RegionSleep: Laguardia (B, L, D)
Unfortunately, our days on the Northern Camino de Santiago have come to an end. However, we continue our adventure with a different kind of pilgrimage: to the heart of Spain's wonderful wine region, La Rioja. We start our visit with a look behind the XIII century walls of the hilltop town of Laguardia. Here we learn how the blood of the Camino is made; century-old traditions mix with 21st century science to create world-renowned tintos!
La Rioja Wine Region & BilbaoSleep: Bilbao (B, L, D) / Walk: 5 KMs or 3 miles
After breakfast, we take a light stroll around the surrounding lagoons, which provide a haven for migrating birds. Those of you looking for a bit more R&R have the option of pampering yourself at the hotel's wonderful spa. After lunch, we hop in the van and head for Bilbao. We take the evening to explore the famous seven streets of the old quarter and close with a savory farewell dinner.
BilbaoThe End (B)
After our delicious breakfast, our local art historian takes us on a guided visit of the internationally acclaimed Guggenheim Museum. Frank Gehry's titanium masterpiece evokes images of a flower and a ship - you decide what comes to mind! After the tour, we say Agur - goodbye in Basque. We hope you have enjoyed your visit of our backyard!
* Please note: This itinerary is subject to slight modifications due to hotel availability, weather, festivals and other occurrences.
Our greatest resource! We know Spain, because it is our home. All our guides are either Spanish or live in Spain year round - no hired-out college grads! When specified, local art historians will join us to provide further insights of the specific monument / museum that we visit.
Limited Group Sizes
Fresco Tours are in small groups to ensure that you receive the individual attention that you deserve. In order to treat each of our clients with a personal touch, we limit our group size to a maximum of 15 participants.
Fresco Tours selects a combination of 3-4 star hotels, restored country manors and B&B's that offer the best in hospitality, comfort and location. All rooms have their own bathrooms. Tour prices are based on double occupancy.
Food speaks volumes about a culture and we love to eat! During our walk days, when possible, we prepare gourmet picnics, using the freshest of local ingredients and selecting the tastiest recipes of the region. Dinners are celebrated in restaurants chosen not only for their menu, but also their atmosphere and service. All breakfast, lunches and dinners are included. We are proud to cater to vegetarians and those with food allergies as well.
Your walks will be accompanied by a support vehicle that will be there to provide you assistance when the route permits. The possibility of shorter routes and pick-up options will be explained on a daily basis.
All ground transportation between the designated starting and finishing point of your Fresco Tour is provided. We will help facilitate information for your travel arrangements prior to and after the tour start and finish.
Your luggage will be transported between hotels. Due to space restrictions, each participant is limited to one medium-sized piece and a small carry-on bag.
Special Event Tickets
Wine tastings, garden tours, concerts, etc. as outlined in the itinerary.
Airfare to and from Spain, airport taxes / departure fees, visas, or items of personal nature - laundry, phone, luggage surplus charges, medical expenses, bar, tips, etc.)
Prior to / After your Fresco Tour: Should your vacation to Spain be for more than a few days prior to or after your Fresco Tour, perhaps you would be interested in a Spain-taineous Custom Tour and personalized private itinerary. Let us know and we'll create an itinerary especially in tune with your needs and desires.
Please contact us with your questions.