During this one-week Cultural Stay, explore the Basque culture and traditions found in sophisticated resorts and art havens on the Bay of Biscay and gem-like villages nestled amid the Pyrenees. Settle in at the Parador de Hondarribia, a historic upscale Spanish property, which adds to the special spirit of this program. 

Starting at: $4,590 * Price includes special offer Make a Reservation Ask Us A Question or Call 855-330-1542
 Dusk in beautiful San Sebastian  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 $4,590

During this one-week Cultural Stay, explore the Basque culture and traditions found in sophisticated resorts and art havens on the Bay of Biscay and gem-like villages nestled amid the Pyrenees. Settle in at the Parador de Hondarribia, a historic upscale Spanish property, which adds to the special spirit of this program. 

or Call 855-330-1542


Save $250 per person when you book by January 29, 2021!

Special Air Rates & Services: As part of our special air program, FlexAir, available with this tour, you can choose from a wide variety of flight options. Visit the Tour Details tab and click on "Special Air Rates/Services" drop down. 


Delve into the wide-ranging soul of the Basque region in both France and Spain. Settle in for a week and explore the cultural traditions of art havens and resorts as well as gem-like villages dotting the Bay of Biscay and nestled amid the Pyrenees. You’ll reside in the seaside village of Hondarribia, with its charming medieval Old Town known as a Basque mecca for foodies, and be fully immersed in quintessential Spanish Basque culture. 

Highlights Include

  • Spain: A walking tour of Hondarribia’s Old Town provides insight into your home for the week. From here, it’s easy to explore the Basque region. You’ll venture to Bilbao to visit the renowned Guggenheim Museum, designed by architect Frank Gehry; explore nearby San Sebastian, a world-famous resort on the Bay of Biscay; and discover legendary Pamplona, a charming city located in the foothills of the Pyrenees. 
  • France: Learn about the heritage of Bayonne, capital of the French Basque region and designated a “Town of Art and History.” Spend time in the fashionable seaside resort of Biarritz and explore smaller gems in the shadow of the Pyrenees. Highlights include Espelette, where strands of red peppers adorn traditional Basque homes, and St. Jean Pied de Port, a crossroad for pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.
  • Culture and Cuisine: Meet with Spanish residents in Hondarribia and French residents in Sare to discuss Basque history and culture. Visit a wine cellar to learn about and taste local French vintages. Plus, savor delicious Basque cuisine, renowned for its blend of tradition and creativity. You’ll have the opportunity to try out a txoko (a Basque members-only dining society), a traditional cider house, and local pintxos bars and fine-dining restaurants. 
  • Parador de Hondarribia: Enjoy a one-week stay at this historic upscale Spanish property. Located in the medieval center of Hondarribia, the fortified parador is also known as the Castle of Charles V and dates from the 10th century. Here, stone walls and public spaces decorated with tapestries and fine antiques remind guests of the parador’s storied past, while the terrace offers panoramic vistas of the bay. Find more information on the Tour Details tab. 


Day 1 – Depart the U.S. for Bilbao, Spain

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

Day 2 – Hondarribia

Upon arrival at Bilbao International Airport, transfer to Hondarribia, Spain, and the Parador de Hondarribia. 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 buffet 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 Cathedral of Our Lady of Bayonne and its cloister then enjoy a luncheon featuring local specialties at a local cider house.

Afterward, depart for Biarritz, the most fashionable seaside resort situated 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 at a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

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 area. In the early evening, gather back at the hotel for a discussion with a local expert on The Romance of Hemingway and Spain. (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 Running of the Bulls in July, see the famous 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. (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)