Bike tours through the Basque Country are sure to be full of cultural and political intrigue. The Basque Country is a region which crosses the border of Spain and France along the Atlantic coast. This region is said to be home of the unique culture, customs, and language of the Basque people. However, it is a divided land which is distributed between several regions across the boarder of two countries. Rather than getting caught up in all the politics of the region, a bike tour here can introduce traveler to a melting pot of cultures and cuisines which is unique only to this boarder region of France and Spain.
Bike Friendly Vacation Spot
This is “Europe’s wildest, least developed corners, a “Latin” pace, a profound culinary & cultural link with the ocean, temperate climates, and lush, green scenery.” What more could you want from a bike tour destination. Amazing food, wine, and unique cultural traditions are to be found in the Basque Country. Although there are many hills throughout the Basque Country, there are bike tours which stick with routes that are designed for moderately fit riders. Although anyone looking for a challenging tour can take 40 – 60 mile daily trek in the hills with Jemison Cycling Tours. Alternatively, there are mixed tours, like the ones provided by IberoCycle, which allow novice riders to take a shorter ride before packing into a passenger van.
The Way of St James, the ancient pilgrimage route which has been used by Christians for over a thousand years, runs through this region and is still in use today. Also, among the most famous sites in Basque Country, who could miss stopping into Pamplona to watch the running of the bulls. Even without the prodding of a 15mph bull run, the streets of Pamplona are full of interesting shops and beautiful architecture.
The wine of the Basque Country is called Txakolina in the Basque language. This wine is difficult to find outside of this region and some say this is simply due to regional supply matching with local demand. However, there are some regions within the Basque Country which have developed their own unique blend of Txakolina. Getaria, Biscay, Alava, Chacolí, and Burgos each have unique characteristics to their traditional Txakolina recipes.
The tenth largest city in Spain, Bilbao, is part of the Basque Country. This city includes the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, a metro system, and an international airport which makes it a cultural and transportation center for the region. The next largest cities are Vitoria-Gasteiz, Pamplona, and San Sebastián. Cities which are closer to the sea will feature fish and seafood dishes while those further inland will be focused on fresh and cured meats. Although this is common in many coastal regions with a nearby mountain range, Basque Country cuisine is further influenced by French and Spanish preparation methods on either side of the boarder.
Airport and Transportation
The international airport (BIO) for the region is located in Bilbao. However, there are also regional airports in Vitoria-Gasteiz and Pamplona. Additionally, there are several bus and rail transportation options for entering and returning from the Basque Country. Depending on your destination, you may be traveling on Spanish or French transit systems within the Basque Country.