Beautiful Towns in Gipuzkoa Worth Visiting

Nestled in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country, Gipuzkoa is a province that enchants visitors with its stunning landscapes, rich history, and vibrant culture. 

This diverse region, with its rugged coastlines, rolling hills, and lush forests, offers a picturesque escape into nature’s beauty. 

It’s home to some of the most beautiful towns not only in the Basque Country but in all of Spain. Each town, with its unique charm and character, tells a story of the region’s past, traditions, and the warmth of its people. 

In this article, we’ll explore the most beautiful towns that should be on your itinerary for a trip to Gipuzkoa.

Things to know about Gipuzkoa’s Towns

Before we get into our top recommendations of towns to visit in Gipuzkoa, there are a few things worth knowing about the towns in the region. 

1. The unique cultural richness of Gipuzkoa’s Towns

Works of art at the Chillida-Leku Museum in San Sebastian

Gipuzkoa’s towns are not just places of natural beauty but also centres of rich cultural heritage. 

From the Basque pelota games in local frontons to the vibrant folk dances and music at festivals, the province’s culture is a tapestry of tradition and contemporary life. 

Museums and cultural centres, such as the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria and the Chillida-Leku Museum near Hernani, offer insights into the artistic legacy of the region, celebrating the contributions of Basque artists to the global cultural landscape.

2. Gastronomy is at the heart of Gipuzkoa

Barrels in a Basque Cider House

The gastronomy of Gipuzkoa is a reflection of its land and sea. 

Renowned for its pintxos, txakoli wine, and Michelin-starred restaurants, the province offers a culinary journey that is both rooted in tradition and innovation. 

Seasonal and locally sourced ingredients are the stars of Basque cuisine, with dishes like bacalao al pil-pil, txuleta, and Idiazabal cheese showcasing the region’s flavours. 

Gastronomic societies, or txokos, play a crucial role in preserving culinary traditions, serving as communal spaces where cooking and eating reinforce social bonds.

3. Planning your visit around festivals and events

People gathered in Plaza de Armas for the Alarde festival in Hondarribia

Gipuzkoa’s calendar is punctuated with festivals and events that celebrate its culture, history, and gastronomy. 

The San Sebastian International Film Festival attracts cinema enthusiasts from around the world, while the Tamborrada drum festival offers a unique spectacle of sound and joy. 

Seasonal celebrations, such as the Santo Tomás fair in December, with its traditional market and rural atmosphere, and the vibrant regattas in coastal towns, reflect the diverse and lively spirit of Gipuzkoa’s communities.

The Charm of Gipuzkoa’s Coastal Towns

Our recommended towns start with some of Gipuzkoa’s best coastal towns. With 60km of vibrant coastline, the area where the sea meets land has played an important part in shaping Gipuzkoa. 

These coastal towns, each with its unique charm and story, represent the diverse beauty of the province. 

1. Pasaia

The estuary of Pasaia in Gipuzkoa in the Basque Country

Pasaia, a quaint fishing village on the eastern outskirts of San Sebastian. It’s a picturesque coastal town with its narrow streets, colourful houses and stunning opening to the Bay of Biscay. 

This hidden gem is renowned for its natural harbour. The surrounding hiking trails provide breathtaking views of the harbour and the Bay of Biscay. One of my favourite walks is the hike from Gros in San Sebastian to Pasaia!

A visit to the Albaola Sea Factory of the Basques, where historical Basque shipbuilding comes to life, is a must for any visitor.

2. Hondarribia

The Skyline of Hondarribia Town

Bordering France by the Bidasoa river, Hondarribia is a fortified town that boasts a rich history and beauty. 

Its well-preserved mediaeval old town, with colourful fishermen’s houses and cobblestone streets, leads visitors on a journey through time. 

The town’s walls are some of the best preserved Mediaeval walls which show tales of past centuries. Meanwhile, the vibrant marina and beach are a bustling hub of activity, adding a modern touch to the town. 

Check out our post on the things to do in Hondarribia, to make the most of your time here!

3. Getaria

View of the beach in Getaria

Famous for its txakoli wine and exquisite seafood, Getaria is a charming coastal town with deep maritime roots. 

Despite a small population of less than 3,000 residents, Getaria has made its mark on the world. The birthplace of the renowned navigator Juan Sebastián Elcano and fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, this town is steeped in history and culture. 

Its picturesque port and narrow streets invite leisurely walks, while the San Salvador church, an architectural marvel, overlooks the sea. 

Getaria’s restaurants, serving freshly caught fish grilled to perfection, offer a culinary experience not to be missed. Some even have Michelin Stars!

4. Zumaia 

Hiking in Zumaia

Zumaia, located at the point where the Urola and Narrondo rivers meet the sea, is famed for its stunning geological formations at the Flysch route

These cliffs are a result of millennia of geological history. They offer a breathtaking, natural spectacle. 

The town’s historic centre, with the San Pedro church and the Casa Foronda, houses tales of seafaring tradition and artistic legacy. 

Whilst finally, Zumaia’s beaches, Itzurun and Santiago, are perfect for those seeking relaxation or the thrill of surfing. You can check out the best things to do in Zumaia here.

5. Deba

Deba Gipuzkoa
Image from Deba Turismo Facebook

Deba, with its expansive sandy beach, is a favoured destination for beach lovers and hikers alike. 

The town serves as a gateway to the UNESCO-listed Geopark, where the Flysch cliffs continue to awe visitors. 

Deba’s old town, with its Basílica de Santa María, showcases the architectural grandeur of the Basque Gothic style. 

The town’s cultural calendar, filled with festivals and markets, offers a glimpse into the lively spirit of its community.

Discovering Gipuzkoa’s Inland Treasures

The interior towns and villages are the beating heart of Gipuzkoa. They are places with strong identities,teeming with life in rich histories, fascinating cultures, vibrant markets, cobbled streets and some of the Basque Country’s best restaurants. 

No trip to Gipuzkoa is complete without a visit to some of these authentic towns. Below are some of our top recommendations.

6. Tolosa

Old Town of Tolosa

Tolosa, nestled in the heart of Gipuzkoa (just 30 minutes from San Sebastian), stands as a beacon of Basque tradition and culture. 

Renowned for its weekly market, the largest in the province, it offers a colourful array of local produce, crafts, and delicacies.

The old town, with its historic buildings and charming streets, echoes the town’s rich past. Notably in the Santa María Church, Baroque Town Council and Navarre Bridge are some of the highlights.

It’s also the perfect place to visit for those wanting to explore more about the Basque culture. Tolosa’s commitment to celebrating the culture is evident in its lively carnivals and unique festivals, such as the famous “Tolosa Bean Day.”

7. Ordizia

Image from Goierri Turismo

In the shadow of the majestic Txindoki mountain lies Ordizia. It’s a town with deep agricultural roots and a history that dates back over a thousand years. 

Its weekly market (held every Wednesday) has been a central part of life since the 16th century, showcasing the best of Basque rural produce. 

The town’s historical centre is declared a Monumental Complex. It features architectural gems like the Renaissance-style Casa del Diezmo and the Gothic Church of San Juan. 

Ordizia is not just a place to visit, it’s a place to experience the essence of Basque country living.

8. Oñati

Onati University

Oñati, often referred to as the Basque Country’s “little Toledo,” is a treasure trove of Gothic and Renaissance architecture set amidst stunning natural landscapes. 

The University of Sancti Spiritus, the first university in the Basque Country, and the Sanctuary of Arantzazu, a masterpiece of modern religious art nestled in the mountains, are highlights of this town’s rich architectural heritage. 

Oñati’s natural surroundings, including the Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, offer a playground for nature lovers. From hiking, spelunking, mountain biking and climbing among the activities to enjoy.

9. Bergara

Bergara Gipuzkoa
Image from Bergarako Udala Facebook

A trip to Bergara offers a diverse and enriching experience tailored to anyone. You can wander through historic streets, relax in serene gardens, or engage in activities like mountain biking and canoeing. 

The town is celebrated for its culinary scene, featuring bars, restaurants, and exclusive homemade confectionery. 

The town’s rich cultural tradition is anchored by its 18th-century Royal Seminary, known for separating tungsten for the first time. 

Whilst in Bergara, explore monuments such as the old quarter, and the Laboratorium Museum, showcasing collections in various scientific fields. 

End your visit with Bergara’s renowned pastries, ensuring a taste of local sweet delicacies!

10. Azpeitia

Image from Urola Turismoa Facebook

Azpeitia, nestled in the foothills of the Izarraitz mountains, is famed for the Sanctuary of Loiola, the birthplace of Saint Ignatius of Loiola. 

Founded in 1310 by King Ferdinand IV of Castile, the town boasts impressive architecture.  The ornate wrought iron balcony railings offer a window into its affluent past thanks to ties with the iron industry. 

Other key monuments to visit include the Sanctuary of Loiola, Enparan tower-house, Antxieta Palace, and the Parish church of San Sebastian de Soreasu. 

The town is a significant pilgrimage site and tourist destination, offering rich cultural experiences with its museums, including the Basque Railway Museum showcasing a vast collection of historical trains. 

Azpeitia’s natural beauty and historical significance, combined with its museums and the starting point of the Ignatian Way, make it a compelling visit.