Bilbao to San Sebastian: A Taste of the Basque Country
- Guided 6 Nights
- Arrival - Bilbao
- Departure - San Sebastian
- Difficulty - Medium
- Price - €1495
- Dates - June to October
This guided cycling holiday follows the beautiful Basque coastline from Bilbao to San Sebastian. The route passes through vibrant green scenery, small fishing villages and alongside immaculate sandy beaches, as you ride between two of the most idiosyncratic and attractive cities in Spain.
The region is also recognised as one the gastronomic capitals of the world. We take full advantage on this tour, visiting delightful vineyards and cider museums, as well as sampling the magnificent pintxos, which originate from the area.
This is a great opportunity to really immerse yourself in culture of this fascinating region. From the museums of Bilbao and Gernika, to the beautiful countryside and the fine gastronomy, we explore and discover every aspect that has made the Basque Country such a unique and interesting part of the world.
On this tour there are two basic routes. One is short, with distances generally under 30km and with routes which are predominantly rolling or flat. The other option is between 40km and 60km each day and has more elevation, including some longer climbs (up to 5km). In addition, there are various optional extensions each day in case you would like to cycle further.
Day 1 - BilbaoWe will collect you from Bilbao airport or train station and transfer you to a hotel in the centre of Bilbao.
After checking in, you are free to look around this elegant city - the largest in the Basque Country. Highlights include the Guggenheim museum and the narrow streets of the old town.
In the evening we will begin the food part of the tour by introducing you to the art of tapas dining.
Day 2 - Gernika & Urdaibai Natural ParkOur first day of cycling will see us arrive in Gernika, a small town immortalised by Picasso's depiction of the Spanish Civil War.
We do a short transfer out of Bilbao to avoid some of the busier roads around the city, and enter the fantastic green landscape that is so characteristic of the Basque region. We follow quiet country lanes through kiwi plantations and pine forests before reaching Gernika.
In Gernika we visit some Roman remains and see a fantastic mural of the Picasso painting, before we go for a tasty dinner at a local Basque-style restaurant.
Distance: 30-50km (19-31 miles)
Day 3 - Leikito & Costa VascaWe leave Guernica and head into the Urdaibai Natural Park, an area famed for its vast, empty beaches and picturesque coastline.
This rolling route follows the quiet coastal road, passing through small villages before reaching the town of Lekeitio, where you stay for the evening.
We take lunch in a fine restaurant overlooking the Cantabrian Sea, where you can choose from a range of popular local and national dishes.
Distance: 25-41km (16-26 miles)
Day 4 - GetariaThe cycling holiday continues leaving via a beautiful route along the coast overlooking the Bay of Biscay.
We stop off at several beaches along the route before the two route options split. The longer route heads inland crossing a couple of more challenging hills, while those of us on the shorter route hop on to the train to miss out a busier stretch of the coastal road.
We regroup in Zarautz, a town which is famous throughout Spain for its vast sandy beach, and have a pleasant lunch on the promenade, with fantastic sea views. After lunch we continue the short distance to Getaria, one of the most historic and charming towns in the whole of Spain.
In the evening we enjoy a gourmet experience, with a seven course menu dégustación (tasting menu), comprised of a selection of the finest local produce.
Distance: 26-61km (16-38 miles)
Day 5 - Wine Tasting & Pagoeta Natural ParkThere are several options today depending on how your legs feel! If you would like a day off, then you can relax on the beautiful beach in Getaria, or perhaps go for a stroll around the narrow streets of the old town. Getaria is also home to the Balenciaga Fashion Museum.
If you wish to cycle, there is the option to do a great circular route in the vineyards surrounding Getaria. This is one of the more hilly routes, but the distances can be short, and so are suitable for everyone.
Today we also visit a vineyard in the hills above Getaria. Here you will taste the locally produced txakoli wine, which has very distinctive flavours due to the unique micro-climate of the region.
For lunch we visit one of Getaria's famous fish restaurants, sampling the finest of the local catches!
Distance: 25-44km (16-27 miles)
Day 6 - San Sebastian & SidreriaToday we leave Getaria heading along the traditional Camino de Santiago route before reaching a stunning viewpoint overlooking San Sebastian.
The scenery here is really stunning, with bright green fields, golden beaches and the blue sea combining to proudce an idyllic setting.
For lunch we visit a traditional 'sidrería' (cider house), a type of restaurant and meeting place, which has an important place in Basque culture.
After lunch you are free to explore San Sebastian, or can continue cycling with a great extension to Jaizkibel - the famous climb used in the San Sebastian Classic cycling race.
Distance: 25-42km (16-26 miles)
Day 7 - Departure or ExtensionsThe cycling holiday ends after breakfast. However, if you would like to stay for extra nights in San Sebastian, please let us know and we can happily arrange it for you.
Another popular option is to extend the stay in Bilbao. See here for more details.
If you choose not to extend your stay, we will transfer you to San Sebastian train station or airport.
Prices & Dates
|Price (per person)*||Single Supplement||Bike Hire (Optional)|
|7th - 13th June 2020
|6th - 12th September 2020
|Other Dates||contact us|
*Based on two people sharing a double or twin room. If you would prefer to stay in a single room, the single supplement is applicable.
Guided TourGroups of six people or more contact us to arrange a private guided tour starting on any date.
The following is included in the tour:
- Six nights accommodation in double, twin or single room with en-suite.
- Transfer to and from the arrival/departure point
- Continental breakfast every day
- Lunch every day. Lunch is generally the main meal of the day and include multi-course menus (between three and seven courses depending on which day!), tapas selections and, in Getaria. There are meat, fish and vegetarian options each day for the main course. These are taken in excellent local restaurants
and also include wine or beer and soft drinks.
Because lunches are also taken quite late in Spain, we generally don't do too much cycling afterwards!
- 3 x Dinner with wine, beer or soft drinks included. One dinner is a seven course tasting menu, the others are a combination of tapas and local pintxos.
- Luggage transferred between hotels
- Experienced guide cycling the route with the group (fluent English)
- Support vehicle along the route
- Cycle Fiesta water bottle
- Detailed maps and route information for each day, with clearly marked points of interest.
- Route extensions every day for those of you who wish to cycle further
- Entry to the following attractions:
- Vineyard Tour & Wine Tasting
- Cider Museum with tasting
The following are optional extras available for an additional charge:
- Hire of bicycles (see here for details)
- Tour Extensions (popular destinations include spending more time in Bilbao and San Sebastian)
The following are not included in the tour
- Any transfers not stated above
- Travel Insurance
- Entry to any attractions (e.g. museums, churches) except were explicitly stated
Frequently Asked Questions
Please browse through some of the frequently asked questions about this cycling tour. If you have any further questions, or would like any more information, please contact us and we will answer by email.
How far do I cycle each day on this tour?
There are two basic route options each day. The shorter route is between 25km and 30km. This is a good option if you like to go at a leisurely pace, enjoying the scenery and stopping often
to explore things along the route.
The longer route is between 40km and 61km and also contains slightly more climbing. This is a good option if you like to enjoy the scenery, but also wish to challenge yourself with some longer and more hilly routes.
You are free to mix and match the routes, as they both start and finish in the same place. If you wish to do the shorter route one day, then the longer route the next day, for example, it is entirely up to you.
There are also extensions available each day for any riders that wish to cycle further.
How busy are the roads?
Not very busy at all. The vast majority of the tour is on quiet country lanes and narrow coastal routes. There are a few short transition sections (less than 2km), which are on larger roads, but these still do not carry much traffic.
On the first day in the saddle, before beginning the ride, you are transferred a short distance out of Bilbao to avoid the busy roads around the city.
In the other larger city, San Sebastian, we enter using cycle lanes which are entirely separated from the road, and remain on them all the way to the hotel.
Can non-cyclists come on the trip?
Absolutely! Non-cyclists are more than welcome and will be fully involved in all aspects of the tour, except the cycling!
Non-cyclists have the option of following the group in the support vehicle, or spending longer exploring the towns and cities where we are based, before being transfered separately in the afternoon.
How difficult is this tour?
This tour is rated as medium. The shorter routes are easy/medium difficulty, while the longer routes are at the upper end of medium in our Tour Level Guide.
The routes are mostly rolling with some short climbs and some flatter sections. The longer routes contain a few more sustained climbs (up to 5km in length).
The tour is suitable for a first time cycling holiday, and is designed for people who enjoy doing activites off the bike as well as on it! Also, don't forget that there will be a support vehicle which you can use any time that you don't feel like cycling.
What are the arrival and departure points?
The arrival point is Bilbao, which is accessible from many domestic and international destinations.
If you can not get a direct flight to Bilbao, there are also regular trains running there from San Sebastian, Madrid and Barcelona. We will collect from the airport, train station or another hotel in Bilbao at the start of the tour.
The departure point is San Sebastian. We will transfer you to the train station or airport. Please let us know if you would prefer to be transferred to another destination nearby (e.g. Bilbao, Biarritz) and we may be able to arrange it for you.
Please contact us if you would like any advice or more information regarding getting to and from Bilbao or San Sebastian.
What type of bikes do you hire?
For this tour we recommend hybrid bikes, although we can also provide road bikes. The fairly low distances and lack of steep hills make hybrid bikes a good choice, allowing you to go at a leisurely pace and fully appreciate the surroundings.
Please see our bicycles page for further details.
When can I do this tour?
We run this tour in summer and early autumn each year. In the spring and winter it can be quite cold and wet in the Basque Country, so we try to take advantage of the best weather! Groups of more than six people please contact us to arrange the dates for a private tour.
What do the meals consist of on this tour?
All meals are inlcuded on this tour (breakfast, lunch and dinner), as well as snacks while cycling along the route.
Breakfast is taken in the hotel and is a continental buffet style, with plenty of options to suit all tastes.
Lunch is taken in a local restaurant and is a multi-course meal consisting of local and national dishes. There are several options on the menu, including choices for vegetarians. On Day 6, we take lunch in a traditional cider house, with a unique menu (and which is one of the highlights of the trip)!
The evening meal on this tour varies depending on the location. In Bilbao we go on a superb tour sampling the local pintxos. In Guernica and Lekeitio, we visit excellent restaurants for a three course meal and in Getaria we enjoy a unique tasting menu at the finest restaurant in the region.
Can I see the altitude profiles for each day?
Below are the altitide profiles for both the shorter and longer route each day (the shorter one is always first). In addition to this there are optional extensions, with a lot more climbing available!
Please don't be put off by these profiles. Although they may look like something out of the Tour de France, the scale on the left is low and so the routes are not as steep or challenging as they may seem. The average amount of climbing per day is 320m (900 feet) on the shorter route and 800m (2,500 feet) on the longer route.
We believe that the hotels that you stay in are just as important as the towns that you visit and the scenery that you ride through. On this tour we have chosen accommodation that is of a high quality and is typical to the area. In the larger towns, these are luxurious hotels set in a prime location for exploring the city. In the smaller villages we use high quality independent hotels with charm and local character.
BilbaoHere we stay in a fantastic **** hotels in the heart of the city. It is ideally situated on the edge of the old quarter and just a ten minute walk from the Guggenheim Museum.
GernikaIn Gernika we stay in the finest hotel in the town, situated just metres from the Peace Museum and the recreation of Picasso's 'Guernica' painting.
LekeitioHere we use a beautiful spa hotel situated immediately next to the beach. It is on the edge of the historic center, where you can wander the picturesque narrow streets of the old town.
ZarautzIn Zarautz we stay in a small, independently run country cottage that is in an excellent natural setting, close to the spectacular beach. It very well equipped and comfortable, and is run by Basque locals.
San SebastianIn San Sebastian, one of Spain's great cities, we stay in an excellent **** hotel situated just five minutes from the cathedral. From here we do our pintxos tour, and it is also only a short distance from the promenade and city beach.
To find out more about how we select our hotels, please see our accommodation page.
To reserve a place on the tour, please follow the link below to continue to our reservation form.
Once we have received the form, we will be in contact to confirm the booking and to arrange for the payment of the deposit.
If you would like to do this tour in a group of more than six people as a guided tour, please contact us and we can arrange a private guided tour.