This Puente de Mayo in Euskadi 2018 (Labour Day Weekend/ May Bank Holiday) has the particularity that the holiday of the workers falls on Tuesday (May 1st) and the Day of the Community of Madrid (the 2nd) on Wednesday. Therefore, residents in Madrid who request a holiday on Monday have five days to travel. And for the rest, one day less (which is not bad either). Our recommendation is to spend the Puente de Mayo in Euskadi because of the variety of options for the city, sea and mountains– combining gastronomy, art, active tourism and shopping– allows you to enjoy a lot within a short distance and time frame. The different climate conditions between the Basque coast (with an Atlantic climate) and the Álava territory (continental-Mediterranean) make it possible to stop and spend more time in either area depending on the weather forecast.
Álava- Araba and its Wine Culture
On the way to and from the coastal provinces, we recommend spending one or two days in Álava-Araba, a unique territory perfect for those who have refined palates or are looking for peace and quiet. If you are travelling from the east, a first stop can be made in the Rioja Alavesa, an area characterised by mild temperatures, a characteristic landscape and a very important gastronomic and cultural offer. You can choose a Wine Route Through Rioja Alavesa, where in a few hours you can get ‘drunk’ on the architecture, history and excellent cuisine. Or you can visit the beautiful medieval villages of Laguardia, Elciego and Labastida. For those who love to hike, there are natural areas very close by that aren’t very well-known: the Montes Obarenes-Sierra de Cantabria, the Sierra de Izki and the lagoons of Laguardia, which offer a wide range of active tourism activities. Those coming from the south or west can stop on their way at the natural park of Valderejo, at the unusual salt flats of Añana, or follow the historic route of Álava’s txacolí for a few hours. Vitoria-Gasteiz is not only one of the best cities in the world in terms of quality of life, but it is also has an excellent cultural and gastronomic selection with reasonable prices, whether it is a matter of spending one or two days or the whole holiday.
The most popular destination of Puente de Mayo in Euskadi is the Basque Coast. Between Portugalete in the west and Hondarribia in the east we have a wondrous coastline full of cliffs. For those who are contemplating touring the whole coast, we suggest a road trip along the coast in which, in addition to gastronomy and beaches, you can explore emblematic spots such as San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Getaria and natural spaces such as Urdaibai, the flysch Geopark and Pagoeta with its active forge. On the way you will be very close to the main ‘sagardo’-producing areas (the Basque word for cider) whose ‘capital’ is Astigarraga. You will also pass by the main txakolí producing regions of Bizkaia and Gipuzkoa. A significant proportion of the numerous active tourism companies in Gipuzkoa and Bizkaia are concentrated on the coast.
Given the excellent transportation options and the short distances between the capitals and cities, one option for those who do not want to unpack more than once is to sleep in Bilbao or in San Sebastián. Bilbao is a great city with two souls, its traditional right bank and the modern left bank of its vibrant estuary. For those who are going to spend one or two days in Bilbao, we recommend these visits, while for those who already know the city and are looking for less frequented places, we recommend these. As for experiencing the exquisite Basque cuisine, you want to be a traveller rather than a tourist, so we recommend eating in the restaurants that the people of Bilbao frequent. San Sebastián is smaller, but there are still many things to do, from its more popular attractions to its many secret places you can discover if you want to spend several days there. We also insist on eating in the restaurants where the locals go in San Sebastián, rather than where the tourists go.
Way to Santiago
The Northern Way to Santiago is a complete plan for the Puente de Mayo in Euskadi for pilgrims and hikers. For those who have already walked it, it is worth remembering that it is not the only route for the Way to Santiago in Euskadi. Finally, for the faithful and lovers of religious art, there are two important places of pilgrimage in the Basque Country: Loiola and Arantzazu. For those who decide to travel during Puente de Mayo to this last (and remote) place in the Basque mountains, we recommend reserving a couple of hours in order to visit the beautiful Oñati.