Getting Oriented

Note: The Basque Country, known as "Euskadi" or "Euskal Herria" in the Basque language, spills over the French border, with two provinces located outside Spain. For ease of reading, we chose not to use qualfiers like "Spanish" when mentioning Spain's autonomous region, as the French Basque Country is not covered in this guide. In addition, although most locales and subjects in this chapter have separate Basque and Castilian (Spanish) spellings, we've given preference to the most prevalent name (e.g., "pintxos" instead of "pinchos" and "San Sebastián" instead of "Donosti").

  • Bilbao. Go for the Guggenheim; stay for the pintxos and the quaint casco viejo (old town).
  • Bermeo. Check out the most important fishing port in the Basque Country.
  • Mundaka. Surf with the pros.
  • Axpe Atxondo. Live your Basque rural fantasy in a tiny mountain town.
  • Getaria and Zumaia. Explore Balenciaga's old stomping grounds and taste the grilled turbot that Anthony Bourdain made famous.
  • San Sebastián. Make a pilgrimage to Spain's culinary mecca with more Michelin stars per capita than (almost) any other city on earth.
  • Vitoria-Gasteiz. Experience true-blue Basque culture without a tour bus in sight in the region's gritty industrial capital.
  • Laguardia. Swirl and sip world-class wine in ultramodern tasting rooms.
  • Pasaia. Slow down in a sleepy fishing village just a few minutes' drive from San Sebastián.
  • Hondarribia. Stroll among colorful captains' houses before hopping on a ferry to France.
  • Pamplona. Run with the bulls (if you dare), or visit in the off-season to steep yourself in Navarran culture.
  • Puenta la Reina. A common stop at the junction of the two Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes from northern Europe.
  • Logroño. Make this scrappy, food-focused city your home base for enological adventures in La Rioja.
  • La Rioja Alta. Hop from bodega (winery) to bodega in La Rioja's most coveted wine-producing area.
  • Haro. Hole up in La Rioja's most wine-centric town, and post up at Hemingway's favorite asador–-a restaurant specializing in grilled fish and meats.
  • Goierri. Hike and discover untamed nature in the mountainous region known as the "Basque Highlands."

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Eating and Drinking Well in the Basque Country

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La Rioja Wine Country

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