On one of the best trips we’ve ever taken to Spain’s Basque region, my husband and I scoped out some regional gems that are off the typical tourist’s radar. Whenever we fantasize about where we’ll buy a European vacation home (after we become rich and famous, of course), these three spots are near the top of our list. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did.
We originally headed to Mundaka so that my husband could quench is thirst for surf (which he had not be able to do during our first 6 weeks in Europe). Although Billabong hosts an international surf competition each year in Mundaka, the waves rolling into the Bay of Biscay on the day we visited were pitiful (perfect for a surfer of my skill level, but not for an advanced surfer like my husband). Oh well, had the surf been good, we may not have strolled around and discovered all Mundaka has to offer. The small town is known for its traditional Basque architecture (white buildings with red tile roofs), winding cobblestone streets, and some great restaurants. I suggest heading to Batzoki or Asador Erreka for some tasty regional cuisine.
If you plan your visit for either June 23 or June 29, you will be able to participate in the local culture. June 23 is the summer solstice festival, during which you can attend the town bon fire and mingle with locals to the sound of the “txistu” (Basque flute). June 29 is the festival of San Pedro (St. Peter), Mundaka’s patron saint, which features concerts and traditional Basque dances.
Down the road a stretch you’ll find, Bermeo, which is a bit larger than neighboring Mundaka. A fishing town founded in 1239, Bermeo is the perfect place to spend an afternoon wandering around. Must-sees include the impressive arch of San Juan (dating back to the 14th century) and the nearby historic quarter, full of more medieval structures, traditional fishermen’s houses, lovely squares, and the old port.
Just around the corner from the port, there is a mass of large rocks that are perfect for sunbathing and jumping off of for an occasional dip in the clear turquoise waters. If you enjoy seafood, I recommend stopping at Jokin. I will always remember the excellent chipirones en su tinta (squid in its ink) I had there, and the view of the port was absolutely charming.
Gorliz and Plenzia
Gorliz and nearby Plentzia are where the Spanish go on vacation. The major attraction in both these towns is, you guessed it, the beach. Though I spent quite a bit of time enjoying it myself, I did eventually brush off the sand and venture into Plentzia’s old quarter. I recommend a stroll through this area to really get a feel for the history and culture of this diverse region. Be sure to stop by the Muxika-Butron tower and the old church.
Whether you’re looking to lounge on the beach, enjoy fresh seafood, or soak up the rich culture of the Basque region, you won’t be disappointed by a visit to these towns along the Bay of Biscay.