Honeymoon in Basque Country, Spain

A honeymoon in Basque Country means delighting in a unique culture, remarkable food and gorgeous scenery. If you like notable cuisine and want a chance to see their impressive coastline (rocky in most places yet sandy in some others) in a somewhat colder region of Spain, consider this getaway after the big day. It’s also a great destination for wine lovers. 

About Basque Country

Basque Country runs along the northern part of Spain and into France. It’s at the top of the Iberian Peninsula, a landmass that Portugal and Spain call home. Striking turquoise blue water from the Bay of Biscay laps against the cliff sides of Basque Country.

The Pyrenees forms a natural border between the Basque Country of Spain and Basque Country in France. The most well known French cities in the region include Bayonne and Biarritz. (Biarritz is well known for its excellent surfing conditions.)

The Ebro Valley is a nice area to travel to in Spain’s Basque Country. It is named after the Ebro River and well known for its Rioja wine, named after the town of La Rioja.

Basque Country Time Zone

Northern Spain is in the European Central Standard Time zone. There’s a six-hour time difference between EST, and nine-hour difference between PST, in the United States in relation to Spain. If it’s 5:00 pm in Bilbao, Spain (in Basque Country), it is 11:00 am in New York and 8:00 am in California.

Basque Country, Spain Currency

All of Spain is a part of the European Union. Thus, its currency is the Euro. Though currency exchange rates can vary slightly day to day, you can expect $1 to be equal to about €0,80. Credit cards are widely accepted everywhere.

Language in the Basque Country

One of Europe’s oldest languages – that you’ve probably never heard of – is spoken by some residents here. About 35% of the population speak Basque, also known as Euskara. Its origins are somewhat unknown; it is not closely related enough to any other language that linguists have been able to decipher!

You will mostly hear Spanish spoken in the cities here, though, depending on where your honeymoon itinerary takes you. Smaller villages like Getaria, are where you’re more likely to find Euskara being spoken.

Some level of English is widely spoken throughout Spain, especially by younger generations.

LGBTQ+ Community in the Basque Country

Same-sex marriage was first legalized in Spain in 2005. They are welcoming to the LGBTQ+ community and Bilbao holds an annual Gay Pride Parade each June. The city with the highest concentration of gay bars and clubs in Basque Country is Bilbao.

Traveling to Your Basque Country Honeymoon

Document Requirements: Passports and Visas

Travelers visiting northern Spain should have valid passports that don’t expire for at least three months from the day you return to the US. To be safe, it’s recommended you have as many as six months from your passport’s expiration date upon your return to America.

Health Awareness for a Trip to Basque Country: Vaccines and COVID-19

Spain is not currently allowing anyone from the United States into their nation due to COVID-19. Therefore, we don’t recommend planning a honeymoon to the Basque Country prior to 2022.

When allowed to enter Spain, Americans don’t need any particular vaccines to visit, yet that may change after the pandemic is under control.

Best Time to Visit Basque Country

This northern region of Spain has cooler average temperatures than places like the Mediterranean Coast, inland-central capital of Madrid or the southern Andalusian region where Seville is.

While Andalusia, in southern Spain, has an area known as “Costa del Sol,” well known for receiving sunshine the majority of the year, Basque Country receives a considerable amount of cloudy skies and rainfall, mostly during winter months. However, it’s said winter is also the best time for foodies to visit; they’ll experience perks with multi-course meals and extra wine, and the richness the warmth of great food brings during winter in Basque Country.

Summer is a very popular time for Europeans from various nearby countries to visit coastal Spain (north and south). This means that hotel prices and crowds are at their peak.

For an all-around wonderful experience and higher temperatures during your honeymoon, the ideal time for travelers to visit this destination could be June, July, and September. The temperature in San Sebastian during these months averages 70 degrees.

September and October are great times to visit the Ebro Valley to explore the area’s vineyards. It is after August when crowds have left the country after their summer holidays. Yet it’s still warm enough to enjoy being outdoors and sip on wine during your Basque Country honeymoon. The average temperature during these months is around 74 degrees Fahrenheit.

Nearby Airports and Transportation

There are three airports to fly into in northern Spain. Bilbao is in the west, San Sebastian in the east, and Vitoria in the south. We checked roundtrip flight prices from three major urban areas across the United States for a week in September.

Bilbao (code BIO):

  • NYC: $500 with one stop and about 11 hours of travel time.
  • Houston: $1,200 with one stop, traveling for about 14.5 hours.
  • LAX: $1,100 traveling for approximately 14 hours with one stop.

San Sebastián (code EAS):

  • NYC: $730 with only one stop and 12 hours of travel time.
  • Houston: $1,500 with two stops and nearly 16 hours of traveling.
  • LAX: $1,250 with two stops and about 18 hours of travel time.

Vitoria (code VIT):

  • NYC: $540 with one stop and 9.5 hours of time spent traveling.
  • Houston: $1,200 with one stop and 14.5 hours traveling.
  • LAX: $$1,120 with one stop and just under 14.5 hours of travel time.

Basque Country Foods

Tapas are not the thing to get in Basque Country like other areas of Spain. Instead, pintxos are incredibly popular. Pinchos (another way you’ll see the word spelled) are small snacks. A slice of bread is topped with a variety of savory delights, whether slices of meat, fish, vegetable or cheese, or various combinations of these ingredients.

They are the perfect snack to accompany a beer or glass of wine at a bar. Some bars will have a menu of pintxos and others will have a display of pre-made ones that are ready to eat. In this case, you simply ask the bartender for a plate to fill yourself or he or she will assist you.

They’re relatively inexpensive (a euro or a couple of euros each) and are great to have a few for a meal or to simply hold you two over until you dine at a restaurant later in the evening.

Other traditional dishes in Basque Country include Biscay-style cod, Marmitako (a fish and potato stew), Alubias de Tolosa (a bean stew), Txipirones (squid cooked in its black squid ink), and hake fish in a green sauce, called Merluza en salsa verde.

Desserts include a sweet bread-pudding-like dish named Torrijas, and a custard pie served by the slice, called Pastel Vasco.

Be sure to add a food tour to your honeymoon itinerary in Bilbao or San Sebastian.

Cities to Visit in Basque Country and Things to Do

The region is dashed and dotted with small villages between its anchor cities, where you’ll find charming countryside scenery and a picture-perfect coastline. We are sharing information regarding some main attractions in the popular cities below.

San Sebastián

Visiting San Sebastian’s old town, Parte Vieja, will give you a sense of the centuries-old history of the city. The pedestrian-friendly streets are lined with shops, restaurants and bars where it’s easy to find pintxos.

There are some beaches worth visiting in this destination, including La Concha beach, named for its shape that resembles the conch shell. If you want to try surfing in Basque Country within San Sebastian, head over to one of the ideal beaches for the sport, Zurriola Beach.

If you’re a couple who cherishes elevated culinary experiences, you must add one of the city’s Michelin-rated restaurants to your Basque Country honeymoon schedule. We recommend securing reservations in advance.

If you’re staying in San Sebastian but have an interest in seeing the Basque Country of France, sign up for one of the local day trips offered that will take you on a tour of the French side of the region. It’s incredibly close to San Sebastian. Or, add one of the day trips offered to La Rioja to your honeymoon itinerary to taste the wine produced there.

Bilbao

Bilbao is a mecca for museums. Don’t miss the Guggenheim – not only a beautiful backdrop for honeymoon photos but also an impressive building designed by Frank Gehry. Inside you’ll find contemporary and modern art.

Museo Bellas Artes is another important museum in Bilbao. It was founded in 1908 and has been open since 1914, though its collections span centuries.

Wander around Bilbao’s old town, called Casco Viejo, for interesting architecture, shops, restaurants and bars, and churches.

La Ribra is the city’s famous food market. It’s nice to get a feel for items the locals buy, walking around a market like this. The historic building was modernized and it’s also a great place to grab a glass of wine or a meal.

Day trips are easy from Bilbao as well, either to small nearby towns (like Guernica, Mundaka, Urdaibai and Bermeo) or to the Ebro Valley’s vineyards.

Vitoria-Gasteiz

This city is one of the places to visit if you’re embarking on a honeymoon focused on wine and food due to its proximity to the area’s wineries. (It’s only an hour and a half to La Rioja.) Though the city itself has plenty to offer as well.

Visit the Santa Maria Cathedral for its architectural beauty. The Museo de Bellas Artes is an impressive stone building as well. Inside, you’ll find Spanish art from the 18th and 19th centuries. If you prefer modern and contemporary art, visit the Atrium. Afterward, relax at Plaza Espana Plaza Nueva, a huge square where you can dine, drink and people watch.

Pamplona

We’d be remiss not to mention that the world-famous “Running of the Bulls” takes place in Basque Country’s city of Pamplona. The world renowned – somewhat dangerous event – takes place during the city’s San Fermin festival, which honors Pamplona’s patron saint. It takes place each July.

Though the bulls may outwardly take center stage, Pamplona’s many celebrations surrounding this festival – including merriment with eating and drinking – are what most residents and tourists look forward to each year.

If you plan on visiting Pamplona in July book accommodations as soon as you can for the best chance at securing an affordable rate at a hotel or rental home. 

Basque Country Honeymoon Registry

Family and friends love to shower newlyweds with gifts. Let those gifts given be experiences during your honeymoon and contributions to flights and such. Begin with our sample Spain Honeyfund honeymoon registry, and tailor it to your Basque Country honeymoon needs.

 

Mikkel Woodruff

Mikkel Woodruff owns two travel sites, Sometimes Home and Sometimes Sailing, which she operates with her husband, Dan. Her photo business, Mikkel Paige Photography, allows her to bring a unique perspective to Honeyfund as she has been a part of the wedding industry for over a decade. She calls the east coast of the United States home and travels domestically and internationally multiple times a year hoping to inspire others to travel.

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