Walking in Basque Country

Walking in the Basque Country Spain
 

The Basque Country (Euskadi, in the native tongue) is located in the north east corner of Spain and its Atlantic coast meets up with southern France. Pias Vasco, the Spanish name for the region has played a key role in Spanish history and its political past. The many castles in the area  give you an idea of its importance in the Middles ages and the many conflicts of that this region experienced at that time. The Basques language and culture dates back to ancient times and they are very proud of this heritage.

The main mountain range in the area which offers a wealth of walking opportunities is the Basque Mountains They are in the northern Iberian Peninsula and run through the whole region. It sits between the westerly Cantabrian mountains and the eastern Pyrenees. Within these mountains is the Urkiola range which lies in Biscay, near Durango and forms Atlantic and Mediterranean basins'  water divide. You will be able to observe the evidence of this geological wonder as you walk and explore this range. There are several possibilities for the more experienced walker to undertake a more challenging walks here. 

Pais Vasco as a region has a mild climate ideal for walking and it rarely experiences drastic temperature or weather changes. Geologically the western stretch of the Pyrenees splits the region into two quite separate climates. With the northern area experiencing more rain and its industrial and commercial activity has created the cities of this land over looking the bay of Biscay.  In the southern half it is more agricultural with small villages dotted around the landscape. The Ebro river carries away the rains and creates fertile wide open spaces.

 

Airports
The main airport of the region is Bilbao and is serviced by a wide variety of European airlines.  The smaller airport just outside the city of Vitoira-Gasteiz has a few main airlines that fly into it, mainly Ryanair and Iberia airways.

  • Bilbao
  • Vitoira-Gasteiz

Ferry Port
There is also the possibility of catching one of the regular ferries to Bilbao from Portsmouth.

  • Bilbao

The region is divide into three provinces, each has a Basque and a Spanish name, which are listed respectively. On the north westerly coast is the province Bizkaia (Vizcava) with its capital city Bilbao. To the north east is Gipuzkoa (Guipuzcoa) with Donostia or San Sebastian in Spanish as its capital. Finally, in the south Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital of Araba (Alava) province.

Vitoria-Gasteiz
Is the capital of Euskadi, Basque Country and is a wonderful city to visit with its wealth of historical and cultural artefacts. You can start at the old medieval quarter where you can see the 9th century tower, a Gothic hall and the fortified house and tower, Torre de los Anda. The walls of this famous city were built in the 13th century and as you walk around you can admire the quality of their construction. The city's Gothic style cathedral, Santa Maria was completed in the 14th century and its triple Gothic portico is of particular interest. To fully appreciate the historical significance of the area you must visit the Archaeological museum. To escape the bustling streets you can visit and relax in the wonderful Parque de la Florida by one of its streams tucked away in one of its numerous copses.

 
Walking in Sapin in Basque Country
Walking in Spanish Basque Country
 

Walking Around Bilbao
The industrial city of Bilbao lies between to smaller ranges of mountains, Mount Artxanda and Pagasarri. On the eastern side of the river is the old quarter which is best explored on foot. Its 14th century cathedral and its 16th century church at the top of a flight of 64 steps are a must to see. You can easily walk over one of the many connecting bridges to the more modern side of the city and see its controversial and weirdly shaped Guggenheim Museum. Only a short drive away is the magnificently restored castle Butron. It was built in the 13th century and its surrounding parkland has over 70 different types of trees.

Walking in Donostia San Sebastian
This elegant city is encircled by wooded mountains and lies on the Bay of Biscay. Many visitors love to walk around the harbour watching the fishing boats bring in their catch and gaze at the array of pleasure boats and yachts. You can also explore the fascinating Naval museum and Aquarium. The harbour opens out into Parte Vieja, the old quarter of the city, which is characterised by its narrow lively streets and bars. The Plaza de la Constitucion was once used as a bullring but now a vibrant square and the city's cathedral, Santa maria del Coro are sights to see. Many of the Spanish visit Donostia in the summer to escape the heat of central Spain and to enjoy its famous and elegant beaches.

 
Click here for a list of companies offering Walking Holidays in Basque Country