Situated in Northern Spain and Southwestern France is the famous Basque Country. This region beckons travelers with its captivating blend of rich culture, scenic landscapes, and signature Basque Country cuisine. And while the region has much to offer, planning a trip that allows you to make the most of your limited time may be a little overwhelming. To help you out, here is a quick guide on visiting Basque Country that delves into everything from when and where to go and all the must-do activities!
Where to go in Basque Country
To start, I recommend visiting the heart of Basque Country, Bilbao. This is the largest city within the region, so it’s a great starting point to get a feel for the local culture and vibrant atmosphere.
Bilbao is known for its impressive and mesmerizing Guggenheim Museum, which showcases an exceptional collection of contemporary art. And even if you don’t go inside the museum, the exterior of the museum is a work of art in and of itself and worth marveling at.
Other must-see attractions include the Casco Viejo or Old Town, which is full of charming historic streets and buildings, and Mercado de la Ribera. Here you can find hundreds of local stalls offering everything from delicious local produce and souvenirs to complete meals.
Speaking of meals, a visit to Bilbao is not complete without trying pintxos, the Basque version of tapas. They can be found in most places around the city. But, I recommend going with a guide if you want a direct line to the best pintxos bars in Bilbao!
2. San Sebastian
Another must-visit destination is San Sebastian, which is located right next to the French and Spanish border. The town is known for its stunning beaches, panoramic views of the bay from the surrounding mountaintops, and my personal favorite, its exceptional culinary scene.
Seriously, if you only have time to do one thing, make sure to indulge in the heavenly food of San Sebastian. Some of the top restaurants in the world are located here, making it an absolute foodie’s paradise. And unlike a lot of the food in other foodie destinations, such as Paris, the food here is much more affordable.
See also: Best destinations in Spain for foodies
Aside from eating as much of the local food as possible, I recommend exploring the streets of the bustling Old Town, admiring all the colors and architecture. Afterward, don’t forget to spend some time at the beaches.
Last but not least, I highly recommend visiting the lovely town of Biarritz. This coastal gem is often overlooked for more popular places within France, but I’ve found that it’s the perfect place to escape to when you’re looking for a laid-back beach getaway.
Not to mention, there’s plenty to keep you busy for a few days. For example, if you enjoy surfing or want to learn to surf, this is one of the best places to do it. The town has both a flourishing surf culture and a youthful and welcoming atmosphere.
Surfing aside, you can also look forward to lots of gorgeous lookout points! Located all along the coastline are several different observation points that leave you awestruck. For instance, a classic place to visit is Rocher de la Vierge, which offers incredible views of the city and surrounding coastline, especially at sunset!
Or, if you find yourself looking for a change of pace, visit other cities and towns from Biarritz as a full-day or half-day excursion. Biarritz has a fantastic location in that you can opt to foray further into French or Spanish culture!
Places to stay
When it comes to accommodation, Basque Country offers a diverse array of choices. Whether you’re in search of a lavish resort, a budget-friendly hotel, or a hostel where you can easily meet other travelers, Basque Country provides options that cater to every budget!
How to get to Basque Country
Depending on your starting point, you can get to Basque Country a few different ways. But here are two popular ways that are fairly easy to get to Basque country.
The first is to fly into Barcelona Airport (BCN) since that’s the country’s largest International Airport that services destinations from all over the world. From there, you can catch a short flight to Bilbao Airport (BIO). Or, if you happen to already be in Europe, you can often find flights that go directly to Bilbao.
Another popular way to get to Basque Country is by flying into Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG). From there, you can take the train to Biarritz, which is one of my favorite places within Basque Country that I’ll be discussing below.
When to visit Basque Country
Compared to most other places in Europe that often undergo dramatic changes in weather and climate throughout the year, Basque country has relatively stable temperatures throughout the year. The average high for the region is in the 70s°F and the average low is in the low 50s°F. This means no matter what time you go, the weather should be fairly pleasant and not too extreme!
That said, if you don’t want to deal with tons of crowds and perhaps cheaper prices, try to go between April to early June or September to November.
Meanwhile, if you want to participate in some of the festivals that the region is most famous for, the summer season is best. You can expect warm weather and long days, perfect for beach outings and spending time outdoors. Just know that you’re likely to encounter lots of other locals and tourists.
Is Basque Country student friendly?
In my opinion, yes — Basque Country is student-friendly in several ways!
For one, since Basque Country is composed of cities in Spain and lesser-known cities in France, the region is known to be on the cheaper side. This means you can spend less on required expenses, like housing and food, and have more freedom to splurge on memorable experiences, such as private surfing lessons, food tours, or day trips to other towns in the region!
In addition to this, I’ve generally found that Basque Country is full of friendly people. Unlike other regions of Europe where locals may seem less approachable or the atmosphere is colder, this part of Europe is much more laid-back. There are lots of lively spaces and places to mingle, and people will more often than not be happy to help you if you need any assistance!
All in All, Basque Country is a beautiful region of Europe that’s known for its distinctive traditions, delectable cuisine, and breathtaking landscapes. From the vibrant streets of Bilbao to the picturesque coastal towns of Biarritz and San Sebastian, there’s so much waiting to be explored. Hopefully, with this guide in hand, you’ll be able to make the most of your trip and enjoy visiting Basque Country as much as I did!
Author Bio: Kristin Lee is a travel writer and Youtube vlogger. On her blog, Global Travel Escapades, she strives to make travel more accessible by providing useful travel tips, destination guides for maximizing your experience, and ways to travel more for less money. Follow her on Youtube @KristinLeeVlogs or Instagram @kristins_travel_escapades.