Spain’s Basque Country, La Rioja and Burgos

Spain’s Basque Country, La Rioja and Burgos

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tourhub | Riviera Travel | Spain’s Basque Country, La Rioja and Burgos | NB
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8 Days
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$1666

Spain’s Basque Country, La Rioja and Burgos

8 Days Starting in BILBAO and ending in United Kingdom

Visiting: Donostia-San Sebastian, Bilbao, Bayonne, Larrun, Pamplona, Rioja Wine Tours, Burgos, Santillana del Mar, Cave of Altamira

Tour operator:

Riviera Travel

Tour code:

NB

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 25

Physical rating:

Please contact Riviera Travel if you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility.

Age range:

18-99

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Please contact Riviera Travel with specific dietary requests.

Tour operated in:
English
From:
$1666 (USD) including Flights from the UK

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Tour Overview

Experience fascinating Basque culture, captivating towns and cities along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, spectacular scenery, Rioja wines, an inspired gastronomic heritage, and one of the world's most avant-garde museums. Euskal Herria - better known to us as the Basque Country - is wonderfully varied and blessed with its own distinctive identity. Spanning northern Spain and southwestern France, it is a region of immense beauty and diversity, crowned by the dramatic peaks of the Pyrenees mountains which seem to pierce the sky. Hills lushly carpeted with broadleaf forests rise and fall into fertile lowlands, dotted by classic red-and-white farmhouses, before reaching the vivid blue waters of the wild Atlantic. Along the rugged coast are sweeping natural harbours with beaches of fine sand, home to charming fishing villages.

The Basque people are thought to be descendants of the very first settlers in Europe, early farmers who mixed with hunters before becoming isolated in the mountain valleys. Euskara, their unique language, is unrelated to any other and was already spoken here when Indo-European languages began to arrive. With its own defining characteristics and traditions, and a distinct architectural style, the Basque culture is utterly fascinating. Some local families still live in 'baserri', stone farmhouses with gently sloping roofs built by their ancestors. Today, the southern Basque Country is an autonomous region in Spain, while the 'Pays Basque' answers to France's central government.

Both land and sea have blessed the region with bounty that inspires gastronomic genius, fuelled by delightful innovation and a deep pride in tradition. There is an undeniable passion for food, be it in the markets stocked with smoked cheeses and fresh fish, or the private dining clubs where friends impress each other with home-cooked meals. The Basques even have their own version of tapas, known as 'pintxos', which you can experience for yourself when we visit a traditional, family-run bar.

Our tour begins in San Sebastián, a coastal beauty and where you'll find some of Spain's finest food. We spend a day in Bayonne, one of the prettiest cities in the French Basque Country, to observe the fascinating cultural differences across the border, and ascend the sacred Basque mountain of La Rhune for unforgettable views. Back in Spain we discover mighty Pamplona, capital of the once-powerful Kingdom of Navarra, and Burgos, crowned by its magnificent Gothic cathedral. We drive through La Rioja, Spain's most famous wine-producing region - and of course, we stop at a renowned bodega for a tasting. Our journey continues off the beaten path to Santillana del Mar, a charming medieval town seemingly unchanged for centuries, and to Altamira, renowned for its prehistoric cave paintings. In bustling contrast is modern Bilbao, where we stay and visit the outstanding Guggenheim Museum.

Highlights

  • Happy by day two or we'll bring you home with a full refund

  • Take a guided walking tour of Burgos and explore its outstanding Gothic cathedral (audio guide included)

  • Enjoy a guided tour of beautiful Bayonne, capital of the French Basque Country and a former English stronghold

  • Ascend to the peak of La Rhune mountain by vintage cog railway for superb panoramas of the Pyrenees

  • Visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

  • Tour one of Rioja’s most revered vineyards and enjoy a tasting

  • Enjoy a guided tour of Pamplona, capital of the Basque-based Kingdom of Navarra

  • Discover San Sebastián, an alluring coastal beauty

  • Sample delicious pintxos at a traditional bar in San Sebastián, perhaps Spain’s gastronomic capital

  • Explore Santillana del Mar, a picture-postcard medieval town

Show all

Itinerary

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Day 1
Location: Donostia-San Sebastian, Bilbao
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: No Meals

On arrival, we transfer by coach to San Sebastián, where we stay for three nights at the four-star Silken Amara Plaza. Located along the River Urumea, the hotel is a pleasant 10-minute walk to the cathedral and a 25-minute walk to the old town. 

Day 2
Location: Donostia-San Sebastian
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Gloriously sited on a shell-shaped stretch of the Bay of Biscay and framed by fine white-sand beaches, San Sebastián is one of the most enchanting coastal resorts in Spain. Manicured parks and belle-époque buildings are elegant reminders that this was once the preferred holiday destination of the Spanish aristocracy. Since 1953 the city has played host to an annual film festival, which attracted legends including Alfred Hitchcock. San Sebastián is flanked by two hills – Monte Igueldo in the west and Monte Urgull in the east – and this morning we explore the bay between the hills. Admire the grand buildings including the Miramar Palace which was designed by a British architect, and the luxurious Hotel María Cristina. As we walk through the old town we’ll see its highlights, such as Constitución Square, which was once a bullring where spectators reserved seats on the numbered balconies and placed their bets.

The tour concludes at a traditional bar, giving you the opportunity to sample pintxos. Not to be confused with tapas, they tend to be more elaborate, particularly in San Sebastián, where their creation has become an art form. So popular are they that ‘txikiteo’ has become a local pastime – going from bar to bar in the evenings enjoying pintxos and drinks before settling down to a main meal.

The rest of the day is free. Perhaps visit the San Telmo Museum dedicated to Basque history, or ascend Monte Urgull to see the remains of the old city walls. San Sebastián was named a European Capital of Culture in 2016 and boasts a staggering total of 17 Michelin stars, so there’s plenty to see, do and taste.

Day 3
Location: Bayonne, Larrun
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning we cross the French border to Bayonne to experience Basque culture in the north. Situated where the River Nive meets the Adour, Bayonne was once a fortified Roman town. Following Eleanor of Aquitaine’s marriage to Henry II of England in 1152, the city prospered in the Middle Ages under English kings, represented as lions in the city’s coat of arms. During our guided walking tour, we’ll see colourful half-timbered buildings, the remains of 17th-century ramparts and the stunning Gothic cathedral, seat of the former Bishops of Bayonne. Although the city bears a French appearance, Basque is widely spoken here. Don’t miss the opportunity to sample Bayonne’s fine chocolates and cured ham for which the city is known; there are even annual festivals celebrating the centuries-old traditions of chocolate and ham production.

We then journey inland to La Rhune, an imposing mountain sacred in Basque mythology at the western end of the Pyrenees. The La Rhune cog railway takes us past typical Basque villages with red-shuttered houses and rolling countryside, home to Pottok ponies, Manex sheep and birds of prey. From the summit that towers on the border between France and Spain, we are treated to breathtaking views of the majestic Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay. After a wonderful day of sightseeing, we return to the hotel.

Day 4
Location: Pamplona, Rioja Wine Tours
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we travel to the wooded foothills of the mighty Pyrenees, passing beautiful landscapes of rolling countryside and rocky gorges. We arrive in Pamplona, capital of the fiercely independent Kingdom of Navarra and a popular stop on the Way of St James, one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. Little was known about this historic gem until its annual San Fermin festival was brought to the world’s attention in Ernest Hemingway’s novel, ‘The Sun Also Rises’. The week-long celebration honours the martyr, San Fermin, and features colourful parades of ‘giants and big heads’. Each morning the running of the bulls takes place – a tradition that is said to have begun with butchers shepherding their bulls to the bullring, their apprentices running ahead to entice the animals forward.

During our guided tour we’ll see Pamplona’s cathedral and pass shops selling elaborate papier-mâché heads for the festival. One of the country’s best-preserved military structures can be found here in the 16th Century citadel, built in a pentagon shape with imposing bastions at each point.

This afternoon we follow the pilgrimage route through La Rioja, Spain’s legendary wine region centred on the Ebro River Valley. Rows of olive trees and vines colour the undulating landscape with stripes of green and ochre, while medieval fortified villages crown hilltops overlooked by the jagged Cantabrian mountains. We have a guided tour of one of the region’s traditional wineries, to learn how their grapes are crafted into the noble drink.

Later we continue to Burgos and its eponymous capital, where we stay two nights at the four-star Abba Burgos Hotel. Located just 350 yards from Burgos Cathedral, the hotel offers guests complimentary use of its heated indoor pool, sauna, gym and tennis court. The hotel has a café-bar and a restaurant, which serves fresh seasonal dishes, and features a garden terrace with lovely views over Burgos.

Day 5
Location: Burgos
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

The 9th-century city of Burgos played a significant military and political role in Spanish history. Founded as a fortress to defend the Kingdom of Navarra from the Moors, it became the capital of Castile and Léon for five centuries. Like many Castilian towns, Burgos prospered from the wool trade and its wealth funded the outstanding architecture that can be seen today. During our guided tour this morning, we learn about the city’s volatile history and explore the old quarter’s maze of twisting streets, dominated by the 13th-century cathedral, one of Spain’s glittering jewels of religious architecture. Our tour of the cathedral includes an audio guide, so you can admire this Gothic masterpiece and its numerous treasures at your own pace. Observe the majestic façade, the intricate Chapel of the Constable and the splendid tomb of Burgos’ most intriguing son, El Cid.

You are free this afternoon to seek out more of the city’s highlights. As a prominent stop on the pilgrimage route, Burgos has many more churches to discover, such as the remarkable Church of St Nicholas. A stroll across the river takes you to the spectacular Monasterio de las Huelgas, a Cistercian monastery founded and lavishly endowed by royalty.

This evening we dine at an excellent restaurant specialising in Castilian dishes.

Day 6
Location: Bilbao
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

Today we journey to Bilbao, the largest city of the Basque Country and one of its great treasures. Surrounded by green hills of Artxanda, Bilbao has a very attractive and lively medieval centre with pretty parks and attractive architecture. It shot to worldwide renown in 1997 with the opening of the European branch of the Guggenheim Museum on the banks of the River Nervíon. Architect Frank Gehry drew inspiration from Bilbao’s maritime heritage to create the titanium-clad masterpiece of modernist architecture. We enjoy a visit to the Guggenheim to see an array of works by modern Spanish and international artists.

After some free time to admire the museum’s collection, we transfer  the four-star Hesperia Bilbao, situated across the river from the Guggenheim in a striking building with a colourful glass façade.

Day 7
Location: Santillana del Mar, Cave of Altamira
Accommodation: Hotel
Meals Included: Breakfast

We drive through the stunning Cantabria region, dominated by lush forests and the dizzying peaks of the magnificent Picos de Europa mountains in the distance. Set inland is the medieval town of Santillana del Mar, one of the most picturesque in Spain and a joy to explore. Nicknamed ‘the village of three lies’, it does not have its own saint (‘santa’) and it is neither positioned on a flat plain (‘llana’) nor situated by the sea (‘del mar’). Wander its well-preserved cobbled streets and admire the charming ensemble of 15th- to 17th-century golden houses. At the heart of the town is its Romanesque Collegiate Church, which has its origins in a 9th-century monastery. Why not refresh yourself with a drink at one of the many cafés or visit one of its interesting museums. Discover the fate of ‘heretics’ during the Spanish Inquisition at the fascinating museum of torture – not one for the faint-hearted!

Our journey of discovery continues in Altamira, one of the most important prehistoric caves in Europe as it contains some of the world’s finest examples of Ice Age art – bison, deer and ibex have been masterfully rendered in charcoal and red ochre. The painter Picasso was said to have been so enamoured after a visit that he declared, ‘after Altamira, everything is decadence’. We visit the cave museum nearby to see its remarkably accurate facsimile, built to protect the original paintings – it’s every bit as astonishing as the original and enables us to have a detailed look at the fascinating facets of this complex masterpiece. Later we return to our hotel in Bilbao.

Please note: for some departures it may not be possible to visit the Altamira Cave Museum, in the event of this an alternative itinerary will be offered. 

Day 8

Transfer to the airport for your return flight.

What's Included

  • The price of this holiday is per person based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes: Return flights Seven nights’ accommodation Daily breakfast and one dinner at a local restaurant All local taxes and transfers All tours as mentioned Entrance to Guggenheim Museum, Burgos Cathedral, Altamira Cave Museum and La Rhune Railway The services of a Riviera Travel Tour Manager

  • Accommodation

    7 nights in 4-star accommodation

  • Airport Transfers at Destination

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Entrance Fees

  • Local Taxes

  • Meals

    Daily breakfast & 1 dinner

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Check out our Q&As

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Yes

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    No

  • Are all the relevant entry visa’s included in the price of the tour?

    Yes

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    For almost 40 years

  • I have reduced mobility; can I still travel?

    We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to contact us to discuss these concerns

  • Do I require travel insurance?

    It is a condition of booking that you carry suitable travel insurance.

  • What is my luggage allowance?

    You will receive details of your luggage allowance with your final travel documents, which are sent approximately 10 days prior to your date of departure.

Reviews of this Operator

David Clarke (Google Reviewer)  

This review is for the...

08-Aug-2023

This review is for the italian Lake Como trip Aug 1-8 Wow what a trip. Riviera from start to finish were excellent the booking and help line answering questions were very good and clear. The travel booklet you get is laid out that it is simple to read and follow with step by step info from booking in to flights to meeting the guides. Our guide Matt Purse was just the best guide and real credit to Riviera with his knowledge and straight forward approach to running the trips. Matt kept us informed and told us all the sort of info you want to know without going over the top....This chap should teach other reps ..thank you so much. The coaches they use are all clean and well equipped with usb chargers and have aircon. The places chosen to visit were well researched even down to where coaches park or drop you off. The Bernina Express was the highlight for our family and matts photo tip was welcomed. The only down point was the hotel,a little dated and evening meal in main restuarant was a bit of a let down. I think we were lucky with our room on level 7 and with balcony as the walls are very thin and noise travels. We would book again with riviera

Barbara Shillaker (Google Reviewer)  

I have been on three...

11-Jan-2024

I have been on three trips with Riviera Travel so far, with two more booked during 2024. Highly recommended. Excellent tour guides. Great program of visits. Great hotels used.

Valerie Pascoe  

We would go again in a heartbeat

22-Jan-2022

Oh my goodness, what a relief it was to actually get away! Full marks to all at Riviera for keeping us up to date before our trip and for the help so cheerfully and patiently given with the extra admin that Covid brought our way. We felt totally safe with the measures taken on board, thank you very much for this. Without exception, Staff were fantastic and our every need was attended to. The additional Covid testing ran smoothly, organised by our Riviera Reps. The guided tours were most interesting: the guides very knowledgeable and more importantly, interesting to listen to. We loved this trip and would do it again in a heartbeat. Thank you again Riviera, you were FAB!

Chris Wilson (Google Reviewer)  

Second escorted tour with this...

25-Jul-2022

Second escorted tour with this company. Did 5 days in Iceland tour. Everything went smoothly, excellent tour guide, Per. Extremely knowledgeable and interesting guy. Very friendly too. Highly recommend. Just let down by the room given at the hotel, but I guess the travel company doesn't have control over this.

Kathryn Jurin, GB  

Riviera South Africa tour - awesome

21-May-2021

Riviera have amazing holidays and tours to choose from. The one we chose was South Africa and wow! It turned out to be our best trip ever - incredible memories we will never forget. We’ve been all over the world which was because of all our experiences, this one was awesome. The organisation of the holiday, the guide and the travel was e cells that. The choice of hotels, meals, restaurants, trips was absolutely fantastic - very good quality and character - nothing bland or boring! The Riviera guide was permanently with us along with a South Africa guide and they were both extremely friendly, professional, informative and you could ask any questions you want! I would massively recommend this holiday/trip and when you’ve experienced it, you realise how reasonable the price is. We reflect on this trip a lot and thank you Riviera for giving us such a wonderful experience.

Trustpilot
Barry, GB  

Rhine Christmas markets cruise

09-Dec-2019

Just completed a 5 day trip on the Rhine. Our first river cruise and a tester for future cruises. The boat was well appointed and the cabin and public areas were spotlessly clean. The staff were attentive and contributed to the very relaxed atmosphere on the boat. The quality of the food surpassed that which we have experiened on sea cruises in recent years. I have written little because it was a faultless experience. We have booked a further cruise (in France) on the basis of our experience.

Trustpilot
Joan Yarker (Google Reviewer)  

My first cruise and I...

23-Sep-2023

My first cruise and I couldn’t have done better than my recent Seine River cruise. Carmen the tour organiser was excellent and always willing to go the extra mile to sort out any problems. The crew were amazing , friendly and helpful, the captain was great when explaining the controls on the bridge. Everything was very clean, food truly delicious and the pianist a delight and I was able to indulge my passion for dancing. My fellow guests were a delight and I made many new friends. Thank you Riviera

Peter Blundell  

An amazing trustworthy company.

06-Nov-2021

By the law of averages, there will occasionally be dramas with holidays when hundreds of people are on a package trip. It’s a fact of life. However a true rating measure of a travel company is how they look after the customer in these circumstances. Riviera Travel are, in my opinion, totally trustworthy and will do whatever they can within their power when there is a problem. In fact, to a degree that is actually above and beyond the call of duty. I would thoroughly recommend them, and look forward to our next Riviera holiday in 2022.

Mike Cole, GB  

Croatian Islands Cruise

07-Oct-2021

We have just returned from a very enjoyable cruise along the Croatian coast on the Il Mare. Everything was extremely well organised and it was a very relaxing holiday. We had a week of excellent weather, also being organised for us by Riviera! I would definitely recommend this type of cruise to anybody considering something similar as both the scenery and stops at the numerous islands were very pleasant.

Trustpilot
Barbara Parkes (Google Reviewer)  

Presently in Croatia staying at...

22-Sep-2023

Presently in Croatia staying at Arauana Hotel, supposedly a 4 star property, but wouldn't give it any star rating. Rooms are small and dirty. Wallpaper blistering. Meals served in a shed like lean-to. Food like warm, greasy and always self service. Second holiday with Riviera this year and neither at standard advertised. Have travelled with them previously and everything was fine, but standards have really dropped. Have booked a holiday with them next year and now dreading it. Certainly don't provide the standard advertised. We have never stayed in such a hovel and have visited youngsters in back packers accommodation which was far better than this supposedly 4 star accommodation. There are no indoor bars or lounges only a shed as a so called restaurant. Absolutely disgusting. Won't be boking with them again

Dates & Availability

Thursday - Thursday

Apr 11, 2024 - Apr 18, 2024
$1717 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

May 12, 2024 - May 19, 2024
$1831 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Jun 09, 2024 - Jun 16, 2024
$1730 (USD)

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Friday - Friday

Jul 12, 2024 - Jul 19, 2024
$1944 (USD)

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Friday - Friday

Aug 30, 2024 - Sep 06, 2024
$2323 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 01, 2024 - Sep 08, 2024
$1818 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 08, 2024 - Sep 15, 2024
$2033 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 15, 2024 - Sep 22, 2024
$1944 (USD)

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Thursday - Thursday

Sep 19, 2024 - Sep 26, 2024
$1944 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Sep 22, 2024 - Sep 29, 2024
$2450 (USD)

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Tuesday - Tuesday

Oct 01, 2024 - Oct 08, 2024
$1793 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Oct 06, 2024 - Oct 13, 2024
$1666 (USD)

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Sunday - Sunday

Oct 13, 2024 - Oct 20, 2024
$1856 (USD)

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Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Riviera Travel requires a minimum deposit of 200 GBP per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 75 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of riviera travel charges.

    Up to 75 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 74 days before tour starts: Forfeit 50% of booking price.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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