Vitoria is located in northern Spain, making it one of the most beautiful cities in the area. Below are some of the best places to see while you are there, and you will be able to maximize your time, too.
Is Vitoria Worth Visiting?
Capital of the Basque Country (Euskadi) and in the shadow of its famous neighbors Bilbao and San Sebastian, this city has enough tourist attractions such as a beautiful historic center surrounded by up to six manicured parks and delicious cuisine in which the typical pintxos stand out, to include it in a route through the north of the country.
Definitely, Vitoria is worth visiting whether you are a solo traveler or want to visit the region with your family and kids.
Although one day is enough to visit all its points of interest, which are concentrated in the network of streets of the medieval old town, if you have more time, you can make a route by car through the Rioja Alavesa to visit some of its most renowned wineries and visit some of its most charming villages such as Labastida and Laguardia.
Vitoria can be reached by train or plane, landing at Foronda Airport, located 9 kilometers from the city center. Another option is to fly to Bilbao and once there take a bus that will take you to Vitoria in one hour.
Is Vitoria Worth Visiting? 10 Must-See Places in Vitoria
1. Santa Maria Cathedral
It is highly recommended that you begin your day by doing a 75-minute guided tour of the interior of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in the heart of the medieval old town. You will learn a lot about the city and then better understand what it is all about afterward.
During the tour of this Gothic temple, source of inspiration for the writer Ken Follet for his bestseller “A World Without End,” you will have a broad view of the restoration works that are being carried out to cure the various structural diseases of the building and that are included in a unique program in the world, known by the slogan “Open for works.”
In this way, you will be able to view the reinforcing of the foundations, the deformations of the nave, and the rehabilitation of the 14th-century portico at Santa Maria.
The guided tour can be completed with a climb to the Tower to enjoy excellent views of the city or access to a section of the walls, which form part of the outer wall of the Catholic temple.
Although it is usually easy to find places for the tour, booking in advance from this page is a good idea.
Visiting hours: Daily from 10 am to 2 pm and from 4 pm to 7 pm.
2. Plaza de la Virgen Blanca
The vast Plaza de la Virgen Blanca or Plaza Vieja, the meeting point for tourists and locals, is one of the most beautiful places to see in Vitoria.
Surrounded by houses with white facades and striking balconies, this ample space has in the center the monument dedicated to the battle of Vitoria against Napoleon’s troops and the famous giant letters of “Vitoria Gasteiz,” symbolizing the designation of this city as the “green capital” of Europe.
From this square, you can easily access the neoclassical Plaza Nueva, which forms a perfect square of 61 meters on each side, chaired by the town hall, and is another of the places you cannot miss in the city.
To enjoy the best views of the square, we recommend you go up to the balcony of the church of San Miguel where you will find the iconic statue of Celedón and if your visit to the city coincides with the 4th of August.
It is very important to arrive in this square before six o’clock in the afternoon to witness how Celedón flies down with his umbrella to signal the beginning of the famous festivities of the patron saint of Vitoria.
3. Machete Square
Another of the medieval places to visit in Vitoria is the Plaza del Machete, located a few meters from the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca and named after the machete that is kept in a niche in the apse the Church of San Miguel.
In addition to seeing the menacing machete on which the representatives of the city swore their oaths of office, do not miss the portico of the Church of San Miguel, the beautiful arcade street known as the Arquillos de Vitoria, the Church of San Vicente, and above all, the palace of Villa Suso, Renaissance style and houses a valuable Flemish tapestry of the sixteenth century.
You can know more about the city’s hidden side and tales like the machete by booking a free tour of mysteries and legends in Vitoria, considered one of the best free tours in Vitoria.
4. Casco Histórico
The Old Town, which sits on a hill and preserves the old medieval layout in the shape of an almond, is one of the most beautiful places to see in Vitoria.
The picturesque streets in this area were named after the medieval crafts done here during the Middle Ages, such as Correria, Blacksmith, Shoemaker, Painter, and Cutlery, or Cutxi, to the locals.
In addition, the old town has some of the most important buildings of the city as the Escoriaza-Esquivel, Montehermoso, Villasuso, and Bendaña palaces, the fantastic front of the Church of San Pedro, and the Casa del Cordón in Gothic style and residence of Felipe el Hermoso and his wife, Juana la Loca.
A great way to learn about the city’s history and make sure you don’t miss anything important is to book this free tour and choose your itinerary.
5. Burullería Square
Walking down to the beautiful Burullería Square after visiting the Cathedral of Santa Maria, passing in front of the statue of Ken Follet, is another of the best things to do in Vitoria.
A former medieval necropolis, this square is surrounded by impressive medieval buildings such as the 15th century Portalón, the 16th century Casa Armera de los Gobeo-Guevara y San Juan, and the spectacular Torre de los Hurtado de Anda, one of the oldest buildings and part of the defensive system of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
In addition, on one of the side facades, you can see the beautiful mural “Al hilo del Tiempo,” which is part of the urban art itinerary of the city, which we will talk about later.
6. Route of the murals
Vitoria’s Old Town mural route, known as Itinerario Muralistico de Vitoria Gasteiz (IMVG), is one of the best things to do.
These works of urban art were born in 2007 as a collective movement between artists and residents of the city, creating an outdoor museum and another excellent tourist attraction for Vitoria.
Even though there are many scattered around the city, we want to leave you with a selection of the most significant among them.
You can also book a fun urban art tour to ensure you don’t miss any murals.
The Walkway, located at number 17 of Eduardo Dato Kalea, represents a man walking who is so fascinated by the city that he decides to stay there and is another famous sample of street art in Vitoria that you cannot miss.
7. Green Ring
Vitoria’s green ring, which includes Armentia, Salburua, Olarizu, Zabalgana, Zadorra, and the Alegria River, is a must-see.
The only drawback of these parks, which made the city the European Green Capital in 2012, is that they are a bit far from the center and if you do not have enough time you will have to settle for a tour of one closer as the beautiful Florida Park.
It is a large natural area with many lagoons, bird watching platforms, and various trails to enjoy its ecological wealth. Our favorite is the Salburua wetlands.
If you don’t have a car, you can get to the park in 20 minutes with bus lines 5 and 6 from the Prado bus stop, near the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca.
Another fun option to get to know the Arriaga Park, the largest in Vitoria, is to book this bike tour that passes through several points of interest in the city.
8. Pintxos Route
Another of the best things to do in Vitoria is to take a pintxo route through the most recommended taverns and bars in the historic center.
This tradition, known in the Basque Country as the pintxo-pote, consists of tasting one or two of the best pintxos from the bars of the most famous places accompanied by a beer or a glass of wine usually a Rioja Alavesa.
Among the pintxos not to be missed are the txipirón rabas at Txolarre Taberna, the tortilla de patatas and fried egg with potatoes at Sagartoki, the chorizo al infierno and black pudding at Tulipán de Oro, the stuffed peppers and croquettes at Erkiaga, and the mushroom risotto and meats at La Malquerida, another of the best restaurants to eat at in Vitoria.
Other places to dine on more elaborate tapas or raciones are the PerretxiCo, the Toloño, and the Sagartoki, our favorite and has become one of the most recommended places to visit Vitoria if you like gastronomy.
With an expert and more people, you can book a fun pintxo tour with a local guide that we assure you will be a pleasure for your senses.
9. New Cathedral
The Cathedral of María Inmaculada or Catedral Nueva, located in front of the Parque de la Florida, is another must-see in Vitoria.
Built-in neo-Gothic style in the early twentieth century, this city was designed to have a larger temple and didn’t have the structural problems of the Old Cathedral.
But the project did not come out as expected due to ethics and the choice of an obsolete style, which led to the removal of the two high towers on the facade and the dome, leaving a slender little cathedral without external ornamentation.
Even so, it is worth visiting to see its enormous dimensions and the exterior façade, while inside, there are several exciting chapels, the sacred museum, and the crypt.
To learn about the exciting history of the cathedral and its main elements, we recommend you book a guided tour.
Visiting hours: Monday to Saturday from 11 am to 2 pm.
10. Museums of Vitoria
The last recommendation on the list of best places to see in Vitoria is a visit to the fascinating museums of the city:
Artium: Contemporary art museum with essential works by local artists and from the rest of the country.
Bibat: A complex that includes the Museum of Archaeology of Alava and the Fournier Playing Card Museum, located among the world’s five best playing card museums.
Museum of Fine Arts: Located in the beautiful Augustin-Zulueta Palace, it is dedicated to Spanish art and Basque art of the 18th and 19th centuries.