Two weeks ago my boyfriend and I came back from a one week holiday to the North of Spain: the Basque Country. Whereas many people travel to the South of Spain, this part of the country still remains fairly undiscovered, which made me wanted to go even more!
I got the idea of visiting the Basque Country because Zarautz Surf Village asked me to stay at their campsite. After a bit of research I got very excited about the region and always wanted to give surfing a try, so the answer was a definitive yes! Since my boyfriend and I were very interested in the city of Bilbao as well and we liked to end the vacation in the luxury of a hotel we decided to spend the last few days of the week at the Petit Palace Arana hotel in the heart of Bilbao. We really enjoyed our time in the Basque Country and I really recommend you to go as well. And if you go, this is what you shouldn’t miss:
1. Surf (or at least make an attempt)
The Bay of Biscay is well-known among surfers, especially the beach of Zarautz is very popular. If you’re an advanced surfer you should definitely catch a wave or two and if you like me haven’t even seen a surf board before it’s fun to get a (few) lesson(s). If you stay at Zarautz Surf Village you can lend surf boards and wetsuits for free and for a little surcharge you can get lessons. Vincent and I took one lesson and although we both didn’t manage to actually stand up (watch the vlog for some fun footage), it was so much fun to try.
2. Drive the beautiful coastal roads
I can’t drive (yet), but Vincent really enjoyed driving the great maintained roads of the Basque Country, especially the coastal roads which requires some nice cornering. I just enjoyed admiring the beautiful sights from the passenger’s seat: high and green mountain tops, rocky coves and wild waves.
“I can’t surf, but it was so much fun to try!”
3. Go beach hopping
The Basque Country offers the most beautiful beaches surrounded by impressive rocky coves, some easily accessible and some more secluded. Just bring your bikini when visiting a coastal city like Zarautz or San Sebastian or drive the coastal roads and stop whenever you spot a nice beach to lay down for a few hours.
4. Discover Bilbao
The city of Bilbao is especially known for the prestigious Guggenheim Museum of Modern Arts, which draws a lot of visitors to the city: the Bilbao effect. The museum is currently home to famous art works of Chagall, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons, Mark Rothko, Yves Klein and many more. Taking photos and videos inside unfortunately is not allowed. I must say though that the most impressive (and ‘grammable’) pieces to me were the open air works, which you can admire for free. Next to the Guggenheim which is a beautiful modern building, Bilbao also has lots of great classical buildings. Another must-do in Bilbao is taking the funicular (cable train) to the viewing point Artxanda. It’s a fun and cheap experience and the view over Bilbao is amazing. Also save some time for shopping. Spanish stores like Zara and Mango are a bit cheaper in Spain. And if you’re from the Netherlands and you love make-up, you must pay a visit to Sephora since they carry brands like Huda Beauty, Fenty Beauty and Kat Von D. I recorded a ‘Sephora Spain shoplog + first impressions’ video in which I show you what I got.
5. Visit San Sebastian
In 2016 San Sebastian was European Capital City of the Year and I can totally see why: classical architecture, a stunning boulevard, a lovely funfair, lots of good food and just generally good vibes. We coincidentally were there in the week of the International Firework Competition (mid-August), which means that every night at 10.45 there’s a big firework show which you can best view from the beach for free. So if you can, plan your visit during this week, it’s beautiful!
“Visiting Game of Thrones film location ‘San Juan de Gaztelugatxe’ was awesome!”
6. Walk in Jon Snow’s footsteps at Dragonstone
Call me a nerd, but to me visiting San Juan de Gatztelugatxe was definitely one of the highlights of our trip. In Game Of Thrones Kaleeshi’s castle ‘Dragonstone’ is situated on top of this peninsula. The castle itself is CGI, but the stairs Jon Snow walked to reach the castle are super real. You can walk them for free yourself as well! Two tips: wear comfy shoes since it’s quite a walk and go when it’s gloomy outside to get that real “winter is coming” vibe.
7. Stuff yourself with Pintxos
Pintxos is the Basque word (they’ve got their own language) for tapas and they’re DELICIOUS. I’m not going to give you a recommendation of places, because there are Pintxos bars all over the place and they all looked great to me. If you eat meat I do want to recommend you to try everything with Iberican ham though, because it tastes like a piece of heaven!
8. Drink apple cider at a brewery
Apparently the Basque Country is well-known for their apple cider breweries, so Vincent and I decided to visit one that has its own – very good – restaurant and I’m glad we did. We went to a Arizia and got to tap our own cider, which was so much fun to do. There are five variants made of different kinds of apples: from sweet to sour. If you go to Arizia as well, make sure to order the Txulleta to share. It’s a regional and delicious type of meat!
For more about my trip to the Basque Country, please watch my vlog! Did you ever visit the Basque Country or are you planning to?