LEISURE (CULTURE, GASTRONOMY, SPORT, ENTERTAINMENT, TOURISM)
The Basque Country provides a top-class cultural environment in which art and history exist in perfect harmony alongside a broad cultural offering including events such as internationally famous music festivals and more deeply rooted celebrations: Jazz Festivals in Getxo, San Sebastian and Vitoria.
We cannot fail to mention the relationship that Donostia-San Sebastian has with the cinema. This can be seen from the San Sebastian International Film Festival, and the no less prestigious Horror and Fantasy Film Festival which is held in the city at the end of October.
The Basque Country is also a land of great artistic richness, one in which cave paintings can be found along with a wide range of megalithic monuments and archaeological sites from different historical eras. The Roman, Gothic and Renaissance periods are all present in emblematic monuments in the three territories: without forgetting the current importance of the Basque Country in terms of new modernist architecture.
In this summary of the cultural features we must make a special mention of the interesting and high-quality museums in the Basque Country: The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is an international benchmark for contemporary art, the Artium, Basque Centre-Museum of Contemporary Art in Vitoria- Gasteiz and the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts. In addition, there are ethnographic museums, various interpretation centres and the possibility of discovering the hidden secrets of the Basque Country.
In the Basque Country food and drink are considered to be part of our culture. The extraordinary quality of the raw ingredients and the wide range of natural seasonal products have led to the Basque Country becoming internationally synonymous with good food.
The most traditional features are the wide range of “pintxos”, traditional snacks which are ever closer to being miniature creations, the cider bars, the gastronomic societies and the food festivals which have seen the creation of the most cutting-edge dishes by the chefs forming part of the movement known as “New Basque Cooking”.
Also worthy of special mention are the wines produced in Rioja Alavesa, created within the Denomination of Origin Rioja. In addition to its Rioja wine, the Basque Country has its own wines such as the Basque wine “Txakoli” from Bizkaia, Getaria and Araba, which has also received Denomination of Origin, and the cider with its many fans, particularly during the “cider season” which runs from January to May.
There are many facilities available for those who wish to take part in different sporting activities. There are golf courses in the three Territories, dozens of football pitches and tennis and basketball courts, horse riding centres, frontons and many swimming pools across the whole region.
The following are the main sports centres in the Basque capitals:
Surfing fans should know that both the beaches in Bizkaia and those in Gipuzkoa are where they can find the best waves for surfing.
Activities such as hiking, with 130 kilometres of green routes available, climbing, potholing and mountain biking are just some examples of the wide range of sporting activities available in the Basque Country.
The Basque Country offers a wide range of leisure options so that you can enjoy your free time to the full.
Recreation areas are open air areas where facilities have been provided so that you can enjoy a day in the country.
All of the towns have an area with bars, pubs and discos. These areas are full of people, young and old alike, especially at the weekends and in summer. Most of the bars also offer “pintxos”, the Basque snack which is one of the most famous features of Basque cooking.
Coffee shops and some bars open at 8 – 8.30am and serve breakfast until around 10.00 – 10.30am.
Lunch is normally available from around 1pm, although the restaurants and bars start to fill up around 2pm. Dinner normally starts at 9-10pm, particularly during the weekend. Restaurant kitchens normally stay open until 11pm.
On 2 January 2011 the law was changed and smoking is now banned in enclosed public areas in Spain, which includes the bars and restaurants.
Adults (those aged 18 or over) can purchase and/or consume alcoholic drinks.
The two main casinos based in our community for the enjoyment of visitors, Kursaal Casino and Nervión Gran Casino, are located in the heart of San Sebastian and Bilbao respectively.