Spain’s Basque Country is filled with world-class cuisine, spectacular coastlines, and sweet little villages worth a wander. From the coast to the wine region, here are a few of the area’s most picturesque villages, each an easy day trip from cities like Bilbao or San Sebastian.
This seaside border town near France is marked by rainbow-hued homes decorated with ornate wooden facades and flowerpot-bedecked balconies. Explore the fortressed old town, with its still-standing medieval walls, or visit the Castle of Charles V (which now houses a Parador Hotel) and the Gothic-style Santa Maria de la Asunción cathedral.
Known for a beach with some of the best surfing conditions in Northern Spain, this coastal town is home to a web of medieval streets. Its old quarter is packed with numerous historic sites, some dating back as far as the 15th century. Combine a tour with the nearby fishing village of Orio on the Guipuzcoa Coast.
For the ultimate viticulture experience in Rioja, set your sights on the village of Laguardia. This walled-in town sits atop a maze of bodegas (wine shops)—there are so many that the whole pueblo (village) often smells like grapes and barrels. Wander the town’s narrow streets, snack on local cuisine (like pintxos, Basque Country’s answer to tapas), or venture underground to experience the subterranean wine cellars for yourself.
This fishing village is the proud birthplace of historical figures like Juan Sebastián Elcano—Magellan’s second-in-command on his trip around the world—and more recently, fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga. Be sure to spend time at the Balenciaga museum and sample local delights like pescado a la brasa—a barbecued fish—and txakoli, Basque Country’s signature dry white wine.
Located in French Basque Country between Biarritz and the Spanish border, this small fishing village is known for its colorful harbor and historic houses, as well as its picturesque sandy beach.