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May 14, 2011 10:54 AM

Itinerary review Basque country and tips Bilbao

Hello all,

First of all thank you all for your amazing post and insider tips on this board.
Before going to Barcelona in October last year I had been on here so many times and all your info made our stay all the more better!

Now I finally could convince my dad that a trip to the Basque country is in order and we are planning a 6-day trip in October.
I know the itinerary is quite ambitious and we are likely to end up in a food coma, but I'm not sure I'll be able to make it back there anytime soon, so here goes:

Day 1
Arrive in Bilbao around 2 pm, hotel then Guggenheim.
Dinner: Zortziko

Day 2
Drive to Axpe
Lunch at Etxebarri (already reserved), after we'll stay close or maybe on the coast.
Light dinner or pintxos near/at hotel

Day 3
Drive to San Sebastian
Light lunch on the way
Dinner at Martin Beratasegui (confirmation pending)

Day 4
Lunch at Mugaritz (confirmed)
My dad wanted to do dinner here originally, but this would leave us no evening in San Sebastian to do pintxos (a must!).
Dinner: Old Town, Pintxos

Day 5
Light lunch, maybe something a bit traditional (seafood?!) any suggestions in/near San Seb?
Dinner at Arzak (confirmed)

Day 6
Drive to Hondarribia, lunch and dinner open as we will meet up with a friend (a chef who has owned a 1-star restaurant in Germany but now lives just across the border in the French Basque region).

Day 7
Drive from Hondarribia back to Bilbao to catch our plane back around 6 pm.
We are still debating if we should have a last lunch at Azurmendi, as it is very close to the airport so it might be feasible.


1) Has anybody been to Zortziko or Azurmendi in (or near) Bilbao? There is not really any info on either on here on the board.

2) Do you have any prices on the tasting menus in any of the restaurants on our itinerary?
I did find older info but obviously these prices might have changed in recent months.

3) Do you think it will be too much and we won't be able to appreciate these restaurants anymore?

We would have liked to visit Akelarre as well, but unfortunately they are closed the first 2 weeks of October, just when we will be visiting.

Any comments or input will be greatly appreciated....thanks, Luna

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  1. I just got back from SS last night. Here are prices to help:
    Etxebarri: 120 euros
    Mugaritz: 140 euros
    Arzak: 175 euros
    Hope that helps.
    Where are you staying the night after Etxebarri? Are you not just heading to SS after lunch? That's what we did.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Heeney

      Hello Heeney,
      Thanks for the feedback. Great to hear that our decision to choose Mugaritz seems to be the right one.
      As for Etxebarri, we thought we might stay in the area or maybe drive up to the coast after lunch there as we do want to see the Basque country a little bit as well.
      Where did you stay in SS by the way, any recommendation?!
      And how were your lunches/dinners at the restaurants?
      I've been reading so much about all of them and can hardly wait...

      1. re: Luna2308

        We stayed at Hotel Maria Cristina. It was nice. Though I don't know if I'd go out of my way to suggest it. The room is very large and in a great location. But it still retains a smell of a smoking room.
        My wife and I have said that next time we may look into Hotel Londres with a view of the beach, or a nice pension. Not that we wouldn't go back to Maria Cristina though.
        Stay close to the old town though, great location to the old town and both beaches are a must IMO.
        Meals were terrific. I'm going to post a full trip report with details on every meal in the next couple days. I'll be going from memory (I don't do notes or pictures). So I'll need to do it soon. :)
        Btw, for Bilbao. I recommend lunch at the museums bistro. Good food and price. Then do some pintxos for dinner. There was a great place in the old town called Irrinitzi.

      2. re: Heeney

        Just arrived in SS couple hours ago from Etxebarri. The food was amazing but I almost went into food coma. I ordered the tasting menu while my wife had lobster salad, half portion fish + half portion beef. I didn't expect the main course in the tasting menu to be a full size steak. As much as we were full to our foreheads, we still managed to finish everything because the smoky taste was so magical.
        With a rental car, we decided to stay up in the hill near Igeldo at Hotel Leku Eder. The rate is quite decent with free parking and internet. Our patio over looking the ocean and cliff. Not sure how it compares to others though. We don't drink so we don't mind commute a little to town. Got Mugaritz, Arzak, and Akelarre lined up for lunch in the coming days. We may also try to catch a morning trip to Hondarribia.

        1. re: y999999

          You are in for a treat at Akelare! We were so pumped about Arzak and Mugaritz in SS, but Akelare just bowled us over. It was so fantastic!
          Did you have the Percebes (barnacles) at Etxebarri? Difficult little S.O.Bs huh? :)
          Delicious though.

      3. "Day 5
        Light lunch, maybe something a bit traditional (seafood?!) any suggestions in/near San Seb?
        Dinner at Arzak (confirmed)"

        If you get an Arzak dinner reservation, best to do pintxos crawl in the old town for lunch.
        If no Arzak dinner, then why not lunch at Bodegon Alejandro.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Parigi

          Hello Parigi,
          Thanks for your answer.
          We do have our reservations at Etxebarri, Mugaritz and Arzak already fixed, the only one that's open is Berasategui, I've mailed them twice but so far no response. So we might have to change our plans for that day dinner. Unfortunately, Akelarre is closed during our stay, but Bodegon Alejandro could be an option, any other ideas?
          We are also still unsure about Bilbao, I couldn't find a lot of information on either Zortziko, Etxanobe or Azurmendi, have you been to any of them?

        2. Also, I personally think you are doing the right thing having Mugaritz for lunch. The location is so gorgeous and the outdoor sitting area is so nice that enjoying a long lunch would be great.
          We finished the meal with the best teas I have ever had in my life, and they took is outside to the courtyard for drinks. We could have just sat there all day and relaxed but we had to get back into town.
          Also, go easy on your pintxos crawls. You are doing long tasting menus each day like we did. It is very easy to overdo it on pintxos and feel kind of full before the big meals at dinner.
          Pintxos are good, but not as good as Mugaritz or Arzak.