Here you can find the list of the most beautiful villages in the Basque Country, which will help you not miss any of these great attractions of this northern Spanish region beyond its large cities and spectacular natural landscapes.
Famous for its seaside villages with colorful facades, bathed by the cold waters of the Bay of Biscay, in this autonomous community, you can also find ancient stone villages that seem frozen in time in the area of the Rioja Alavesa as well as others with a significant history such as Gernika, among others.
Suppose you want to get to know all these treasures without spending a lot of time on transportation. In that case, it’s almost essential to plan a route of about 7 days by car, which allows you to stop at natural viewpoints en route to these beautiful locations and enjoy swimming at nearby beaches.
If you do not have a car, we suggest you check out the Euskotren page that runs between Bilbao and San Sebastian, stopping at many of them, as this is a fantastic option if you are taking public transportation.
The best time to travel to the Basque Country is between April and October when less rainfall and more pleasant weather.
However, we recommend avoiding the months of July and August, as the most touristy towns on the coast get crowded, parking is difficult, and accommodation rates are at their highest during these months.
Based on the experience of the times we have visited this area, during which we wrote this guide to must-see places in the Basque Country and this route through the Basque Country by car, we have made a list of what we think are some of the 10 most beautiful villages in the Basque Country. Let’s start!
Hidden Gems In Basque Country: The 10 Most Beautiful Villages In Basque Country
Hondarribia (Fuenterrabía in Spanish), located on the border with France, at the mouth of the Bidasoa River, is one of the most picturesque villages in the Basque Country and one of the must-see places in Northern Spain.
Hondarribia is captivating for its traditional architecture, the cobbled streets and squares of the walled old town, the historic buildings, and the Marina. This is a beautiful fishing district full of old fishermen’s houses with white facades and colorful windows and balconies. Which also has excellent places for tapas like the Gran Sol or to try fresh fish dishes like the Arroka Berri, both considered two of the best restaurants to eat in Hondarribia.
Suppose you are going to spend the night in town. In that case, we recommend the Hotel San Nikolas located in the central Plaza de Armas or the Hotel Sercotel Jauregui, located 5 minutes walk from the beach of Hondarribia.
Pasaia (Pasajes in Spanish), located on the coast of Gipuzkoa, a few kilometers from San Sebastian, is another of the most scenic villages of the Basque Country thanks to its bay and the old fishermen’s houses.
Keep in mind that Pasaia consists of 4 villages: San Pedro, Antxo, Trintxerpe, and San Juan (Donibane), the latter being our favorite as it is in a privileged position on the bay and has more tourist attractions such as the square of Santiago, the church of San Juan Bautista, the Arizabalo palace, the chapel of Santa Ana and the house where the French writer Victor Hugo lived.
If you have time, you can cross by boat to San Pedro, located just opposite, to see its beautiful fishermen’s houses, the church, and the house of the famous sailor Blas de Lezo.
Mundaka, located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, a beautiful natural area formed by marshes, estuaries, some of the best beaches in the Basque Country and mountains, is another of the Basque Country’s great villages to visit.
Aside from being a paradise for surfers with one of the best waves globally, this fishing village is world-famous for its colorful port, charming old town, beaches, and views of the rugged Basque coastline.
Located on the edge of a cliff, the Hermitage of Santa Katarina has breathtaking views of the coast. It is one of our favorite attractions in Mundaka.
Another advantage of Mundaka is that you can also visit the Hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, located in a fantastic natural environment and became very famous after appearing in the popular series Game of Thrones.
Bermeo, located 5 minutes by car or train from Mundaka, in the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai, is another of the most beautiful villages in the Basque Country.
This old fishing village has managed to preserve its fishing tradition and traditional architecture. Houses with colorful facades and wooden balconies with flowers stand out, especially in the harbor.
Besides touring the port full of fishing and recreational boats, we recommend you to get lost in the Old Town and enjoy traditional fish dishes such as marmitako of bonito and a variety of pintxos in some of the most recommended restaurants where to eat in Bermeo as Bermeoko Kafe Antzoki or Kafe Loidxie.
Bermeo is also an excellent place to stay as there are many wonders nearby, such as Mundaka and Gaztelugatxe. Among the best value for money accommodations, you have the Hostal Aldatzeta Ostatua and the Andra Mari Apartamentu Turistikoak, both with an excellent location.
5. Zumaia – One of the most stunning villages of the Basque Country
Another of the most enchanting villages of the Basque Country is Zumaia, located in a privileged position, in a bay where the rivers Urola and Narrondo meet.
We recommend you stroll along the banks of the rivers and the port area, see the old town of medieval layout in which stands the Church of San Pedro Apostle, and above all, walk to the Hermitage of San Telmo, which is a must-see in the town.
This hermitage, where several scenes of the famous film Ocho Apellidos vascos were filmed, is located on the edge of a cliff, in one of the most impressive landscapes of the Basque coast that form next to Itzurun Beach and the Flysch, a geological phenomenon formed over thousands of years by the erosion of the sea on the rock.
If you are going to spend the night in the village, we recommend the Flysch Hotel, located near the Hermitage of San Telmo. At the same time, if you just stay to eat, you can try the octopus of Idoia Ardotegia or the grilled steak of Asador Basusta, two of the most recommended restaurants to eat in Zumaia.
Gernika, located in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, is more of a town than a village. However, we could not include it in this list of important cities in the Basque Country because of its historical significance.
It is undoubtedly a place to visit on this route. We suggest the best villages in the Basque Country that were utterly destroyed on April 26, 1937, by the German Condor Legion and the Italian Legionary Aviation in service of Franco’s cause, leaving hundreds of innocent people dead.
Gernika is the perfect place to learn about the history of the Basque Country and its museums, La Paz and Euskal Herria, which have undergone significant restorations.
Visit the Casa de Juntas and the Tree of Gernika, an oak where the Lehendakari is inaugurated, and other Basque symbols.
You can stay in the town of Gernika where you can find good hotels like the Gernika or Aristieta, plus there are many options for eating in Gernika, such as the 1000kolorau and Bolina El Viejo.
Elantxobe, located on the coast of Bizkaia, within the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai, is another of the most wonderful villages in the Basque Country.
With homes built along the slopes of Cape Ogono, linked by steep, narrow stone streets, leading to a port protected by breakwaters that create a fantastic natural pool of calm waters, this town falls in love as soon as you see it.
We recommend walking to the top of the steep streets known as the Kale Nagusia, which goes up to a rotating square, the Church of San Nicolas de Bari, and more excellent viewpoints that give you a view of the town the sea in the background.
Lekeitio, located at the mouth of the River Lea, halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastian, is another of the villages of the Basque Country that you cannot miss.
Thanks to its incredible beaches that change size at the tides, it has become a popular holiday destination for many Basques and tourists. These beaches give you access to the island of San Nicolas.
Besides enjoying relaxing baths or surfing, this town also has a beautiful port surrounded by colorful houses with wooden balconies, a fishermen’s neighborhood full of historic buildings such as the Turpin Tower and the Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady, as well as highly recommended restaurants to eat in Lekeitio where you can try good fresh fish dishes such as Lumentza and Antzarrak.
If you have time, we recommend a half-hour walk that will take you to the Santa Catalina lighthouse and the watchtower of Mount Otoio, an incredible viewpoint overlooking the imposing cliffs of the Basque coast.
And if you are going to spend the night in this town, you can book the Hotel Villa Itsaso or the Hotel Zubieta, both located in historic buildings and with a good quality/price ratio.
Together with Elciego, Laguardia is one of the most attractive villages in the Basque Country. Surrounded by a beautiful landscape of vineyards and olive groves, Laguardia retains its medieval layout in narrow cobbled streets of the old wall as towers and gates.
There are historically important buildings like Casa de la Primicia from the fourteenth century. However, its most important architectural masterpieces are the fortified cathedrals San Juan Bautista and Santa Maria de los Reyes, with their intricate stone porticoes from the late fourteenth century.
Another of the best things to do in Laguardia is to route through the vineyards located at the foot of the Sierra de Toloño and the Sierra de Cantabria to finish in one of its famous wineries as Ysios, which surprises with its design by the architect Santiago Calatrava.
A few kilometers from Laguardia is the town of Elciego, where the presence of the imposing Hotel Marqués de Risca, designed by Frank Gehry and with a certain resemblance to the Guggenheim, does not detract from the beauty of its beautiful medieval old town full of palaces, emblazoned stone houses and ancient temples such as the Church of San Andrés and the chapel of the Virgen de la Plaza.
Our last recommendation in this list of the most beautiful villages of the Basque Country is Getaria, bathed by the cold waters of the Bay of Biscay and surrounded by hillsides full of vineyards.
This fishing village, where historical figures such as Juan Sebastián Elcano, the first man to circumnavigate the world, and Cristóbal Balenciaga, one of the most fabulous fashion designers, were born, is enchanting for its Malkorbe beach with the mouse of Getaria in the background, the cobbled streets of the old town and its port, surrounded by places where they serve delicious grilled fish accompanied by Guetaria chacolí.
After eating a good turbot or a txangurro in the Asador Astillero or in the Politena, which are two of the most recommended restaurants to eat in Getaria, you can go along a spectacular stretch of coastline that will take you to the town of Zarautz.
Consider spending a night here. In that case, we recommend the Saiaz Getaria Hotela, which is located in an old tower in the old town, or the Katrapona, which is located on the beachfront.