This remarkable tour includes explorations of the Basque and Rioja Country, as we travel to historic towns, sleepy villages, taste wine, cheese and local cuisine, and soak up the unique atmosphere of this beautiful region.
Day 1 Following collection from home, travel to Portsmouth/Plymouth for the afternoon Brittany Ferries mini-cruise to Santander in Northern Spain. The evening is free to relax and enjoy the many on board facilities of this superb cruise ferry. (Meals payable on board.)
Day 2 After a lunchtime arrival in Santander we are met by our guide and transfer to our hotel in Laguardia.
Day 3 A day out in the world-famous wine region of La Rioja, passing through extensive vineyards and making stops on the Pilgrim Road, the ﬁrst being at the town of Najera. Then we head for Santo Domingo de la Calzada, for more stories of the ‘Camino’ and free time for lunch. In the afternoon we tour one of the local bodegas and learn about the production and tasting of the wine.
Day 4 Today we visit Burgos, the birthplace of the Kingdom of Castile, and home to a beautiful 15th Century palace, once visited by Columbus. A stroll alongside the river takes us to the unique city gate and on to one of the most impressive gothic cathedrals in Spain, the ﬁnal resting place of El Cid. In the afternoon you have the option to walk along the river to Miraﬂores, before we return to Laguardia.
Day 5 Pamplona is famous for the running of the bulls, but it also has a long and interesting history, impressive historic buildings and the best fortiﬁcations in Spain. We have a guided walking tour of the historic quarter and, after some free time we travel to Idiazabal, for a tour and a tasting of the famous cheese.
Day 6 We say farewell to Laguardia and travel to San Sebastian, a pretty resort on the Bay of Biscay, surrounded by mountains and wellknown by the rich and famous. We have a guided walking tour to see the beach in the town centre, the beautiful 19th Century French inspired architecture, and the old quarter where all the ‘pixto’ bars are located. We then transfer to Bilbao for a three-night stay.
Day 7 Today is free to enjoy the sights of Bilbao, although you can join your guide for a walk into the city in the morning if you wish. Bilbao is home to the iconic Guggenheim Museum, a ﬁne gothic-revival cathedral, and the compact Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s atmospheric old quarter, is full of charming streets, pleasant cafés and plenty of independent shops.
Day 8 A full day excursion beginning with Gernika, the historic and symbolic centre of Basque Country and known throughout the world due to the painting by Pablo Picasso. For lunch we are in the ﬁshing town of Bermeo, with its beautiful old port. Our last stop is at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, reputed to be a 10th Century hermitage, where you can enjoy a coﬀee or glass of ‘patxaran’ before returning to our hotel.
Day 9 We depart after breakfast and make our way to Santander with a little free time to explore before boarding the Brittany Ferries overnight sailing. (Meals payable on board.)
Day 10 On arrival in Portsmouth/Plymouth mid-afternoon, we rejoin our coach for the return journey to the local area where our door to door service will be waiting to return you home.
Located among gardens and vineyards, our hotel boasts indoor and outdoor swimming pools, Jacuzzi, sauna, Turkish baths, gym, wine bar, terrace, café and restaurant. Bedrooms have TV, telephone, WiFi, safe, air-conditioning, minibar and hairdryer. The hotel has a lift.
Our vessel is comfortable and represents the very latest in cruise ferry technology. Accommodation in two-berth inside cabins (bunks) equipped with private facilities is included. Two-bedded cabins are available at a supplement
Our 4-star hotel is located in the centre of Bilbao, close to the shopping streets and old quarter, and has a sauna, steam room and gym. Bedrooms have TV, telephone, WiFi, air-conditioning, kettle and hairdryer. The hotel has a lift.