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Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

The Natural Adventure Company | Walking Holidays in Europe

Self Guided Walking Holidays in Europe

Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

Overview for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

The Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian is an unforgettable walking holiday across hills, peaks, meadows and forests to reach two of the most beautiful places in Spain: Fuenterrabia and San Sebastian. The itinerary runs along the valleys close to the French border, partially following the GR-11 long-distance trail.

You will walk on paths offering spectacular views and you will rarely see someone else during most of the walks, although you may have some lovely encounters: there are still strings of small Basque Pottoka horses in the meadows. The paths are easy to follow and in most parts, they follow well waymarked routes.

This itinerary is varied as it first goes through quaint rural areas to later head into the lively towns of Bera, Hendaye and Hondarribia, finishing with a magnificent coastal walk into San Sebastian, one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.


Itinerary for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

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Day 1: Arrival to Elizondo

Welcome to the lively Elizondo, the capital town of Baztán valley. Do not miss a stroll to enjoy its ancient houses and restaurants.

Day 2: Elizondo to Erratzu / Arizkun

Walk up to the beautiful Beartzun heights to descend later to the remote valley of Iñarbegui, with views to the impressive Auza peak. Walk along a pretty gorge and take a short detour to visit the Xorrokin waterfall before continuing to beautiful Erratzu or Arizkun, where you will spend the night.

There is an alternative route available for those who prefer an easier day, enjoying lovely views of the meadows, farms and hills of the Baztan valley, and a stop or overnight in Arizkun, one of the most beautiful villages of the area.

  • Walking for the day:  16.5 km, 6h ↑630m ↓530m, or 12km, 4h ↑420m ↓320m (shorter option)
  • Overnight at Etxebeltzea guesthouse in Erratzu, or Zilbetinea in Arizkun

Day 3: Erratzu to Zugarramurdi

After a short lift, today you walk from Baztan valley to Lapurdi, an area on the border with France, visiting the pretty villages of Amaiur, Urdazubi (the perfect place for a tapas and beer stop) and Zugarramurdi on your way. There are also many chances of spotting the lovely little Basque horses. Today you will enjoy your first views of the sea, remote verdant valleys and spectacular mountain landscapes.

If you prefer an easier day, during the transfer to the trailhead you can ask the driver to stop in the Otsondo pass, so you will just have to walk down to Urdazubi and then head to Zugarramurdi.

  • Walking for the day: 18 km, 6-7h ↑700m ↓680m, or 13.5 km, 5h ↑ 400m ↓650m (shorter option)
  • Overnight at Haitzetxea guesthouse

Day 4: Zugarramurdi to Etxalar

Climb to the top of the Peñaplata peak, where you can enjoy the marvellous 360º views. Descend, walk down along a spur to walk up again to Zentinela, a charming hill with views, from where you descend amongst oaks, through meadows and farms, to reach Etxalar, probably the most beautiful village of the whole trip.

Day 5: Etxalar to Bera

Start ascending along a spur, first between the oaks and later enjoying views from two valleys, to reach Lizaieta pass, on the border between Spain and France. If you want a harder day, climb up the beautiful Ibantelli peak, and if you prefer a gentle walk just keep walking along the GR-11. Descend to lively Bera, where you will stay.

  • Walking for the day: 15.3 km, 6h ↑650m ↓750m, or 14 km, 5h ↑400m ↓480m (shorter option)
  • Overnight at Hotel Churrut

Day 6: Bera to Fuenterrabia

Walk up from Bera to the Ibardin pass, where you join the French route, GR 10. If you prefer a more gentle day, take a taxi to the pass. Enjoy the views from Ibarding and later from Xoldoko Gaina hill, and descend gently until you reach the charming coastal town of Hendaye, to take the boat to Fuenterrabia, without doubt one of the most beautiful places to visit in Spain.

  • Walking for the day:  18 km, 7h ↑850 m ↓900m, or 15 km, 5 or 6h /↑ ↑400m ↓900m (shorter option)
  • Overnight at Hotel San Nikolas

Day 7: Fuenterrabia to San Sebastian

Walk up to the Guadalupe sanctuary and then further up to the impressive Jaizkibel coastal ridge, with views for miles for almost 10 km, to later descend to Pasaia, an authentic sailing and fishing village from the Middle Ages, the ideal place for a refreshment. Take a short boat trip to the other side of the harbour and continue the pleasant coastal walk to beautiful San Sebastian.

  • Walking for the day:  Choice of 24, 16 or 8 km with ↑900, ↑ 500 or ↑400m elevation gains
  • Overnight at Pension Balerdi or other pensions

Day 8: Departure or Onward Travel

Hotels for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

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On this walking holiday, you will be staying in family-run guesthouses, pensions and small hotels. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Sample hotels: Hotel Churrut, Hotel San Nikolas, Hotel Antxitonea, Etxebeltzea guesthouse, Pension Balerdi, Olagaria rural hotel, Mikelestonea guesthouse

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included on 6 days. You can also pre-book a meals pack which includes one packed lunch and four dinner meals (three of them including wine). When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.

Travel for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

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Our recommended arrival airports for this holiday are either Bilbao or Biarritz.

Please note that flight information can change rapidly, and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner before finalising any booking with us. Please do not book your flights before we have confirmed your booking. 

Transfers to/from Airports

  • From Bilbao: Take the bus from the airport or town centre to San Sebastian, and then take the 16:30h bus to Elizondo
  • From Biarritz Airport: by taxi


Private Transfers

Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip.

Baggage Transfers

All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person).

Country Info

Up-to-date travel advice on Spain is available here.

Detailed travel information and hints will be provided in your holiday information pack.

Trip Info for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

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Difficulty Grade: Moderate

This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers (no high mountain experience required) and requires a good level of fitness (read more about difficulty grades).

Route Navigation

We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to Go

This trip is available in April, May, June; September, October and early November.

The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season – so please indicate desired beginning date when booking and please consider that due to the popularity of San Sebastian among tourists:

  • The 7 nights version can start on any date during the available months
  • The 8 nights version can not start on Saturdays
  • On weekends and on some dates during the peak season, the minimum stay in San Sebastian is two nights
  • The San Sebastian cinema festival takes place in the second half of September and it is usually impossible to find accommodation there during the festival, so we recommend to avoid these dates for ending in San Sebastian (but you can start at these dates and end in the city once the festival is over), or we can customize the trip for you so it ends in Fuenterrabia instead. Tentative dates for 2019 are 20-28 September.

Weather

Generally, in this part of the range, winds blow from the humid Atlantic north, creating cooler, cloudier and wetter conditions on the French side. The southern-facing Spanish side, where our walking takes place, sits in the rain shadow and enjoys a much better climate, usually dry and sunny during the summer. The best months to come are May and October.

What to Bring

We recommend that you travel as light as possible – airlines might charge you an extra fee, and during ground transfers, the place might be limited. Ideally, you should bring one piece of luggage weighing not more than 20 kg (to be checked in) and a daily pack (15 – 20 l rucksack) for your everyday essentials (snacks, drinking water, camera, etc.). Below is a non-exclusive list of what you should bring to this trip. More detailed info will be included in your holiday information pack. If you need further advice, please contact a reputable outdoor retailer or us.

  • Good hiking boots
  • Hiking socks
  • Several t-shirts (cotton or preferably breathable/fast drying)
  • Packable waterproof and windproof jacket with hood
  • Synthetic mid layer or warm fleece
  • Trainers and/or sandals – to relax and wear inside accommodation
  • Sunglasses, sunscreen and lip salve
  • Hat/Baseball cap
  • Personal First Aid kit (wet wipes, flu remedies, stomach remedies)

Included for Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

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  • Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps
  • 7 nights in small hotels or guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
  • 24/7 assistance by phone

Single Room & Solo Traveller Supplements

  • Where individual members of a group require a single room, a single room supplement is applicable.
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers. As costs are not shared, a supplement is payable on the standard trip cost

Please click the CHECK AVAILABILITY button above to see the price of the holiday and the different options, extras and supplements for your desired dates

Other Trip-Related Costs

  • Entrance fees for attractions and museums
  • Boat tickets at Hendaye (2€) and Pasaia (1€)
  • Optional taxi lifts for shorter walks: Bera to Ibardin pass (estimated 12€), and to Pasaia (5€)

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the program

Extensions and Optional Extras

  • Add one day at the beginning and start your holiday with a walk from Ziga to Elizondo (13.2 km, 4-5 h ↑400m ↓540m); overnight in Ziga (Hotel Etxezuria, breakfast included as well as detailed road notes and maps for the walk)
  • Extra night in San Sebastian after the holiday
  • ‘Meals pack’ – add 4 dinner meals (three of them including wine) and one packed lunch (£75) for the 7-nights version
  • ‘Meals pack’ – add 5 dinner meals (four of them including wine) and one packed lunch (£90) for the 8-nights version

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