Bilbao and San Sebastián with Chef Andoni
One Departure Only
You lost track of time, cooking, dining and breaking out into song in a historic, wood-paneled tavern in San Sebastián in the Basque region of Spain. You’re with exclusive company: world-renowned chef Andoni Aduriz and members of this txoko, one of the region’s 200 or so secret gastronomic societies. And you’re a guest of honor. Sparkling txakoli wine has been poured from dramatic heights into your glass; you’ve sampled blackthorn liqueur, buttery cheeses, and silken hams in between bouts of chopping, searing, and sautéing the main course. You have never felt so at home. As the Basque say, Adiskide onekin, orduak labur. With a good friend, the hours are short.
Your curator on this exquisite culinary journey is a legendary chef. Andoni Luis Aduriz is the chef at Mugaritz, the hillside Basque restaurant that’s been ranked among the world’s top ten tables for over a decade now. More than just a restaurant, it’s become a culinary Mecca for chefs, creators, and boundary-breakers of all kinds. Half mystic, half jester, Chef Andoni approaches food in a way that’s equal parts cerebral and playful. Make no mistake: All of it is unforgettably delicious. VIP access to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, a private lunch hosted by Chef Alija at his Michelin-starred Nerua, dinner at Michelin-starred Arzak, a private meal with Chef Andoni at Mugaritz… if you are passionate about food and wine, if you appreciate private access to some of Europe’s most exclusive kitchens, join us!
This experience also proves how travel can be a force for good. It’s been handcrafted by Game Changers creator Jim Kane, a leader in the field of sustainable tourism and host of the digital food series Off the Table. Jim has spent the past 15 years using food as a vehicle for the kind of travel that makes a lasting impact and benefits local communities. On this life-changing trip, $500 per guest will be donated to Cocina Conciencia, a Spanish nonprofit that provides refugees with job training and placement in some of Spain’s leading kitchens.
Exclusive dining at no less than three Michelin-starred restaurants, secret supper clubs, rustic pintxos, fine wines
Andoni Luis Aduriz, chef and muse at Mugaritz—ranked a World's 50 Best Restaurant each year since 2006
The stunning coast and mountains of Basque Country. Then dive into the arts at Bilbao's Guggenheim Museum
The region's culture, traditional crafts, and centuries-old markets. Support local nonprofits doing good.
Jim created Game Changers to develop singular experiences with leading chefs as a means to make a lasting impact, donating to hand-picked NGOs in destinations visited that are changing lives through food.
Andoni Luis Aduriz
Andoni is one of the world's most-celebrated chefs. Mugaritz, the Michelin two-star Mecca he opened in 1998, is the only restaurant to be ranked amongst the Top 10 of the World's 50 Best restaurants list every year since 2006.
Founder & CEO, Modern Adventure
Luis is a YPO Oregon Chapter member, and proud to partner with his friend Jim Kane to bring this extraordinary experience.
Day by Day
Bilbao and San Sebastián with Chef Andoni, a legend among legends in the Michelin-starred Basque firmament. Secret gastronomic societies, centuries-old markets, VIP access to the Guggenheim, plus three Michelin-starred meals—including dinner with Chef Andoni at Mugaritz.
Ongietorri! Welcome to Basque country, one of the world’s most ancient cultures, and home to more Michelin stars than any other region of the world. We’ll arrive in Bilbao and check into our hotel overlooking the Ría de Nervión and the sweeping structure of the Guggenheim Museum. We’ll take in the city with a gentle cruise along the river and see the scenery and architecture strike a balance between historic and contemporary—what’s known here and abroad as the “Bilbao effect.”
In the evening, we’ll embark on a txikiteo, or epic pintxo crawl in search of the best of the region’s world-famous, toothpick-skewered tapas. Our route will be curated by Chef Josean Alija, featuring his favorite bars. We’ll sample a classic Gilda (salted anchovies, green olives, pickled peppers) and try figs stuffed with foie gras. Pintxos in one hand and a glass of crisp cider just pulled from the tap in the other, we’ll perch cozily at little standing tables before moving on to the next venue (and the next, and the next).
Even if you’ve never heard of the Guggenheim, you’d recognize it instantly. In the morning, we’ll enjoy and exclusive insider’s tour of the iconic Frank Gehry-designed museum. Viewing everything from Rothko to Warhol, we’ll even visit areas generally off-limits to the public. After getting our fill on art and culture, we’ll enjoy lunch on the museum restaurant’s private terrace. This is Chef Alija’s Nerua – yes, a Michelin-starred restaurant in a museum – where we’ll enjoy pre-lunch cocktails and canapés, followed by a kitchen tour by the chef himself.
This afternoon, it’s time to see Bilbao like a local. Through our guided walking tour, we’ll visit the Abandolbarre neighborhood as well as Casco Viejo. Meander along the narrow streets, through open-air markets and sample some of the best food Europe has to offer.
This morning, we’ll rise for the day’s pilgrimage. Starting at Zarautz Beach, our hike along the legendary Camino de Santiago will take us into the hills to the Santa Barbara Hermitage and past beautiful mountain meadows. It will be the perfect end to our time in Bilbao, and reflect on the amazing things we’ve done and seen before continuing to San Sebastián.
En route, we’ll stop at the famed Txakoli Vineyard for some afternoon wine tasting and lunch. Through Txakoli is Basque for “cottage wine,” it is anything but humble. In San Sebastián, we’ll see how many Michelin stars we can fit in one trip. Dinner tonight is at Arzak, where traditional Basque flavors are transformed with modern gastronomic techniques.
The morning is ours to relax or explore San Sebastián. After lunch, we take a short ride out of town, through shimmering green, rolling hills, to a sprawling museum and sculpture park devoted to renowned local artist Eduardo Chillida. His monumental abstract works, cast in iron, wood, and steel, pay homage to the region’s landscape and “black light.” A member of the Chillida family takes us on a private tour of the whimsical and interactive sculpture park, and we’ll take in the spectacular views of San Sebastián from above.
Back in town, we’ll meet up with Chef Andoni at Mugaritz, literally one of the world’s most heralded restaurants. We’ll whet our appetites by touring the restaurant kitchen and participating in a brainstorming session with Andoni and Jon Ezeiza, his director of research, who will share with us the restaurant’s unique vision: connecting food with science, art, memory, sustainability, and the seasons. And then, we’ll experience the magic for ourselves, enjoying a specially curated dinner built around an exclusive tasting menu prepared just for us.
To market, to market! This morning we’ll take a short drive past sheep grazing alongside emerald lakes to the small hilltop town of Tolosa, where marketgoers have shop for local delicacies like live snails, alubias (beans traditionally served with blood sausage), picked green peppers and smoky Idiazabal cheese, which can still be purchased straight from the shepherds.
Next we meet Slow Food Presidium producer Pello Urdapilleta at his 18th-century family farmhouse nearby. Pello, an engineer by training, has dedicated his life to raising the region’s last remaining heritage pig breed, Euskal Txerria. We’ll visit the chestnut- and acorn-laden hillsides where Pello’s pigs, with their signature long floppy ears, happily roam. We’ll enjoy a long, leisurely lunch with the local farmers, feasting on rustic dishes including, of course, their sublime cured ham.
After an afternoon walk down county lanes shimmering of emerald-green moss and lichen, we’ll return to town for an evening of cooking and camaraderie at Gatzeltubide, a famous txoko (private gastronomic society). Andoni, an honored member, will be our host.
Alas, our time together has come to an end. After breakfast or maybe and a farewell morning stroll (and of course just one more mad dash for a final pintxo – no judgement!), we’ll bid farewell to San Sebastián.
Hotel Gran DomineBilbao
Located in the emblematic arts district of Bilbao, this is the only 5-star hotel where every room has a picturesque view of the Guggenheim. Situated among the Fine Arts Museum, Iberdrola Tower and Euskalduna Palace, it's close to just about everything Bilbao is known for. Newly renovated, the hotel exudes a passion for art and design, elegance and cosmopolitan style. Take in the sights from their spacious rooms, or take a drink up to the beautiful rooftop terrace.
Maria CristinaSan Sebastián
Named in honor of the queen of Spain—the hotel's the first guest when it opened back in 1912—the five-star Maria Cristina is a true grande dame of the Belle Epoque, designed by the architect who also gave the world the Ritz hotels in Paris and Madrid. From the moment you ascend the stone stairs to the marble-columned lobby, you'll feel like you've stepped back in time—into an Agatha Christie novel, maybe, or a James Bond film. Our favorite moment: drinking a bottle of sparkling txkalito wine on the terrace as a glorious sunset melts into the Bay of Biscay below us.
Book Bilbao and San Sebastián with Chef Andoni
That’s OK, we have answers. Read our FAQs below. Or text or call us at +1 (855) 219-8018 to speak with a Modern Adventure Trip Specialist.
What does the price include?
Five nights of five-star accommodations in Bilbao and San Sebastián; private travel for all day trips and excursions; departure airport transfer; private tours with locals guides and cultural experts; exclusive VIP access and tastings, guided activities; entrance fees; daily breakfasts, most lunches and dinners including three meals at Michelin rated restaurants; local beverages with meals.
What does the price not include?
International roundtrip airfare; travel insurance; activities not included in the trip itinerary; hotel incidentals including room service, laundry service and hotel bar tabs; food and beverage not included in itinerary; gratuity for tour leader.
What are the arrival & departure details?
We recommend you arrive at the Bilbao Airport (BIO) in Bilbao, Spain.
Who is traveling on this trip?
We limit the group to no more than 20 travelers and your Modern Adventure team. Our experiences are fun and inclusive and you can expect to be joined by a diverse group in terms of age, background and interests – including solo travelers, couples and friends traveling together. Please call with any specific questions.
Can I extend this adventure?
Yes, pre and post stays are available. After booking, our concierge team is more than happy to discuss and share options, and to coordinate additional hotel stays, activities or multi-day itineraries.
Do I need to pay a solo traveler supplement?
Yes, there is a $1,500 supplement for solo travelers, to be paid at the time of booking to secure a private room during the adventure. If you are traveling solo and would like Modern Adventure to pair you with a guest of the same gender, that option may be available at checkout – these spots are limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis (See our Terms and Conditions for full details).
What travel documents are needed?
Private US citizens are not required to have a visa for stays under 90 days in Spain. Just bring a valid US passport. For citizens of other countries, please check with the Spanish Embassy or Consulate for information and requirements.