Until the 1980s, when the Basque Country earned autonomous status from the Spanish government, Vitori-Gaitez was just another quaint provincial capital, notable for its two outstanding cathedrals, Gothic 14th-century Santa María and 1907 María Inmaculada, surrounded by scores of monumental buildings, some housing museums focusing on art, history, and in the 1525 Palacio de Bendana’s Museo Fournier, playing cards.
The hilltop old town was founded in the 6th century, though the oldest surviving structures are part of the well-preserved Medieval stronghold. This is surrounded by newer (14th to 18th-century) plazas and shady pedestrian promenades lined with shops and cafes.
The more affluent and energetic modern center of the young capital, however, showcases today’s talented architects, heralding the bright future of the Basque region.
A really interesting tour of the countryside that ended up at a local wine cellar (not a vineyard, the vines and grapes are a few miles away) with a wine tasting and opportunity to buy wine direct from the producers. Our tour guide was very friendly, knowledgeable and spoke good English. We stopped for both coffee and lunch at excellent locations that our guide recommended. If you are staying in Bilbao then this is a trip worth making.
We expected to visit several wineries, but only visited one, which turned out ok because the whole day was really enjoyable! Vitoria was a visual treat and John's sense of humor made everyone have a good time. The visit to the winery was one more fun thing in a whole day of fun.
Although Vitoria-Gasteiz isn't (yet) a top tourist destination, make reservation in advance during the popular July International Jazz Festival and August Azkena Rock Festival.
The city is home to tiny Airport Vitoria-Foronda (VIT), with direct flights to Madrid, but most visitors fly into Bilbao or Zaragoza. There are also train connections to Madrid and Barcelona, and buses to most major Spanish cities.