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A bike trip to San Sebastián

End of September 2020 I was invited to a friends wedding in Biarritz. Yes, it was a Covid period and the wedding has been already postponed several times due to that fact. Nevertheless it was possible to travel and celebrate in a small inner cirle, a few attempts later.

I planned to stay there for a week and arrived already some days earlier than the rest of our group, as I wanted to have some time in order to explore the city in my own rhythm. After all the friends were reunited we had a great time together, whether it was surfing, cooking, exploring the downtown or going out for more food and drinks 😅

I knew that I wanted to take the most of this vacation and had the spontaneous idea to rent a bike and go a place further – to San Sebastián in Spain. It was a personal challenge for me to do it on my own and not to plan everything in detail, as I am usually a person who just overplans everything. In German, there is a saying, which I like a lot: “Machen ist wie wollen, nur krasser.” 😉 So this was my motto to start my first long bike trip in my life. The only thing which was missing at that time was a bike.

So first things first – a bike was needed. I went to a local bike rental, without thinking too long or even making an appointment. I did my best to speak in French, as I hoped to leave a good impression in order to a get a perfect bike match 😅.

At the end it was easy-peasy and didn’t even take 10 minutes. Here I stood with my touring bike, but without any other equipment (no helmet, no repair kit either). I thought to myself: hmmm… maybe not the best way to start something you didn’t do before without being prepared for the worst. But at the end I was like – no risk no fun, right? And if I stay here longer thinking about all the things that could happen, I wouldn’t move forward at all.

So I went on.

The route itself was not so sophisticated. Starting point: Biarritz, France – destination: San Sebastián, Spain. 47,4 km in total should be made in 2,52 h according to Google Maps. So I planned with a day trip duration. Having the Google Maps audio guiding voice in my ears, some snacks and a bottle of water in my bag – I thought I would be sufficiently equipped for this kind of micro-adventure.

But I was wrong. Though, the first half of the route went actually very well. I passed several towns, had a gorgeous route along the coast accompanied with sunshine, ending up this happy segment with a real highlight – by arriving in Saint Jean de Luz, a natural harbor bay in the middle between Biarritz and San Sebastián. Here I made my first stop and enjoyed the view at the beach with all the blue water, yellow sand and colorful sunshades.

Distance in km


Money spent




After this segment the real adventure began. The type of route has changed and I was mostly on a three track federal road without a helmet. Ok now there was no way back so I just had to push myself. But. Little did I know that this type of road would be topped some 20 minutes later, by changing into a highway 💩.

If you already have been in a situation like this, there are actually only 3 options. Turn back, if the distance is short enough, climb over the fence or just move forward and hope for a soon exit. I went for the third option. And lucky for me the exit came sooner than expected. I than stopped in a McDonald’s at a highway service area where I charged my phone and refreshed myself after this emotional highway (in the truest sense of the word).

There I made the decision to book a room in San Sebastián as I definitely wouldn’t make it back until sunset. And in this case I even would get the chance to explore San Sebastián by night. Best decision ever, because after I left the service station I drove around in circles quite a while as there was no other way without getting back on the highway again. About 1 hour later, I finally found a highway-free track to San Sebastián. What a relief 🥳

Then everything went smoothly again. I was over-happy arriving in San Sebastián. My guest room was in a pension straight in the downtown, where I even got some towels and could lock my bike in the room. Of course I didn’t have extra clothes with me, nor toothbrush either or anything like that. I didn’t plan to go for 2 days. But this was no problem with me, staying flexible is the key. I just went shopping. Luckily, I didn’t arrive that late, so the shops still were open.

All images were made with an iPhone 11 and edited with Lightroom.