Basque Country is an autonomous community and region of Spain, located in the north of the country. It is made up of the provinces of Alava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa, also called Historical Territories. The commune was granted the status of nationality within Spain, attributed by the Spanish constitution of 1978. The autonomy is based on the Statute of Autonomy of the Basque Country, a foundational legal document providing the framework for the development of the Basque people on Spanish Soil.
Currently, there is no official capital in the autonomous community, but the Seat of Government (Parliament and the Prime Minister's residency) is located in Vitoria. While Vitoria is the largest 'city' with 242,147 in the territory, Bilbao is more considered as the pseudo-capital and largest municipality, with 353,187 people.
What to see & do
Guggenheim Museum [Museo Guggenheim] in Bilbao – Opened in September 1997, the Guggenheim Museum lifted modern architecture and Bilbao into the 21st century with a bang. It boosted the city's already inspired regeneration, boosting it to be more productive, and leading it to further development to place Bilbao firmly in the world art and tourism spotlight. Structure overwhelms function here, and before complaining about less exhibits and more gargantuan structures, reverse the curse and check on the architecture first. Its canopies, cliffs, promontories, ship shapes, and silver-gold faux brick walls create a rather interesting and cold structure – luring its visitors to go in and be lost. For those who are really checking on the exhibits, some of the notable items in here include Tulips, and Puppy by Jeff Koons, and The Matter of Time by Richard Serra. Most exhibitions are moveable here or are not permanent, so don't be surprised to not find the said items in here at the time of visit. You'll still probably get something here.
Playa de la Concha [Concha beach] in San Sebastian – Playa de la Concha and its westerly extension, Playa de Ondarreta, are easily among the best city beaches in Europe. Throughout the long summer months a certain fiesta atmosphere prevails, with thousands of tanned and toned bodies spread across the sand. However, there's more to the sea, sand, sun, and fiestas here – the playa is actually a city-beach, complete with what you need. So crawl off that white to red sand beach and check out the sites within, then eat and venture out.
Teatro Arriaga in Plaza Arriaga, Bilbao – Staging theatrical and musical performances since its opening in the 1890s, the theatre was named after Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga, one of the premier composers of his time and at some point called the “Spanish Mozart” for his skill. Apart from the lovely shows and the world class music, the theatre's baroque facade of the venue highlights the open spaces of El Arenal between the Casco Viejo and the river, making it a gem to behold.
Catedral de Santa Maria in Vitoria – Although going through some restoration and renovations as of the moment, the medieval Catedral de Santa Maria is a marvel and a tour of its past, its present, and its future. It is located at the summit of the old town and is dominating the local skyline; a medieval crown to a rather interesting city.
Alava (and La Rioja) – Situated in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains, Alava offers an easy rolling landscape, mild climate, and vineyards world-renowned for its classy and tasty wines. The robust red wines here are some of the best in the world, and the art of wine-making is one thing of wonder. Don't be surprised to see avant-garde architecture in such a traditional place when visiting, the wineries here want to keep up and be updated with the times and be rich (through the wines).
How to get around within Basque Country
The region has an extensive bus and train network perfect for tourists who are travelling independently. For those who are opting to drive, the roads are amply marked and are sign-posted.
How to get there
Bilbao Airport is the largest airport in Basque Country, an eye-candy designed by Santiago Calatrava. Flights going here are covered by Easyjet, Vueling, Lufthansa, Iberia, Air Berlin, and Brussels Airlines, among others.