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from £1345
A 60 mile continuous journey through the Spain’s rugged Basque Country. From the Holy sanctuary in Loiola to the medieval walled town of Laguardia.

Guided Walking Holidays - St Ignatius Way

Ramblers Walking Holidays' 70 mile journey on foot leads you through the rugged, ever changing scenery of Spain’s Basque Country. From the Holy sanctuary in Loiola to the medieval walled town of Laguardia, in the Rioja-Alavesa wine region, history and legend follows us with every step. We traverse mountain paths through limestone landscapes to oak forests and serene meadows, navigate the Biozkonia Pass at 1200m with spectacular views and cross the green Cantabrian mountains. In pastures, the indigenous Basque sheep graze, horses roam in the natural parks and cow bells can be heard in the distance.

Ignatius came from a noble Basque family and was once a great knight. Gravely wounded in a battle with the French, defending Pamplona, he experienced a religious conversion during his recovery which led him to found the Jesuits. In order to atone for his former life, and for his life to follow a different path, he took a pilgrimage to Montserrat in Catalonia, where he lay his sword and armour at the feet of a statue of the Virgin Mary. Our journey through the Basque Country not only recreates the route, but also the spirit of that journey.

Accompanied by a specialist Basque walks guide as well as your leader, there is plenty to discover following this path from the impressive sanctuaries at Zumarraga and Arantzazu to Cabredo and the extensive vineyards in Rioja-Alavesa. The walled town of Laguardia with its cobbled streets, impressive views and imposing church is an ideal finishing point. The Basque cuisine will add to the delight of this holiday with hearty peasant stews, grilled meats and tasty cheeses.

Holiday Highlights

  • Holy sanctuary in Loiola, birthplace of St Ignatius.
  • Admire the limestone landscape of the Aizkorri-Aratz natural park, with views towards the Navarra mountains.
  • Magnificent vineyards of Rioja-Alavesa.
  • Explore the walled town of Laguardia in the shadow of the Cantabrian mountains.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Return flights from Heathrow to Bilbao (British Airways)
      Airport transfers
      Baggage transfer between hotels
      En suite accommodation with breakfasts taken at the hotels
      Dinners taken at the hotels, and the last night we have dinner in the Los Parajes hotel in Laguardia
      Knowledgeable Basque walks guide in addition to your leader
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised program, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: Grade 5

  1. Day 1

    On arrival at Bilbao airport, we meet our coach and make the transfer (approx. 1 hour) to Loiola, where our hotel is located close to Loiola sanctuary. After an independent lunch, we'll make a visit to the sanctuary to discover St Ignatius' home and learn about his life and motivation for his pilgrimage.

  2. Day 2

    Our journey today starts directly from the sanctuary, following a footpath along the River Urola, towards Azkoitia and the start of the Via Verde. It is a comfortable day's walk, to ease us into the path. On arrival into Zumarraga, there will be time to visit the Sanctuary of Santa Maria, known as La Antigua, a church with a magnificent coffered oak roof structure. Approx. 18.7kms/A 300m/D 60m / 4-4.5hrs walking time

  3. Day 3

    This is a more challenging day taking us over the Biozkonia pass, and perhaps one of the most picturesque parts of the route, with excellent views along the route once the tree line is passed. We will take the train from Zumarraga to Brinkola, saving our energy for the ascent later in the day. From Brinkola we walk to the Barrendiola reservoir, where the more challenging part begins. After the reservoir we follow the GR 120 way markers up to the Biozkonia pass at 1200m. Following the GR route, our day finishes with the descent to the sanctuary of Arantzazu, an outstanding example of modern Basque art. Approx. 10.8kms/A 760m/D 475m / 4.5-5hrs walking time

  4. Day 4

    Another challenging day starts out with a climb to the Elorrola Pass and the refuge of Urbia. On the way up we pass the place where legend tells of the appearance of Our Lady of Arantzazu to the shepherd Rodrigo de Baltzategi (it was this legend. that led to the building of the sanctuary at Arantzazu). You are now in the Aizkorri-Aratz nature park, which stands out for its limestone landscape. One interesting feature of this landscape is St Adrian’s ‘Tunnel’ – actually a natural cave that goes right through the limestone rock and which has served as a route through the mountains since Neolithic times. It is possible to visit the tunnel by diverting from the St Ignatius Way, well worth doing if time and weather conditions allow. At the foot of the rocks of Aratz lies the small town of Araia. We will be picked up a few miles before Araia and taken by vehicle to our overnight accommodation in Salvatierra or Alsasua. Approx 12.0 km/ A 600m/D 580m/4 hours; the diversion to St Adrian’s tunnel will add about 1.5 hours to the walking time.

  5. Day 5

    We transfer by vehicle from our overnight accommodation to San Roman, 4 km beyond Araia. From San Roman, we climb to the pass of Bikuña. Beyond the pass we walk across a limestone plateau through woodland with grassy glades, meadows and heathland. After descending from the plateau, we come to the locality of Ullibarri Arana, where you pass by the Romanesque hermitage of Santa Maria, an impressive parish church and the derelict hermitage of San Cristobal. Just 1,500 meters further on we arrive at the tranquil village of Alda. Approx 17.7 km/A 660m/D 460m/5 hours

  6. Day 6

    Todays’s walk is through easier terrain as much of it is on tracks through a Pyrenean oak forest, which nonetheless affords good views of the surrounding limestone countryside. Honey is one of the typical products of this area, not forgetting potatoes, black pudding and cheese. We walk from Alda to Genevilla, from where we transfer by vehicle to our overnight accommodation in Maestu. Approx 19.3 km/A160m/D 360m/4.5 – 5 hours.

  7. Day 7

    We transfer by vehicle from our overnight accommodation to Genevilla. From there we walk through woodland and ascend to the Cantabrian Ridge, from which we gain extensive views to north and south. The Cantabrian hills mark the transition from the humid Cantabrian climate and the dryer continental Mediterranean climate, which is why their stunning botanical richness has earned them a place on the Natura 2000 Network list. We descend into an agricultural region, eventually reaching the extensive vineyards of Rioja Alavesa, whose south-facing terrain gives the local wines their high quality. We walk as far as Kripan, from where we take a local bus to Laguardia, allowing time to explore and relax before our farewell dinner this evening. Approx 16.0 km/A570m/D540m/4 – 4.5 hours Our farewell dinner will be at the atmospheric Los Parajes restaurant in the heart of Laguardia’s walled town.

  8. Day 8

    We have time to explore Laguardia this morning with a visit to Santa Maria church to see the intricate portale and visit the Casa Primicia winery. This winery is centuries old and the building shows how wine used to be produced and stored (the winery's production is now outside the town) and of course some tasting is on the menu! After time for an independent lunch, we take our coach to Bilbao airport (approx. 1 hour 30 minutes) for our flight to London.

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Bilbao (British Airways)
  • Airport transfers by road c. 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Most low-cost carriers also have extra legroom seats.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Hotel Etxeberri

Featuring rooms with garden and mountain views, Hotel Etxeberri is set 0.6 miles outside the village of Zumarraga. It features a traditional Basque restaurant and free Wi-Fi access. Hotel Etxeberri’s heated rooms have simple, attractive décor with carpeted floors. All rooms have flat-screen TVs and fully equipped bathrooms. You can enjoy a range of local cuisine in the Etxeberri’s restaurant, including fish and meat dishes. There is also a bar and terrace. The surrounding Alto Urola Valley is ideal for hiking and cycling. The beaches surrounding Deba can be reached in 30 minutes by car, while San Sebastián is approximately 31.1 miles from the hotel. 

Hotel Loiola

Hotel Loiola is located in Azpeitia, just 550 yards from the Loiola Sanctuary and 15 minutes’ drive from the north coast. It offers a 24-hour front desk, an à la carte restaurant and free Wi-Fi throughout. The rooms at this hotel feature plenty of natural light and offer views of the city and the mountains. Each of them comes with a TV, a DVD player and a private bathroom. Apart from that the Hotel Loiola also offers a covered parking space for motorcycles and bicycles free of charge. San Sebastián and Zarautz can be reached in less than 30 minutes’ drive from the hotel. Vitoria and Bilbao are approximately 43.5 miles away. 

Hotel Rural Latxanea

Hotel Rural Latxanea is located in the small town of Alsasua, in northern Navarra. It offers rooms with a private balcony, free Wi-Fi and a flat-screen TV. The bright, outward-facing rooms at the Latxanea Hotel feature light wooden furniture and a private bathroom with hairdryer. A daily breakfast is served in the dining area. The hotel is located in a quiet square in the town centre, next to various shops, restaurants and bars. The Urbasa y Andia Nature Reserve is just 3.1 miles fom Alsasua, and offers many scenic hiking and cycling trails. San Miguel de Aralar Monastery is a 25-minute drive away. The towns of Vitoria and Pamplona can be reached in half an hour by car. San Sebastián is 40 minutes' drive away, and Bilbao is just over an hour's drive away. 

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