Basque Country, Spain
Do Go/Don’t go
The Basque Country owes its greenery to the fact it’s one of Spain’s damper regions – the Atlantic fronts bring wind and drizzle throughout the year. July and August are driest, hottest and busiest, so aim for May or September – but still pack an umbrella.
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PlanesSeven miles outside the city centre, Bilbao’s architecturally impressive Sondika airport is the largest in the region, with direct flights to a number of European hubs, including London Stansted via EasyJet. A half-hourly bus takes travellers into the city; taxis cost around €20. There are smaller airports at San Sebastián and Vitoria, and, on the French side of the border, Biarritz airport has connections to London Gatwick and other UK cities.
BoatsP&O operates a leisurely paced car ferry between Portsmouth and Bilbao and Brittany Ferries pootle between Plymouth, Portsmouth and Santander.
TrainsVitoria is on the daily Paris-Madrid sleeper line and Bilbao’s Estación de Abando is connected with larger towns throughout Spain by the Renfe network. The Basque Country is criss-crossed with smaller, more scenic railways, linking Bilbao, San Sebastián, Guernica, and Hendaye on the French side of the border with smaller towns along the coast.
AutomobilesUnless you remain city-bound, hiring a car is ideal for village-hopping through the Basque countryside and motoring through the mountains. Avis (www.avis.com) have desks at Bilbao and Biarritz airports.
TaxisIn San Sebastián, Bilbao, Biarritz and other large cities, cabs are easy to flag in the streets or pick up at taxi ranks. In smaller towns, you’re best booking ahead. Try Teletaxi Vallina (+34 94 340 4040) or Taxi Donosti (+34 94 346 4646; www.taxidonosti.com) in and around San Sebastián.