Select Your Country:
View Shortlist
Office now closed
Opening Times

Office hours: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30; Sat 09:30 - 13:00

Office hours: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30; Sat 09:30 - 13:00

Office hours: East Coast USA: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (04:00 - 12:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (04:30 - 08:00)

West Coast USA: Mon - Fri 09:00 -17:30 (01:00 - 09:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (01:30 - 05:00)

Office hours: Ottawa: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (04:00 - 12:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (04:30 - 08:00)

Vancouver: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (01:00 - 09:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (01:30 - 05:00)

Office hours: Canberra: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (20:00 - 04:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (20:30 - 24:00)

Office hours: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (22:00 - 06:30 local time); Sat 09:30 - 13:00 (22:30 - 02:00)

Office hours: Mon - Fri 09:00 - 17:30 (check internet for local time equivalent); Sat 09:30 - 13:00

Basque Pyrenees to San Sebastian

  • 8 Night Route

    Price: from £1240
    Wednesday or Thursday starts
  • 7 Night Route

    Price: from £1180
    Monday or Thursday starts
  • 6 Night Route

    Price: from £1070
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: from £1005

The true heart of Basque culture

Back to Routes
A little morning mist

A little morning mist

Approaching San Sebastian

Approaching San Sebastian

Mary admiring pretty Pasaia

Mary admiring pretty Pasaia

Jaizkibel ridge

Jaizkibel ridge

Colourful Hondarribia

Colourful Hondarribia

Meadows and hills

Meadows and hills

A quiet day in Pasaia

A quiet day in Pasaia

The sheltered bay of San Sebastian

The sheltered bay of San Sebastian

Basque architecture in Elizondo

Basque architecture in Elizondo

  • 8 Night Route

    Price: from £1240
    Wednesday or Thursday starts
  • 7 Night Route

    Price: from £1180
    Monday or Thursday starts
  • 6 Night Route

    Price: from £1070
  • 5 Night Route

    Price: from £1005
Price: from £1240
Nights: 8
Grade:
Walk: 4 - 6½ hr/day

The valleys are beautiful, villages varied each with its own character, and paths between give you sense of how the valleys and mountains fit together. Highlights were: walking between Ziga and Elizondo, views from Mt Alba and the walk through the forest to get to the col below the summit, hospitality at guest houses, traditional Basque dance group and choir, a flock of large birds that took off as we arrived at Mt Calvieri, and a swim in La Concha at the end of the walk.

Stephanie Brown, Victoria, Australia - May 2024

Possibly the best On Foot we have done. Great walks and scenery on every day: a combination of challenging walks with a purpose plus low key but brilliant places to stay as well as some great food. The package would be hard to beat.

Celia and Bill Ford, Chippenham, UK - May 2024

What did we like most? All of it. We'd do it again in a heartbeat. The Local Contact was thoughtful and proactive and the route notes were accurate, charming and characterful.

Simon Browning, West Sussex, UK - May 2024

We loved the variety of each day, Basque countryside and beautiful stone walls, farmland and old villages. The donkeys and the horses and the music of the farm animals' bells. Climbing up Ibantelli and the wonderful views. The lovely welcoming locals. Our Local Contact provided daily weather updates, route guidance and helpful tips and bookings for meals- much appreciated. Also a nice sense of humour. It was wonderful to have local detailed knowledge always at hand via WhatsApp.

Linda Forbes, Dunedin, New Zealand - May 2024

Aznar is a jewel - he goes above and beyond to make sure that we find our way, have good choices of restaurants and bars, know what awaits us in every town as to dinner, breakfast, and lunch purchase options, and knows the trails backwards and forwards as well.

Chris Proctor, Salt Lake City, USA - September 2023

We were impressed with the detail provided by the walking notes and the range of alternative routes offered. The staff in the office were prompt, clear and knowledgeable in all their communications with us. They were really helpful and thorough in the information they provided.

Benjamin Priestman, London, UK - July 2023

We enjoyed the entire experience. The walking paths were well chosen and the experience thru the mountain villages and views - absolutely stunning. We would rate this walk a 10. The local interactions were all friendly, helpful and made the experience enjoyable. The food everywhere was amazing and, of course, the wine selections outstanding.

Highly recommend this walk for anyone wishing to experience some of the best of Spain and the Basque regions!

John Neumann, Spring Valley, USA - June 2023

Challenging walks with options available. Fantastic views. I particularly enjoyed the route to and climb up Mount Ibatelli and the coastal ridge walk, and the ferry crossings! Good to stay in a variety of accommodation. Interesting to experience Basque culture.

Sian and David Morris, Shrewsbury, UK - June 2023

Great holiday! The scenery was unexpectedly green and absolutely beautiful, everywhere was so well kept. Wonderful bird life and endless interesting things to look at. All the hotels were fantastic in very different ways, the people were all very friendly and despite our lack of Spanish we managed to muddle through with French and a phrase book.

Travelling there and back by train added to the experience.

Andy Barrett, Skipton, UK - June 2022

This was without question the best walking holiday we've had. The countryside was stunning, the walks demanding, the people friendly and the food and drink - always important - were top notch. A mixture of lush countryside, small villages and then the busier coastal towns all contributed to a delightful holiday.

The local rep was quick to get in touch and there if needed. We did all the walks, no shortcuts, and were very glad that we did. This one will be hard to beat!

Amanda Parker, Clitheroe, UK - September 2019

Honestly, we completely loved the holiday. I am slightly biased as we got engaged and so it will be remembered as the best holiday ever for me, but I can't think of a better place for it to happen. It was perfect.

I loved the fact that we started in such beautiful, quiet villages, untouched by tourists and that as we walked the scenery changed from rural hillsides and tiny villages to beautiful coastlines and bigger cities. The thorough organisation on your part made everything so easy, so that we could just enjoy the beautiful views without worrying about anything else. Thank you so so much!

Heather Stirling, Edinburgh, UK - June 2019

More independent feedback
Self-guided walking holiday in the Basque Pyrenees with On Foot Holidays

At a glance

The Basque Pyrenees and San Sebastian 8 night version - the full walk, with easier and harder options (see 'When to Go' for information on availability.) See 'Prices' tab for what's included.
Suggested route pairing: Catalonia - El Priorat

How much walking?

Full days: 13-24 km per day, 4½-6½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 12-17 km per day, 3½-4½ hrs walking

Max. Grade:

To the Atlantic and San Sebastian

In the heart of the Basque region of northern Spain, this is the true centre of Basque culture – the well-kept villages of the western Pyrenees, for centuries protected by the mountains from incursion.

Furthermore it is a border zone, with French influences strong, particularly between Bera and Hondarribia. Be prepared for an incomprehensible language (though Spanish, French and even English are widely spoken), and an outgoing friendliness resulting from the pride of being born Basque.

You will experience some extraordinary village architecture, unspoilt farming country and wild ridges, great views into both France and Spain, and the satisfaction of arriving at the sea, and taking a small boat across the water to Hondarribia, a town with an incomparable old walled centre. Then, for the hardy, a triumphant long ridge walk to San Sebastian, a city you have to visit, and best approached from our cliff-top walk.

Important note: Our routes assume one night only in San Sebastian, but there is more room/hotel availability if you are able to spend two or three nights in this popular destination, so try and build in extra nights here if you have the flexibility.

Walked by On Foot staff: Simon, Mary and Harriet

Consider pairing this route with Catalonia – El Priorat (6½ hrs transfer by train) – for more details click here.

REVIEWS: For independent walker reviews of this route submitted to the Association of Independent Tour Operators visit AITO.com.

TRAVEL ADVICE: To find the latest travel advice from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office for UK citizens travelling to Spain, click here. Citizens of other nations will also find it useful, but should always check their appropriate local agency.

Route Highlights

  • Authentic Basque culture in gentle countryside
  • Beautiful ridge walks with views for miles around
  • A generous-hearted people
  • Traditional unspoilt village architecture
  • Impenetrable language interpreted with laughter, but a good mix of French, Spanish and English spoken
  • San Sebastian – City of Culture, and La Concha beach (Europe’s best beach according to TripAdvisor)

This route features the following characteristics and interests: Coast, Mountains, Villages and farms, Birdwatching, Drive to route

Things you should know

  • The food can be simple; vegans and vegetarians may find there is little choice. Ask us for advice.
  • This is a fairly serious walk with some long walking days and big climbs.

We Recommend

Extra nights en route in Bera, extraordinary Hondarribia and of course the City of Culture (and "Pintxos") San Sebastian

Practise your Basque

“Excuse me, could you tell me the way to the bakers’?  I need a loaf of bread and a pint of milk” translates as “Barkatu, ezin esan olerkarientzako bidea? Ogi polita eta esne-pintxo bat behar dut.”

But don’t worry – the son or daughter will oblige with some perfect English (or at least French) and invite you for a coffee if you have time?

How much Walking?

Full days: 13-24 km per day, 4½-6½ hrs walking
Using shortening options: 12-17 km per day, 3½-4½ hrs walking

The first three days walking are largely unsigned so care needs to be taken to follow the route notes and maps carefully. After this the route is mainly on GRs and well signed. Highest point on route: 1,075m (Mt. Alba).

Medium-hard/hard: Average cumulative uphill stretches (CUSs) 820m (430m-1035m) per day.

Medium: CUSs 490m (430m-585m) per day using shortening options where available, including some taxi transfers (local supplement).

Acrophobia/vertigo warnings: Jaizkibel Ridge on the final day is not suitable for the severely acrophobic (ask the On Foot team for photos), but avoidable on an easier path.

GPX file available for handheld GPS or smartphone App for complete route.

Important note: Times given for each day are  walking times for an “average” walker and exclude stops. “CUSs” stands for “Cumulative Uphill Stretches” and measures the aggregated ascents in each day, expressed in metres of climb. See “Walk Grading” for more information.

When to go?

The best months to walk: May, early June, mid-September to mid-October

Other possible months: April, late June, early September, late October

The best days to start: The 8 night option can only be started on a Wednesday or Thursday due to single-night stay restrictions in Ziga and Etxalar. Please be in touch for more advice.

The Basque Pyrenees are at their best in the spring (late April-June) or September. The second half of October can be misty, restricting the views. Summer can be hot and busy, particularly in San Sebastian – July and August are not possible for this reason.  NB: Avoid San Sebastian and Hondarribia from 20 to 28 September 2024 – it’s the Film Festival and hotels are incredibly expensive and demand at least a three night stay.

Due to hotel availability, the 8-night route is unavailable until the end of September but shorter routes may be possible.

Start Dates

Recommended
Possible
Unavailable

Weather Chart

 

Rainfall and temperature chart for Elizondo

Itinerary

About the Route

Day 1 - Arrive in Ziga

Arrive in pretty Ziga, a small village with great views of the Baztán valley. Your comfortable hotel will welcome you with a good (if late by non-Spanish standards!) dinner to prepare you for tomorrow's first walk.

Day 2 - Ziga to Elizondo

Today begins with a gentle uphill walk out of Ziga. Enjoy mountain views and the Baztán valley before descending to Irurita, the perfect place for a lunch stop. If time allows, don’t miss the chance to have a coffee and taste one of the chocolate specialities at the pastry shop on the square. After lunch, the route continues through the traditional villages of Gartzain and Aristegui, and the day’s walk ends in bustling Elizondo, the capital town of Baztán valley. (Easy-Medium: 4 hrs walking (allow 5¼ hrs), 13½ km (8½ miles), CUSs 430m)

Alternatives: None – except to ride with the luggage.

Day 3 - Elizondo circuit

Your adventure starts in earnest today with a fabulous circular walk. There are three options – easy, medium and the main route for hardy walkers who want to reach Alba’s top (1075m), with superb views. All start by following the GR11 so navigation is quite straightforward and birdwatchers are in for a treat too (kites and griffon vultures aplenty). Return to Elizondo by following shady woodland paths and visiting the little villages of Gartzain and Ariztegi on the way. (Hard: 5¾hrs walking (allow 7¾hrs), 21¾km (13½miles), CUSs 1035m).

Alternatives: Without Alba (medium option): 4¾hrs walking (allow 6¼hrs), 15km (9½miles), CUSs 485m. Easier option: 2¾hrs walking (allow 3¾hrs), 11km (7miles), CUSs 450m.

Day 4 - Elizondo to Erratzu or Arizkun

Leaving Elizondo behind, this morning you will climb the hills above the Baztán valley before descending to the remote valley of Iñarbegui, with views across to impressive Mt. Auza. Then follows a pretty gorge (you can take a detour to visit the Xorrokin waterfalls) before the walk takes you into Erratzu or Arizkun, where you will stay.  On arrival in Erratzu, you can either walk the next 2 km to your accommodation, or your host will come and collect you. (Main route: 5¼ hrs walking (allow 7 hrs), 18½ km (11½ miles), CUSs 725m; Short route: 4¾ hrs walking (allow 5¾ hrs), 14 km (9 miles), CUSs 585m)

Alternative: None, except to ride with the luggage the whole way. Organise this the night before with Aznar.

Day 5 - Erratzu or Arizkun to Etxalar

Following a lift back to the village by your host (if required), today’s walk is lovely and full of contrasts. Climb up to the ridges, visiting pretty Urrasun and Zuaztoi along the way before joining the GR11. Then cross meadows, farms and oak and beech woods, with views to truly savour. Leave the GR to descend gently to Etxalar, probably the most beautiful village of the whole trip! (6¼ hrs walking (allow 7¾ hrs), 24½km (15½ miles), CUSs 820m).

Alternatives: If you prefer a more gentle day, take a taxi lift (paid locally – €10) to Otsondoko pass and join the GR11 after a gentle climb (4¼ hrs (allow 5¾ hrs), 16¾ km (10½ miles), CUSs 550m), or just miss the first 2½ km, to the main road at Arribiltoa (5 hrs (allow 6¾ hrs), 19 km (12 miles), CUSs 820m).

Day 6 - Etxalar to Bera

Start the day with a lung expanding climb out of Etxalar. At first in oak woodland, you will soon be enjoying views across to two valleys before reaching the Lizaieta pass, on the border between Spain and France. Those seeking more of a challenge will choose to bag Ibantelli for its 360 degree views but if you prefer a gentler walk just keep walking along the GR11. The walk ends in Bera, where you will enjoy a very comfortable hotel. (4¾ hrs walking (allow 6¼ hrs), 15 ¾km (10 miles), CUSs 890m, or without Ibantelli just 3½ hrs walking (allow 4¾ hrs), 13¼ km (8½ miles), CUSs 500m)

Day 7 - Bera to Hondarribia

A day of many parts! A long climb up at the start of the day is richly rewarded by some fabulous ridge top walking – don’t shirk the peaks either as, on a clear day, you can see for miles around. For a while you straddle the Spanish/French border – literally having a foot in each country. Then you very definitely enter France for the afternoon and only re-enter Spain when you take a little boat from Hendaye to Hondarribia (one of Spain’s most historic towns) where you will spend the night, having first sampled its restaurants and cafés. (5½ hrs walking (allow 7¼ hrs), 20 km (12½ miles), CUSs 900m)

Alternatives: If you would like to shorten the walk and lose all of the early climbing organise with Aznar the evening before, a taxi to the Ibardin Pass. Pay locally, ~€15. (4hrs walking (allow 5¼hrs), 16½km (10½miles), CUSs 410m)

Day 8 - Hondarribia to San Sebastian

The walk starts with quite a pilgrimage up to the Guadalupe sanctuary (worth a quick visit) before ascending further to the impressive Jaizkibel coastal ridge, with views for miles. Then descend dramatically into Pasaia, an authentic sailing and fishing village from the Middle Ages and the ideal place for a coffee or beer stop. A short boat trip takes you to the other side of the harbour where you will then continue with a gentle coastal walk into beautiful San Sebastian. Congratulations! (6½ hrs walking (allow 8¾ hrs), 24 km (15 miles), CUSs 1030m, or easier off-ridge option 6½ hrs walking (allow 8¾ hrs), 24 km (15 miles), CUS 790m)

Alternatives: Shorten the walk by travelling with the luggage as far as Pasaia – leaving 2¼ hrs walking (allow 3 hrs), 8 km (5 miles), CUSs 415m).

Depart from San Sebastian

…or, better, stay a day or two longer to enjoy this former City of Culture, masquerading as a seaside resort with two great sandy beaches, and self-proclaimed “pintxo capital”.

Travel Information

A taxi is included from San Sebastian to the first night’s accommodation but alternative options are available, as below.

ARRIVING BY TRAIN

Nearest railway station:
Start: Pamplona or Hendaye/Irun – pre-bookable taxi to first hotel available from Hendaye/Irun, supplement from Pamplona
Finish: San Sebastian

Sample journey by rail:

Via Paris: TGV Paris Gare Montparnasse to Hendaye (~5 hrs). Or travel via Lille and Bordeaux to avoid Paris.

Via Madrid: Direct train to Pamplona (~3 hrs).

From San Sebastian to Paris: Take the 37 min Euskotren from Sebastian Amara to Hendaye (every 30 mins), in time for the 9:19 TGV (not Saturdays) to Paris Gare Montparnasse (~5½ hrs).

From San Sebastian to Madrid Chamartin: Some direct trains, most require one change (~6 hrs).

We suggest thetrainline.com for times, ticket booking and other information.

ARRIVING BY CAR

You can park in a quiet side street at any of the three potential start points, then return to your car at the end by taxi.

ARRIVING BY AIR

The best airports with European flights are Biarritz (France) and Bilbao (Spain). Intercontinental flights use Madrid, followed by an internal flight to Pamplona (nearest to the start) or San Sebastian (Hondarribia).

Land by:
Pamplona – 17:00 for local bus (not Sundays) to Elizondo, 19:00 for pre-booked taxi (supplement) the whole way.
Biarritz – 19:00 for pre-booked taxi transfer (supplement) ~1¼ hrs.
Bilbao – 15:00 for bus to San Sebastian and then pre-booked taxi transfer from there to first night’s accommodation. A taxi directly from Bilbao is also possible, although expensive ~2¼ hrs.

Return flight earliest:
Bilbao – 9:00 am (after regular shuttle from San Sebastian)
Biarritz – 13:00 (after regular shuttle from San Sebastian)

Flight information can change rapidly and not all flights run daily. Please do check directly with the airlines’ websites or Skyscanner (see below) before finalising any booking with us. Do not book your flights until we have confirmed that we have provisionally reserved accommodation for you.

For up-to-date schedules and flights from all airports check Skyscanner.

 

Getting to the start of the walk

The first hotel is in the village of Ziga (or Elizondo or Erratzu), and the last in San Sebastian.

If coming by train – a pre-booked taxi from Irun/Hendaye can be arranged (supplement for weekend/holiday starts). We can also pre-book a taxi to meet you at Pamplona station (supplement).

Transfer times and methods are suggested for Pamplona, Biarritz and Bilbao airports below.

PAMPLONA AIRPORT (or train station):
Outward: Short taxi to centre then bus (not Sundays, best 13:15 or 19:30, 45 mins), plus taxi to Ziga if required (small supplement), or pre-booked taxi the whole way (supplement)
Return: Best via Bilbao if returning to Madrid

BIARRITZ AIRPORT:
Outward: Taxi only, pre-booked (1¼ hrs)
Return: Airport bus from central San Sebastian 4 times daily, or pre-booked taxi (supplement)

BILBAO AIRPORT:
Outward: Hourly shuttle to San Sebastian, then pre-booked taxi transfer to first night’s accommodation or pre-booked taxi transfer the whole way (supplement) ~2¼ hrs)
Return: Hourly shuttle from San Sebastian (1¼ hrs), or pre-booked taxi (supplement)

Full transfer advice, including timetables, is provided in your Walkers’ Pack. Contact us if you would like additional pre-booking information. For taxi prices see “Prices”.

Where You'll Stay

The accommodation here is charming – family run, well-kept and often very historic. As you reach the coast the hotels become more sophisticated, and in Hondaribbia you have a real choice between good value rooms and a substantial upgrade to a Parador. See below for our advice on San Sebastian.

Important: as this is a very rural area, we need advance warning of any special dietary requests so that we can advise you appropriately. Special diets may be difficult to cater for.

Ziga – Zigako Etxezuria (Dinner, B&B)

Night 1

Ziga – Zigako Etxezuria (Dinner, B&B)

Excellent rural hotel with lovely rooms and a pretty garden. No arrivals on Fri/Sat/Sun.

Elizondo – Hostal Trinkete Antxitonea (B&B)

Night 2 & 3

Elizondo – Hostal Trinkete Antxitonea (B&B)

Simple but spacious accommodation in a restored 19th century house.

Erratzu or Arizkun – village accommodation

Night 4

Erratzu or Arizkun – village accommodation

A selection of B&Bs divided between two neighboring villages. Each offers plentiful charm and character with varying options for dinner.

Etxalar – Olagaraia (B&B)

Night 5

Etxalar – Olagaraia (B&B)

Lovely small, rural B&B, with excellent home cooking. One of local contact, Aznar's, favourites. Dinner will be taken in a restaurant in the nearby village.

Bera – Hotel Churrut (Dinner, B&B)

Night 6

Bera – Hotel Churrut (Dinner, B&B)

Elegant hotel with a great restaurant.

Hondarribia – Hotel Palacete (B&B)

Night 7

Hondarribia – Hotel Palacete (B&B)

Friendly hotel on a charming square in the old town.

Hondarribia – Parador de Hondarribia (B&B)

Night 7 (Upgrade)

Hondarribia – Parador de Hondarribia (B&B)

A touch of luxury in this medieval castle.

San Sebastian
For those who can only spare a single night or for those looking for a bit of post-walk luxury the Hotel de Londres ticks all of the boxes. We use ‘Petite City View’ rooms but upgrades are available to ‘Classic Sea View’ rooms and on to junior suites etc. Be aware: the Londres is one of the most lavish hotels in the On Foot collection.

For those who can spare two or more nights (or perhaps those wishing for something less grandiose), we highly recommend our selection of charming pensions, all well situated and well-equipped. We will advise you on the best option available to fit in with your dates.

Prices

Price: from £1240 for 8 nights

Total 8 nights in double/twin room, 7 breakfasts (room only in Hondarribia) and 2 evening meals, taxi from Irun/Hendaye station to first hotel*, luggage transfers between all hotels on walking route; full Walkers Pack with route directions, maps, transfer and background information; local telephone support.

*Mon – Fri starts, supplement for weekends and holidays

All prices are per person unless otherwise indicated, and are based on a standard booking in May. Prices may vary seasonally and a fixed price will be given to you before you commit.

Single Room Supplement (SRS): From £385
Lone Traveller Additional Supplement (LTAS): From £235
Large Party Saving (LPS): Groups of more than 2 people (on an identical itinerary, on the same booking and booked at the same time) – discount of at least £45 per person
Maximum party size: 12 (some accommodation variation needed for groups of 6+)

 

Add Ons

Extra nights possible throughout the route: Contact On Foot for ideas and prices
Further nights at end of holiday in San Sebastian: Prices vary with season, hotel/B&B/Pension, room type and length of stay. Contact us

Taxis from/to airports/train stations: Possible (Biarritz, San Sebastian, Pamplona only). Contact On Foot Holidays for prices

Sending Walkers Packs to addresses outside the UK:  £20-£60 (per pack, location dependent)

Arrange locally: Local train/bus/taxi as required

Reserve your dates Add to shortlist
Aznar Fernandez de Pinedo

Our local team

Aznar Fernandez de Pinedo

Aznar was born and grew up in Bilbao, where he soon developed his love for nature (he is a keen naturalist), hiking and the rural environment in general. He studied Business and has worked for many years in multinational corporations in the IT sector, living in both Barcelona and Madrid. But in 2014 he decided to change his career to work on what he loves most.

Sign up to our Newsletter

    Email Me
    Route PDF

      Yes
      * I have read and agreed your privacy policy. (On Foot Holidays guards your details carefully, and will never sell them to a third party.)
      Yes
      Please put me on your Email list to receive your regular newsletter with news from On Foot Holidays including new routes, changes to existing ones and offers.

      Thank you!

      Thank you for contacting us. We will respond within the next working day.