If you’re visiting Spain for the first time, be warned: this is a country that fast becomes an addiction. It is a magnet for travelers all over the world. The Spanish way of life is irresistible! It’s impossible not to warm to a culture where food, wine, family and friends take priority over almost everything else. Before you know it, you’ll find yourself hooked by something quite different… the wild celebration of some local fiesta, perhaps, or the otherworldly architecture of Barcelona. Even in the best-known places to visit, from Madrid to the coasts, from the high Pyrenees to the Moorish cities of the south. There are genuinely surprising attractions at every turn, whether it’s hip restaurants in the Basque country, the wild landscapes of the central plains, or cutting-edge galleries in the industrial north. Soon, you’ll notice that there is not just one Spain but many.
  • Bilbao is the heart of a metropolis where more than a million people live. It is the centre of the economic-social development and the main factor of the modernization of the Bay of Biscay. The great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of the urban and economic regeneration of the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference and Music Centre, Norman Foster’s Underground, Calatrava’s airport, the towers designed by the architects Arata Isozaki and César Pelli… are all examples of the dynamism that exists in Bilbao.

    The city is situated in the area of Bizkaia and is surrounded by a fertile landscape with forests, mountains, beaches and steep coasts. All this makes Bilbao a privileged destination for visitors. The modern transport and network of roads run to locations nearby such as the other capitals of the Basque Country – Vitoria and San Sebastián.

  • This city, also known as Donostia, lies along a white sandy bay between the Urgull and Igeldo hills. Fishermen’s houses, a smart suburb and modern districts make it one of the most attractive cities on the Cantabrian coast. The Museum of San Telmo, the Peine del Viento (the Wind Comb) and the Kursaal are examples of how the city brings together modern and traditional features. Meanwhile, the province of Guipuzcoa, of which San Sebastián is the capital, blends sea and mountains, offering the traveller landscape, sports and cuisine, as well as interesting monuments. Basque cuisine has a recognised international prestige.

    The town centre streets of San Sebastián unfold overlooking the La Concha Bay. Monte Igeldo marks one end of it – a wonderful vantage point for enjoying views over the city. At its feet is Torrepea Point, where the “Peine de los Vientos” (“the Wind Comb”), a sculpture by the famous Basque artist Eduardo Chillida, is installed. Here Ondarreta beach begins, framed by a garden area and by the Pico del Loro. This was the place chosen by Queen Maria Cristina (18th C.) to build the Miramar Palace, her summer residence. A lovely promenade with elegant railings and street lamps runs along La Concha Beach, on whose sands is the Perla del Océano Bathing Area, a former royal bathing hut. Still looking at the sea, you arrive at the old Casino, nowadays the City Hall. In this area, between the sea and the River Urumea, is the old town and the way to Monte Urgull, the marina and the fishermen’s district.

    One of the best ways of touring its districts and approaching its culture is through the cuisine. Basque cookery has international prestige thanks to its raw materials and the skill of its cooks, who have both traditional and imaginative repertoires. It must be said that some of the most renowned restaurants in Spain are in San Sebastián. Recipes made with vegetables, fish and shellfish must always be accompanied by chacolí from Guetaria/Guetariako Txakolina, with its own Denomination of Origin.The province of Guipúzcoa satisfies the tastes of any traveller, offering a long coastline of excellent beaches and fishing villages, while inland there are natural areas where you can find important historic towns. Going along the coast from France towards Vizcaya you will have the chance to visit the historic centre of Hondarribia/Fuenterrabia, declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. Other towns that combine interesting monuments with extensive beaches are Zarautz, Getaria, Deba and Mutriku.Rivers and valleys lead you inland. Following the course of the Oria, the historic towns of Tolosa, Ordizia and Lazkao preserve important legacies of monuments.

  • Vitoria-Gasteiz, founded towards the end of the 12th century, is today a city of exceptional urban design. The Basque capital has a medieval city centre, in which it is possible to find countless places of great traditional flavour, such as Plaza de la Virgen Blanca (White Virgin Square) and historic buildings like the cathedral of Santa María. From here, the city harmonically unfolds into the Romantic new suburbs, a network of wide avenues, gardens and buildings that are a reminder of the grandeur and stateliness of Vitoria.

    From here, the city harmonically unfolds into the Romantic new suburbs, a network of wide avenues, gardensand buildings that are a reminder of the grandeur and stateliness of Vitoria.In addition, Vitoria enjoys an intense cultural life, as evidenced year after year by its most famous event: the Jazz Festival. Its traditional recipes —based on fresh orchard products and always accompanied by a unique Basque wine— will not disappoint.

    Present day Vitoria was founded on a small hill in 1181 by the Navarrese King Sancho VI, under the name of Nueva Victoria. Later on, in 1200, this fortified town went to the Castilian monarch Alfonso VIII. Soon, a flourishing vocation for crafts began to emerge in the village. In the 15th century, Juan II of Castile granted Vitoria the title of city. Through the 18th and 19th centuries, the expansion of the city into the new suburbs took place.The Basque capital reveals a medieval quarter where it is possible to find the most charming little corners, gardens and tree-lined boulevards, which make the capital of Alava a remarkable green space that does not disturb the careful urban layout, where medieval streets harmoniously intermingle with Renaissance palaces and Neoclassical churches.

    Typical dishes of the region include perretxikos (a kind of mushroom), snails with sauceand goxua (a sponge cake with whipped cream and caramel). Vitoria-style beans (habas a la vitoriana), vegetable stew (menestra de verduras), fried peppers (fritada de pimientos) and white haricot bean stew (alubias pochas). The region of Rioja Alavesa produces excellent wines, which are included in the Designation of Origin – Rioja.The Pilgrim’s Route to Santiago de Compostela has left a particular artistic mark in the province.