My town, San Sebastian, is well known among discerning travelers as one of the most beautiful spots in Spain. But a better-kept secret is what lies just down the coast, accessible only for those with a car—dramatic cliffs, beautiful, uncrowded beaches, and authentic Basque sights and experiences.
Here’s your route:
This fishing village is a charming ferry ride from France, and it boasts a multi-faceted character. An intimidating medieval old part, crowned by the must-stay Parador butts a low-lying fishermen district, both worth exploring. Some renowned (by the New York Times) pintxo spots vie for a spot in your stomach with the Michelin-starred Alameda (below), both worth a visit.
Pop into this surf town, with its long stretch of flat beach, and plan on staying the night. Do what everyone is doing: grab a board and an instructor at Pukas Surf School. Enjoy a luxurious lunch of uber-fresh fish overlooking the sea at Aiten Etxe, allowing lunch to fade into evening: the bars along the beach are famous for their nightlife in summertime.
Just down the winding coast from Zarautz is one of the world’s most curious fishing villages. The perfect visit to Getaria starts with the perfect anchovy—and the artisans at Itsas-Mendi will explain, show and sample theirs.
Continue at the impressive museum dedicated to the town’s prodigal son, fashion designer Balenciaga. And finally, take advantage of your wheels and follow the txakoli route, stopping in at famed restaurant Elkano if hunger strikes.
Whether you road trip Gipuzkoa or the entire Basque Country and its three provinces, you'll find that the treasures of Basque Country lie off the beaten path.
Estimated total travel time by car: 1 hour, 4 minutes
Balenciaga Museo: http://cristobalbalenciagamuseoa.com/
Ruta de Txakoli: http://www.getariakotxakolina.com/en/ruta-del-txakoli.php
All pics are mine, save the surfboard shot.