Spain has developed its reputation to be one of Europe’s most remarkable travel destinations. Home to bustling cities, breathtaking coastal-scapes, and rolling countryside, it’s a haven for travelers looking to indulge in a little bit of everything. 

But, whilst its more popular destinations, from the likes of Barcelona in the east to Seville in the south, continue to grab the attention of vacationers from far and wide, the Basque Country of Spain often remains overlooked. 

Straddling the border between Spain and France and nestled in the western Pyrenees, the Basque Country is a more under-the-radar destination in this European country that has much to offer travelers who want to dabble in a new, lesser-known territory.

From offering some of the world’s best cuisine to diverse scenic landscapes, the Basque lands have much to be adored by foodies and nature lovers alike. And with its charming villages and bustling settlements, the rich culture and heritage of its destinations equally have much to fascinate those who vacation there. And when it comes to considering how to spend time in this beautiful region, the options are nearly endless. 

This is why our team here at Unforgettable Travel has revealed some of the best things to do in the Basque country for those in search of inspiration for their next trip here. From delving into diverse scenery filled with rolling vistas to indulging in the rich history and art of its settlements, get ready to be impressed by the wonders of Basque territory.

San Sebastian
Motaku Gaztelua

Tour The City of San Sebastian

San Sebastian is one of the better-known cities in the Basque country of Spain. Home to Michelin-starred restaurants and historic Basque architecture, it’s a much-loved destination amongst Spaniard vacationers, but also amongst first and returning travelers to Spain. And, in our opinion, a visit to the Basque region of Spain would not be complete without spending some time in, and touring around, the city of San Sebastian. 

Considered to be one of the country’s foodie capitals, it goes without saying that the city has developed its reputation primarily for its exceptional gastronomic scene. There are ample pintxo bars (which are the Basque region’s own take on tapas), Michelin-starred restaurants, and food markets dotted throughout the city where guests can get a taste of the authentic and unique flavor of Basque cuisine.

Equally, for those interested in learning more about the history and culture of the region, San Sebastian is home to more than a few sites and locations that give travelers a glimpse into its rich timeline. For example, Motaku Gaztelua is a stone fortress dating back to the 12th century and is situated on top of Monte Urgull in the Old Town. Here, visitors can learn more about the fortification’s role in protecting the city, and indulge in breathtaking views of the Bay of Biscay and the city below. 

There’s much to be discovered in the Basque city of San Sebastian, which is exactly why it makes the top of our list of things to do whilst exploring this community.

Vineyard Basque Country
Wine - Basque Country

Explore A Basque Country Vineyard

For centuries, wine-making has been at the heart of the Basque country and its inland settings. The area has been home to vineyards since the Ancient Roman era, meaning it has had more than enough opportunity to become well-versed in the art of wine production, and it has put that time to good use. 

Now, it is one of the most unique and characteristic destinations for wine lovers in the country. Home to cascading vineyards dotted throughout its countryside and mountainous landscapes, it should top the list for all wine lovers and connoisseurs alike looking to experience a lesser-visited, but equally first-class, wine destination in Spain. 

Known best for its effervescent white wines, the basque area grows a variety of both white and red grapes to produce its famed, and award-winning wines. There are numerous wineries and vineyards spread across the Basque area of Spain, growing better-known native grapes like Txakoli and producing a number of unique and flavorsome wines.

We would highly recommend a vineyard tour or winery visit for those visiting Spain for a honeymoon. There’s nothing more romantic than ambling through the vines beneath the Mediterranean sunshine as you sample a glass of wine. And couples that choose to do this in the Basque region can expect to taste some of the best of the crop in this underrated Spanish wine region.

Pil pil cod, Basque cuisine
Pixtos

Sample Basque Cuisine

Distinct from Spain, the Basque region has, over hundreds of years, developed its own cuisine, detached from the culinary traditions of Spain, whilst still drawing similarities. 

Its autonomy has meant it has become its own separate community whilst still being geographically attached to Spain, developing a distinctive gastronomic culture and heritage. Relying heavily on foods and ingredients sources from the region, its cuisine is representative of all that the community has to offer, and stands for.

Local dishes like Pil-Pil Cod, a fried cod dish with garlic and roasted red peppers, and Marmitako, a fish stew with vegetables, make up only a small selection of the eclectic gastronomy that is Basque cuisine. 

We would recommend visiting the city of San Sebastian to sample the region’s gastronomy. Home to Michelin-starred eateries to authentic pintxos bars, visitors can sample everything from home-cooked traditional eats to five-star dishes that add a modern twist to traditional Basque gastronomy. 

Equally, the city of Bilbao is a fantastic destination to sample local Basque cuisine. Known for its comforting stews and fresh seafood, both of which are staples of Basque cuisine, the region’s up-and-coming selection of eateries showcase the very best of the region’s ever-developing and diversifying food scene.

Guggenheim Bilbao
Guggenheim in Bilbao

Go to the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Arguably one of the world’s most famous museum collections, the Guggenheim Museums are home to some of the most exemplary modern and contemporary artwork. Founded by Solomon R. Guggenheim, whose love for contemporary and abstract art led him to create one of the most iconic art foundations of our modern day, the Guggenheim Museums remain few and far between. 

Whilst some of the Guggenheim Museums’ most famous locations are in the hearts of both New York City and Venice, those planning on visiting Spain, and the Basque area, will be pleased to know that the city of Bilbao is home to one of these esteemed museums. 

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is home to an impressive collection of contemporary art, with a number of displays from Basque artists, depicting the unique style and artistic flair of the region, alongside that of Spanish and International artists.

Not only is the artwork held in the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao beautiful, but its architecture is equally so, standing as an exceptional example of 20th-century architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, the building is a masterpiece in its own right in deconstructivism, contemporary, and expressionist architectural styles. It is, therefore, the perfect house to home the equally extraordinary artistic pieces that lie within. 

To experience some of the world’s most unique art and architecture, the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is a must-visit whilst discovering the Basque region of Spain.

Basque Coast Islands
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Venture Along The Basque Coast and Visit Its Islands

Home to natural parks, biotopes, and craggy clifftops, the Basque coastline is a sheer sight to behold. With some of the most picturesque coastal settings in all of Spain, visitors to the region can expect to be in awe of the extraordinary natural landscapes and culture that lie along its coast. 

A natural wonder, for culture vultures and nature lovers alike, exploring this area of the Basque region is a not-to-be-missed opportunity. Visitors will find plenty of fishing villages lining the coast, each with their own beauty, charm, and character. Here, travelers can sample delicious Basque cuisine making the most of the local seafood that has been caught fresh from the neighboring waters. 

And lining the coast, visitors can also try their hand at the ample watersport activities on offer, including kayaking, paddle boarding, and surfing. There are also beautiful stretches of shoreline perfect to stay on during a beach day out and to make the most of tranquil coastlines for those looking for a slower travel experience.

Equally, one of the best parts of the Basque coast is its islands. One of the most beautiful islands is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Linked to the land by a stone bridge, this charming island, which is surrounded by cliffs, is home to untouched beaches and a biotope that remains protected, showcasing the very best of the Basque region’s pristine natural beauty.

La Concha Beach, San Sebastian
La Concha Beach, San Sebastian

Spend The Day At La Concha Beach

La Concha Beach is the Basque region’s most iconic beach, and one of the most picturesque swathes of sandy shoreline in the whole of Spain. This mile-long golden shore is bordered by crystal-blue waters and is backed by the equally iconic settlement of San Sebastian. 

So, with the city already having been highlighted as a must-visit destination by our team, it’s without a doubt that a day out at La Concha needs to be added to your itinerary as your visit and explore the San Sebastian and its many wonders. 

This crescent-shaped oasis offers breathtaking views of the Basque coast and ample opportunities for swimming or exploring the bordering natural coastline. Its size and length mean there’s ample space to set up for the day and simply sprawl out on its fine sands for a day of relaxation. 

Equally, the beach is known for its watersports, including boat trips, surfing, kayaking, and paddleboarding, and visitors can easily hire equipment or have a lesson or two to make the most of this. 

And with plenty of eateries lining its shores along its seaside promenade, beach dwellers can head over here for a bite to eat whenever their stomachs begin to rumble for a taste of local Basque delicacies. All in all, this coastal scape is the ideal location to indulge in the beach lifestyle and natural beauty of the Basque region. 

The Basque region is a distinct and unique area of Spain that has diverse experiences to tempt every type of traveler. From exploring its breathtaking coastal and vineyard landscapes to sampling its gastronomic delights or uncovering its unique culture and heritage, things to do in the Basque country are abundant at all times of the year. 

If a trip to the Basque region has caught your eye, why not opt for a Gourmet Journey of Spain? On this tour, you can expect to savor the many culinary delicacies of Spain throughout its different and diverse regions. From the Basque area to Barcelona and the rolling vineyards of Rioja, get ready to have your tastebuds tingling and your stomachs full on this Spanish gastronomic adventure. 

If you’re unsure of where to start when planning your next vacation to Spain, why not contact our team of experts? This way you can discuss your needs, and explore our selection of expertly-crafted tours, to find the perfect trip for you.

You can call Ally, our Europe specialist, at +44 208 004 2345, or contact our team now to bring your perfect Spanish vacation one step closer.

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