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This North Spain road trip takes you to fishing villages on the rugged Basque coast, to the enchanting city of San Sebastian, and on your way to La Rioja you’ll have the option of enjoying the natural beauty of the unspoiled forest of Sierra de Urbasa.
The Basque Country is not only one of the richest areas of Spain, but it’s also regarded by most as the one offering the best food in the whole country.
San Sebastian is, after Kyoto (Japan), the second city in the world with the highest number of Michelin stars per square meter. But you don’t need to spend big to enjoy Basque food. Local tapas, called pintxos, are delicious everywhere, as Basques are very demanding when it comes to their food.
La Rioja region is world famous for its excellent wines. Although most people only know Rioja´s red wines, the white ones, although rare, are of great quality too.
Get your campervan at Bilbao´s depot and in 30 minutes you’ll be in Bermeo, one of the main fishing villages on the Basque coast. Few minutes north of Bermeo is Gaztelugatxe, an islet connected to the mainland by an impressive man-made bridge.
On top of the island stands a 10th-century hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist, which might look familiar to you. That’s because, due to its dramatic landscape, the site was used to film some episodes of Game of Thrones.
To the south of Bermeo you’ll find the Urdaibai estuary, a Biosphere Reserve of wonderful beauty worth exploring. Further south you’ll get to Gernika (or Guernica in the Castillian tongue).
This old Basque town immortalized by Picasso on his famous picture condemning the brutal aerial bombings by German Nazi aircraft that the town suffered during the Spanish Civil War and that killed 1,654 people. Pay homage before resuming your North Spain road trip.
Bermeo, Urdaibai & Gernika
2 - 3
from Bilbao pick-up center
Village with an interesting fisherman museum
Walk to the hermitage on the island and enjoy the sea views
Stunning natural scenery around estuary
Historic village, a symbol of peace for the Basque people
Food as good as the stunning views, Bermeo
Excellent traditional Basque food
Free parking area in Bermeo
Ideal for visiting Urdaibai
Between Bermeo and Urdaibai. Great views.
Drive your campervan towards the AP8 motorway and then go east towards San Sebastian, one of the most gorgeous cities in Spain. Its bay, Bahia de la Concha, is a shell-shaped area of extraordinary beauty thanks to its two beaches and an island in the middle of the bay.
San Sebastian is located 20 km (~12 miles) from the French border and its architecture reflects this fact, to the point of its city centre being called by some a small Paris.
Apart from walking around this small gem, the other great attraction is to taste some of the best food in the world. From 3-star Michelin restaurants to unassuming pintxos bars, San Sebastian (Donostia in Basque) is a paradise to food lovers.
Get to Parte Vieja, the old quarter, where you’ll find bar after bar of inviting pintxos laid on top of counters. Txakoli is a local acidic white wine that goes perfectly with pintxos.
Outside San Sebastian there are several small villages along the coast worth exploring. Getaria, Zarauz, and Hondarribia are all beautiful. If your North Spain road trip itinerary allows it, get a grilled sea bream in Getaria. It’s delicious!
2 - 3
Bahia de la Concha
Gorgeous bay to wander around
Walk to the top for the best views of the city
Cute fishing village with great seafood restaurants
Do not miss its old quarter and the old fishermen houses
Order the mushrooms
La Cuchara de San Telmo
Top quality pintxos
Great selection of traditional pintxos
A Fuego Negro
Berio Motorhome Parking
Bike lane to city centre
The closest to San Sebastian
You’ve been eating like a king for a few days and feel like taking a rest and doing some exercise in nature. The ideal addition to your North Spain road trip, Sierra de Urbasa is halfway between San Sebastian and Logroño, and an ideal spot for all sorts of outdoor activities. It’s a Natural Park, small and unspoiled, with a gorgeous beech forest.
There are several hiking routes 7 to 18 km (~4 to 11 miles) long, as well as three routes suited for BTT (18 to 30 km/11 to 19 miles). Idiazabal, cheese made from sheep milk, and wild mushrooms are some of the local main foods worth checking out.
Sierra de Urbasa
from San Sebastian
Hike or bike
Breathe in the beauty of this beech forest
Asador Alai Taberna
Grilled meat and seafood
Best option to explore Urbasa
La Rioja region is all about wine. There are hundreds of wineries where you can taste and buy wine. Some have restaurants and even accommodation; so you can drink all you want without having to worry about driving afterwards.
Logroño, its capital, is a lively city where to bar-hop endlessly as you taste delicious tapas and drink local wine. One day is more than enough to visit its cathedral and walk around its old quarter.
On your way back to Bilbao, it’s worth stopping at Haro, the main wine production centre of the whole of La Rioja. Many wineries are located in the vicinity. The town itself is a great place to get some lunch before jumping back into your campervan for the last leg of your North Spain road trip itinerary.
from Sierra de Urbasa
Try as many tapas as you can. Visit the cathedral
Visit the wineries
Fusion food in Logroño
Peregrino San Juan
Fantastic tapas in Logroño
El Rincon del Noble
Traditional Spanish food in Haro
Free parking not far from Logroño's city centre
Camping de Haro
Excellent location by the river in Haro