The Basque Country: A Must Visit

San Juan de GatzegulatxeIn the Northern most part of Spain lies Pais Vasco, bordered by the Pyrenees Mountain and a close neighbor to France. Pais Vasco AKA Euskadi Aka The Basque Country, is mostly overshadowed by other popular tourist destinations in Spain

The Basque country has one of the best gastronomy in the world and is known for it’s  Pintxos (Tapas). If you are a seafood lover, this is your paradise! The region’s close proximity to the Atlantic ocean allows locals and tourists alike to enjoy food, fresh from the sea.   Besides the delicious food , the Basque culture is far from the stereotypical image of Spain.  Locals have their own distinct dance, attire and even language.

Pintxos

    Pintxos!

 

As if this region couldn’t be any cooler;  Basque , the language spoken in Pais Vasco is one of the oldest and one of the hardest known languages in the world.  The Basque people weren’t always able to freely speak their language. During the times of the Spanish Dictatorship; The Basque culture was suppressed. This affected the language which was banned in schools and other institutions.  From 1979, The Basque country gained regional autonomy allowing for the freedom of its culture and customs. See info

Basque Women

 Basque Women

Armed with these cool facts, there was no way I could skip The Basque country. My only worry was that I was visiting during it’s off-season (October) which usually consists of rain and cloudy skies.  Determined but prepared, I stuffed an umbrella in my backpack just in case.

My adventure was for 3 days with a challenge. I brought only a 100€ in cash for my trip. I was not to spend over-the-budget. Here is the the overview of my trip.

Day 1: Bilbao & Getxo

Favorite~ Pintxos, Museum, Super Clean city and Basque Dance

Least Favorite~  Metro Closes Early

DO

Beaches: Plentzia,Arrigunaga, Ereaga, Arriatera-Artxabiribil

Ereaga Beach

Walk around the cute town of Getxo

Vizcaya Bridge

Shop in Gran Via “literally almost all Spanish cities have a Gran Via”

Go up the Artxanda Cable car to see the mountains

Visit a Museums or Gaze at an attraction: Guggenheim, Flower Puppy, Zubiziri Bridge,  Bellas Artes, Maman

Guggenheim Flower Puppy

Flower puppy

Go to Parque de los Patos ( Duck park)

Walk through the Casco Viejo: It’s a classic neighborhood with medieval influences. It’s intersection is connected by 7 streets.

Stop by  and watch one of their local  performance (I’m sure you will!)

Basque Dancers

Basque Dancers

EAT- TBC

 

EXPENSE

Beach  Free
Food  €    11.60
Transportation  €       5.80
Postcard  €       1.60
Activities  €       1.90
TOTAL  €    20.90


Day 2: San Sebastian

Favorites~ Pintxos,Beaches and Peine del Viento

 Least Favorite~ A bit pricey

DO

Go to the Beaches. There are two main ones: Zurriola and La Concha (The seashell)

Concha Beach

Concha Beach

Go to the Anoeta Stadium to watch a match ( If football is your thing)

Shop in Plaza de Gipuzkoa

Surf on the Urumea river

Urumea River

Urumea River

Check out La Bretxa Market; where Michelin Star chefs shop

SEE 

Walk around the old town

Check out the top view of the entire city from Mount Urgull or Monte Igueldo views

See the Basilica of San Mary of the Chorus

Basilica Mary of the chorus

Bascilica of Mary of the chorus

Enjoy the view of the Urumea river at night.

DO 

Get in on some Marilyn Monroe action in the Peine del Viento

Peine del viento Peine del viento

Fun times in Peine del Viento

EAT

There are a lot of good places to eat in San Sebastian. I suggest walking around the city to find what’s appealing to you. With that being said, locals recommend the restaurants on 31 de agosto street.

For Sweets I recommend: Argitan

31 de agosto

Pintxos

Pulpo Pintxos *Highly Recommend*

EXPENSE

Beach  Free
Food  €    25.61
Transportation  €    28.84
Postcard  €       1.00
Activities  €       3.20
TOTAL  €    58.65

Day 3: San Juan de Gatzelugatxe

Favorite~ San Juan Gatzelugatxe

Least Favorite~ Hiking up to San Juan Gatzelugatxe, Transportion

DO

Hike up to San Juan de Gatzelugatxe.

San Juan de Gatzelugatxe

San Juan de Gatzelugatxe Crooked Steps of San Juan de Gatzelugatxe

This AMAZING islet at the tip of the Bay of Biscay, is located in the small town of Bermeo  just about 54 minutes from Bilbao.  It is connected by 237 crooked steps leading to a little church,  262 feet (80 meters) above sea level. It is said that the Game of Thrones’ new season would be shot here!  There are no restaurants up top, so you are limited to eating in Bermeo. I advise you to pack something to eat up there, if you please, or just eat in Bilbao.

Warning: Public Transportation to the site is not convenient, at least in the Fall/Winter seasons. Once you have gotten off bus A3527 from Bilbao to Bermeo,  you have two options.

  1. Hike from the bus stop to San Juan de Gatzelugatxe
  2. Take the taxi (2€) to San Juan de Gatzelugatxe: The  taxi comes every 2 hours,  I had no idea of this prior to my arrival. I was lucky to have met two other French tourists who were as confused as I was about the logistics. So we figured out stuff together in the bitter morning cold.  Oh and the taxi has a max capacity of 4 people in the vehicle (ugh!). So if it’s full, you have to wait another 2 hours hoping for a taxi with enough space to fit you or whoever is with you.

I also forgot to mention that the Bus to and from Bilbao arrives every 1 hour.  In total your round trip to the Islet is 3 hours if everything goes right.  But it is all Worth it!

Happy Faces

Happy after hiking faces

To save you some hassle:Rent a car.

EXPENSE

Food  €    11.60
Transportation  €       9.80
Postcard  €       1.00
Storage  €       1.00
Islet  Free
TOTAL  €    23.40

 

I spent about 104€ on this trip.  A little over the budget.  I blame it on gluttony and spending a bit too much on transportation (It could have been avoided with better planning and asking questions). I was financially saved by the 2€ (So valuable) left over coins from my daily expenditures in Madrid.

Halal Tip: It is hard to find Halal Restaurants in the Basque Country, but you are in luck as the main cuisine here is seafood. So you can get to eat like the locals

Best Time to  Visit

Between Summer and Early Fall; June – September

I honestly don’t know why The Basque Country is not on the top 5 places visited by tourist maybe it’s the hard to pronounce Basque words or it’s distance from the rest of Spain or it’s cultural distinction.  I would never know. However these reasons are what makes me love the Basque Country, which I consider a hidden a gem.

Wanna see what I’m talking about! Check out the beautiful Basque Country in the video below. Enjoy 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this post.  Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments.

I hope you felt inspired! 

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Pinterest: Basque Country

2017-06-09T18:13:45+00:00 June 1st, 2017|Spain, TIPS, Videos|17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. getlostwithjackie June 3, 2017 at 7:41 pm - Reply

    I was just mentioning to a friend that I love Spain but have never been north of Barcelona! I love everything that you’ve laid out here, especially the format in which you did so! I pinned it to help me plan my next trip to Spain (which will certainly include the North of Spain!)

  2. C-Ludik June 3, 2017 at 8:51 pm - Reply

    The landscape is quite dramatic and unlike anywhere else in Spain and the pace of life here seems amazing ! A visit to Basque Country may be the remedy if you’re a stressed out multi-tasking urban dweller in need of some serious rejuvenation in a short time ! Not that you need an excuse to visit this picturesque region of northern Spain 🙂

  3. Julie June 3, 2017 at 11:55 pm - Reply

    I really didn’t know much about this area at all and your article inspired me to research it and hopefully visit it in the future! A gold mine of information.

    • Hijabiglobetrotter June 10, 2017 at 5:01 pm - Reply

      I’m glad you discovered something new! On this blog, you might be discovering a lot of things 😉 Look out for more posts.

  4. Haley @readysetjetset June 4, 2017 at 5:55 am - Reply

    I’ve always wanted to go there to check out Bilbao BBK festival 🙂

  5. travellingdany June 4, 2017 at 9:28 am - Reply

    This is a part of Spain I still haven’t visited. I love that you added all the expenses, and I see that it’s much cheaper than I expected! Especially the food!!

    • Hijabiglobetrotter June 10, 2017 at 5:02 pm - Reply

      Yes it is but it’s a bit more expensive than Madrid and the south of Spain

  6. Cynthia June 4, 2017 at 7:12 pm - Reply

    Your photos are so beautiful! I love seeing budget trips like this – it’s how I love to travel too. Looks like you had a fun and successful trip!!

  7. Alaine June 5, 2017 at 6:42 am - Reply

    Basque Country looks really interesting with lots of different types of activities. The pintos looks so good! Is the Basque language similar to Spanish or French or something completely different?

    • Hijabiglobetrotter June 10, 2017 at 4:56 pm - Reply

      The Pintxos were delicious! Yes I learnt that they are same. There is Basque on the Spanish side and the French side.

  8. Sabine June 9, 2017 at 8:16 pm - Reply

    Great post, reminds me of a wonderful time I had when I lived there. I used to live in Getxo for a while, many years ago. And the house I used to live in, appears in one of your photos (from very far, but still) 😀

    • Hijabiglobetrotter June 10, 2017 at 4:55 pm - Reply

      That’s amazing! I liked Getxo, very serene and beautiful. Thanks for your comment

  9. Sandy June 29, 2017 at 2:30 am - Reply

    I ended up in San Sebastian because my bus had a stopover there and fell in love- both with the city and my fiance who I met there. You made me want to go back 10,000 times more! Pintxos forever!!

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