Itineraries for Your Trip to Basque Country

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3 Days in Basque Country for First Timers

Curated by Lydia SchrandtLydia Schrandt is a writer, editor, and award-winning photographer currently based in Houston. She’s a contributor for USA TODAY 10Best and serves as the first chair of the Editors Council of the Society of American Travel Writers. Her work has appeared in Draft, Time Out Beijing, Travel+, USA TODAY, San Francisco Chronicle, and others.

Its easy to forget that you’re in Spain when you visit the Basque Country (País Vasco). From Bilbao’s cutting-edge art scene to the Basque coastline, here’s how to experience the Basque Country’s rich culture over three days.

Day 1

Spend your first day in the Basque Country exploring one of its greatest treasures—Bilbao. In the morning, explore the Guggenheim, Spain’s largest art museum, with an art historian guide for insight into its collection of modern and contemporary art. 

After lunch, stroll the cobbled streets of the Old Town (Casco Viejo) as part of a walking tour, which typically cover highlights such as Plaza Nueva, La Ribera Market, the Cathedral of Santiago, and the Bidebarrieta (Central Library). Bilbao’s riverside is a perfect setting for a cycling excursion. In the evening, get your first taste of pintxos (the Basque version of tapas) during a food-and-wine tour of Bilbao’s best local spots.

Day 2

Throughout Europe, San Sebastián is famous for its seafood-based and artfully-presented cuisine. Unanimously considered Spain’s finest tapas, pintxos would be reason enough to visit this elegant coastal resort, but you’ll also be enchanted by its beach and atmospheric Old Town. Start your day with a tour around town, either on foot or by bike, followed by an afternoon cooking class, most of which focus on the art of pintxo making. 

Then, take a break from eating by watching sunset at the beach before you join a local for a bar and restaurant hop through the Old Town, where you can dry the local delicacy of txakoli, a lightly sparkling wine often served with pintxos.

Day 3

Head south today on a day trip to La Rioja, Spain’s most-celebrated wine region. Explore its charming villages and revel in its scenic countryside while you sample the fruits of its countless bodegas (wineries). Leave the driving to someone else by opting for a tour of wine country; you’ll typically stop at several wineries to learn more about the wine making process, sample some of Rioja’s best wines, and enjoy views of the Basque Country’s scenic countryside. Most tours also include lunch.

The Basque region is one of the world’s best fine dining destinations, with some 40 Michelin starred restaurants. Take this evening as an opportunity to book a table at one of them for a dinner to remember.

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