Navarra and La Rioja - highlights of the Spanish Basque Country

Photo of Navarra and La Rioja - The Basque Country

Navarra Hotels


Visit Navarra and La Rioja - The Basque Country

A beautiful area with mountains, forests and sea. The beautiful and chic town of San Sebastian on the coast draws large numbers as does the fabulous Guggenheim museum in Bilbao.

The medieval towns of Olite and Estella are well worth the trip as is the elegant Vitoria and Pamplona is known worldwide for its bull-running festival in July.

This area also has the monasteries of Leyre, San Millande la Cogolla and Yuso.


Costa Vasca

Good beaches, cliffs and coves with a backdrop of tree-covered hills. With a selection of pretty fishing villages and resorts. Most attractive of all is San Sebastian.

Take the coast road from Zarautz to Bilbao to enjoy the rugged coastline and the picturesque villages along the way.

UNESCO World Heritage Sites in The Basque Country:

Vizcaya Bridge, (Biscay Bridge) Bilbao - The Vizcaya Bridge was designed by the Basque architect, Alberto de Palacio and completed in 1893. It was the first bridge in the world to carry people and traffic on a high suspended cabin - a bit like a cable car.

San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries, San Millán de la Cogolla

Route of the Santiago de Compostela

Cities and Places to Visit

Bilbao - Home of the fabulous Guggenheim museum and of the UNESCO site, the Vizcaya bridge, and a new futuristic metro system designed by Norman Foster.

Gernika-Lumo (Guernica) - made famous by Picasso's painting of the outrage of the world's first saturation bombing raid carried out by Nazi aircraft at the request of Franco.

Hondarribia - The old town of Hondarribia is charming, narrow alleys of old houses all with masses of carved woodwork adorning the outside. The castle at the top of the town has been converted into one of Spain's parradors.

Javier - visit for the castle and the murals depicting the Dance of Death.

Olite - a village with a fabulous castle part of which is now a Parador.

Onati - an interesting town with some good Baroque architecture and a former university with a renaissance facade.

Pamplona - an impressive town at any time of the year but try to be here for the Fiestas de San Fermin from 6 - 14 July when Pamplona has its famours bull running celebration.

Sanguesa - very interesting town with lovely old streets, mansions and churches and the remains of a royal palace

San Sebastian - A fashionabe and attractive resort and home to one of Spain's grandest hotels, the Marià Cristina. The town nestles in a bay with a hill at each end topped by a tower. The Monte Urgull in the East and Monte Igueldo in the West. There is a funicular to take yuo to the top of Monte Igeldo.

Tolosa - with a medieval old quarter and a famous carnival in February.

Ujué - delightful hilltop village dominated by its thirteenth century church

Vitoria - the city has an attractive central plaza, the Plaza de Espana and a number of Renaissance palaces and attractive churces.

Zaraut - close to San Sebastian, Zaraut has a lovely old town and good beaches. Take the coast road from here towards Bilbao to enjoy the rugged coastline of the Costa Vasca.


Museo de Bellas Artes, Bilbao - one of Spain's best art museums.

Museo Guggenheim, Bilbao - fabulous building designed by Frank Gehry.

Museo de San Telmo, San Sebastian - the displays are in the cloister of a former convent where you can see frescoes by José Sert.

Museo Naval, San Sebastian - history of Basque fishing

Museo de Arqueologia, Vitoria - housed in a 16th century half-timbered house. Exhibits include Roman sculptures.

Museo de Armeria, Vitoria - display of medieval weapons

Artium, Vitoria - display of modern art

Museo de Bellas artes, Vitoria - fine art museum

Monasteries and castles

Monastery of Arantzazu, near Segura - spectacular setting in the ridge of Aitzkorri.

Monasterio de San Salvador de Leyre - an impressive monastery restored by Benedictine monks in the 1950s. Go to Mass to hear the monks singing Gregorian chant.

Santuario de Loiola - this chapel with an attractive domed roof was built around the home of Saint Ignatius of Loiola, founder of the Jesuits

Castillo de Mendoza - 13th century fort now home to the Museo Heraldica, a museum of coats of arms

Paradors of Navarra and La Rioja

Parador d'Olite, Olite

Parador de Calahorra, Calahorra

Parador de Hondarribia, Hondarribia

Parador Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Calzada

See also:

Map of Navarra and La Rioja - The Basque Country and places to visit