WORLD CLASS DESTINATION
Encased in its own microclimate, there is no doubt that Euskadi (as it´s known by the locals) / El Pais Vasco (Basque Country to the Spanish) is markedly divergent to the rest of Spain. It´s ancient roots run deep between the fertile green landscape surrounding the Pyrenees and the rugged, rocky, weather-beaten coast of the Atlantic. The culture is one of the earliest known in Europe and the language is unrelated to any other on earth!
Barcelona has the brothers Adriá; Madrid, Muñoz; but when it comes to gastronomic excellence Basque is King of them all. If falling stars were Michelin, this would be their final resting place – you can find more here than anywhere else in Europe. Tantalize taste buds bite by bite and infuse your guests with incredulity at the heavenly experience of dining in Bilbao & San Sebastian.
Bilbao is that tough kid from the wrong side of the tracks, that had a hard time of it growing up, but manages to catch the eye with a pure sparkle that can come only from a rough diamond. It is industrial and has had a problematic past, but now masterpieces of design such as Calatrava´s Sondika Airport and Zubizuri bridge, Norman Foster´s underground and of course the Guggenheim shine like gems and draw the world´s attention to this coming-of-age destination.
It is not only famous for gastronomy, Bilbao is also an important European art centre. This new found fame has not however gone to its head. Bilbao keeps its feet on the ground and its heart still beats with grit and character, which when you look past the surface of galleries and restaurants is the true attraction of this stoic and cultured city.
San Sebastian (or Donostia as she is known at home) is Bilbao’s little sister. Refined and amiable during the day; gorgeous, graceful and enticing at night; she is impossible not to fall in love with! Pintxo (tapas) culture here, along with aforementioned culinary feats put San Sebastian constantly in the top slots on lists of the world´s finest eateries.
The beaches are stunning and the summer sun creates a fun atmosphere before stars of the silver screen flock here in September for the annual film festival.
Everyone knows the wines from La Rioja. The area has in excess of 500 wineries and is internationally famous for the quality of its reds and whites. However, it is only a small region, with just 300,000 inhabitants, half of which live in the capital, Logroño.
Just a 90-minute drive from Bilbao, La Rioja boasts spectacular landscapes and a wide range of activities based in and around the extensive vineyards, including wine tastings and excellent pairing menus, horse-riding, hot-air ballooning, and 4×4 routes. Here you’ll find high-mountain areas, lunar landscapes and spectacular Sierra de Cebollera Nature Reserve and Arnedillo Biosphere Reserve. Sections of the mystical Camino de Santiago also cross the region.
La Rioja is home to a number of excellent boutique hotels; the ideal place to relax and kick back after days enjoying the local food and wine and breathing the fresh country air.