The Basque Autonomous Community and its attractions

The Basque Country (Basque: Euskadi; Spanish: País Vasco; French: Pays Basque), also called the Basque Autonomous Community, is an autonomous community in northern Spain.

Its basic institutions are the Basque Parliament and the Basque Government, based in the de facto capital city of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

It includes the Basque provinces of Álava (capital Vitoria-Gasteiz), Biscay (capital Bilbao), and Gipuzkoa (capital San Sebastian).

It is limited to the east with Navarre and the department of Pirineos Atlánticos (region of Nueva Aquitania, France), to the south with La Rioja and to the west with Castile and León and Cantabria.

The Basque Country is also the name given to the home of the Basque people. The Basque country is located in the western Pyrenees, straddling the border between France and Spain on the coast of the Bay of Biscay. Euskal Herria is the oldest documented Basque name for the area they inhabit, dating from the 16th century.

It comprises the Autonomous Communities of the Basque Country and Navarre in Spain and the Northern Basque Country in France. The region is home to the Basque people (Basque: Euskaldunak), their language (Basque: Euskara), culture and traditions. The area is neither linguistically nor culturally homogeneous, and certain areas have a majority of people who do not consider themselves Basque, such as the south of Navarre.

The Statute of Autonomy recognizes two official languages, Basque and Spanish.

The Basque Country also has, for historical reasons, like Navarre, a particular fiscal regime protected by the Spanish Constitution, which attributes the ability to collect taxes to the provincial councils.

Currently, the Basque Country has one of Spain’s most dynamic regional economies. Industry represents 24% of GDP, eight points above the national average.

A 2014 OECD report places the Basque Country as the Spanish region with the highest quality of life.


Tourism in the Basque Country has increased considerably in recent years. Among the people who visit the area annually, 71% come from the rest of Spain, with the following autonomous communities representing the most visits: Community of Madrid (14.2%) and Catalonia (11.1%). International entries represent the remaining 29%, with France (7.2%) being the country that visits the Basque Country the most. On the other hand, 62% of the people who come to the Basque country visit one of the three capitals, 27% visit the interior and 11% the Basque coast.

Places to visit (in alphabetical order by provinces)

Álava province

Laguardia and its attractions

Tower of Mendoza

Ullíbarri-Gamboa reservoir is the largest lake in the Basque Country

Vitoria-Gasteiz – the capital of the Basque Country

Biscay province

Aguinaga Museum of Mercedes-Benz

Armintza – a fishing village

Bakio – ideal for surfers of all levels

Bermeo and its attractions

Bilbao – the most visited city of the Basque Country

Biscay bridge – a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

Butron castle inspired by Bavarian castle models

Cabo Machichaco lighthouse – the northernmost point of Basque country

Castle of Muñatones dates back to 1339

Durango and its historic center

Gaztelugatxe viewpoint

Guernica and its tree

Lekeitio and its attractions

Mundaka is famous for its surfing

Ondarroa and its beaches

Torre Loizaga car museum and its Rolls-Royce collection

Gipuzkoa province

Balenciaga Museum – born to be fashionable

Beasain and its attractions

Deba and its beaches

Getaria and its attractions

Hondarribia​ – the northernmost resort of the Costa Vasca

Irun and its attractions

Mutriku and its beaches

Oñati and its first Basque university

Orio and its Antilla beach

Pasaia – a fishing village

Sanctuary of Loyola

Sanctuary of Our Lady of Arantzazu

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe

San Sebastian – Spanish royal resort

Tolosa and its attractions

Urkulu Reservoir and its hiking routes

Zarautz and its longest beach in Basque coast

Zumaia – the longest set of continuous rock strata in the world

Way of St. James

The Camino de Santiago (214.2 km) runs along the entire Basque coast and is one of the first pilgrimage routes. The tour begins in Fuenterrabía (Guipúzcoa) port, retracing the steps of the first pilgrims who arrived by sea.


The Basque Country has a wide range of active tourism companies and all kinds of adventure sports, from the most technical and specialized to the most common modalities such as surfing, mountain biking, hiking and bird watching.

There are thirteen long distance trails -the so-called GR- signposted and marked with red and white colors, making it possible to cross the autonomous community in all directions, knowing the borders of Gupúzcoa (GR 121), the Llanada Alavesa through the foothills of the mountains (GR 25) or the Urdaibai biosphere reserve, through the GR 98. There are also short-distance trails -called PR-, marked with white and yellow colors, which allow shorter routes and are available to all audiences.

Bicycle fans have 130 kilometers of Greenways enabled, with nine paths recovered from old railway lines that were left in disuse. Some examples are the Plazaola Greenway, which crosses the Leizarán river valley, the old Basque-Navarro railway path, the Zadorra Greenway, between the Álava reservoirs, or the Arrazola Greenway, in the vicinity of the Mount Anboto.

Natural spaces

There are 19 natural spaces of different categories spread over the entire surface of the autonomous community, all of which can be visited.

Ten of them have the status of Natural Parks: Peñas de Aya, Pagoeta and Aralar in Guipúzcoa; Izki, Valderejo and Entzia in Álava; Gorbea, and Urquiola in Álava and Vizcaya; Armañón in Vizcaya and Aizkorri in Guipúzcoa and Álava.

Likewise, there are six protected biotopes: Inurritza, Leizarán and the Rasa Maral in Guipúzcoa; Itxina and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Vizcaya and the Lagunas de Laguardia in Álava.

Transport and how to get to?

By air

The three capitals have international airports:

Bilbao Airport (BIO) International
Vitoria Airport (VIT)
San Sebastián Airport (EAS)

Of the three, the most important hub and entry point to the Basque Country is Bilbao Airport, offering many international connections.

By trains

Eusko Trenbide Sarea (Basque Railway Network) is the Basque Government-owned company that maintains and creates the railway infrastructure in the autonomous region. Euskotren is the Basque Government-owned narrow gauge rail company that operates commuter services in Bilbao and San Sebastián, intercity Bilbao-San Sebastián service, and Euskotren Tranbia tram services in Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Metro Bilbao operates two metro lines that serve the Greater Bilbao area while Euskotren operates a third which opened in 2017. Euskotren operates a metro-like service in the San Sebastián area.

The Spanish government owns two main RENFE broad gauge lines that link Vitoria-Gasteiz with San Sebastián and Bilbao with central Spain. It also operates Cercanías commuter lines in both Bilbao and San Sebastián.

The FEVE narrow gauge rail company operates a commuter line between Bilbao and Balmaseda and links Bilbao with the rest of northern Spain.

Distance by car from the capital Vitoria-Gasteiz to the main cities of Spain

From Madrid 3 hr 37 min (364 km) via A-1

From Santiago de Compostela 5 hr 46 min (602 km) via A-6 and A-231

From Oviedo 3 hr 33 min (344 km) via A-8

From Santander 1 hr 50 min (162 km) via A-8

From Pamplona 1 hr 8 min (97.7 km) via A-10 and A-1

From Zaragoza 2 hr 32 min (263 km) via AP-68

From Barcelona 5 hr 17 min (567 km) via AP-2 and AP-68

From Valladolid 2 hr 30 min (243 km) via A-62 and AP-1

From Toledo 4 hr 10 min (430 km) via A-1

From Valencia 5 hr 27 min (572 km) via A-23 and AP-68

From Mérida 5 hr 44 min (631 km) via A-66 and A-62

From Murcia 6 hr 43 min (744 km) via A-1

From Seville 7 hr 29 min (824 km) via A-66 and A-62

From Logroño 1 hr 10 min (94.1 km) via AP-68

Main information

Area: 7234 km²

Coordinates: 42°59′00″N 2°37′00″W

Population: 2 220 504

Languages: Spanish, Basque

Currency: Euro

Visa: Schengen

Time: Central European UTC +1

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