At one point Spain was the wealthiest country in the world and remnants of that can be seen throughout the Basque region, along the coast. The Spanish Coastline is an exquisite meeting of many cultures and styles, resulting in one of the most relaxing and architecturally stunning places on earth.
Everywhere we traveled is either a quick drive or train ride away, and everything in Spain is super affordable compared to the US, Israel, and the other Western European countries we frequent/live.
The coast of the entire Basque region is dotted with sweet little beaches and charming surf towns. It’s like the Laguna Beach of Europe. While there, we visited San Sebastian, Bilbao, and Madrid and even day tripped to Biarritz, France. Here’s the best of in each city: Where you’ll want to eat and sleep, and what you’ll want to see and shop for.
San Sebastian, Spain
San Sebastian is the perfect Summer city in the gorgeous Basque countryside. Its rolling green hills contrast against a calm coastline. The charming town is centuries old and has some of the best and most affordable food. The second largest european film festival, after Cannes, is held here in September.
Where to Stay in San Sebastian? The Arima
Stay at the Arima- an energy efficient, passive construction, organic food, and Scandinavian Style contemporary hotel. Making San Sebastian your home base for the duration of your stay is a great idea and from there, you can venture out to the other quaint coastal towns.
Where to Eat in San Sebastian?
Go to La Rampa. Thank me later! It’s the best seafood restaurant- period. If you love oysters, go for it there! Then take a dip in the ramp and watch the locals high dive into the water.
Where to Day Trip from San Sebastian: Biarritz, France
Biarritz is also a gorgeous summer city. It’s located about 40 minutes, driving, from San Sebastian, but you’ll want to take the scenic route through the Basque country side, and see the vineyards and farms with plenty of happy animals..
Biarritz has mind blowing rock formations that act as natural bridges from land into the sea.
Stop in anywhere for mussels, pomme frites, a cold beer, and then go get an ice cream. And be sure you bring a towel and your suit and get in the water with the locals- every beach you visit is perfect and one is more beautiful than the next. Making this city even more unbelievable are the massive amounts of hydrangea bushes everywhere you look in every color.
What to Do and Where to Eat in Bilbao?
When in Bilbao, you have to check out the Guggenheim and leave plenty of time to walk along the gorgeous riverside park filled with world class statues. Eat in any of the museum restaurants, the food is super yummy.
Madrid: How Much Time Should I Spend in Madrid?
Spend one to two days in Madrid and be prepared with your walking shoes!
Where to Stay in Madrid?
Live like a local and check out some of the city’s awesome vacation rental properties. We VRBO’d this charming apartment and cannot recommend it enough! Madrid VRBO: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/22825760
See the works of the great Spanish painters Velaquez, Picasso, El Greco, Joan Miro, Goya, Dali, and the jewels from when Spain was the wealthiest country in the world at Prado Museum.
San Miguel Marketplace
The San Miguel marketplace is a bustling Instagrammer’s heaven! They have gorgeous stalls with every food imaginable – each food stall is more impressive than the next. It’s also great shopping for handmade leather goods like shoes and bags.