6 Reasons You Shouldn’t Overlook País Vasco

Another route in País Vasco follows the northern coastline, and includes Bilbao on its itinerary.

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6. Euskara

The oldest European language that is still spoken, Euskara has undergone an impressive transformation in an amazingly short period of time. Repressed under the rule of Franco, Euskara only recently developed an alphabet and a standard dialect and is now the second official language of País Vasco, a mandatory requirement to get a school diploma and apply for a government job. In places like Bilbao, one can get a rare glimpse into this fascinating and rich world, with youngsters now even making ska music in Euskara.

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5. Pamplona

Famous for the week-long Festival of San Fermín, held every July, Pamplona also contains historical buildings of note, including the fascinating Museum of Navarre. The festival is famous for the running of the bulls, or encierro, the traditional costume of white with a red neck scarf and belt, and night-long parties; but, be careful, many tourists have reservations about attending the festival due to ethical concerns over the harm it does to the participating bulls and humans.

4. Camino de Santiago

The most well-known route of this ancient pilgrim’s road lies in País Vasco and one of its stops includes Burgos, item #3 on this list. Pilgrims carry ‘passports’ stamped at each stop and at the end of the route, Santiago de Compostela, they receive certificates if at the minimum, they have walked, cycled or horse-ridden the last 100 km of the route. Another route in País Vasco follows the northern coastline, and includes Bilbao on its itinerary.

3. Burgos

Declared the Gastronomic Capital of Spain this year, Burgos is an absolute must on any tourist itinerary to País Vasco. Burgos is famous for its ginormous cathedral, one of the largest in all of Spain; and apart from its stunningly decorated chapels, it has an ancient clock with the statue of a man that opens and closes its mouth every time the clock chimes. Burgos also contains a stunning riverfront lined with intertwined trees and shops perfect for souvenir shopping.

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2. San Sebastian

The actual vacation spot of the Spanish monarchy, San Sebastian is one of the most precious coastal jewels País Vasco possesses. You could easily spend a weekend working up a tan on its gorgeous beaches, exploring its numerous historical monuments or taking advantage of its plentitude of great restaurants and shops.

1. Bilbao

In what is called the ‘Bilbao Effect’, the construction of the amazing Guggenheim spearheaded an equally amazing and rapid transformation of this industrial city into a tourist must-do. The Guggenheim itself is enough to draw visitors here, but Bilbao offers many more architectural delights, including the Alhóndiga, an old-warehouse-turned-arts-center, the Ayuntamiento, the city hall with lavishly ornate interiors, and quaint buildings in the Casco Viejo district. Safe, and with efficient public transportation, Bilbao is also a convenient destination for making day trips to all the other places on this list.

Article written by Nitika Khaitan.

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