Bilbao and the Basque Country: Places to Explore

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Pasajes de San Juan

Generally marked as Pasai Donibane, in Euskera, there are actually three towns around the commercial port of Rentería: Pasajes Ancho, an industrial port; Pasajes de San Pedro, a large fishing harbor; and historic Pasajes de San Juan, a colorful cluster of 16th- and 17th-century buildings along the shipping channel between the industrial port of Rentería and the sea. Best and most colorfully reached by driving into Pasai de San Pedro, on the San Sebastián side of the strait, and catching a launch across the mouth of the harbor (about €1, depending on the time of day), this is too sweet a side trip to pass up.

In 1777, at the age of 20, General Lafayette set out from Pasajes de San Juan to aid the American Revolution. Victor Hugo spent the summer of 1843 here writing his Voyage aux Pyrénées. The Victor Hugo House is the home of the tourist office and has an exhibit of traditional village dress. Ondartxo, a center of maritime culture, is directed by Xavier Agote, who taught boatbuilding in Rockland, Maine. Pasajes de San Juan can be reached via Pasajes de San Pedro from San Sebastián by cab or bus. Or, if you prefer to go on foot, follow the red-and-white-blazed GR trail that begins at the east end of the Zurriola beach—you're in for a spectacular three-hour hike along the rocky coast. By car, take N1 toward France and, after passing Juan Mari Arzak's landmark restaurant, Arzak, at Alto de Miracruz, look for a marked left turn into Pasaia or Pasajes de San Pedro.

Pasajes de San Juan at a Glance

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