Explore Basque heritage and traditions found in sophisticated resorts and artistic enclaves on the Bay of Biscay and in charming villages nestled amid the Pyrenees. Settle in at the Parador de Hondarribia, a historic 10th century castle carefully renovated into a modern hotel with magnificent interiors and spacious outdoor terraces to take in the sea views, which adds to the special ethos of this program. 

Starting at: $4,790 Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Dusk in beautiful San Sebastián
 Flag-lined street in Hondarribia
 Traditional Basque dance. Credit: Basque Tourism Bureau
 Square in Hondarribia
 San Sebastian ocean side view
 San Sebastian beach
 The city of Bilbao, with the Guggenheim Museum, set amid the Basque countryside
 The Guggenheim Museum of Contemporary Art, Bilbao
 The Pyrenees Mountains
 Monument to the running of the bulls in Pamplona
 View of Bayonne
 Street scene in Bayonne
 The harbor in Biarritz
 The beach in the resort town of Biarritz
 The historic fortress of the Parador de Hondarribia
 A comfortable lounge in the Parador de Hondarribia
 View from the terrace of the Parador de Hondarribia

France and Spain’s Basque Region: A One-Week Stay at the Parador de Hondarribia

9 days from $4,790

Explore Basque heritage and traditions found in sophisticated resorts and artistic enclaves on the Bay of Biscay and in charming villages nestled amid the Pyrenees. Settle in at the Parador de Hondarribia, a historic 10th century castle carefully renovated into a modern hotel with magnificent interiors and spacious outdoor terraces to take in the sea views, which adds to the special ethos of this program. 

or Call 855-330-1542

Overview

FlexAir is designed to provide you with the flexibility and choice you need to personalize your air travel experience. Explore a wide range of flight options in consultation with our experienced travel professionals to select the flights, routing, class of service, and dates of travel that most fit your needs. Our partner tour operator has negotiated contracts with a wide variety of carriers that allow them to hold flight reservations and then issue your ticket close to departure without additional fees. This protects you from the need to purchase published-fare tickets, which must be ticketed within 24 hours of purchase. FlexAir reservations provide the flexibility to adjust reservations without penalty and to accommodate extensions and upgrades right up until ticketing time, usually around 60 days before departure. We look forward to providing you with more choice and the best possible itinerary for your air travel plans.

Program Includes:

  • Guaranteed transfers between the airport and your overseas accommodations upon arrival and departure (in most cases). We will provide you with all of the details you need to guarantee your transfer.
  • Air schedule change and delay assistance. Book FlexAir to ensure assistance should schedule changes or delays impact your air travel plans.
  • Flight insurance worth up to $250,000, subject to policy terms, is automatically included.
  • Confirmed airline seat assignments at the time of booking (in most cases).

Itinerary

Day 1 & 2 – Depart the U.S. and arrive in Bilbao, Spain

Depart the U.S. for Bilbao via overnight transatlantic flights.

Upon arrival at Bilbao International Airport, transfer to Hondarribia, Spain, and the Parador de Hondarribia. The approximate driving time is 1 1/2 hours. Upon arrival, you will receive a Welcome Package of information about the area including maps and general information. Your Smithsonian Journeys Travel Director will be available this afternoon and throughout the program for suggestions regarding independent activities.

This evening, gather for a welcome reception and introductory talk by your Smithsonian Journeys Expert followed by dinner at the Parador. (R,D)

Day 3 – San Sebastian

A full American-style breakfast will be served each morning. Take a guided walking tour of the Old Town of Hondarribia. See the Plaza de Armas and stroll through the charming streets and picturesque corners steeped in the town’s rich heritage. Then take a short motor coach ride to the Santuario de Guadalupe, a beautiful chapel providing views of the Bidasoa Estuary and Txingudi Bay. A stop will be made for lunch at a restaurant outside of Hondarribia.

Continue on to nearby San Sebastian, the world-famous resort on the Bay of Biscay. Join an expert local guide for a walking tour of this popular resort town. Marvel at the stunning views along the boardwalk above La Concha Bay, see the Old Historic Quarter, and the Basilica of Saint Mary of the Chorus. Afterward, spend time exploring on your own before returning to the Parador later in the day. (B,L)

Day 4 – Bayonne and Biarritz

Cross the border by motor coach and continue on to Bayonne the capital of the French Basque region. Take a short walking tour of the town with a local guide, visit the Gothic Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayonne, a World Heritage site and its cloister then enjoy a luncheon featuring local specialties at a local Cider House.

Afterward, depart for Biarritz, the most fashionable French seaside resort on the Bay of Biscay. The town owes much of its charm to the garden-promenades that run above the three superb sand beaches. Stroll along the waterfront from the Church of St. Eugenie to Rocher de la Vierge offering panoramic views along the Basque coast. Enjoy a private dining experience at a txoxo or local dining club and see how a traditional meal is prepared using local market products paired with wines from the club cellars. (B,L,D)

Day 5 – Bilbao

Today we’ll visit Bilbao and the iconic Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum designed by American architect, Frank Gehry. An expert local guide will take you on a fascinating tour of the museum highlighting several important works of modern art.

Afterward, enjoy a brief panoramic tour of Bilbao before a stop is made for lunch. Back at the hotel join fellow travelers for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. This evening step out for dinner independently at a local restaurant. (B,L)

Day 6 – Espelette and St-Jean-de-Luz

Enjoy a scenic drive from Hondarribia to Maison Ortillopitz, a restored private residence in the rustic French Basque country-side. Tour the house with the owner before continuing on to the town of Espelette. See the ubiquitous Piment d’Espelette (Pepper of Espelette) the town’s most important export. These drying red peppers are attached to the facades of buildings creating a worldwide recognition for the entire village. Enjoy a walking tour of the town and then enjoy a luncheon of Basque specialties.

Continue on to Saint-Jean-de-Luz a beautiful town that reveals a wealth of Basque history and culture. King Louis XIV of France married the King of Spain’s daughter, Maria Theresa, in St Jean de Luz in 1660. See the Church of St. Jean the Baptist on your walk through the main square. In the early evening, gather back at the hotel for a fascinating preamble to tomorrow's excursion to Pamplona that will include a discussion with a local expert on The Romance of Hemingway and Spain. Dinner is at leisure in one of the local restaurants. (B,L)

Day 7 – Pamplona

Drive south through the Spanish countryside to the famed town of Pamplona. Along the way, stop at Mirador de Azpirotz, a perfect spot providing incredible views of the surrounding landscape. Once in Pamplona, stroll along 16th-century streets, famous for the annual San Fermin Festival or the Running of the Bulls in early July, see the famous Plaza de Torros or Bullring, Castle Square and the Gothic Santa Maria Cathedral. Enjoy time at leisure to explore further and lunch independently at one of the many cafés, possibly Café Iruña, made famous by Ernest Hemingway. Afterwards, return to Hondarribia and the Parador. In the early evening join fellow participants for an informal discussion about the day’s discoveries in the Smithsonian Journeys Travelers Corner. Dinner will be at leisure. (B)  

Day 8 – St Jean Pied de Port

Today we’ll explore St Jean Pied de Port, located in the Basse Navarre province of the French Basque country. The town is positioned at the foot of a mountain pass and situated at a crossroads of pilgrimage routes leading to Santiago de Compostela. Visit a wine cellar in the Irouleguy area where you’ll learn about the wine-making process. Sample a selection of local cheeses along with some of the full-bodied red and white wines. Tonight, join fellow Smithsonian Journeys travelers for a festive farewell reception and dinner at a local restaurant. (B,R,D)

Day 9 – Departure for the U.S.

This morning transfer to Bilbao International Airport for your return flight to the U.S. (B)

Included meals are denoted as follows: Breakfast (B), Lunch (L), Reception (R), Dinner (D)

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