Start: San Sebastian- Donostia Finish: Lekeitio
What makes San Sebastian special? ...
It is a refined city focused on enjoying with the five senses: their gastronomy, the summer beach, the basque culture, a great film festival ... In the city, the "Old Port" neighbourhood is a must visit along with a dip in their everyday beach and a stroll along the 19th century shopping district.
It is easy to travel from Bilbao airport (Loiu) to San Sebastian, since there is a direct connection with San Sebastian.
It takes a while before you leave the city, but if you are dropped off at the Ermita Guadalupe, just above Fuenterrabia (Hondarribia, in Basque), you will immediately enjoy it. While walking up to the Jazkibel peak, enjoy views of the Gulf of Bizkaia and of course San Sebastian. There are remains of at least 5 military forts here, the last one built in 1900 needs no further explanation, being so close to the border with France. Close to the Jaizkibel cantina - the last chance for coffee or beer - you leave the ridge and descend through an open meadow and heath landscape to the narrow fjord-like port of Pasaia. Here you take the pedestrian ferry and then decide (after 9 km of walking) whether you want to take the bus back to San Sebastian or walk another 9 km to the door of your hotel. A surprisingly rugged coastline ends abruptly above Zurriola beach and the Urumea estuary. Afterwards, just 2km to get back along the beach, via the modern art centre Kursaal and the oldest district of the city, near the harbor.
Challenge: 19 km, 200m ascent, 600m descent.
Today you walk 16 km, unless you want to shorten the hike and take the bus from the city to the Monte Ezquiel (150 m) getting off at the point where you pick up the Camino del Norte pilgrimage path. The path follows mostly paved and unpaved roads and remains higher than the coastal path, which constantly goes up and down. You stay tonight at a homely accommodation in Orio, just across the river and near the train station.
Challenge: 16 km, 5.5 - 6 hrs, 585m ascent/descent.
Today the Camino stretch remains low, following mainly paved roads from village to village, including the port of Guetaria. You will pass today a real city, Zarautz, where you can walk along the seafront with many cosy cafés and restaurants, such as the one of Spain's most famous television chef - Arguiñano. The final stop today is a town that became better known in Spain because of the film '8 Apellidos Vascos´ (with the English version translated as "Spanish Affair"). The port of Zumaia and the chapel of San Telmo appeared in several scenes, so now they have suddenly become popular selfie decors. In the welcoming centre of town there are several good (fish) restaurants and, as in every Basque port, there is also a small beach near the centre. The modern hotel where you stay for 2 nights is located exactly between the centre and the beach, in a quiet suburb.
Challenge: 16 km, 6 - 6.5 hrs, 585m ascent/descent.
After following the Camino out of town, you hop over to the GR-121 in order to enjoy the unique and bizarre rock formations that appear along the Flysch geopark at the coast. Flysh is an interesting sequence of sedimentary rock layers that has a marine origin, created 60 million years ago, they are old formations that are almost artistic and certainly unique. At the beginning and the end of the hike, you follow parts of the Camino del Norte and you will end at the station network in Deba, where every hour a slow train leaves for Zumaia. After a 14-minute train ride, you walk for 20 minutes to the hotel.
Challenge: 12 km, 5.5 hrs, 740m ascent/descent.
After a 20-minute transfer, you start in Ondárroa, on a final leg parallel to the coast. You walk through an empty rural area, with large areas of pine and eucalyptus forest. At the end you follow an almost flat footpath following the course of the River Lea to the beautiful town of Lekeitio. This is really a typical Basque port and seaside resort, where the economy is not only based on fishing and tourism but there is also enough (small-scale) industry to support the population. It was the most important port of Bizkaia, after Bilbao, for 4 centuries, which is now surprising when you see how narrow the port access is. They had to protect it against silting up by a small dam between the beach and the island of San Nicolas. The Gothic cathedral is impressive and the well-preserved historic center near the harbor is a great place to visit and taste the delicious (fish) at one of the restaurants while enjoying a glass of Txakolí, the Basque white wine.
Challenge: 13 km, 5 h, 625m ascent, 625m descent.
On your last day in Lekeitio you can enjoy either a day of rest on the beach or do some further exploration of the area.
You can follow the very well marked GR-123 for miles to the West, for example, to reach the town of Ea, which lies on the banks of the river Ea, sandwiched between two steep mountain slopes and where there are a number of typical Basque 'tabernas' and restaurants (then back to Lekeitio by bus).
Or you can take a taxi to Aulesti and follow the GR-38 back to Lekeitio along Lea River. Learn about industrial life around Lekeitio and enjoy the true Basque country life. If you think this is too much, option of shortening it by taking the bus at different points along the route!
Challenge (Aulesti - Lekeitio): 13 km, 5 h, 585 m ascent/ 675 m descent.
You trip comes to an end after breakfast
From Lekeitio a bus goes to Bilbao every hour, so getting around here is not difficult.
The hotels on this trip have been carefully selected for their location, atmosphere and/or unique services. All rooms are en-suite. Some of the hotels we work with appear here. If a certain hotel is unable to confirm due to lack of availability, we will request a similar one and inform you about the alternative booked.
Extra nights can be booked at any of the accommodations along the way.
Hotel Niza in San Sebastian is an emblematic family run hotel in an idyllic location just a stones throw from La Concha beach, offering you everything you could want. The rooms offer sea views to La Concha beach.
A newly built construction, only 3 years old, designed to ensure that visitors enjoy a restful and comfortable experience. Directly above the famous Flysch - a privileged spot - and only a moment’s walk from the San Telmo hermitage. The hotel has a unique decoration, made by the Basque artist Anton Eguiguren, giving a unique personality to each room. The hotel staff pays great attention to details to ensure that guests leave with the memory of a unique and friendly experience.
You can start on any day of the week, subject to availability, between May1st and October 25th.
The nearest airport to fly to is Bilbao (BIO)
Arrival in San Sebastian
It is easy to travel from Bilbao airport (Loiu) to San Sebastian, since there is a direct connection with San Sebastian. Check at Bilbao airport website: www.aena.es
A bus leaves every hour from 6.45 hrs from the exit of the “Arrivals” hall. It has a possible stopover in Zarautz, on the way to San Sebastian, about 1,15h from Bilbao. In the summer months (July and August) the bus even leaves every half hour from 7.15 hrs.
The bus (line DO50B) only stops in San Sebastian on Pius XII Square. From here, there are 1.7 km to the hotel; most convenient by taxi. Check bus time schedule at www.pesa.net. Buy tickets in advance via their internet website!
Return from Lekeitio
From Lekeitio to Bilbao centre there are direct buses (about 1 h approx. duration). Once you arrive in Bilbao, you can take a shuttle bus to the airport from the central bus station (30 min extra).
GPS tracks area available upon request.