Best places to visit in The Basque Country

May 6, 2019

by Abril Montes De Oca

The Basque Country is an autonomous community in northern Spain. Its nature bears no resemblance to the rest of Spain, this region overflowing in green rich landscapes thanks to its humid oceanic climate. Right from the start, I decided that one day I will have to live here, as this place breathes joy and adventure. While I visited, there were plenty of ways to spend my time and acclimate to this region.

Nature Getaways

When I do research on a country that I’m going to visit, nature is always the first thing that comes to my mind. The Basque Country boasts with dazzling sights that can easily take your breath away. I, for one, was allured by the neverending state of serenity that enfolds every sight. It was the perfect chance to clear my mind and let my soul wander. Every beach and hill seems to have its own mystery.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Recently it has gained a huge amount of visitors as this Island appeared in the series Game of Thrones but its beauty comes from the feelings it evokes in you. As I walked the stairs of the man-made bridge, I began to sense an unusual feeling. It felt as if I was smaller but in a good way. Finding myself at the edge of raw nature that merges with the human touch to create such an astonishing view offered me a new grasp of reality. At the top of the islet, you can find a hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist. It’s said that you have to ring the bell three times so you will one day return to this place.

El Cerro Amboto – Amboto hills

Veiled in mythology, these hills offer a great hike. As the main track took me atop, the landscape cleansed my eyes. I was lucky enough to catch a nice day, but if things don’t go quite as according to plan, there are secondary tracks that will make the experience still as enjoyable. To my surprise, I encountered docile horses and cows that seem to live their best life on these hills. 

Aritzatxu Beach – Bermeo

At this beach, you can either admire the waves from up above or become an accomplice in the game of the tides. When the tide is low, the mainland is connected to a small island by a stone bridge that eventually disappears underwater when the tide is high. This is one of the many beaches of The Basque Country that are a must visit: Bakio, Zurriola, Arrigorri, Arrietara, Karraspio, Itzurun.

City breaks

The Basque Country has breathtaking sights but it is also known for its beautiful cities, brought to life by its inhabitants and architecture. Their buildings overflow with colours and their balconies are filled with plants. Each city is left with a unique personality, and it sure helps to cope with their uncertain weather. Another fascinating thing about this region is that their original language is Euskera-Basque, thus every city has its name in Basque and in Spanish.

Bilbao – Bilbo 

It is the largest city in the Basque Country and it’s also the capital of the Biscay region. I chose to see Bilbao by bike, thus having enough time to visit the Guggenheim Museum and to enjoy a ride along the Nervion river all the way to Casco Viejo (old town). In March, many flowers had already bloomed and the parks were one of the most pleasant spots to spend my time: Parque Etxebarria, Jardines de Albia, Paseo Del Arenal, Paseo de la Memoria. By far, my favourite thing in Bilbao is the enormous dog statue made out of flowers.

Getxo – Getxoko

This town is located only 14 km north from Bilbao but owns a different kind of charm. A must visit for me was The Vizcaya Bridge, a hanging bridge that connects the town Potugalete to Getxo. Another way to cross the Nervion river in this town is by boat. I had enough time to spend so I took a walk along the coast, where I enjoyed a nice view of the Atlantic ocean.

Plencia – Plentzia

Plencia is a resort city that benefits from its nice and calm beach. I got to see this town during the festivities of San Antolin which made it easier to understand the culture and its people. Everybody was outside with their families, drinking, eating and celebrating.

Food & drinks

Here, grabbing a drink or a bite outside is the routine. No matter the age, whole families roam the streets and top the bars. I believe this is the first sign of a happy population. I noticed that the normal thing to do is to go from bar to bar, basically eating and drinking the whole time, which is awesome.

Pintxos

Pintxos are a traditional food from The Basque Country, that represents a sort of gourmet snack. Here you can find them at any bar and in a vast range of types. From fish to chicken and sweet to salty, they cover it all, making it very difficult not to find the perfect match for your taste buds.

Tortilla

The actual tortilla represents a Spanish omelette, made out of potatoes, eggs, and onion fried on a pan and served with a piece of fresh bread. For me, it is the perfect breakfast, lunch, and dinner and I was constantly trying to find myself in a situation where I had to eat it.

Cidra

We all drank apple cider before, but the one I am specifically talking about is not filled with sugar and flavours. I am talking about the basic and good Spanish cider, the one that almost makes alcohol feel healthy. I could find it at every store, at the best price. This drink probably isn’t for everybody, but trying it is a must. 

Wine

Last but not least, wine. After all, we are talking about Spain. One of the most known Spanish wine regions is Rioja, and in The Basque Country is found Rioja Alavesa, its sub-area. Of course, you can opt to just buy their wines from the store, but the best experience would be to visit their vineyards and part take in a wine tasting. 

Every city in The Basque Country has these, so I recommend you try them all while you visit this splendid region. I did and I can guarantee that it helps attain a whole experience. Don’t forget that all these amazing things are kept alive by beautiful outgoing people, so don’t be afraid to interact with them, as the majority are willing to help us out.

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