If you love mind-blowing views of endless green hills, majestic mountains washed by choppy ocean water, small cozy towns and old castles, then visiting the Basque region of Spain is exactly what you need.
What is Basque Country?
Located in the North of Spain, at the border of France, this “comunidad autónoma” is a very special part of the country that significantly differs from the rest of it.
The Basque region of Spain includes the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa.
If you love Nordic landscapes and crave to see another side of Spain, you should definitely choose Basque Spain, at least for a 3-day trip during your stay in the country of tapas and siesta.
The best way to spend your time in the Basque country would be to mix a little bit of the touristic places and dedicate the rest of the time to discovering some hidden spots of this region.
Not necessarily places with no people at all – alternatively, places that can be quite popular, but just among the locals.
3 Day Itinerary for Biscay
Day 1. Things to do in Bilbao
Bilbao is the capital city of the Basque Country Spain – it is famous for its wonderful mixture of cultural heritage and modernity.
Dedicating at least one day to visiting Bilbao is compulsory if you want to get the maximum from your journey to Biscay.
Where to stay in Bilbao
If you are looking for an option to match the price with quality and good location, the Hotel Ilunion Bilbao is the way to go.
In this city, it makes sense to stay close to the center so that you can walk to the hottest spots of interest and enjoy the city views.
This hotel is pretty affordable, 5-10 mins walk from the Guggenheim Museum, its staff members are super friendly, and room and facilities cozy and clean.
In addition, last, but not least – the breathtaking view from the windows.
- Book this hotel on Booking.com
- Directions: Rodríguez Arias Kalea, 66, 48013 Bilbo, Bizkaia
- Price: depending on the season and room type, €70-110/night
Things to do in Bilbao
In case you are going to spend just one day in Bilbao, it is better to visit the top spots, as they really worth it, and dedicate most of the time to just walking around and enjoying the city’s vibes.
1. Walk around the Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park
This park is a really beautiful and Instagrammable place, with plenty of spots to relax and take pictures. It has an English – style old garden, a pond and many other things.
For travelers with kids, close to everything there is a playground right in front of a café where you can relax for a while.
2. Visit the Guggenheim Museum and area around it
This Art Museum is known on the international level and features works of modern artists that you can see both outside and inside the museum. For instance, this adorable puppy created from flowers:
The area around the museum is also very impressive. It makes you feel as if you had a time machine, and managed to move from the futuristic era to the XIX century, with it mansions and beautiful alleys
- Website: www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus
- Entrance price: €10 for adults, kids under 12 y/o – free
- Directions: Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia
- Open hours of the museum: 10 AM – 8 PM all days
3. Go to the Casco Viejo
The old medieval part of Bilbao is just around 20 minutes walk from the Guggenheim, and it is definitely worth visiting.
Local architecture is truly beautiful, and its cozy atmosphere is even more impressive.
Take your time, walk around, bump into numerous small squares, visit some shops with locally made grocery, gifts, and clothes, and sit down and try pinchos (small Spanish snacks) and just breath, this place is magnificent.
Day 2. Road Trip Along the Biscay Coast
If you relate to people who are obsessed with crazy nature attractions and atmospheric places – hidden bars, small towns and so on, you will love this off-the-beaten-path route in the Basque region of Spain.
It has been planned from that perspective – the more places that will make you hold your breath, the better.
Stop 1 – Barrika
The first stop is a town located 20 minutes’ drive from Bilbao.
It is quiet and small, although you have many locals going here on the weekend – beautiful views, fascinating nature and a couple of really good spots to have a drink and some lunch.
Walk around and remember to go to the cliffs to see the fascinating views and take a couple of pictures.
On your way, you will see the streets with beautiful and quite villas that create a unique atmosphere.
There is a plenty of food and drinks options with cheap menus and great views over the coast – check this article about Barrika’s places to learn more.
Stop 2 – Castle of Butron
Right on your way from Barrika (10 -15 minutes by car) to the next stop, you will see the medieval Castle of Butron, that has been rebuilt in 1878.
Although it is currently closed for visitors, it is really worth seeing it from the outside.
The architecture and atmosphere around it will move you to the magical medieval world and you can spend hours thinking about the stories that might have happened there.
If you cross the bridge, you will see a cozy local restaurant where you can get some snacks and drinks.
- Website: Castillo De Butron
- Directions: Butrón, s/n, 48110 Gatika, Vizcaya
Stop 3 – the Gaztelugatxe
This place will become one of the most beautiful things that you will ever see in your life – a stunning mixture of something created by human and nature, and you will want to take pictures every 1-3 minutes, as it is different from each angle.
The journey from Barrika will take around 45 minutes by car.
By the way, this is the place where the Dragonstone Island from the Game of Thrones – castle of Daenerys Targaryen – has been filmed. And it is as impressive in real life as in the series.
However, you can get to the top only on foot, and leave the car at the viewpoint – learn more about the tips for visiting the Gaztelugatxe to make sure you are prepared.
- Website: San Juan De Gaztelugatxe
- Directions: Gaztelugatxe, 48130 San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Biscay
Where to Sleep?
Finding a small eco or spa hotel in some rural area would be a nice way to feel the local atmosphere and to try a new spot at the same time.
In this instance, you will love the Aldori Landetxea hotel, around 25 minutes’ drive by car from the Gaztelugatxe.
The prices match those of a mediocre 3-4 star hotel in the city, while the place is really stunning – super cozy, and in the room you have a king size bed, a Jacuzzi bath (good one!) and a big balcony with a hammock.
If you are a fan of small and cozy hotels and plan to travel across Spain, you might also like to learn about the top boutique hotels with SPA access and unique atmo sphere in Catalonia.
- Book this hotel on Booking.com
- Price: average of €100/night
Day 3. Things to do in Zumaia
Zumaia will make up the culmination of your trip visiting the Basque region of Spain, as it has it all: marvelous views, food and places to drink, mountains, beaches, hiking, cozy atmosphere and architecture.
The small houses scattered over its hilly landscape will make you feel as if you happened to be in an Austrian village…at the same time, its green hills and an absolutely mind-blowing view over the beach look similar to Irish lands.
However, at the end of the day, you see people sitting all around drinking wine, laughing and eating pinchos, which makes you remember that you are still in sunny and always happy Spain.
Things to Do in Zumaia
1. Hiking over the green hills
There are numerous routes to do hiking in Zumaia, and the best option would be to go to the cliffs from there you will see spectacular views of the beach.
2. Enjoy the gorgeous view over the beach
It is the same beach that was filmed when Daenerys Targaryen landed to the Dragonstone Island in the Games of Thrones – so, amazing views are guaranteed!
3. Have a drink at the beach
You can get down to the beach if you pass over the cliff through the town – there is a bar right there, where you can have a glass of beer and some snacks.
4. Try surfing (in summer time)
There are many surf schools and you can see children and adults surfing even in October and September.
The Waves are perfect for beginners and the landscape of the beach is very beautiful, and you will want to throw yourself in the water as soon as you see it.
5. Walk around the hilly streets
When you go down from the cliffs you will pass through Zumaia’s hilly streets where you can find numerous cozy hotels and buildings that really remind you of some hidden village of Austria.
6. Have a drink and pinchos on the quay
When you get down to the city center, you will see loads of people drinking wine and eating pinchos right on the quay – just go into the numerous bars, take everything you need with yourself and enjoy the view over the river and the town.
General Tips for Visiting the Basque Region of Spain
- The climate is quite changeable here. For instance, if you go in October it can be chilly in the morning and hot in the daytime. So, make sure to take different types of clothes.
- Many places don’t serve food in the daytime, or can only start offering dinner until 9.00 so make sure to take some snacks with you.
- The official language of the region is Basque or Euskara language, but everybody speaks Castilian Spanish and knows at least a little bit of English.
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