Written by Eleni Giannakopoulou : Travel Blogger
Welcome back to my 2nd part article dedicated to the Basque Country.
At this part we will follow the route from Lekeitio (where I mentioned to Part 1) to San Sebastian and Hondarribia with some intermediate stops.
Let’s start our journey passing through Mutriku a small town with untouched ancient wall remains and medieval design. The old quarter was declared historical heritage in 1995.
The first stop should be for a spectacular walk in the city of Zumaia. Zumaia is located in a charming bay where rivers Urola and Narrondo join. Green mounts go down to the sea, forming rough cliffs. Zumaia is a seaside town that has many attractions, among others, two wonderful beaches, an interesting Old Town, a modern leisure port and a wide range of restaurants. Zumaia beaches are Itzurun and Santiago. Itzurun is a rocky beach which have been seen frequently in Game of Thrones series.
The amazing seacliffs are also worth a visit. From Itzurun beach to Deba, it is possible to take a wonderful walk and admire the appealing rocks by the sea. At low tide we can observe a curious phenomenon known as Flysch. The sea erodes sandstone and limestone rocks forming different sheets. There are organised excursions to visit this beautiful landscape.
The tour continues to Getaria which is located to the coast of Guipozcoa. Getaria is a charming fishing village and the birthplace of distinguished figures like Juan Sebastián Elcano and Cristóbal Balenciaga (you can visit the Balenciaga museum). Getaria is 30 kilometres west of San Sebastian. The route through the village is very picturesque, with its medieval houses, the harbour and the walk to Getaria lighthouse. Home to the 15-century Gothic Church of San Salvador, it is also a place of cultural interest. But if Getaria is famous for anything, it’s for its txakolí of undoubted quality, which has given rise to the Getariako Txakolina Denomination of Origin.
Zarrautz is a town that combines its excellent beach with an interesting historic quarter. It is a hospitable, modern and quiet town, with an unbeatable atmosphere especially in summertime. The local cuisine is one of the most exquisite and famous in the whole Basque Country. Its elegant beach, the longest in the province, has a quiet promenade on the shore of the Cantabrian Sea. Zarautz’s waves make it a paradise for surf lovers. The city centre has some features that will surprise the visitor, such as the Gothic tower of Luzea, the medieval church of Santa María la Real, and the Renaissance palace of Narros. This city has numerous ancestral homes, and Portu Palace from the 16th century, on the shore of the Cantabrian Sea. Any journey through the city should include trying some of the local cuisine, and nothing better than “pintxos” (canapés), and fresh fish casseroles, which go excellently with some wine from the Designation of Origin-Chacolí de Guetaria-Guetariako-Txakolina
San Sebastian or Donostia as it is called in Basque belongs to Gipuzkoa province. It has been a seaside resort since over a century ago, when this wild stretch of Atlantic coast was favored by Spanish royals on holiday. Is a Parisiene looking city filled with Belle Epoque architecture. San Sebastian has also established itself as a world-class gastro-paradise.
The Old Town (Parte Vieja) is known for having the highest concentration of bars in the world. It is formed by narrow streets located at the foot of the Mount Urgull. There you will find the famous pintxos.
Despite its relative small size (186,000 inhabitants), international events are also held here. The most famous of these is the San Sebastián International Film Festival.
In half an hour is the village of Hondarribia which is located on the Basque coast and situated on the border with France. Its walled old town, full of aristocratic buildings, has been declared a Historic Artistic Site. In the highest part of the town is the Plaza de Armas. On one of its side stands the Castle of the Emperor Carlos V, a stone fortification which today houses the Parador de Turismo. Very nearby is the1 5th century in Gothic style church of Santa María de la Asunción. Other attractions are: the gate of Santa Maria, the Calle Mayor,the Town Hall, the Zuluaga Palace, the Casadevante Palace, the district of La Marina.
Hondarribia is packed with a huge number of amazing restaurants and bars – some of the very best in the region in fact. If you are into Basque gastronomy, your trip won’t be complete if you don’t visit Hondarribia. The well-preserved Old Town, a relaxing maritime atmosphere and fantastic food are only some of the reasons why Hondarribia is one of our favorite places in the region.
If you fancy small and graphic places you should visit Tolosa. Tolosa was former passage for traders and capital of Gipuzkoa. Is a town with a great historical importance that admires its past, but it is also adapted to the present times. Other small towns worth to visit are Zerrain, Onati, Orduna and Artziniega.
Well, this trip is not finished yet.
We will come back with some more recommendatios.