Beautiful green landscapes, high cliffs, wild horses and plenty of culture. This is the Basque Country. The region is located partly in France and Spain, and is high on our list to return to! Travelling through the Basque country was very easy for us. There are many free camper pitches, there is a lot to do over short distances and you will find delicious tapas here! Let’s tell you all about it! We made a list of our favourites in the Spanish region of the Basque Country.
First, let’s give a bit of background about the Basque country. There is a lot of history attached to this region. Many inhabitants of the Basque country wanted, and still want to be independent of Spain. They have their own language, Basque, and culture and are proud of their origins. The largest population lives in the cities, so the inner area is sparsely populated. As a result, there is a lot of nature and open landscape, with a few houses here and there. It’s full of hiking trails and birdwatching opportunities!
The Basque Country, a Green Treasure
Our favourite way of travelling is day by day. We mainly stay at free places and prefer to visit sites in nature, small towns and hidden gems. We have tracked our route via Polarsteps and now it’s time to share it with you!
Just over the border from France, you will find the mountain landscape next to the coastal town of Hondarribia. The town is known for its tourist attractions thanks to its wide beach. Here you’ll find colourful houses and plenty of options to eat. After only a 10-minute drive between the mountains with right-angle bends you arrive at a beautiful nature reserve full of hiking trails, picnic locations and old ruins.
Despite being a busy area among tourists and locals, it feels calm, there is a lot of space and you can feel the breeze from the sea with the most beautiful views of the nearby cities. We stayed here for a few days with fellow campers.
San Sebastián is one of the largest cities in the Basque Country. It is a seaside paradise where many surfers like to stay. Here you will find history, nature, lovely shops and restaurants and many events such as the film festival. This was one of our toppers!
Take the time to stroll in the small streets, have a nice meal at one of the many tapas bars and take a walk along the boulevard where you will find beautiful cliffs and beaches. It is just lovely here.
Coincidentally we came across this imposing part of the city. We thought we were walking to the old town of San Sebastian, but it turned out to be an old castle from the 12th century. The castle is free to visit. Here you will find a beautiful view of the city, also the hike towards the area is gorgeous!
Do you like walking and nature? Then this place is perfect! The village is located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and has been a UNESCO Biosphere reserve since 1984. This is the only one present in the Basque Country. What makes this place so special? The variety in the different biospheres makes this area ideal for species to thrive.
This place is ideal for bird watching and you will find several hides here where you can observe the birds and other species. There is also the Urdaibai Bird Centre, which was unfortunately closed when we were here (due to the low season). There are several places to park the camper, and you can enjoy walking and getting a breath of fresh air on the beaches.
Bakio is both a municipality and a seaside city. The municipality is known for the uninhabited island called Gaztelugatxe, which you see in many magazines.
We visited this city because of its convenient location next to Gaztelugatxe. It is an ideal place to do your laundry and do some shopping. We didn’t find the centre that special, but the coastline is beautiful with long beaches and large cliffs.
Gaztelugatxe is THE hotspot of Bakio, and perhaps of the entire Basque Country. We always find it difficult to determine whether a place is worth it, especially when it is such a huge tourist attraction. But this place is 100% worth it! We visited the island in the low season, so it was very quiet and we did not have to register in advance to visit the location (in high season you do have to do that, it is free). I would definitely go early in the morning; with all the steps it is also nicer when it is a bit cooler!
At the top of the island, about 80 meters above sea level, is the small hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. This is why the location is named after it. You can visit the church at the top and there is even a possibility to BBQ on the island. Put on good shoes and take your time, it is a quiet route to walk.
A city that we unfortunately skipped but heard nice stories about is Vitoria-Gasteiz. This is the capital of the Basque Country. There are almost as many trees as people in the city, which makes this the greenest city in the Basque Country! The old historic town is well worth a visit, it is located on a hill and has a medieval touch. Here you will find small streets with nice shops and restaurants. You also see a lot of street art in the city, take your time and look at the beautiful paintings on the buildings.
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