Table of Contents
- Top Things to Do in the Basque Country
- 1. Bilbao
- 2. San Sebastián
- 3. Getxo
- 4. San Juan Gaztelugatxe
- 5. Sakoneta Beach
- 6. Urdaibai
- 7. Urkiola Natural Park
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Get ready to discover one of the most beautiful and unique regions in Spain with this post, Top Things to do in the Basque Country.
Explore magnificent natural landscapes, get lost and wander around the ancient towns, delight yourself with some of the most distinguished Michelin starred restaurants, soak up the Spanish traditions, fall in love with the delicious pintxos, relax in some of the most beautiful pristine beaches in Europe…
In other words, awake to the authenticity of the Basque Country.
If you want to find the most beautiful spots in the Basque Country to take the most impresive picture, check out our latest post The 18 Most Instagramable Places in the Basque Country
Top Things to Do in the Basque Country
Why visiting: Bilbao is the heart of the Basque Country and one of the most cosmopolitan and touristic cities. Over the years, Bilbao has been able to successfully blend in the traditional Basque culture with a futuristic vision of the city, consequently becoming a sophisticated and full of action city in the present. Its staggering architecture, the green hill surroundings, and its proximity to the coast makes of Bilbao an attractive destination for everyone.
Things to do in Bilbao
- Visit the Guggenheim Museum. One of the most important contemporary buildings in the world, made with titanium panels that create random curves designed to catch the light. That’s why it shows a completely different image at night.
- Take a stroll around El Casco Viejo. It is the old medieval town and the most picturesque part of the city. It is formed by 7 narrow streets packed with taverns where you can use a stop to delight a tasteful pintxo. Pintxos are a piece of bread with different toppings. If you want to try some of the best pintxos in the city, take a walk to Plaza Nueva.
- Take a walk at El Ensanche. El Ensanche, together with the Gran Via, are great places to walk and do some shopping. Head from there towards Casco Viejo, Bellas Artes Museum and Casilda Iturrizar Park.
- Plans for curious people: If you are curious about culture and a museum lover, then you should visit these places: Fine Arts Museum, the Archeological Museum, Basque Museum, and the Maritime Museum.
- Plans for Foodies. If you are a foodie, you are in the right place! Bilbao has more than 30 Michelin starred restaurants spread around the city. But not only Michellin starred restaurants take the prize in terms of food, Basque Cuisine is found in mostly every corner. Don’t forget to try pintxos, specially the fried foie pintxo and enjoy them with some local wine, Txacoli. If you want to make the most of your foodie experience with plans like Basque cooking lessons, Guided Txacoli Wine Tasting, or a Guided Pinxtos Tour in Bilbao, click below or on the links.
Why visiting: San Sebastián is famous for its frequently awarded gastronomy, the stunning white sand beaches and for hosting one of the most important cultural events, the International Film Festival, which is celebrated once a year.
Alongside La Concha beach, one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe, you can spot the elegant buildings perched on the lush hillsides.
Besides the elegance and charm of San Sebastian, it’s reputation comes from being one of the world’s great dining destinations. There are 16 Michelin stars in the city and some of the best chefs in the world.
Things to do in San Sebastián
- Visit el Casco Viejo. It is one of the best parts of the city to go for a walk and eat some local pintxos. The old part of the city has the greatest concentration of bars in the world! As you walk inside the bars, you will see a wide variety of pintxos waiting for you, they are the most delicious in the city. From there take a look at Santa Maria del Coro Church and the Constitution Square.
- El Ayuntamiento (the City Hall) is located between La Concha beach and the Casco Viejo as is worth to spend some time looking at the building.
- Centro Romántico. Located in the most beautiful part of the city. There you will see some beautiful buildings with a Parisian style that makes this neighborhood a compulsory place to stop by.
- Monte Urgul. Monte Urgul rises up the San Sebastian bay surrounded by the Cantabric sea and it offers spectacular views of San Sebastian. It used to be a strategic point to defend the city years back and nowadays you can still see the remainings of the wall that surrounded the mount. Hike up the Monte Urgul to enjoy the views.
- Monte Igueldo. It is located on the other hill of San Sebastian. To get there you can take the old funicular to enjoy some of the best panoramic views of the city.
- Cristina Ernea Park. It is a scenic park to visit and where locals head to relax from the city. In the park, you can find ducks, peacocks, ornamental plants and a wooden path.
- El Peine del Viento. This steel sculpture at the end of the Ondarreta beach is one of the most iconic pictures of San Sebastián.
Why visiting: Getxo is a beautiful town lapped by the waters of the Cantabric Sea with staggering landscapes located only 20km from Bilbao. It is found in the right shore of the Nervion River which is considered the “posh” area and it is very representative of Getxo all the mansions and elegant bourgeoisie neighborhoods. This town has many buildings of architectural interest, stunning beaches to spend the day and relax, interesting walks to understand the town and highly recommended restaurants to get a taste of the Basque gastronomy.
Things to do in Getxo
- Camino de las Grandes Villas. This walk is the best way to discover the beauty of Getxo by observing the mansions and villas rising up the hills. The walk starts at Puente de Vizcaya (the bridge) and after that, it goes all the way near the river towards la Bahia de Getxo. Some of the unique villas you will find are Palacio Arriluze y la Mansión Aitzgoyen, with a unique construction design.
- Puerto de Algorta. This part of the town has years of finish tradition as it is where the fisherman used to live. Puerto Viejo is formed by steep and narrow streets and white houses, which makes this neighborhood a magical place to wander around. Nowadays is a meeting point for local people in Getxo due to the wide offer of restaurants. We personally loved the bars that you find upstairs where you can sit outside and order some pintxos, rabas (similar to squid) mussels with tomato and a delicious pintxo of foie. All of that with a glass of local white wine.
- Beaches in Getxo. There are five beaches to be found in Gexto, Las Arenas, Ereaga Beach, Arrigunaga Beach, Barinatxe- la Salvaje Beach and Gorrondatxe- Azikorri. The first two beaches are the town beaches, being Ereaga bigger and where you can practice some sports. Arrigunaga Beach is considered the quietest beach in Getxo so if you are looking for a peaceful place to enjoy the day, this is your place. If you would rather practice your surf skills, then you should visit any of these two beaches, Barinatxe- la Salvaje Beach and Gorrondatxe- Azikorri.
Why visiting: San Juan de Gaztugatxe is probably one of the most special places in the Basque country. Its special alluring beauty is why it has been chosen as one of the settings in Games of Thrones, known as “Dragonstone”
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a man-made stone bridge that connects the mainland to the island. The bridge consists of a narrow path of 241 steps that leads to the church perched at the end of the bridge. The legend says that once you’ve completed all the steps and have reached the church, you then need to ring the bell three times.
Things to do in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a bit of trekking from the moment you park the car, so take your time to enjoy it. Make sure you bring with you some water and a snack, also we recommend to wear comfortable shoes too.
Shoot the best picture. Finding the best photograph of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is not an easy task as wherever you look around you will be able to appreciate the authenticity of this place. Therefore, make sure you take time to look around to find the best spot.
Enjoy the views. Take time to admire the beauty of this place and enjoy the fresh breeze from the sea.
The best time to visit San Juan de Gaztugatxe is during the offseason because it is likely to have less visitors. Also, you need to get your ticket in advance if you are planning to visit it from 10 am until 7 pm. If you prefer to avoid the crowds and want to get the best picture of this place, then we recommend you to get there at sunset. That way you won’t have to get your ticket in advance and you will be able to enjoy this place by yourself.
Why visiting: Sakoneta beach is one of the most unique natural spaces in the Basque Country and a protected biotype of Zumaia- Deba. This idyllic place is famous for its amazing multilayered geological flysch formations, visible at low tide when the water is far enough.
Things to do in Sakoneta Beach.
To get to Sakoneta beach it takes 20 minutes to walk from the parking. You will have to follow the narrow path that gets through the farm all the way until you spot the sealine.
The path is easy to follow and you will enjoy a green scenery all the way to the beach.
Sakoneta beach is a famous place for people who love photography and a great place to relax in the afternoon to watch the sunset.
Why visiting: This is another unique natural space in the Basque country listed as Unesco as a Biosphere Reserve. Urdaibai is rich in natural beauty and diversity, that is why it is one of our recommended places to visit. The river Oka flows into an estuary creating magnificent wetlands full of life. It is a famous spot for bird watching due to the diversity of species. Urdaibai also hosts some of the most sophisticated beaches in the Basque country such as Laida and Laga.
Things to do in Urdaibai
Birdwatching. The Urdaibai estuary is a wonderful place for birdwatching as it is a staging and wintering area for migratory birds. Birds that can be watched are: seahawks, swallows, spotted flycatchers, and storks.
Visit the painted forest of Oma. Feel the magic of this place by observing the colorful tree trunks painted by a local artist in the ’60s. You can undertake a loop trekking of two hours to explore this special forest.
Kayaking from the wetlands to the sandbanks. From April to October, take part in a kayak expedition, an adventure that will take you through incredible spots. The tour is about 8.5 km and it starts in the wetlands of Guernika and finishes in the campsite up the river Oka.
Biking. If you love adventures and prefer to make your own way on two wheels, Urdaibai is the place. There are different routes to explore this wonder: from Mundaka to Gernika and the quiet road from Gernika to Laida. Your reward when you finish the route will be amazing panoramic views.
Why visiting? Urkiola Natural Park is a protected area of outstanding natural beauty in the Basque Country. Due to its stunning landscapes and rugged limestone peaks, it has become one of the favorite destinations for people seeking outdoor acitvities. Climbing the highest peak Anboto, is one of the top attractions for mountaineers and ramblers.
Things to do in Urkiola Natural Park
Hiking in nature. Hiking is one of the best ways to discover the Natural Park. There is a wide network of paths to explore the wonderful nature of Urkiola Natural Park recommend you to visit the interpretative Center first, where they’ll help you planning your day. It is called Toki Alai and it located in Puerto de Urkiola.
Urkiola Sanctuary. It is located in the exact middle of the Basque Country. The legend says that the rock found there, is a meteorite and that you will need to walk around the rock 7 times to find the true love.
Three Crosses Viewpoint. This viewpoint offers stunning views of the Urkiola National Park. It is very close from the Urkiola Sanctuary from where you can take a walk through the beautiful nature.