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Vitoria-Gasteiz?

Husband and I are leaving very soon on a 3-week trip that includes Cordoba, Seville, Cadiz, Madrid, and Vitoria-Gasteiz. We traveled in Spain several times covering the north and south - we like to mix in new places (for us) that are maybe a little less traveled.

In another post, MikelBasqueGuide questioned why Vitoria-Gasteiz? Here's our rationale - it's the capital of the Basque region, is known (second to San Sebastian) for it's pintxos and it has a few museum to explore. Our plan is to spend 4 nights there and use it as a base to visit Pamplona or Bilbao (we've been to both San Sebastian and Bilbao). Also, Vitoria is on a major train route so our trip back to Madrid will be easy. We're flying there from Seville.

This is the point in the planning where I begin to second-guess our itinerary and Vitoria-Gasteiz is the place that I'm questioning.

Any thoughts?

Posted by
3885 posts

If you will have a car, there are a number of places worth visiting in the Vitoria-Gazteiz - Pamplona area, Ermita de la Purísima Concepción (San Vicentejo), Monastery of Iranzu, the town of Estella, Mirador Alto del Perdón, Wine Fountain at Bodegas Irache, Iglesia de Santa María de Eunate, Puente La Reina, Cerco de Artajona and Iglesia de San Saturnino, Laguardia, Castillo de Sajazarra, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, and Haro. I’m sure there are a lot more than I listed.

Posted by
3086 posts

Thank you jaimeelsabio! We hadn't planned to get a car but that's always a possibility. We've had good experiences driving in Spain in the past. These are good suggestions!

Posted by
3607 posts

I second the recommendation for a car. Traffic will be negligble in Vitoria, and it is very centrally located for many day trips. The list you got is very complete, Laguardia is especially interesting!

Posted by
3086 posts

Thank you so much for the reassurance!

Looking forward to exploring this region!

Posted by
195 posts

I´d consider Bilbao as more interesting in gastronomical terms (pintxos and restaurants), but it´s true that Vitoria-Gasteiz is slowly emerging as the "new" place to discover for great food. It has a very nice old town and easy access to Basque Rioja Alavesa, Salinas de Añana, Briones, Haro...

Posted by
20797 posts

Another vote for Vitoria-Gasteiz. The hill-top historic center is attractive and great for wandering. There's a playing-card museum up there I didn't have time for, having day-tripped from Bilbao. The outdoor escalators make it relatively easy to get up to this part of town. As of 2016 the cathedral was closed for major construction work, but a behind-the-scenes tour was offered in English at least once on the day I was there. As I recall, there are a couple of art museums elsewhere in the city. I found Vitoria-Gasteiz to be blessedly non-touristy, though I'm also a big fan of Bilbao.

And I'm Vote #3 for Laguardia; the medieval center is extremely atmospheric--though I have no idea what the little town is like at this time of year. If you drive, check on the parking situation before heading out. You'd park below the historic area and take an elevator up. There may be more- and less-convenient parking spots. There's bus service.

I'm not much of a fan of Pamplona. It's a largish city with a small historic center and (at the time of my visit, not during the running of the bulls) lots of tourists. I think a lot of guide books agree with me on this one. I did like the life-size running-of-the-bulls statue.

If you end up doing much driving, I recommend looking at ViaMichelin.com for routing ideas. It highlights the most scenic roads in green.

Posted by
3086 posts

Thanks for the suggestions acraven - I appreciate your input!

Posted by
1767 posts

The train station in Vitoria-Gasteiz is downtown so you’re already in the heart of the city. I had a long stopover in Vitoria and went out had a nice dinner where I was surrounded by locals. Pamplona is a direct train ride away taking 1h 15m but Bilbao is too far for a day trip.

Posted by
20797 posts

It takes only about 50 minutes to travel from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Bilbao by bus. Sharon has already been to Bilbao, but I share this information for others who might consider including both cities in their itineraries.

Posted by
195 posts

One of my favorite visits in Vitoria-Gasteiz is the vastly ignored Museo de los Faroles, part of a beautiful tradition every year on Aug 4th at night, The Rosary of the Lanterns. The polychromed lanterns are beautiful. https://www.cofradiavirgenblanca.com/reserva-tu-visita-guiada/. For lunch or dinner, El Portalón is in a XVI (16th) century building and a must, Kromatiko, Zaldiaran, Ikea and you can´t miss the "fried egg" pintxo (a surprise!) at Sagartoki.

Posted by
3086 posts

Thank you MikelBasqueGuide! It seems like Vitoria-Gazteiz has some interesting possibilities - we will check out of your recommendations!

Posted by
1767 posts

It takes only about 50 minutes to travel from Vitoria-Gasteiz to Bilbao by bus.

Wow, that's good to know. I never thought a bus would be that much shorter but then again, I learn something new on this forum all the time.

Posted by
20797 posts

The train route isn't direct--by which I mean not only that one has to transfer (no big deal), but also that the transfer point (Miranda de Ebro) is not only west of Vitoria-Gasteiz but also beyond it. There's a wild-looking curvy section of line north of Miranda de Ebro (according to Rome2Rio) that looks like something you might see in the Swiss Alps. I bet the scenery through there is interesting.

Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz are each the capital of their region, so there's demand for fast transportation between them, and the buses fill that need.

Posted by
195 posts

As Vitoria-Gasteiz is the capital, there are many public workers that commute there from Bilbao. Bus is definitely the best option: fast, clean, cheap.