Experience world-class gastronomy

San Sebastian and Bilbao are probably most well-known cities in Spain’s northern region of the Basque Country. These territories really do have it all: from idyllic sandy beaches, to the mountain peaks of the Pyrenees; from industrial cities, to picturesque villages. Not to mention world-class gastronomy - there are more Michelin star restaurants per capita in San Sebastian than anywhere else in the world.

The Basque Country, refers to a historical area that crosses the borders into France. It is thought to be one of the oldest settlements in Europe and the people have their own unique customs, traditions, and most notably language - Euskera - which pre-dates all other European languages and is still in use today.

Bilbao is one of Spain’s northern industrial hubs, yet it has undergone something of a makeover in recent years, widely being recognized as a city rich in artistic culture, architecture and consequently, tourism. The iconic Guggenheim museum, inaugurated in 1997, has become a symbol of modern-day Bilbao.

In contrast, 100km away in San Sebastian, the city is famed for its beautiful “La Concha” (the shell) beach, even-more beautiful people and glamourous bars and restaurants. Just 20km further up the coast you cross the French border, and just 30 minutes later you reach the Spanish “Surfers’ Paradise” of Biarritz.

The Basque Country offers a wonderful mix of traditional and innovative modern cuisine. Do as the locals do and go out “de pintxos” - a kind of tapas, originating in Northern Spain. Or sample some Michelin-star cuisine at one of many gourmet restaurants, or try a more rustic “Sidreria” where you can wash a steak down with the local cider - the ceremonious method of pouring the cider is a spectacle in itself.

Facts:

  • The Basque Country is home to approximately 3 million inhabitants
    • 90% of the Basque population lives on the Spanish side of the border
      • The Basque Country has the highest GDP per capita in Spain
        • Bilbao has the largest population - 350 000 inhabitants
        • San Sebastian has approximately 190 000 inhabitants
        • The first San Sebastian film festival was in 1953
        • Euskera - the native Basque language, is an “isolate” language - lacking grammatical equivalents
        • Until recently, Islandic law permitted the killing of Basques

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