Day Trips from Bilbao
By Viator, December 2013
Hungry to get to the heart of Basque culture? Satisfy your craving – literally -- by heading just an hour’s drive away to San Sebastián. Considered by many as the culinary capital of Spain, this is the place to inundate your taste buds with pintxos (Basque Country's take on tapas) and try local libations like txakoli (a dry white wine). More than just a foodie paradise, the beachside city will inevitably capture your traveling heart with its energy-filled old quarter, and romantic waterside promenade.
Leave Basque Country behind you by taking a one-hour drive west to Santander, capital of the neighboring region Cantabria. This harbor-side city, once nearly obliterated in a great fire, will lure you in with its hilly streets and small coastal-city charm. While there, compare and contrast cuisines, replacing those almost bite-sized Basque pintxos with a giant bowl of cocido montañes (a stew of meat, beans and cabbage) or dessert of arroz con leche (rice pudding).
More than just coastal destinations are worth a visit, though. Steer your sights inland to the city of Vitoria, located just 50 minutes away from Bilbao by car. While often overshadowed by more famous northern cities, Vitoria shouldn’t be overlooked: Not only does it have a killer pintxos scene, but its 13th-century Santa Maria Cathedral served as inspiration for the best-selling novel World Without End.