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San Sebastian in der Region Gipuzkoa, Bild: carballo / shutterstock

Gipuzkoa – magical Basque Country

In the north of Spain lies the enchanting Basque province of Gipuzkoa. Spectacular beaches, bizarre cliffs, dreamlike cities and culturally attractive places enchant just as much as the mountains and valleys of the Aiako Harria and Aralar nature parks.

The romantic landscapes of the province of Gipuzkoa invite you to outdoor activities, while the cities entice you with their artistic and historical treasures. Historic monuments and avant-garde architecture come together in the cities to form a charming overall picture, while excellent restaurants with fabulous “pintxos” invite you to culinary delights.

Gipuzkoa – The smallest Spanish province offers great scenic diversity

Zumaia, Gipuzkoa
Zumaia, Image: Mimadeo / shutterstock

As the smallest province in Spain , Gipuzkoa has a very varied landscape. The beaches of the region are legendary and invite you not only to swim, but also to a variety of water sports activities. One of the most beautiful beaches is Cala de Asabaratze, because the bay near San Sebastian can only be reached on foot and is hardly visited.

In the west of the coastal region, the beaches of Mutriku are typical beaches with a wonderful beach promenade. But the beaches in Zumaja also invite you to swim. The beach of Zarautz is particularly interesting for water sports enthusiasts, and there is also the opportunity to indulge in naturism. A tour along the coast also leads to bizarre-looking rocky cliffs, which create a wildly romantic atmosphere. Away from the coast, a varied landscape invites you to explore inland, between mountains and valleys there is a hilly landscape with rich vegetation and rivers such as the Bidasoa and the Deba meander through the province.

One of the most beautiful hiking routes is the Three Churches Tour, which leads to the Sanctuary of Loyola, the Nuestra Señora de la Antigua and the Sanctuary of Arantzazu in Onati. Ornithologists should take time to visit the Plajaundi Ecological Park. In addition, the stalactite caves of Arrikrutz attract nature lovers and history buffs, as the caves were once a refuge for the Basques. Thanks to the mild climate, Gipuzkoa is an interesting destination for an active holiday all year round.

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Gipuzkoa’s most beautiful towns

Donostia San Sebastian is located directly on the sea. The provincial capital not only inspires with its white sandy beach, but also with an authentic fishermen’s quarter, an opulent new town and historical sights such as the Royal Palace of Miramar, the Buen Pastra Cathedral, the Church of San Vincente and at the same time with the Almeda del Boulevard district designed on the drawing board.

Hernani, Gipuzkoa
Hernani, Image: Amy_Shot / shutterstock

One of the most beautiful places in the region is the village of Hernani. The old town centre is considered particularly picturesque and has been declared a cultural asset. The Chillida-Leku Museum is well worth seeing, as it houses more than 40 sculptures by sculptor Eduardo Chillida in a beautifully wooded garden.

A special coastal town is Hondarribia. The beautiful old town with its impressive city walls has been chosen as a historical ensemble. Highlights include the Jaizkibel pilgrimage church and the city castle.

Characterized by magnificent mansions, the city of Zestoa presents itself as a special jewel. From the 15th century onwards, wonderful magnificent buildings were built around the thermal baths, which still inspire today with their architectural features. With the houses of Lizarraitz and the Sanctuary of San Juan, Zestoa is also a great place to immerse yourself in Basque popular architecture.

Since there are many many other cities and towns with special features worth seeing in the small province, these are just a few examples and it is worthwhile to plan tours through the region and go on a discovery tour in the towns and cities.

The taste of the Basque Country

A distinct food culture is part of the Basque Country, Image: Matyas Rehak / shutterstock

Similar to the well-known tapas, pintxos characterize the food culture in the Basque Country. In bars and inns, the small delicacies entice and show how diverse Basque cuisine is. The range of pintxos ranges from traditional pintxos such as potato and onion omelette to exclusive variants with foie gras, white beans and fruity sauces. The pintxos are usually accompanied by a glass of txakoli, red wine from La Rioja or a small beer. Basque finger food is very popular and available at any time of the day. The Basques also like to go on pintxo tours and change locations several times in the evening and thus taste the pintxos from the different cuisines of the city in one evening.

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The capital Donostia San Sebastian is considered the city of pleasure par excellence. Here you will find several restaurants with Michelin stars. But just as the city’s star chefs entice you with culinary highlights, it is worth visiting village festivals and small restaurants in the villages, where hearty cheese and sausage specialties are offered and, above all, numerous farms produce the classic cider. Basque cider is a very special drink, especially when it is drunk on the farms directly on the barrel and accompanied by hearty delicacies.

Pure culture – the highlights in the annual overview

The Basque Country is known for its customs, so Gipuzkoa’s calendar of events also includes cultural highlights all year round.

  • January is marked by La Tamoborrada. The drum marches in honor of the city’s patron saint take place in San Sebastian and Azpeitia.
  • In February, the Basques celebrate the carnival at the famous Inauteriak, pre-Christian costumes are worn and the population celebrates in the streets.
  • July is marked by jazz in the province of Gipuzkoa, as the international jazz festival takes place, where jazz greats from all over the world gather in San Sebastian.
  • Semana Grande in San Sebastian is a city festival in August. It lasts several days and inspires with a varied supporting program.
  • In September, a wonderful procession and a festive mass are celebrated in Hondarribia in honor of the victory over the Prince of Conde. The Hondarribia weapons show in particular attracts visitors with historical weapons.
  • Feria de Santo Thomas is a traditional folk festival in the run-up to Christmas. Culinary delicacies are offered here, but many beautiful and festive products can also be found at the numerous stalls.

Since the Basques like to celebrate, there are always small and large festivals, concerts or cultural events taking place somewhere, so it is definitely worth taking a look at the current calendar of events when visiting the Basque Country.