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.
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Day 1: Arrival to Ziga or Elizondo
Welcome to the pretty Ziga, a small village with nice rural hotels and wonderful views of the Baztan valley. If we are not able to book a room for you in Ziga, your holiday will start in lively Elizondo, where you should not miss a stroll to enjoy its ancient houses and restaurants.
- Overnight at Etxezuria Hotel in Ziga (excellent rural hotel offering nice rooms, garden and surroundings) or Trinkete Hotel in Elizondo (comfortable and well located hotel, with friendly staff)
Day 2: Ziga to Elizondo or Elizondo Circular Walk
If your first night is in Ziga: Today’s walk starts with a gentle uphill walk to enjoy brilliant views of peaks and the Baztan valley, descending later to pretty Irurita, the perfect place to have a coffee and taste some chocolate at the local atelier. The route continues to pretty villages of Gartzain and Aristegui, and the day’s walk ends in lively Elizondo, the capital town of Baztán valley.
If your first night is in Elizondo: If you started in Elizondo, enjoy a great circular walk with views to peaks like Abartan or Auza and visit the pretty villages of Gartzain and Aristegui.
- Walking for the day: 13.2 km, 4-5h ↑400m ↓540m (if starting from Ziga) or a choice of 11, 15 or 19 km circular walks around Elizondo (if starting from Elizondo)
- Overnight at Trinkete Hotel in Elizondo
Day 2: Elizondo to Erratzu
Walk up to the beautiful Beartzun valley heights to descend later to the remote and lonely 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, where you will stay.
There is an alternative route available for these who prefer an easier day, enjoying lovely views of meadows, farms and hills of the Baztan valley, and a stop in Arizkun, one of the most beautiful villages of the area.
NOTE: Depending on the availability, this stage may end in nearby Arizkun or Amaiur.
- Walking for the day: 16.5 km, 6h ↑630m ↓530m or 12km, 4h ↑500m ↓420m (shorter option)
- Overnight at Etxebeltzea guesthouse in Erratzu (an impressive XVI century house), or Zilbetinea in Arizkun, or Palacio Borda (an impressive restored palace) in Amaiur
Day 3: Erratzu to Etxalar
Walk up to the ridges, visiting pretty Urrasun and Zuaztoi, to join the GR 11 route, which you will follow for 8 km, crossing meadows, farmland, oak and beech forest. Leave the GR to descend gently to Etxalar, probably the most beautiful village of the whole trip. If you prefer a more gentle day, take a taxi lift (paid locally – 10€) to Otsondo pass and join the GR 11 after an easy climb.
- Walking for the day: 22 km, 6-7h ↑660m ↓800m or 16 km, 5h ↑400m ↓800m (with a transfer)
- Overnight at Mikelestonea (comfortable guesthouse located in town centre) or Olagaria (excellent and highly rated rural hotel)
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 more demanding 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 (elegant hotel with nice rooms)
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, 5-6h ↑400m ↓900m (shorter option)
- Overnight at Hotel San Nikolas (great location and nice rooms with views) or Palacete in Hondarribia (nice and well located, quiet and friendly hosts)
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 (not included) 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 (very well located; friendly hosts will make you feel at home), Peñaflorida or similar
Day 8: Departure
Departure… or stay in San Sebastian for a few more days if you wish. We highly recommend you to book a second night as it is definitely one of the most charming places to visit: its architecture, the beaches, the tapas…
NOTE: depending on the season, and during weekends, many hotels in San Sebastian request 2-night minimum stays.
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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.
*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.
Breakfast is included on 6 days (no breakfast in San Sebastian). You can also pre-book a meals pack which includes 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.
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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
Airport transfers by public transport are recommended for this trip.
All hotel to hotel luggage transfers on walking days are included (maximum one piece of 20 kg per person).
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 SebastianGo to top of page
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).
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:
- 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.
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 SebastianGo to top of page
- Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps
- GPS tracks
- 7 nights in small hotels or guesthouses
- 6 breakfasts (no breakfast in San Sebastian)
- Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office / representative
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 walking options: Erratzu to Otsondo Pass (10€), Bera to Ibardin Pass (12€) and Hondarribia to Pasaia (5€ if booked in advance)
- Flights and airport transfers
- Travel insurance
- Lunches and dinners
- Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
- Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme
Extensions and Optional Extras
- Extra night in San Sebastian after the holiday
- ‘Meals pack’ – add 4 dinner meals (three of them including wine) – highly recommended
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Reviews for Basque Pyrenees to San SebastianGo to top of page
We felt this was a great holiday - well planned, varied and very interesting. We loved it! There was a good mix of varied walking, stunning views, landscapes, places to stay and wildlife/flowers. The quality of the hotels/guest houses was consistently superior to many holidays we have had. The routes were sufficiently challenging so we felt we had earned our rest. And the grand finale in San Sebastian: beautiful city, such and interesting place to finish. Plenty to see and very pretty. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family. Thank you for your attention to detail, your enthusiasm, and for giving us such a great time! We did the Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian walk in early June. It was a joy from start to finish. It is a beautiful route across the hills, nosing into lovely villages, and finishing with a coastal final day from fabulous Hondarribia to fabulous San Sebastian. We had a great welcome everywhere, and some very special places to stay. Excellent maps and route descriptions.
We felt this was a great holiday - well planned, varied and very interesting. We loved it! There was a good mix of varied walking, stunning views, landscapes, places to stay and wildlife/flowers. The quality of the hotels/guest houses was consistently superior to many holidays we have had. The routes were sufficiently challenging so we felt we had earned our rest. And the grand finale in San Sebastian: beautiful city, such and interesting place to finish. Plenty to see and very pretty. We will definitely recommend you to our friends and family. Thank you for your attention to detail, your enthusiasm, and for giving us such a great time!
We did the Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian walk in early June. It was a joy from start to finish. It is a beautiful route across the hills, nosing into lovely villages, and finishing with a coastal final day from fabulous Hondarribia to fabulous San Sebastian. We had a great welcome everywhere, and some very special places to stay. Excellent maps and route descriptions.