Basque Country


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Why Travel to the Basque Country?

The Basque Country is one of the top destinations to visit in Northern Spain, renowned for its distinctive culture, history, traditions, and the unique Euskera language, which has no relation to Indo-European languages. Euskadi, as it's known in Basque, is a welcoming land inhabited by resilient and independent yet friendly locals. The region is formed by three provinces, Alava, Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia (Biscay) along with Navarra and a portion of southwestern France.

To truly grasp the essence of Basque culture, one must venture beyond the urban landscapes and delve into the hidden gems scattered across the mountains, forests, and countryside. It is in these rustic retreats that you will discover the Basque spirit thriving in picturesque small villages along the rugged coastlines where Basque fishermen, are respected for their prodigious fishing skills against formidable climatic odds that have historically taken them as far away as Newfoundland.

In these rural neighbourhoods, the heart of native Basque culture beats strong. Here, time seems to stand still, preserving traditions such as the thrilling sport of pelota vasca (jai alai), that highlights the energy and competitive spirit of the Basques. Traditional festivals provide a window into the enduring strength and dexterity of Basque singers and dancers as they come together in vibrant celebrations.

For an authentic off the beaten path experience in the Basque Country look beyond the cities and embrace the enchanting countryside, where culture and tradition unfolds against a backdrop of natural beauty with mountain peaks reaching for the sky and sublime rocky coves battered by mighty Atlantic swells.

Basque Country Must-See Sights

The capital of the Bizkaia province is Bilbao (Bilbo), a bustling seaport, industrial hub, and financial centre. Since 1997, it has been the home of the stunning Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, the architectural marvel of the century.

Nestled along the Bay of Biscay, San Sebastian, known as Donostia in Basque, emerges as an upscale coastal resort, with spectacular beaches such as Playa de la Concha along with its western counterpart, Playa de Ondarreta. This beach stands out as one of Europe´s finest urban beaches with conditions for swimming that are consistently favourable and safe. As night descends, the sight of the bay´s shimmering lights and illuminated monuments cast a spell of enchantment that is truly magical. San Sebastian is the capital and main city of Gipuzkoa province, and it extends like a string of pearls around the Bay of Biscay. This city displays sophistication, offering a blend of beauty and elegance with a cultural, social and gastronomic importance far in excess of its size.

Explore the inland, and you will encounter Vitoria-Gasteiz in Alava, the apex of the Basque triangle. It serves as the political and administrative heart of the region and the seat of the Basque government.

To the far northeast lies Irún, renowned as a significant starting point for pilgrims embarking on the Northern Way (Camino del Norte) pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James). And then Pamplona, famous worldwide for its Fiestas de San Fermin, and a stopping off point for pilgrims on the French Way.

From the majestic Pyrenees to the lovely city of Vitoria, this region offers an abundance of activities and sights to explore, making it a top destination for travellers.

Culinary Marvels of the Basque Country and Txakoli Wine

Great eating is another important reason for many food and wine lovers to visit the Basque Country. Basque chefs are highly admired and the cooking of the Basque region has perhaps Spain´s finest cuisine. It was here in the Basque Country that nueva cocina vasca -new Basque cuisine- was born, based on the creative use of the finest locally sourced ingredients. It exists alongside traditional Basque cooking that revolves around exquisite seafood -especially hake, salt cod, spider crab and baby eels (angulas)- all accompanied by the wonderful local white wine called Txakoli. 

Txakoli the signature wine of the Basque Country is a mild and lightly sparkling wine renowned for its crisp, refreshing character, making it a perfect companion for the region´s seafood. Txakolí has a long history in the Basque Country, with some wineries producing it for generations. It is deeply rooted in Basque culture and often served in the region´s traditional pintxos bars.

Our food experts have chosen the best tour operators offering tours with food, wine, and walking holidays in the Basque Country. You can check our full list of top food tours to the Basque Country and recommended boutique hotels in the sections of this Basque Country travel destination guide.

Capital of  Basque Country: Vitoria-Gasteiz
Population:  2.22 million (2023) inhabitants
Basque Country
Basque Country
Basque Country
Basque Country


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