The Basque Country
The Basque Country is a historically, culturally and economically dynamic region. It is known as Euskal Herria o Euskadi in Basque or El País Vasco in Spanish. It is an Autonomous Community in Spain located on the far north eastern corner of the Cantabria Sea on the French / Spanish border. The Basque Country is made up of three provinces: Alava, Biscay and Gipuzkoa. Culturally speaking the region also includes the Autonomous Community of Navarra and Iparralde in France.
The population of the Basque Country is around 2,165,000 and there are three capital cities. Vitoria-Gasteiz, the capital of Alava, is home to the House of Parliament and is the main government headquarters. Bilbao is the capital of Biscay is well known for its Guggenheim Museum while San Sebastian, the capital of Gipuzkoa, is perhaps the most charming of all three, famous for its gastronomy, architecture and beautiful beaches.
If you want to get to know the real Basque Country, some of the most popular day trips from San Sebastian include Hondarribia, Getaria with its Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, Pasaia, Orio, Zarautz, Zumaia and the Sanctuary of Ignatius of Loyola (founder of the Jesuits). If you are interested in exploring Biscay we recommend Bilbao, the hermitage at Gaztelugatxe dedicated to Saint John the Baptist, Guernica and its Peace Museum, Mudaka or any other the pretty coastal towns. If you head to Alava you’ll discover Vitoria-Gasteiz, the “green capital” and its famous gothic Cathedral of Santa Maria.
Additionally you can visit other provinces near the Basque Country that are less than two hours away. Jump in your car and head to the vineyards and wineries of the Rioja Alavesa area. Of course you can’t leave without visiting Pamplona, home of the famous Running of the Bulls!