Our Bike Tour of the Basque region (between Spain's 5 provinces and France's 2 provinces), allows our cyclists to discover a land mainly known for its unique character, which distinguishes it from both France and Spain. While the language, culture, politics and food make it a destination in its own right, the bike rides alone make for a compelling reason to ride in this glorious region with its breathtaking scenery, smooth surfaces and quiet roads.
From a political perspective an organization named ETA ("Euskadi Ta Askatasuna" or Homeland and Freedom) are claiming their independance for more than 60 years - this organization used to be very active in the 1990s but have concentrated in recent times on their political activities alone.
The Basque language is like no other language in Europe and there still remains a question over its origins. In any case Spanish (in the Spanish part) and the French (in the French part) are the first languages taught in schools, while the true Basque people are speaking their language less and less frequently.
Basque cuisine, one of the consistently highly regarded in the world, has its origins in the surrounding ocean; from the very simple but tasty pintxos, the famous Ossau-Iraty cheese eaten by the locals with red cherry jam and, to finish your meal, the creamy Gateau Basque. You'll also be highly impressed with the wonderful wines of the region especially the superb Albarinos which border on the effervescent.
Day 1, Arrival in Hondarribia
We’ll pick you up directly from the local airport (Biarritz, 3 flights per day from Paris, one flight a day from London) or Biarritz train station to your 4 star hotel The Paradores, in the town of Hondarribia located just after the French border and bordering the sea.
Meals: Lunch, Dinner
Hotel: The Paradores
On your first afternoon we'll undertake a preliminary ride, fitting you to your bike (unless of course you decide to bring your own as many of our riders opt to do) and allowing to get a feel for the roads, the bike and the region itself before returning to our hotel for our first meal together as a group.
Day 2, Hondarribia – Getaria (55km)
We will start the first ride by taking the mythical "Jaizkibel" used by the pro riders during the famous pro race Classica San Sebastian. There, you’ll have the chance to overlook the sea during the whole ascent, seeing from the road the waves crashing below. At the top, you'll see the city of Donostia – San Sebastian some 400 metres below.
The quick descent takes you to San Sebastian where you can stop for a pintxos by the seaside and tour the old city. We'll then return to the saddle for the second challenge of the day, the Igeldo, which resembles the earlier Jaizkibel, and overhangs the sea.
After the descent, you’ll cycle along the coast to Getari, which was ranked by The New York Times in 2013 as one of the best destinations in the world, because of its many excellent seaside restaurants with its abundance of local fish dishes.
Tonight you’ll stay in the family-owned and run 4-star Hotel Iturregi where you’ll have the chance to rest by the swimming pool of the hotel after this first outstanding day in the saddle.
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Hotel Iturregi (Classic room)
Deluxe Hotel: Hotel Iturregi (Deluxe room)
Day 3, Getaria – Castillo de Arteaga (76km)
Leaving our fantastic hotel we’ll start out on our 76km ride to our next hotel, the Castillo de Arteaga. No serious challenges today, we’ll mostly ride along the Rasa Mareal ("tidal zone"). Some past riders described these routes as the most beautiful they have ever ridden.
After 20 km, you’ll arrive in the city of Deba founded in 1343; keep an eye out for sunbathers on the large and popular beach. Why not stop off for a coffee or a chocolate con leche (hot-chocolate) - the Basque ones are very thick but so tasty!/p>
We'll arrive in Lekeito 30km later for lunch and take time to enjoy the many and narrow pedestrian streets typical of those old Basque cities. It would certainly be a shame not to try some fish for lunch as the town is famed for it.
>After lunch, we shall head in the direction of the Castillo de Arteaga our next hotel, 25 more kilometeres on gentle, rolling routes. A neo-gothic tower, built in the 13th century and restored in 1856 by French Architects Couverchef & Ancelet (upon request on Napoleon III), the huge garden surroundings will give you the chance to have a pleasant walk before your dinner in the phenomenal gastronomic restaurant of the castle.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Castillo de Atraega (Classic room)
Deluxe Hotel: Castillo de Atraega (Deluxe room)
Day 4, Castillo de Arteaga – Onati (80km)
Leaving our hotel, the Castillo de Arteaga, after a tasty breakfast we’ll go down directly to the infamous city of Guernica 10 kilometers away.
Guernica is known worldwide thanks to one of the most famous works of Pablo Piccaso. This composition is a response to the bombing of Guernica by German and Italian war planes at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces on 26 April 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The huge painting (3.5m x 7.5m) is not on display in Guernica but in Madrid (at the Reine Sofia gallery - well worth a visit). Of course there are still many other things to discover in the town such as the Monument to Peace made in 1988 for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Guernica, or the Parish Church of Santa María (started in 1418 and finished in 1715…).
Heading south to the city of Eibar, we'll enjoy lunch. The city was practically destroyed during the Spanish Civil War but there are still some historic spots keeping the identity of the city like the Parroquia de San Andres (the church of Saint Andrew). After the Civil War the city rebuilding brought an important industrial development and a population increase - Eibar boasts some 28 000 inhabitants today.
The last part of today's ride will take you to your wonderfully authentic and atmospheric 3 star hotel, the Torre Zumeltzegi, a 13th-century tower renovated and reimagined as a hotel. From your room you will have the chance to view the spectacular valley below.
Tonight, dinner is one your own - we'll transfer you to the nearby town where you can choose from many different restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and dining styles.
Classic Hotel: Torre Zumeltzegi(Classic room)
Deluxe Hotel: Torre Zumeltzegi(Deluxe room)
Day 5, Onati – San Sebastian (89km)
Regretfully, this is our last full day of our bike trip and today we leave our peaceful hotel and head north to the first two cities we’ll stop in, Zumarrage and Urretxu, both have kept their very strong Basque identity. Immediately on Zumarrage you’ll see the statue of Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, a Spanish conquistador, who conquered the islands of Manille (Philippines) where he died in 1572.
Further down the trauil, in Urretxu, you have the oppotunity to pause at the Plaza Iparragirre where you may admire the statue of Jose Maria Iparragirre, a local poet and the church of San Martin de Tours renovated in the 16th-century but with origins much older than that.
After 20 more kilometers you will arrive in Azpeitia, a town founded in 1310 and popular today thanks to its several historic monuments like the Parroquia San Sebastián de Soreasu (the church of San Sebastian de Soreasu) and mainly the huge and magnificent Loyola sanctuary composed by a dome which rises more than 65 meters. This magnificent monument is surrounded by luscious gardens and a large square.
After lunch, we'll return to San Sebastian riding the same climb that we did during the first ride Igueldo, but from the opposite approach and contibue to our next fabulous hotel Villa Soro.
After a quick rest (or nap) at the Villa Soro, for the last meal we’ll go to our final restaurant of the trip; the magnificent Mugaritz, which is ranked at Number 7 in 2016 by The World's 50 Best Restaurants, and described as the most important gastronomic phenomenon of the world in recent times by the press with frequent features in The Times' and The Observer's "Best of" compilations. Bon Appetit!
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Classic Hotel: Villa Soro (Classic room)
Deluxe Hotel: Villa Soro (Deluxe room)
After your last night and a tasty Spanish breakfast, a last visit in the center of San Sebastian we’ll leave around 11am to drive you back to your departure point (Biarritz airport or train station).
Any Start Dates Available upon Special Request (subject to availability)
Deluxe - USD $3,995 pps. Single Supplement of $800 applies.
- Use of Trek Hybrid bike, Bell or Giro Helmet, handlebar bag, route notes & maps
- Fresh Eire Adventures water bottle
- Transfer from / to Biarritz, FRANCE centre (or TGV station or SNCF station) on start / end day
- 4 exquisite dinners & wine
- 3 gourmet lunches & wines
- Admissions to all included attractions & tastings
- Baggage transfers
- Tips for hotels/restaurants
- Healthy snacks, water, full guiding services, support vehicle.
- 5 nights B&B in 4 star hotels (Luxury), with continental breakfast
- Expert local Guide
- Upgrade to an electric hybrid bike if you think the hills might be too much for you but you want to bike all the way (available at extra cost)
- Self-Guided Extension packages available in Paris or Madrid (3 nights, 4 star from $1295 pps)
- Guided Extension packages available in Paris (3 nights, 2 days Guided Tour, 1 free day from $1,595pps)
- Gratuities for Guides