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Travel Documentation on northern Spain
National border - overview
Basque and Navarra

Names of the Basque region: Basque: Euskal Herria or Euskadi, ⧚ Spainish: País Vasco or Vasconia, French: Pays Basque
Names of the Navarra region: ⧚ Spainish: Navarra, Basque: Nafarroa ⧚ Spainish: Comunidad Foral de Navarra ⧚ Basque: Nafarroako Foru Komunitatea ⧚ English: Chartered Community Navarra

The journey through the Basque Country and Navarre aimed to visit both: cities and nature. Described is a round trip, (starting and ending in Bilbao) with a bathing stay on the coast and some excursions.

The route crosses the Way of St. James a few times.

Plan: entire itinerary with excursions

Plan: entire itinerary without excursions

A detailed description of cultural history highlights is omitted, as these facts can be found on numerous websites. The main purpose of this itinerary is to describe itineraries and to document them with plans so that the traveler can easily find the places to visit.


(at least 3 nights)
300.000 Res.

Walks in Bilbao

Bilbao has developed from an industrial city to a tourism metropolis. Main attraction is the Guggenheim Museum. There is a tiny old town (really ancient houses). The new town, which is right next to it, is touristically interesting. The main street (Gran Via Don Diego López de Haro) is a pure commercial street and and attractive for shopping only. During a walk through the new town, it is recommended to visit side streets, especially the "Ledesma musikariaren kalea" with its numerous bars and taverns is heavily visited. Many guests stand with their glasses on the street, some even just sit on the floor.

This number of bars is surpassed only by the Calle Somera in the old town. Especially the alternatives are bustling here. The audience is similar to the hippie crowd as it was 40 years ago. Here, most people sit with their drinks on the floor and in front of the entrances. The babble of voices is extremely loud, not just the clothes and the posturing reminiscent of earlier times: No one uses a smartphone, all discussing and talking to each other blindingly.

In the old town there is also a cathedral with a worth seeing interior.

A nice vantage point can be reached with the Funicular, which leads from Matiko to Atxanda. The viewpoint is also accessible by car.

The distances are not so far, you can walk to all points of interest in the oldtown and the new town. Uncommonly you need to go by bus, tram or metro (two lines only).

An interesting subway station is Zazpikaleak, whith an entrance near the city center, connected by a mooving floor. There is a second entrance 20 meter higher (convinient accesible by an elevator) for the upper district.

From city center to the upper district one can use the stairs "Calzada de Maiona" also or economized without walking upstairs, the metro station without entering the subway.

Bilbao Bizkaia Card: As in many major cities, Bilbao has a combination card for public transport (including funicular) and discounts at museums. The acquisition of this card is worthwhile only if you really intend to visit many museums and cultural events. In this case, a longer stay in Bilbao is also recommendable.

Plan Bilbao

Excurtions from Bilbao

Excursion 1

Plan Excursion 1

Portugalete (50.000 Res.)

Worth seeing is the combination ferry / bridge over the mouth of the Ria del Bilbao. This trip can also be made by subway.

Plan Portugalete

Algorta (40.000 Res.)

Visiting this coastal town can be combined with the drive to Portugalete (also accessible by metro).

Castillo di Butron

The Castillo di Butron stands like an enchanted castle in the forest, but can only be surrounded by the outside.

Plan Castillo di Butron

Castillo de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe ⭐

One of the most attractive destinations in the area is the Castillo de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. The journey time by car is about 40 minutes, also by bus the destination is directly accessible from Bilbao. The hike should take about 2 hours, although the signpost shows the destination is only 1km away. Sturdy footwear recommended.

Outside the path on the road to Bakio, there is a Mirador that offers a view of the Castillo de San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. A further trip to the viewpoint Matxitxako is not profitable, especially in the afternoon (view against the sun).

Plan Gaztelugatxe

Excursion 2

Plan Excursion 2

Guernika-Lumo (20.000 Res.)

The highlight of the excursion is the reproduction of the Picasso painting, which is not easy to find without exact address information. Guernika-Lumo can also be reached by train from Bilbao.

Plan Guernika-Lumo

Forest of Oma

At the time when we wanted to visit the forest of OMA, it was closed because of pest infestation. Passable was only the beginning of the path, which is right next to the road.

Near to the parking, there is a nice, very short way to the cave Santimamiñeko (cave not visitable).

Plan Forest of Oma

Grand Tour

Plan without excursions

Salto del Nervion (Monte Santiago) ⭐

This trip can be made as a day trip from Bilbao as well. For us it was the beginning of the tour over the country onward to Estella-Lizarra.

The gorges are really worth seeing, although sometimes the waterfall has dried up.

Starting from the visitor center, it is best to first take Route 44, then Route 45 and back to Route 41.

Plan Monte Santiago

Vitoria-Gasteiz (200.000 Res.)

Vitoria-Gasteiz is an industrial city that is of little interest to foreigners. The only thing it has to offer is that it is the capital of the Basque Region. We had the misfortune to come to Vitoria-Gasteiz on a festive day (Festivo), when roaring teenagers roamed the streets.

Plan Vitoria-Gasteiz

Estella-Lizarra (1 night) 10.000 Res.

For a round trip, this place, with a very nice old town, is a place to stay one night.

Plan Estella-Lizarra

Puente La Reina (3.000 Res.)

Not only the famous "bridge romantico", is worth seeing. There is also an old town worth visiting.

Plan Puente La Reina

Santa Maria de Eunate

Only a few kilometers further on is Santa Maria de Eunate.

Olite (4.000 Res.) ⭐

In this place, especially the castle with winding corridors and 2 towers with impressive views is worth seeing. However, the rooms of the castle are not historically equipped (= bare).

Plan Olite

Ujué (200 Res.) ⭐

A small medieval mountain town.

Plan Ujué

Tudela (2 nights) 40.000 Res.

This town is surprisingly diverse and almost indispensable as a starting point for Bardenas Reales. Plan Tudela

Excursions from Tudela

Excursion 3: Bardenas Reales ⭐

This semi-desert is a highlight of the trip! Starting from the visitor center, you will drive one round counter-clockwise on gravel roads with views of many impressive rock formations.

Plan Excursion 3

Continuation of the Grand Tour

Sangüesa (1 night) 5.000 Res.

A noteworthy place with several churches and a convent.

Plan Sangüesa

Castillo de Javier

The Convento San Francisco Javier is certainly worth a visit.

Plan Castillo de Javier


Offside the monastery without any further infrastructure. Although the monastery has been developed as a large hotel, but one is contingent on the sparse catering facilities of the bar and the hotel restaurant (unfortunately there are no alternatives). The rooms are clean and spacious, but there is no minibar, not even a fridge. Overnight is therefore unnecessary.

Foz de Lumbier ⭐

Starting from the parking near the village of Lumbier, there is a circular path, which can be mastered in 2.5 hours. The relatively short section at the end of the hike, which leads straight through the gorge, is really spectacular.

If you want to save time, go directly from the parking lot through the canyon and the same way back again.

You can also visit the canyon as a day trip from Pamplona (50km distance).

Plan Foz de Lumbier

Pamplona (1 night) 200.000 Res.

The city has become famous for the annual public bull run in June.

The cathedral with the attached museum is worth a visit. Also a hike through the old town should not be missed. Parking is practically only outside the city, for example, on the banks of the Rio Arga, from where you come with an inclined elevator into the city. Near the river area strong odor nuisance!

Plan Pamplona

Tolosa (20.000 Res.)

Village with a typical old town, suitable for a short stay between Pamplona and the coast.

Plan Tolosa

Zumaia (10.000 Res.)

Zumaia is famous for the flysch formation. Nice old town, 2 beaches. One of them (Itzurun hondartza) is a surfing paradise, right next to the flysch formation. The second is a family bathing beach.

There are few hotels, only one directly on the beach. The location Zumaia is recommended for a stay of several days when planning excursions. Incidentally, Zumaia can also be reached by train from Bilbao.

Excursions are possible from all the places mentioned in the description, but for bathing purposes especially Gerateria and Hondarribia are recommended.

Plan Zumaia

Trips from Zumaia

Excursion 4:
GR 12.1 nach Debia (5 1/2 h) ⭐

From Zumaia you start behind the church of San Telmo Ermita. From Deba there is a lift that leads to the start of the hike. A route can also be covered by train or boat.

Plan entire hiking trail

Plan entry point Deba

Plan entry point Zumaia

Excursion 5: Coastal cities


Getaria (3.000 Res.)

Between Zumaia and Zarrautz on the coastal road lies Getaria (beautiful view, idyllic old town).

Between Getaria and Zarrautz there is a promenade that runs right on the shore next to the road. In the part of the village, which is located behind the main road, there is an escalator and a lift, so that you can park your car comfortably up there.

Plan Getaria

Zarrautz (20.000 Res.)

Zarrautz has a slightly wider beach, but otherwise does not offer much. Incidentally, Zarrautz can also be reached by train from Bilbao. Parking is difficult to find in Zarrautz.

Plan Zarrautz

Hondarribia (20.000 Res.) ⭐

Behind Zarrautz you leave the coastal road and drive bypassing San Sebastian on the highway to Hondarribia. Hondarribia is the most impressive of the described coastal villages with 2 beaches, one in Hondarribia itself, one reachable by ferry to France.

Plan Hondarribia

Mirador Jaizkibel ⭐

On the way to San Sebastian we recommend the road GI-3440 with the Mirador Jaizkibel, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view in 2 directions (insider tip!).

Donostia-San Sebastián (200.000 Res.)

On the way back stop in San Sebastian: Disappointing impression, huge beach, totally crowded (at least in midsummer). Old town is not very impressive. From San Sebastian return to the chosen coastal town, in our case Zumaia. In San Sebastian there are big parking problems and you can park only in a parking deck (expensive).

Plan San Sebastian

Excursion 6: Upcountry

Plan Excursion 6

This excursion can also be made from Bilbao, especially if you have planned a bathing stay in Hondarribia, for example, that makes more sense logistically.


The Loiolako Basilica is a famous landmark.

Plan Loyola

Between Loyola and Oñati, it is advisable to turn off the highway at the navigation device and take a shortcut over the mountain road.

Oñati (10.000 Res.)

Oñati is a pretty place that is worth a visit.

Plan Oñati

Elorirro (7.000 Res.)

Not necessarily worth seeing. If it is on the track, a stop is well worth it.

Plan Elorirro

Durango (30.000 Res.)

Not necessarily worth seeing. If it is on the track, a stop is well worth it.

Plan Durango

Additional Information

Pedestrian zones + parking
Food + drink
Parking in the coastal cities


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The contents of these pages have been carefully compiled, but errors may still be included, for which the author assumes no liability.