PRESS RELEASE: The Basque Country in northern Spain is home to three beautiful cities, each with a distinctive character; Bilbao is known for its architecture and museums, San Sebastián is famous for being the ‘food capital’ of the world and Vitoria-Gasteiz is recognised as the European Green Capital. All three cities are located approximately an hour away from each other and can be easily accessed from one another.
The Basque Country is renowned for its remarkable cuisine and currently holds the record for having the most Michelin starred restaurants in the world per capita. Visitors can choose between wining and dining in the vibrant atmosphere of cider houses whilst eating traditional pintxos (local tapas) or trying some of the best food in the world at outstanding Michelin-starred restaurants. Although gastronomy is a trademark of the Basque Country, a key role is also played by its wine. A trip to the Rioja Alavesa region is a must for all wine lovers where you can discover over 50 wineries specialising in the Tempranillo grape variety as well as the boutique white wine from Viura (Macabeo) grapes.
From its origins as an industrial hub, Bilbao has evolved into a captivating city that exudes modernity. A key development that has secured Bilbao’s place on the international stage is the groundbreaking architecture of Frank Gehry in the form of the Guggenheim Museum. Surrounding areas of the museum attract tourists from all over the world and its most notable feature is Puppy, a giant floral dog designed by Jeff Koons that has been the museums mascot since its opening in 1997.
The Guggenheim effect resulted in many of the city’s landmarks being modernised including shopping districts such as Abando, Indautxu and Gran Via, as well as Casco Viejo, a commercial centre with more than 400 shops. It also resulted in the development of La Ribera Municipal Market- Europe’s largest market by floor space. Casco Viejo is home to ‘Siete Calles’ or ‘Seven Streets’, a network of hidden corners, squares and buildings of various styles, an area popular for txikite – bar hopping to taste different wines and pintxos. Bilbao is affectionately known as el botxo (the hole) by its inhabitants as it is located in a valley.
The restaurants of San Sebastián offer some of the finest gastronomic selections in the world and the city is known for being the world capital of pintxos. Visitors can experience these bite-sized delights by taking a tour of the bars in Parte Vieja, Antiguo or Gros and washing them down with a glass of txakoli sparkling wine, cider, or wines from the Rioja Alavesa region. The freshest ingredients are bought by the city’s many world class Michelin starred chefs at La Bretxa Market andSan Martin Market. San Sebastián is one of only two cities in the world with three restaurants with three Michelin Stars – Akelarre, Arzak and Martín Berasategui.
San Sebastián’s city beaches include Zurriola across the Urumea River where you can learn to surf, and Ondarreta beach, at the foot of Mount Igueldo. The famous La Concha beach invites visitors to sunbathe, swim and stroll along the shore to El Peine del Viento (The Comb of the Wind) to view the iron sculptures and the Cantabrian sea. Many well-known events take place here including the International Film Festival that brings stars to the city each year, the Fantasy and Horror Film Week and the Jazz Festival. As such, San Sebastián has been named as the ‘European Capital of Culture 2016’ by the European Commission.
Vitoria-Gasteiz ranks highly in Europe for the largest number of square metres of green per inhabitant and was awarded the title of ‘European Green Capital’ in 2012 by the European Commission. The locals or gasteiztarras, value and enjoy their parks including Arriaga, San Martinand Judimendi. Cycling enthusiasts can enjoy 100 kilometres of bike lanes that cover the city and stretch out to Anillo Verde (Green Belt) outdoor park. The park is included in the UN’s list of ‘The world’s 100 best initiatives in good practice’ as it contributes to the quality of life in the city. There are plenty of beautiful parks near Vitoria including Izki, Valderejo, Gorbea and Aizkorri-Arat. Visitors can also enjoy windsurfing, swimming and kite flying at Ullibarri-Gamboa Reservoir. Vitoria-Gasteiz is just a step away from the famous Rioja Alavesa region that covers two thousand hectares of vineyards, both traditional and modern, such as the luxurious Marqués de Riscal and the infamous La Fabulista winery.
NOTES TO EDITORS:
About Basque Country, Northern Spain
Basque Country in northern Spain is located around the western end of the Pyrenees on the coast of the Bay of Biscay and straddles parts of north-central Spain and south-western France. Basque Country features three main cities including Bilbao, San Sebastián & Vitoria-Gasteiz that are located approximately an hour away from each other. Basque (Euskara) and Spanish are the official languages spoken throughout the region. Basque cuisine is at the heart of Basque culture, influenced by the neighbouring communities and the excellent produce from the sea and the land. For more information, visit
· Most Michelin starred restaurants in the world per capita
· San Sebastián has three restaurants with three Michelin Stars
· San Sebastián has been named as the ‘European Capital of Culture 2016’ by the European Commission
· Vitoria-Gasteiz was awarded the title of ‘European Green Capital’ in 2012 by the European Commission