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Our cities

Bilbao, cutting-edge metropolis, San Sebastián, beautiful and refined, or Vitoria-Gasteiz, our “green capital”.

The best thing is that you don’t have to choose - you can visit all three as they’re so close together!

Our cities

4 days in Vitoria-Gasteiz

Day 1

Fotografía Vitoria Día 1

Morning

Start your stay in Vitoria-Gasteiz going on one of the guided tours the Tourist Office offers, where you will discover the legends and stories about the Medieval Almond and its four towers. There are also guided tours of the churches of San Miguel and San Pedro, the Tower of San Vicente, Villa Suso Palace and the Lanterns Museum.

If you are in search of something different we suggest you try BIBAT, a museum which houses two museums in one. Firstly, the Archaeological Museum houses about fifteen thousand pieces from different periods of history and also the Fournier Playing Card Museum which offers an interesting journey through the evolution of the cards throughout history.

You can also discover the Medieval Almond in Vitoria-Gasteiz in a very original way, going on the "The painted city" mural route. A street level gallery of public artworks where each of these imposing facades hides a secret story.

Go on any of the enjoyable guided tours the Vitoria-Gasteiz Tourist Office runs for children, including a tour of the city by tricycle. The tourist train also runs tours for children in summer.

If you are an art lover, continue exploring the city´s medieval past; a city founded in 1181 by Sancho VI of Navarre. Stroll through the streets and admire its Gothic and Renaissance palaces, such as the Casa del Cordón, Doña Ochanda Tower, the Torre de los Anda, the Portalón, Bendaña Palace, Montehermoso Palace or Escoriaza-Esquibel Palace, which is the best example of Renaissance architecture in the city.

Be sure to do a guided tour of the city walls in Vitoria-Gasteiz, whose origins predate the eleventh century, dating back to the early medieval fortifications of the Medieval Almond.

Lunch

Sample some pintxos or have a popular sit-down set lunch menu in any of the restaurants in the Medieval Almond.

Afternoon

Take the opportunity to visit Santa Maria Cathedral, a unique way to discover a Gothic church. You´ve probably visited many cathedrals, but none like this one, as the cathedral´s innovative programme of guided tours allows you to view it from a completely different viewpoint, being able to access unusual places such as the triforium, the sentry walk or the underground of the building.

Stroll through the area of the neoclassical expansion in Vitoria-Gasteiz and visit its most characteristic monuments, such as the Plaza de España or the Arquillos, both designed by Olaguibel, an architect from Vitoria. The Arquillos is noted as a very innovative piece of work for its time, representing a transition between the Medieval Almond situated on a hill and the neoclassical urban expansion. The Plaza del Machete stands just behind this building, a place where a copy of the machete was kept which the city council officials were officially sworn in with.

Visit the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, the beating heart of the city and the pride of the Vitoria locals. Climb up to the balcony of the Church of San Miguel and enjoy the picture postcard view of the city. The monument commemorating the Battle of Vitoria stands in the middle of the square, when in 1813 Napoleon´s armies were defeated by Portuguese, British and Spanish troops commanded by the Duke of Wellington and General Alava. Try to identify the historical characters depicted on this iconic monument.

Finish off the afternoon with a spot of shopping in the city centre on the streets Eduardo Dato, General Álava or San Prudencio. The whole urban expansion area is converted into a large outdoor pedestrian shopping area.

If you still want to learn more about the city, you can take the tourist train that goes through the town in the summer time and learn more about the most important places in the city.

During the summer months there are night time dramatized tours through Vitoria-Gasteiz organized by the city´s Tourist Office (in Spanish only). Enjoy the theatrical fun of travelling through the Medieval Almond, an unforgettable experience that takes place in the summer months and which is necessary to book in advance.

Dinner

At dinner time, there are a multitude of dining options sure to satisfy all culinary tastes in the city. Pintxos bars, asadores (traditional brasseries), cider houses and signature cuisine. Just take your pick! If you go on the dramatized night time tour in summer time, be sure to book a table for later.

At night you can go out for a drink in the city centre, where there are several areas with a vibrant nightlife. The Medieval Almond and the area around the neoclassical expansion are home to the main nightclubs and bars.

Day 2

Fotografía Vitoria Día 2

Morning

Start the day by visiting the Basque Museum of Contemporary Art (ARTIUM), whose permanent collection is considered one of the best in its category in the Basque Country and Spain. Additionally, the museum complements its collections with temporary exhibitions and activities for children.

The Mercado de la Almendra market is held on the first Saturday of every month in the old part of town, where traders sell their products in the streets that are home to artisanal shops. As well as the weekly market, the yearly Medieval Market takes place on the last weekend in September. It is the largest market in Spain, where the Historic Quarter remembers its past and gets decked out for the occasion.

Go along to the Plaza de los Fueros, a veritable outdoor sculpture designed by Peña Ganchegi and Eduardo Chillida. This plaza, where concerts and various cultural activities are held, has an outdoor fronton court where you can see groups of friends playing Basque pelota and there is a sculpture by Chillida honouring the Basque code of laws.

Visit the María Inmaculada Cathedral, also known by the locals from Vitoria as New Cathedral built in a neo-Gothic style and which is colossal in size. Additionally, this church houses the Diocesan Museum of Sacred Art, where visitors can see important pieces from Alava´s religious heritage, among which there are works by renowned artists.

The younger ones will have a great time at the Museum of Natural History located in the Doña Ochanda Tower. The first floor is given over to the world of geology including exhibits of amber, many of which contain insect inclusions. The second floor contains the botany and zoology section, with a collection of different stuffed and preserved animals.

Lunch

There are a multitude of restaurants and bars to choose from in the area around the neoclassical urban expansion where you can sample the very best of Basque cuisine: pintxos bars, asadores (traditional brasseries), cider houses and signature cuisine

Afternoon

Take a romantic stroll through the La Florida Park, the most famous park in the city designed as a botanical garden form the Romantic Era, reminiscent of the style of nineteenth-century French gardens. Enjoy the calmness and the fresh air in the 2012 European Green Capital. Go sightseeing on foot or go for a ride on one of the bicycles that the city council has the disposal of visitors and local alike at various points throughout the city.

Vitoria is one of the European cities with some of the largest expanses of green areas, which has earned the city the accolade of European Green Capital 2012. Start exploring the green areas in La Florida Park, the most famous park in the city designed as a botanical garden, reminiscent of the style of nineteenth-century French gardens. Go on foot or go for a ride on one of the bicycles that the city council has the disposal of visitors and local alike at various points throughout the city.

Continue on this magnificent route along the promenade, Paseo de la Senda, leaving Zulueta Palace on the one hand and continue on along the Paseo de Fray Francisco de Vitoria. Your first stop on this walk is at the Armoury Museum, where weapons from different periods in history and some models representing the Battle of Vitoria are on display. Next up and almost adjoining it stands the Palace of Ajuria Enea, the official residence of the Lehendakari (President of the Basque Government). Finally, and just opposite is Augusti Palace, which is home to the Museum of Fine Arts, a beautiful building which houses an important collection of Spanish art from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, as well as a remarkable collection of Basque art from 1850 to 1950. See the museum opening hours on the Vitoria-Gasteiz Tourism website.

When you get to Prado Park, we will continue along the promenade, Paseo de Cervantes, until getting to Armentia, where the basilica of the same name stands, one of the most important Romanesque buildings in Álava/Araba and in the Basque Country. This route also coincides with the Way of St. James Basque Inland Route, which later joins up with the French Route.

If you are a nature lover, continue cycling through the green belt around Vitoria-Gasteiz until you get to Salburua Park and the Salburua Wetlands Interpretation Centre, Ataria, which houses an ecosystem of undeniable ecological value. You can go birdwatching in the park in the observatories installed for this purpose and see different animals such as deer or a small colony of European mink that are in danger of extinction. When you visit you will understand why Vitoria-Gasteiz has been named European Green Capital 2012.

If travelling with children you can also visit the Salburua Park and Ataria, the Salburua Wetlands Interpretation Centre, which you can get to by bus (Route 3) from the city centre. In addition to the Interpretation Centre, which runs activities for children, there are several bird observatories and several colonies of animals in the surroundings, some of them endangered species. The basketball arena which is home to the city´s basketball team, Baskonia, and the multi-sport stadium which houses an ice rink where children can have a fun time, is very close Ataria.

Return to Santa Maria Cathedral late in the afternoon to enjoy the Portico of Light, a show where you have the opportunity to travel through time via an innovative digital projection system, which shows the evolution of the different polychromes that the Paternina chapel has undergone since the sixteenth century.

Dinner

Try the recommendations you´ll find in the brochure to discover the city from a different angle, exploring the best pintxos bars in town.

Day 3

Fotografía Vitoria Día 3

Morning

For food lovers, we suggest that you make your way to the wine-making region of Rioja Alavesa, a wine theme park where you can enjoy the scenery, visit wineries or stroll through the streets of authentic walled towns that have almost wholly preserved their charm.

If you wish you can take the Stellar partnership: wine and stars in Rioja Alavesa Enobus, which will take you directly to this region from Vitoria-Gasteiz. Visit a winery, a village brimming with history and places you wouldn't otherwise be able to visit, while accompanied by a guide. It is important to check the tourist bus departure dates, as the service does not operate on a year-round basis.

If you prefer to make your way there in your own car, we suggest two experiences. One of them relates to the Wineries and tradition in Rioja Alavesa, where you will discover a land where the people live by and for wine, an area dotted with medieval villages of great historical and artistic value. On the other hand, you can also learn about the most avant-garde side to Rioja Alavesa and admire the wineries that have opted for modernity and state-of-the-art architecture in their buildings, notably the Ysios winery, designed by Santiago Calatrava, or Marqués de Riscal, designed by the one and only Frank O. Gehry.

Lunch

Recharge your batteries enjoying the cuisine in this region in some of its wineries and restaurants. Take the opportunity to sample some of the traditional local dishes, such as "patatas a la riojana" (Rioja style potatoes with chorizo and red peppers) or lamb chops. You can opt for the most cutting edge and innovative creations, prepared by chefs who strive to give that special touch to the tradition of Basque-Riojan cuisine. We suggest you make a booking in advance.

Afternoon

After lunch we suggest you stroll through the streets of Laguardia, a walled town that almost wholly preserves its medieval layout. We suggest you go on one of the guided tours run by the tourist office; particularly worthwhile is the portico of the church of Santa Maria de los Reyes, a real jewel from the Gothic era. You can also visit some of its underground wine cellars, as there are two "cities" in Laguardia, the one you can see and the one you can´t, because all the houses have their own underground wine cellar. Other towns of medieval origin whose tourist offices also organize guided tours are Labastida or Labraza; the latter won the award for best fortified city in the world, awarded by the International Circle of Walled Cities.

If you have arrived in Rioja Alavesa on the  Aromas and Landscapes of Rioja Alavesa, Enobus, catch the bus back to Vitoria-Gasteiz. If you have come by car, cross the Sierra de Cantabria through one of its mountain passes, such as Bernedo or de Herrera, and enjoy the wonderful views of Rioja Alavesa and the entire Ebro Basin. You can see the contrast this landscape has to offer, with hints of Mediterranean scenery and the lush green mountains of Alava on the northern slope of the Sierra de Cantabria.

Dinner

Once back in Vitoria-Gasteiz, choose from any one of the restaurants and charge your batteries with Basque cuisine at its very finest.

Day 4

Fotografía Vitoria Día 4

Morning

Make your way to the Valle de Ayala and Alto Nervión, where you can take in one of the most breathtaking views in the entire Basque Country: the Nervión waterfall, with a drop of more than 200 metres. While here we suggest you do the Source of the Nervión from the sky experience or simply stroll along the trails and savour this natural spectacle.

If you are a lover of ornithology, the Sierra Salvada is a declared SPA (Special Protection Area for birds) and is an ideal place for bird watching. Among the most important of these is the Griffon vulture, the Egyptian vulture and the peregrine falcon among others.

Time-permitting, take a break and relax in a wine therapy session at the hotel spa in Orduña, right in the very heart of the town's Historic Quarter.

If you are interested in history and art, be sure to visit the Historic Quarter of Artzeniega, the Sanctuary of Nuestra Señora de la Encina or the Quejana Monumental Group. Go along to any of the Tourist Offices in Valle de Ayala and Alto Nervión and find out the opening hours and guided tours that are organized.

You can also make the most of your visit and discover the Denomination of Origen Txakoli de Álava, and enjoy the A taste of txakoli experience visiting some of the wineries that are affiliated to the Txakoli Route. We recommend you call in advance to make a booking.

Lunch

Give your taste buds a treat in any of the many restaurants you pass by in the towns of Valle de Ayala and Alto Nervión.

Afternoon

In the afternoon go along to the Alaves region of Añana, where you can visit one of the best kept treasures in the Basque Country, the Valle Salado, unique in the whole country. Nature lovers will enjoy the geological and geomorphological features of the environment, in which a diapir has shaped the landscape resulting in a valley with springs where the elevated level of salinity is higher than in the Dead Sea. Take a guided tour and discover how this salt producing enclave has played an important role in history. Witness how the traditional method of harvesting salt has been preserved, based on a system of "eras" (salt pools or pans) that are being restored as part of an ambitious project to full recovery of the Valley. Don't leave without buying some Añana Salt; a salt of outstanding quality, notably the salt stalactites and salt flower.

Making the most of your stay in the region, if you are interested in art, you can visit the Torre de los Varona a fourteenth century defence fortress, or the Church of Tuesta, one of the best examples of Basque Romanesque architecture.

Making the most of your stay in the region, if you are interested in nature and bird watching, you can visit the Valderejo Natural Park, where there is a variety of flora and fauna for the visitor to experience. One of the main attractions of this natural park is the Purón River gorge.

Dinner

To end the day, return to Vitoria-Gasteiz and recharge your batteries in any of its restaurants while you relax after your exhausting day of sightseeing.