Soak up Biarritz in France then eat you way around San Sebastian in Spain before taking the super fast train to Madrid for some Capital city culture.
When: Autumn | Cost per couple: £800 | Why: Incredible beaches, beautiful people, delicious food, vibrant cities
Day 1 – Welcome to Biarritz, France
6AM – Get an early flight from Gatwick to Biarritz with one way tickets as low as £35 from EasyJet to the largest beach resort in south-west France.
Biarritz has been quietly moulding itself into a haven for the rich and glamorous whist remaining affordable
9AM – Ask at the airport helpdesk how to get a bus to Biarritz city centre which lies just 2 miles from the city – turn left out of the terminal to find the stop for bus 14 which runs half-hourly. Tickets cost €2 each
10AM – Leave your bags at Hotel De L’Ocean with its fabulous location and gorgeous boutique rooms then hit the beach!
Head down hill along the road closest to the sea to one of the best beaches in the whole of Europe. If the waves are strong, remember to take your rings off before going for a dip!
12PM – You will want to explore this gem of a town with its Euro/Cali vibes.
Take a walk along the promenade towards the opulent Hotel du Palais which stands as a jewel in Biarritz’s crown.
You won’t miss it at night when it is elegantly lit up with the iconic Biarritz lighthouse as a backdrop.
Spa treatments start around €25 for an upper lip wax… If you are brave enough to mention this to your other half…we wish you luck!
1PM – A light-ish lunch can be had at Le Blé Noir for some tasty crepes that are totally instagram worthy
2PM – Hit the beach again to watch the late afternoon surfers do their thing and join the locals jumping into the waves at the designated bathing area.
5PM – Head up the hill beside the casino and you will find Arroka.
Going for dinner at this time will almost guarantee you a sea view table.
Now there are many things this Brasserie does well but the jewel in their crown has to be the sharing platter (L’assiette cochonne for €20).
Order bread and they will bring you an endless supply until you burst! Just look at that picture, how can you resist?!
7PM – Get back on the beach to see one of the most beautiful sunsets in Europe
Day 2 – Surf lessons in Biarritz, Europes surf capital
9AM – Breakfast can be had in the hotel but we highly recommend heading into town and pick up one of the many nourishing and gorgeous breakfast bowls from Bali Bowls
11AM – Biarritz is the capital of surfing in Europe and Jo Moraiz has been teaching on these shores since 1966.
A group lesson will set you back around €40 per person for a 1.5hr lesson.
It’s enough for a taster but you won’t become the next Kelly Slater! NOTE: Book in advance.
2PM – Head back to the main beach and grab an ice cream from Txoko’Glaces where their freshly made cones and fruity ices are exactly the sugar rush you need after exerting yourself on the surf.
6PM – You are in for a treat! Beneath the Hôtel de l’Océan is a wonderful restaurant-brasserie .
We were on the hunt for mussels since P had never tried them before.
The waiter recommended the Spanish mussels with chorizo. Our minds were blown!
The picture does not do these beauties justice. You must try them!
Day 3 – Biarritz to San Sebastian is easiest by bus
9AM – Grab a taxi from the hotel and head to the train station. You will catch your bus to San Sebastian from here (€7 per person with a 40min journey time).
It’s a direct route and much easier than navigating the trains or an expensive taxi NOTE: Book in advance
11AM – Check into your apartment with the stylishly modern feelfree rentals.
We looked around the old B&B’s and Pension’s online but feelfree offered something fresh, modern, affordable and an amazing selection of apartments.
Ours was right in the heart of the old town. Not great if you are a light sleeper as the locals love a loud chat whilst tucking into their pintxos but we loved it.
1PM – Grab your beach towels and head to the closest beach which will be the West one, Bahia de La Concha.
We got these amazing, light weight retro towels online from a company called Dock & Bay.
They feel great, look great, are super light, compact and dry fast. If you want plush, fluffy beach towels…go on holiday with your parents!
6PM – We spotted an underground market, Mercado de San Martin, on the walk from feelfree’s office to the apartment and returned to stock up on some essentials. We’d recommend you do this too.
Whilst we knew we would over-indulge in the culinary delights of San Sebastian, we tried our hand at our own take on a cozy night in – Basque style with the obligatory Txakoli wine bought from one of the many specialist deli’s around the town.
Ask them how to serve it, there’s a technique that involves a special plug and height!
Day 4 – Beach bums and surfing mums
10AM – Like Biarritz, San Sebastian has a strong surfing culture and you will not see it any better than the beach to the East of your apartment, Zurriola beach.
Find a spot where you think the tide won’t surprise you and watch these masters work their magic on the rolling waves.
2PM – When you are done with topping up your tan and frollicking in the waves,
our best advice now is to get lost
….seriously…go for a wander around this medieval city and soak up everything it has to offer.
It’s small enough to walk around easily but has big character around every enchanting corner.
6PM – Some places are worth waiting for and La Mejillonera tapas bar is one of them.
Their spicy Tigres musels washed down with a cold beer and braves is what every traveller wants.
TIGRESSSS!!!!…you will know what we mean when you visit.
There are so many places to eat in this town but the street our apartment was on, Fermin Calbeton Kalea, had enough of a variety to appease most peoples appetites.
We didn’t go for the Michelin starred restaurants. It was all about the Pintxos!
Day 5 – Breakfast then train to Madrid
9AM – We actually stayed 3 nights in San Sebastian but pretty much did the same as day 4 & 5 so here is our day 6!
Get your cute asses over to the hippest coffee joint in San Sebastian at Sakona for an incredibly delicious breakfast and awesome coffee.
You leave your key in the apartment when you check-out so no need to visit feelfree again.
11AM – Catch the 5hr train from San Sebastian to Madrid.
This is an awesome journey as you meander through the Pyrenees before the train reaches Zaragoza where it passes through a shed and actually changes wheels!
It then joins the more modern high-speed line and shoots down to Madrid at speeds up to 250km/h.
We got a couple of 1st class tickets in advance for around €70 which was well worth the comfort.
Do arrive at the station early to collect your tickets and board. There is a strange airport style check done that results in unnecessarily long queues.
5PM – Arrive at your apartment, drop the bags and get out to explore.
We stayed at an awesome AirBnB in Lavapiés which was just a short 15min walk from the city centre in a vibrant neighbourhood
6PM – Find a seat in the magnificent Plaza Mayor, get some churroz and do some people watching. Stags, hens, students, old, strange, rich…they all pass through.
8PM – Head back towards your apartment in Lavapiés but get some food from one of the many restaurants on Calle del Ave Maria.
Loads of choice and away from the busy tourist spots
DAY 6 – 24 hours in Madrid: Bus tour, markets, parks, gelato
9AM – Get breakfast on the go as you make your way towards San Miguel Market. This place is awesome and gets quite busy the later you leave to visit. Stock up on some treats for lunch
11AM – Jump on the yellow tour bus from Bus Vision and take a seat for the next 1.5hrs as you are chauffeured around the main sites of Madrid.
1PM – If you failed to pick up lunch in Mercado de San Miguel, once the bus returns to Puerta del Sol, pick up one of the most delicious Bocata de Calamares sandwiches from El Señor Martin then follow the route your bus took to El Retiro Park
2PM – Hire a bike, a boat, take a wander around this park and enjoy Madrid like the locals do. Find a spot under a tree in the shade, head to the Crystal Palace to see the terrapins and get an idea of what the Crystal palace from London may have looked like if it didn’t burn down!
5PM – Make your way to Calle de la Cruz for the best selection of restaurants in Madrid. Take your time, make your choice and enjoy.
7PM – Head to Puerta del Sol to enjoy the buzz of this social hotspot in the evenings. Calle de la Montera shooting off to the right of centre is a great street for shops and bars with terrace seating.
9PM – If you took our advice to stay at Curro’s Art & Design AirBnB apartment in Lavapiés, you will have spotted several gelato shops on the walk to Puerto del Sol. We recommend Patagonia Artesanal. Just check out their instagram to see why!
10PM – There are a number of late night bars and clubs near your apartment. Lavapiés is like the Shoreditch of Madrid. There’s something for everyone.
Day 7 – Home.
Make your way to Tirso de Molina station and jump on the underground to Madrid airport. Alternatively you can get a bus or taxi.