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Basque Country Homebase

Chose to visit Basque Country in mid-May, with a car at our disposal.

What is your favorite village, which would make a good base for 8 days? San Sebastián and Bilbao are too big for my taste. Would like somewhere with style, good restaurant options, and pleasant to walk about. Would prefer the Spanish side.

Hondarribia looks good, but what else would people suggest?


Posted by
745 posts

If Bilbao and San Sebastian are "too big" for your taste, I presume Pamplona is, too. How about Guernica (Gernika) (16K)? On the French side, Bayonne (49K) is very nice as well.

Posted by
2168 posts

Bilbao is my favourite place in the Basque Country, but if that's too large for you I'd recommend a smaller town or village that's more centrally located than Hondarribia, if your looking for a home base to explore the rest of the region from. As mentioned above Guernica would make a fine albeit thought-provoking choice. The compact hilltop old quarter of Vitoria-Gasteiz feels like a smaller town too. You could also consider Lequeitio, an important Basque fisherman's town half way between Bilbao and San Sebastian.

I also assume you are aware and have taken into account that mid-May is during the rainy season of northern Spain? Avg. of 17 days of rain during May ☔🌧🌧

Posted by
284 posts

You could try Laguardia, Alava. It is a village and it is in the Basque Country. But 8 days are probably too long to spend there.

The Baztan Valley might also be place that might interest you, although it is Navarra. Elizondo is a village that would make a good base. And as you have a car, you can get to San Sebastain and Pamplona quite easily for a day trip. In the valley they are many nice walks. And in the valley they only average 16 days of rain.

Posted by
18701 posts

Does "Would prefer the Spanish side" merely mean that you want your base to be south of the border, or do you mean that you plan only to visit the Spanish Basque Country? If you want to see French territory as well, I think Hondarribia is really well positioned.

The Spanish Basque countryside is very scenic. In my experience "scenic" often means "slow driving". So I'd suggest that you carefully check ViaMichelin's projected driving times from any potential base to the palaces on your planned-visit list. Pressed to choose, I'd take a centrally-located town/city that allows me to complete my desired day-trips over a gorgeous spot that's impractically isolated. YMMV, of course.

Posted by
2168 posts

Acraven brings up a good point, I interpreted "Would prefer the Spanish side" as we would prefer to stay and sight see on the Spanish side.

Posted by
139 posts

Well, if you have a car I´d suggest to stay in two places. Hondarribia is a very good choice, as it´s well linked to San Sebastian and the French Basque Country, and the beautiful inland towns south of SS. Another choice close to San Sebastian could be Getaria (great restaurants, great wine and vineyards, cozy town) or Zarautz. In the other province, and close to Bilbao I´d recommend Plentzia or maybe Mundaka, both beautiful towns and well linked to the rest of the area. Not Lekeitio, parking is a hassle and a very curvy route anywhere (but of course, don´t miss it, it´s gorgeous). About the weather: very unpredictable, it may rain any time (there´s no "rainy" season over here, it´s just a rainy area), so be prepared for anything (even very sunny days...but not too warm, though, May should be in the 70s)

Posted by
933 posts

In the Álava province - Laguardia
Biscay province - Gaztelugatxe
Gipuzkoa province - Getaria and Tolosa
Navarre province - Las Bardenas Reales