The Northern Camino
Of course, the most famous hiking trail through the Basque Country is the Camino de Santiago, also known as The Way of St. James. While the most popular Camino route only goes through a small part of the Basque Country, the Camino del Norte or Northern Camino, follows its entire coastline. The route runs all the way from the Irún, on the border with France, to Arzua, and takes weeks to complete. If you’re looking for something a little less challenging however, why not take a section of the pathway to walk in one day? Some of the most spectacular parts are from Irún to San Sebastián, or from San Sebastián to Zarautz, with lots of beaches along the way.
The Idiazábal Cheese Trail
This is the hiking trail for cheese fans. Named after the celebrated Idiazábal cheese, the Idiazábal Cheese Trail follows the journey of this traditional Basque offering, from its origins in the mountains to its creation in Idiazábal. The walk is a circular route, starting and ending in Segura, and takes six days to complete. If you’re only planning on doing part of the walk, however, the last section from Ordizia to Segura is said to be the most interesting, home as it is to both the famed Monument to the Shepherd statue and the Idiazábal Cheese Visitor Centre.
Also known as the Wine and Fish Trail, the GR38 begins among the vineyards of Oyón and traverses the Bermeo Pass. This is the ancient route used by traders who used to bring fish and salt from the coastal towns of Bermeo, Ondarroa and Lekeitio and return with wine and grains from the interior regions. The whole route is 166km and takes a week to finish, but again there are smaller sections you can complete in a day, depending on whether you prefer wine or seafood.
The Ignatian Way
The Ignatian Way recreates the journey of Ignacio de Loyola in the year 1522, from Guipúzcoa in the Basque Country to his birthplace to the Catalan town of Manresa. The whole route runs for 675km, but the part through the Basque Country is 150km long. The most significant part of this journey through the Basque Country is from Loiola to Zumarraga, a four-hour hike from St. Ignacio’s house and the sanctuary church to the chapel of La Antigua in Zumarraga.
Named the ‘Route of Three Temples’ the GR120, follows part of the same route as the Ignatian Way. The first stage is as described above from Loiola to Zumarraga, while the second stage continues on to the sanctuary church of Arantzazu, taking approximately six-and-a-half hours. The path passes immense mountains, large swathes of forest and the Parque de Mirandaola, known for its ironworking heritage.
The Painted Forest of Oma
The Painted Forest of Oma is located in the UNESCO listed Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, one of the most important natural areas in the Basque Country. Visitors will find a well-marked trail through this quirky forest, painted with eyes, multi-coloured stripes and lighting bolts, created by the artist Agustín Ibarrola.