14 most beautiful villages of the Spanish Basque Country

Undiscovered Spain: a guide to the most interesting places in the Basque Country.

Modern cities, picturesque villages, beaches, castles, natural wonders – all this is the amazing Basque Country.

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The Basque Country is one of the autonomous provinces of the Kingdom of Spain. It is unique, and the linguistic and cultural differences from other regions of Spain make it a “country in the country”. This is a proud and distinctive region that will amaze you with its nature, architecture, authentic Atlantic cuisine, futuristic buildings, excellent wine.

The province has about 30 natural parks, biosphere zones and national reserves. The most visited among them are Gorbea, Izki, Urquiola, Valderejo, Aizkorri-Aratz.

There are three airports in the region: San Sebastian, Bilbao and Vitoria. They are easily accessible from European cities by Ryanair, Vueling, Volotea. Within the region it is most convenient to travel by bus and train. Approximate price for a bus / train from Bilbao to San Sebastian starts at €9.

The average price for a 3* hotel starts at €35 and a 5* hotel starts at €100.

Bilbao

This is the largest, most touristic and cosmopolitan city in the region, which continues to grow steadily. Bilbao is the modern face of the Basque Country. The city successfully combines traditional Basque culture with a new vision of the future. This place should be visited by all lovers of urban design and planning. And the city also attracts fans of nature, because it is surrounded by green hills and located near the Atlantic coast.

Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum is undoubtedly the city’s calling card. This futuristic building was built in 1997 and today is a mascot for the locals, who have given it the nickname – “Puppy”. Another important landmark is Casco Viejo (or “seven streets”). This is the old neighborhood, where you can wander through the labyrinth of streets and check out Santiago Cathedral, the New Square, the Basque Museum and the municipal library. For local flavor, the Ribera Market is worth a visit for local delicacies. By the way, it is the largest covered food market in Europe, occupying an area of 10,000 square meters. We recommend a visit to the Campos Eliseos Theater with free guided tours.

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San Sebastian

The main resort mecca of the Basque Country can surprise and endear itself to many travelers. It is a place of partying, enjoyment, fun and relaxation.

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San Sebastian is famous for its unsurpassed restaurants. Here you can taste the local cuisine, all kinds of seafood and fish, as well as daring experiments of the chefs. The city’s restaurants have 15 Michelin stars, and Mugaritz y Arzak was ranked in the top 50 best restaurants in the world in 2015. In Old Town, the number of bars per square meter is the highest in the world! In addition, San Sebastian hosts the annual International Film Festival (September 22 to 30). The San Telmo Museum contains more than 26,000 ethnographic, archaeological, historical and artistic elements.

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San Sebastian beach is represented by 3 main beaches: Playa La Concha, Playa Ondarreta, Playa Zurriola. The best views of the city and beaches are from Mount Igueldo.

Vitoria-Gasteis

The second largest city in the Basque Country is often neglected by tourists. But, as you know, modesty embellishes, and Vitoria is the perfect proof of that. It is a medieval town where centuries-old and modern buildings harmoniously coexist.

Vitoria-Gasteis

There are many interesting sights in the city, including the Museum of Fine Arts, a medieval fortress, the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Bibat Museum complex, the Casa del Cordón, the New Cathedral, Eduardo Dato Street, and the Escorial Esquivel Palace.

The salt valley of Añana.

Just 30 km from Vitoria-Gasteis there is an amazing place, the Salinas de Añana Salt Valley. It is a complex of impressive wooden structures through which salt water is transported to special sites where the process of evaporation and salt collection takes place. Salt has been mined in this area for 6,000 years, although collection methods have been continually modernized.

The salt valley of Anjana

Today, there are about 2,000 salt lakes in the valley. The salt production season usually begins in May and lasts until September. Admission costs €6 (plus another €2 if you want to see the salt springs).

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Laguardia

The beautiful village of Laguardia is located in a picturesque valley, completely surrounded by vineyards and is an ideal place to explore the wine traditions of the region. Originally a fortress, it was mainly used as a military fort.

Laguardia

Another feature of Laguardia is the system of tunnels that were dug under the houses of the inhabitants. Over time, people realized that the climate inside the tunnels was ideal for storing wine. The Viñaspre Winery offers a tour of the tunnels, where you can learn about the technology of wine production in the Middle Ages and in modern times, as well as tasting the local varieties.

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In the main square of the village is the town hall with an ancient clock with dancing figures. Even in hot weather, it is pleasant to wander through the narrow, cool streets of Laguardia.

Undoubtedly, this place is a must-see for tourists who come to the Basque Country. The small island, located 35 km from Bilbao, is cone-shaped, and at its highest point there is a small church of St. Juan. San Juan de Gastelugache is connected to the mainland by a man-made stone bridge. To reach the island, you have to climb 241 steps. According to legend, if you touch the bell of the church three times and make a wish, it will definitely come true. The place itself is very atmospheric and the view of the Bay of Biscay is breathtaking.

San Juan de Gastelugache

Throughout the year, there are several festivals in the region, which include San Juan de Gastelugache. There is a pilgrimage from the town of Bermeo to San Juan de Gastelugache on June 24, a pilgrimage from the village of Arrieta on July 31, and a pilgrimage from the town of Baquio on August 29. Also before the fishing season, Basque fishermen visit San Juan de Gastelugache to ask the saint for good luck.

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Mundaka

The small picturesque village of Mundaka is located near the port, which is the center of life for locals and tourists. Next to the port is the beautiful chapel of Santa Catalina, built in 1879 in the Gothic and Renaissance style.

Mundaka

Mundaka is considered one of the best European surf spots. Every year in the fall and winter, the streets are filled with dozens of surfers from all over the world, who come here to conquer the famous waves. Their height can be up to 5 meters high and 400 meters long. For beginners there are surf schools, the best of which are Mundaka Surf Club, Surfin’ Mundaka, Mundaka Surf Shop & Surf School.

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