The Basque country is a land of contrasts. To the north, mountainous landscapes facing the sea, typical of the Atlantic climate. On the other side, in the south there is a predominance of wheat fields and vineyards, more typical of the Mediterranean climate. It also has an important historical legacy and therefore offers its visitors many tourist possibilities. In the Northeast, Gipuzkoa or the San Sebastian region and the border with the French Basque country are the most important. The first mountains of the Pyrenees are the natural border between the two countries, France and Spain. The French Basque side is a very picturesque and charming place. The villages look like something from the pages of a fairy tale.
In this post we want to highlight some of the top tours in the Basque territory.
San Sebastian city & pintxos
San Sebastian is a small city of unparalleled beauty, nestled between mountains and the Bay of Biscay. La Concha Bay is its best known landmark. It is a city founded by fishermen and traders. At the end of the 19th century it became the summer residence of the Spanish royalty and aristocracy, which revolutionized the local economy and turned it into a tourist destination of high standing. Large and luxurious hotels were developed as well as restaurants, cafes, casinos and spas. Today the city is still a tourist attraction worldwide and its gastronomy plays a starring role. In this tour we want to show you the best places of the city and end up enjoying the gastronomy in San Sebastián’s Old City. We will try pinchos in 5 different bars accompanied by 5 top-quality wines from our land. Throughout the experience, our clients have a local guide at their disposal who will advise them which are the best places and the best pinchos. He also does all the work, because sometimes it can be difficult for a foreigner to order in a crowded bar.
La Rioja is a land of wine, it is a land of history, it is the Camino Santiago(Saint James’ Way), it is gastronomy. We could say that it has everything. The landscapes are fantastic, The Cantabrian range to the north, The Demanda range to the south and the Ebro river crossing the valley from east to west. The medieval villages have a special charm and the quality of their gastronomy is recognized worldwide.
The vanguard of this gastronomy is the wine. There are many wineries, some of which are more traditional in style and were founded in the 19th century. Others are more modern, from the 21st century, and can be seen well in the architecture of their buildings. But all of them have in common the quality of the wine. The Rioja wines use mainly Tempranillo grapes and must meet very strict quality requirements to market their wines. In addition, wines with the crianza and reserva labels must remain a minimum of 12 months in oak barrels. In this tour we visit and taste the wines of some of the best wineries in Rioja with a variety of different styles. We will also visit some historical points of interest and of course enjoy traditional Rioja food. Don’t miss this tour!
French Basque Country
The French Basque country is an absolute delight for the senses. It’s postcard perfect no matter where you look at it from. And you certainly have options – from mountainous inland areas to the beaches which line its coast. The villages are very charming. Despite some customers saying they look like they’ve been taken out of Disney movies, they are indeed real and have a lot of history, some of them founded in the 10th century and some traditional Basque houses that are still standing and inhabited today are from the 16th century.
In the French Basque Country we differentiate two areas for our tours. One would be the coastal area and the other would be the inland area. In the coastal area, the villages of Saint Jean de Luz, Guethary and Biarritz stand out. In the inland area, villages such as Sare, Ascain, Ainoa and Spelleta. On this tour we like to surprise our clients by crossing the border into the mountains and visiting some villages on the Spanish side. This area of the Basque Country is also worth seeing.
Bilbao & the coast
Bilbao is the economic capital of the Basque Country and northern Spain. Historically a great industrial city, today it has been reconverted. The maximum exponent of this reconversion would be the Guggehim Museum. The building’s impressive architecture and exhibitions attract people from all over the world. It’s a true pleasure to walk around and admire its absolute magnificence in all its architectural details. There are also other museums like the Museo Bellas Artes in Bilbao that are worth a visit. This tour continues from Bilbao to the Basque coast. There we stop for lunch, usually in Guetaria, a fishing village famous for its wine and restaurants. It is also a village with illustrious inhabitants that we encourage you to discover. The food here is excellent and is based on fish and seafood. On this tour we combine the modern and cosmopolitan art of Bilbao with the beauty and tradition of the Basque coast.
Hike & cider house restaurant
This is a top tour since it combines some aspects that I personally like the most such as sport and gastronomy. We usually climb an emblematic mountain in the region of San Sebastian. It is considered the first mountain of the Pyrenees and is right on the border with France. The views from here are impressive. After a light hike we will be able to taste the gastronomy of the zone in a typical place – a Basque cider house. The menu is always the same, good fish, good quality steak, and a dessert of local cheese and walnuts. To drink you have all the cider you want directly from the barrel. It’s one of my favorite places to eat. I always say it’s a must!
Cruise on a sailboat
It’s a good way to get to know the Basque coast on board a sailing boat. We can appreciate the landscape from a different perspective. I remember the first time I saw my land from the sea. I thought it was a wonderful thing, that it had been there all this time and I hadn’t seen it. For me it is a very recommendable experience. Also, sometimes we can see our friends the dolphins fluttering around the boat as if they came to say hello. On the boat we always like to offer our clients a good wine and an aperitif based on local products. Everybody loves this tour and so do I.