6 Nights in Basque Country

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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:19 PM
  #1
mdn
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6 Nights in Basque Country

Hi!
We will be traveling from the US to the Basque country in late May -- we're a couple in our late 30s/early 40s. Appreciate any feedback on the itinerary below.

Day 1 (Tue): Arrive San Sebastian 10:40 am. Hotel Astoria 7. Rest then walk around town, hit popular pintxo bars. Petritegi Sagardoa for cider.
Day 2 (Wed): Rent car in San Seb and drive along N-634 through Zarautz, Getaria, Zumaia, Deba... to Bilbao. Guggenheim, Balenciaga museum. Dinner at Akelarre (reserved) back in San Sebastian.
Day 3 (Thurs): Drive to Pays Basque (French side) for overnight.Drive through Hondaribbia etc. Lunch in Bayonne, and afternoon & overnight in Biarritz (some shopping - what time do shops close). Ride the La Rhune rail in the morning en route to Bayonne?
Day 4 (Fri): Drive from Biarritz to villages of Espellete, Ainhoa, Sare, Ascaine and then on to Rioja for overnight in Laguardia.
Day 5 (Sat): Drive back to San Sebastian with a lunch stop at Extebarri (reserved). Return car in San Seb.
Day 6 (Sun): Chill day in San Sebastian.
Day 7 (Mon): Morning flight back to US

Any must-dos that I'm not including on this list? Thanks!!
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:27 PM
  #2
kja
 
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Consider switching day 6 with day 2 so that you have more time to recover from jet lag before driving. Flying in from the U.S., you will have jet lag, and although many people are not aware of it, there is mounting evidence that driving with jet lag is just as dangerous -- to yourself and others -- as driving drunk, and nothing you can do will prevent the microsleeps (which you might not even notice) that are the apparent culprit. Seriously -- NOT a good idea, no matter your other constraints and no matter your prior experience! And please be patient with me if you think I’m being overly adamant, but I know too many people who have died or been seriously injured in accidents to which jet lag was a contributing factor, and I know too many people who will spend the rest of their lives dealing with the knowledge that they were responsible for accidents that resulted in multiple deaths, including those of children, all because they were too confident in their ability to drive safely with jet lag. The issue has become a bit of a cause clbre for me….

You aren't giving yourselves much time for Bilbao, which has MUCH ore than just the Guggenheim.

I'm glad I hiked the relatively easy stretch from San Sebastian to the Pasaia (Pasajes); you don't seem to have given yourselves time for that, but maybe it's not of interest to you.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:38 PM
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We did not leave Etxebarri until close to 6pm, when we headed to Getaria. If you need to drive back to SS and return the car, you need to make sure the agency will be open.

I agree that Day 2 is really packed..can't imagine doing all that and going back to SS for a loooong dinner on my first full day after arriving from US.

I'd go straight to Bilbao from the airport, see that city, sleep overnight (with nice dinner or wandering around eating in Casco Viejo). Then rent car on Wednesday. Or hire driver to take you to SS with stop in Getaria for lunch and museum. See if you can get a table at Elkano.

Do you really have to fly in and out of SS?

You are leaving not enough time for pinxtos in SS.

Honestly, I am exhausted reading about this trip but then I like to take it slow..we just spent 2 nights in Bilbao after 6 in SS and 2 or 3 in Getaria.
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Apr 16th, 2018, 05:52 PM
  #4
mdn
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Thanks kja and ekscrunchy! I was concerned that I was trying to pack a bit much in. The change could be to start day 1 in Bilbao and head to SS on Day 2... then skip the excursion to Laguardia/Rioja such that we would head back to SS from the Payes Basque on Saturday with a stop at Extebarri for lunch. It's been many years, but I've been to Laguardia before. With the little time we'll have there, it may not justify squeezing it in.

kja: Thanks for your concern and alerting me to the danger of driving while jet lagged! I may save the drive to villages like Getaria for Sunday and simply take the train from Bilbao to SS on Day 2. Would that be better?
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Apr 16th, 2018, 06:02 PM
  #5
kja
 
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I think you will benefit from trying to do a bit less. If you find yourselves with extra time, you have more than enough ways to fill it!

And thank you for being responsive to my concerns about driving with jet lag. Yes, I think it would be best to use public transportation for the first part of your trip. Bilbao itself has much to offer and would be well worth a day or more. And you have options for trains and busses to see many of these places -- check rome2rio.com for your options.

I'm sure you will have a lovely trip!
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Apr 16th, 2018, 06:07 PM
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It sounds wonderful. We did almost this exact one a few years ago and loved every minute. There is a nice store in Sar for those wonderful Basque linens, Maison Jauregui on Place Fronton, town center.I bought a lot of towels trimmed with the wonderful striped fabrics.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 12:32 AM
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Id spend more time in Bilbao and would plan a trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Mundaka, Gernika, Lekeitio, Ea, Elantxobe...And Id skip the second day in the French Basque Country.

Day 1 (Tue): Arrive San Sebastian 10:40 am. Hotel Astoria 7. Rest then walk around town, hit popular pintxo bars. Petritegi Sagardoa for cider.
Astoria 7 is not in the city center, but its just a 20min walk to the old town. Cider house will open around 9pm..and thats early.
Day 2 (Wed): Rent car in San Seb and drive along N-634 through Zarautz, Getaria, Zumaia, Deba... to Bilbao. Guggenheim, Balenciaga museum. Dinner at Akelarre (reserved) back in San Sebastian.
Too long and too many things. Bilbao deservers another full day, its not just the Guggenheim and it is a lovely city with a medieval lively old quarter.

Day 3 (Thurs): Drive to Pays Basque (French side) for overnight.Drive through Hondaribbia etc. Lunch in Bayonne, and afternoon & overnight in Biarritz (some shopping - what time do shops close). Ride the La Rhune rail in the morning en route to Bayonne?

La Rhune: make reservations in advance, if possible. If you dont do it, not a big deal, Id try to do the rest of the places for next day on this day. Biarritz is overrated, IMO, St Jean de Luz is much nicer.
Day 4 (Fri): Drive from Biarritz to villages of Espellete, Ainhoa, Sare, Ascaine and then on to Rioja for overnight in Laguardia.

Its an over two hour ride to Laguardia, take that into account. Id spend more time in Rioja, it seems youre just spending a few hours there? No visit to wineries?
Day 5 (Sat): Drive back to San Sebastian with a lunch stop at Extebarri (reserved). Return car in San Seb.
Day 6 (Sun): Chill day in San Sebastian.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 02:55 AM
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Day 2 is seriously unrealistic, IMO.

I can't imagine driving into French Basque country from there and not enjoying St-Jean-de-Luz. Bayonne is nice enough, but I'd give a pass on Biarritz. Hendaye is also lovely for a short visit.

Agree you need to spend more time with pintxos, but you'll figure that out on your own the minute you get there.

You can just as easily take a bus between SS and Bilbao as a train. Cheap and a pretty ride.

The spa that is right on the beach in SS (I think it's called La Perla) is a wonderful way to while away half a day for only 28€.
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Apr 17th, 2018, 01:16 PM
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Into the Pays Basque

Take a look at Maribel's Guide to the Pays Basque. It's been updated and you might find it useful.
Attached Files
File Type: pdf
mg_pays_basque.pdf (635.9 KB, 56 views)
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Apr 18th, 2018, 04:03 AM
  #10
mdn
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Thank you everyone! I will amend as advised, especially Day 2 and maybe I'll go straight to Bilbao on Day on and may my way back from there in the evening on Day 2. Noted: Biarritz vs. St Jean de Luz, skip Rioja...

Robert2016: Aren't Mirabel's guides marvellous?! A friend used to be a huge fan of hers while she was super active on these very forums and until she graduated to writing her own guides! Cheers!
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Apr 18th, 2018, 07:23 AM
  #11
 
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Robert that guide looks like just what I need but is there one for the Basque Country in Spain?
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Apr 19th, 2018, 01:15 PM
  #12
 
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Maribel's Pas Vasco Guide

Check out: Maribel's City and Regional Guides
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Apr 19th, 2018, 02:32 PM
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Day 3: No visits to the French Basque villages? We spent two days there. Look at Sar, Ainhoa, Ascain, Espellette, etc.. all charming, situated in foothills of the Pyreenes.
Hondarribia on border with France.is worth some time.
We used Maribelsguides.com for both the Spanish and French Basque regions, and it was the best guide to the area by far!
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Apr 19th, 2018, 10:46 PM
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Robert thanks for the link. Excellent info.
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