“Kaixo” means hello in the Basque language. A Spanish adventure is typically defined by how much sangria you drink, how many bullfighters you encounter and how much time you spend on sunny beaches. As you travel around Spain, however, don’t forget to explore the Basque country. This region has a rich history of food, sports, and culture.

Basque country extends across the Spanish border and into southern France. The culture is largely the same in both countries, but there are subtle differences between the French Basques and the Spanish Basques. The lush green mountains in northern Spain have preserved Basque culture for generations. This proud heritage is rooted in the Basque language, called Esukera. It’s a language so old historians don’t know its exact origins. Bilbao is the largest city in the region, but other popular destinations include San Sebastian and Pamplona.

Matt Westenburg

Gastronomy

Basque culture is renowned for its cuisine and a history of quality gastromony. People gather in local bars for a “PintxoPote” where they drink wine and snack on the Basque version of tapas. Seafood, especially cod, and jamón are staples in Basque food. Jamón is cured ham that’s thinly sliced and eaten plain or included in a traditional pintxo recipe. Txakoli is a sweet, sparkling wine that’s native to the region. Several restaurants in northern Spain have been recognized for their food, but San Sebastian is world famous for its pinxto bars.

Sports

In addition to their cuisine, Basques take great pride in their traditional sporting events. Traditional games showcase the strength of Basque people in competitions for chopping wood, throwing boulders and sawing grass. Within the Basque region, there are several professional soccer teams. Athletic Club Bilbao only signs players native to the Basque region and is one of the most successful teams in Spanish soccer history.

Matt Westenburg

Art and culture

Art and culture throughout the Basque country are rooted in folk music and traditional clothing. Festivals throughout the year celebrate the rich Basque heritage as natives and tourists alike gather to participate in the festivities centered on food and games. Museums throughout the region showcase traditional and modern art. The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is the most notable contemporary art museum in Spain. Its abstract architecture has gotten global attention since its construction in 1997.

Say, “Kaixo” to your next vacation destination. The Basque region is celebrated for its gastronomy, sporting events, and culture. Settled in the rugged mountains of Northern Spain, this area is the perfect way to expand your Spanish adventure.