The Basque Country is one of those regions in Spain that isn’t necessarily the first place you’d think about visiting in Spain. The name itself makes it sound like it’s a different place entirely and apart from the big cities like beautiful San Sebastian and the brilliant hub of activity that is Bilbao, most people don’t seem to know as much about visiting the Basque Country as they do visiting other parts of Spain.
Our trip to the Basque Country most definitely made us realise that this should not be the case. The Spanish Basque Country is absolutely spectacularly beautify, the scenery is very diverse, the food – delicious and the people are some of the warmest people you’ll meet in Spain (and that’s saying a lot as Spanish people are known for being quite warm and gregarious). Here are 9 other things you definitely should know about visiting the Spanish Basque Country.
1.) Your knowledge of Spanish will do you no good here. In the Spanish Basque Country, the official language is Basque and its very widely spoken here. Okay, fine, a lot of people here are multi-lingual so you’ll probably find someone where who speaks Spanish or English but if you have even the slightest knowledge of Basque, it’ll serve you well here (if you don’t here are a few phrases to help get you start in the Basque Country).
2.) The geography here is unlike most places in Spain. It’s a lot greener and lusher in the Basque Country unlike the drier and more arid parts of Southern Spain.
3.) The Spanish Basque Country is actually quite close to France, in fact, in places like Hondarribia, you can literally walk over to France!
4.) Free-time spent with family is a big deal here. Even late on a Friday night, you can still kids hanging out with their parents in the city square and playing with their friends while their parents wine and dine with theirs too.
5.) Speaking of food, meal time is not something to be rushed or gotten over with quickly. It is a time to catch up with friends and family over food… and it can last hours! Every meal we had here lasted ages, which was something of a surprise coming from London. 🙂
6.) Bilbao is the biggest city here and most likely the one you’ll arrive into when you visit.
7.) The city of San Sebastian is the ‘fancy-pants’ city of the Basque Country (in fact, it’s one of the fanciest in all of Spain).
8.) You know the way we’ve got a wine spritzer (i.e. white wine and lemonade/soda water), well in the Basque Country (and increasingly in more parts of Spain), you’ve got Kalimotxo which is a mix of red wine and coca cola.
9.) A typical way to spend an afternoon over the weekend is by having Pintxos with friends. Pintxos are small snacks which you have in a bar, typically accompanied by drinks. The best way to do this is to have one snack in each place and move on to the next, hence giving you a chance to spread out your tastes and experiences.