How to Spend 1 Week in Basque Country
Basque Country, both culturally and linguistically distinct from the rest of Spain, is known for its mountain peaks, rocky Atlantic coast, and cosmopolitan cities serving some of Europe’s best food. With a week to spend in Basque Country, you’ll have ample time to discover what makes the region unique. Here’s how to plan your time.
Days 1 and 2: Bilbao
Kick off your trip with a couple of days in Bilbao, the largest city in Basque Country and one of Spain’s too often overlooked cultural treasures. Start your explorations with a guided tour of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, housed within a distinctive Frank Gehry–designed building on the shores of the Nervión River.
Take some time to wander the city center to see highlights such as the entertainment complex Azkuna Zentroa, Arriaga Theatre, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, and the Cathedral de Santiago. For a different perspective, take a guided kayak tour through town along the Nervión River, or tour at your own pace aboard the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus.
Don’t leave town without spending an evening nibbling your way through the old town (Casco Viejo) for your first taste of traditional Basque pintxos (a small snack, typically eaten in bars).
Days 3 to 5: San Sebastian
Continue on to the beautiful coastal city of San Sebastian, considered one of Spain’s great foodie cities and an excellent place to dive deeper into the local food culture. Find the best bites by joining a guided food hop to pintxos bars throughout the Old Town, or sign up for a cooking class to learn how to prepare your favorites for yourself.
Between meals, spend some time soaking up the sun on La Concha Beach, sipping cider, or relaxing aboard a sunset cruise along Basque Country’s coastline. If time permits, opt for an excursion into the nearby Rioja wine country to sip and sup at local wineries.
Days 6 and 7: Biarritz and the French Basque Region
Basque Country isn’t just limited to Spain; the region extends into Southern France as well. Head north across the border to Biarritz, part ritzy coastal resort and part surfer paradise. Overlooking the Bay of Biscay, this French Basque setting offers lovely belle époque and art deco architecture and lively beaches. Spend your final day in riverside Bayonne, which ranks among the prettiest towns in southwest France and serves as the capital of French Basque Country. Join a tour to uncover its half-timbered buildings, cobbled streets, and excellent waterside restaurants.