A Gastronomic Adventure in Northern Spain

For the gourmet traveller, one of the great gastronomic regions of Europe is Northern Spain.

On your journey you will discover the impressive variety of culinary traditions and be able to explore these marvellous regions at your own pace. You may like to visit some of the cultural highlights such as the impressive Guggenheim Museum and medieval cities or perhaps go ‘tasting’ in one of the famous wineries of the Rioja. The cuisine is strongly regional, with fresh local ingredients at the heart of tasty dishes. Excellent fish and seafood is a Spanish specialty, delicious with a glass of sparkling Cava!

The variety of accommodation on this tour has been specially selected for its charm, style, history and atmosphere, each with its individual character and unique location.

This is a self-guided tour which includes all your accommodation and car hire as per the itinerary. You will be given a comprehensive Route Guide containing suggestions on a scenic driving itinerary, interesting regional attractions, recommended tapas bars and taverns, bodegas for wine tasting and a 10km circular walk from the Monastery Valdediós which includes part of the St James Way.

Day 1 San Sebastian

Arrival in San Sebastian, Spain's gastronomic capital. Tonight join a lively small group Pintxo tasting dinner. Overnight.

Day 2 San Sebastian

Free day for sightseeing.  Perhaps start the day with a visit to the impressive Bretxa market.  In a privileged position in the centre of town, the enclosed market features more than 40 retailers, selling fruit, vegetables, canned goods, delicatessen products, meats and fish.   Spend the afternoon strolling along the beautiful Concha promenade and admiring the seaside sculptures and elegant architecture of the city.  Overnight.

Day 3 San Sebastian - Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Pick up your hire car and head south to the famous wine growing region of La Rioja, where the vine has been cultivated since Roman times.  Your destination is the historic town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, named after St Dominic, builder of bridges and roads to aid pilgrimage journeys.  The tomb of St Dominic lies in the local Cathedral, adorned by engravings of his life’s miracles and healings.  Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight.

Day 4 Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Elciego - Laguardia - Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Head out for a most interesting excursion today to visit the small town of Elciego, where you will join a tour of Marques de Riscal winery. Elciego has become famous in recent years due to the Marqués de Riscal Winery and the hotel that was designed by the Canadian architect Frank Gehry.  The expansive vineyard, dates back to 1858, making Marqués de Riscal the oldest winery in the region.  After the tour, head to the nearby historic hilltop village of Laguardia. The town itself is perfectly preserved and a joy to wander around; there is a good selection of bars and restaurants to enjoy a local lunch and interesting shopping, especially for those with an interest in wine.  Today Laguardia is a pedestrian town, as vehicles cannot enter the town walls due to the risk of these cellars caving in!  Overnight.

Day 5 Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Bilbao

Head north today through Haro as you travel to Bilbao.  Bilbao is primarily an industrial city and is home to a Guggenheim Museum.  Enjoy the contrast of the old and the new in this city of innovation. The casco viejo (old quarter) by the river was built in the 14th century and is the most attractive district of the city.  Optional: pre-reserve your Guggenheim Museum entrance tickets (not available on Mondays).  Overnight.

Day 6 Bilbao - Castro Urdiales - Ribadesella - Lastres - Villaviciosa

A most interesting drive as you travel along the Cantabrian coast. You will pass beautiful fishing villages and towns where you can stop for a drink or to admire their pretty ports including Castro Urdiales and Ribadesella.  Continue on to Lastres, which boasts one of the prettiest harbours in Asturias.  Here you can stop for lunch in one of the many local restaurants before continuing on your way to Villaviciosa.  Rest of the day at leisure. Overnight.

Day 7 Villaviciosa

A free day at leisure. You are offered a circular walk along the Northern St James way with detailed walking notes to follow.  Overnight.

Day 8 Villaviciosa - Oviedo

A short drive to Oviedo today. Oviedo is a university city and the cultural and commercial capital of Asturias.  The nucleus of the medieval city is the stately Plaza Alfonso II, bordered by a number of handsome old palaces.  Spend an enjoyable afternoon exploring the elegant city centre and well preserved old quarter and tonight, we suggest heading to Calle Gascona where the city’s most famous cider houses are located.  Join with the locals as you try the crisp dry cider, poured from a height to aerate it!  Overnight.

Day 9 Oviedo

Farewell the city as you head to Asturias airport to drop off your hire car and continue on your journey.