Getaria: a charming, Basque coastal town
Getaria is a picturesque, coastal village located on the rugged Basque coastline, whose beauty makes it a prime vacationing spot among Basques. Visitors can list off innumerable reasons why they flock to this lovely port town but its wonderful beaches and exceptional cuisine definitely make the cut. Located just 25 km from San Sebastián, Getaria’s old town is one of the most stunning of the region. It is also a much sought after region by surf-lovers for the perfect swells. The Basques are known for their cuisine and Getaria is a fervent example of exceptional culinary tradition. Come delight in Basque staples such as slow-cooked or chargrilled fresh fish and traditional local white wine, Txakoli (also called Txakolina or Chacoli). Getaria is a hands down exceptional destination, offering nothing short of a memorable experience. Read on to discover the treasures the town has to offer.
Getaria: what to see and do
The picturesque old town is considered one of the most beautiful of the province, attracting countless visitors who come to discover for themselves the town’s boundless charm. Take a leisurely stroll through the cobble-stoned old quarter to discover the Instagram-ready white cottages and their beautiful flower-laden balconies and pretty monuments.
Begin your tour on the main street, Nagusia kalea. Lined with traditional cottages and a wonderful selection of pintxos bars, the street leads to the one of the most iconic monuments of the town – the beautiful Gothic church of San Salvador. Declared a national monument, this 14th-century architectural jewel underwent an extensive reform to repair the damage it suffered during the Carlist Wars. The church was not just a place of worship; it was also used for defensive purposes as evidenced by the secret underground passage located under the apse that leads directly to Getaria’s harbour. It was used as an escape route during times of war.
El ratón (the mouse) and the harbour
Discover the energetic vibe of this fishing port with a walk around the bustling harbour of Getaria. Filled with colourful fishing boats bobbing in the bay and the coming and going of fishermen, it’s an ideal spot to discover the essence of the town.
The harbour has undergone an important transformation in recent years with the construction of new quays to dock more vessels and boats. It is located at the foot of the village and offers beautiful views of the town centre. It is also a great place to savour some of the best traditional fare the region has to offer – the highest quality, freshly caught fish and seafood. Choose any one of the waterfront restaurants to enjoy traditional chargrilled fish that match any budget.
From the port, you can also contemplate Mount San Antón, the mouse-shaped rock that gives it its other name the Ratón de Getaria (the Mouse of Getaria). The crag rises up from the shores of the Cantabrian Sea and for years was an island. Today, it is a natural park boasting a wide range of plant species. Hiking buffs can choose from a number of trails to reach the top of the mountain where they will be treated to sweeping hilltop views of the Basque coastline and the village.
The Balenciaga Museum
Getaria may be a charming seafaring village but it is also the birth place of one of the greatest couturiers in fashion history – Cristóbal Balenciaga. He was born in 1895 to a humble family; his father was a fisherman who died at sea when he was just a boy and his mother was a seamstress. He spent much time observing her work and he quickly became interested in fashion. Following a trip to Paris in 1912, he declared he had found his calling. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, he moved to Paris and spent the next three decades reinventing the silhouette and earning international recognition for his designs. He continues to be revered as the master of haute couture and the “only couturier in the truest sense of the word” to quote Coco Chanel. Discover the legacy of this genius at the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum. The permanent and temporary exhibitions offer a glimpse of some of the most iconic pieces he designed. An absolute must for fashion lovers.
The beaches of Getaria
Brilliant sunshine may not be the order of the day in Getaria but when the sun does decide to make an appearance be sure to head to one of the beautiful local beaches. They are great spots to enjoy a quiet day soaking up the sun or doing water sports, or both. Here are two of our favourites:
- Malkrobe Beach: This small beach with its fine golden sands offers a beacon of tranquillity a stone’s throw from Getaria. It is an ideal spot to go kayaking, snorkelling or sailing and there are several services offered during the summer months.
- Gaztetape Beach: Located west from Mount San Antón, this beach serves up great swells for surf lovers. The gorgeous natural setting and quality services make this little beach a top destination among beachgoers.
Eating out in Getaria
The beauty of the Basque Country for gastronomes and non-gastronomes alike is that you eat exceptionally well no matter where you find yourself. There are places to suit all tastes and pockets. However, did you know Gipuzkoa is one of the Spanish provinces with the most Michelin Stars? With 18 Michelin Stars, it comes in just behind Barcelona, Madrid and Girona.
You’ll find one such establishment in Getaria: the renowned Basque asador Elkano. Specialised in chargrilled fish, this family-run restaurant, passed down from one generation to the next, prepares all types of superb quality fish, grilled to perfection. No surprise it made the list of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2019.
You’ll also find outstanding restaurants on the waterfront, serving authentic chargrilled fish, prepared right in the street, over open-air grills. It makes quite the scene to see the street lined with cooks, the mouthwatering aroma drawing the tourists in. One of the favourites is Asador Mayflower with its sublime views of the port and the Bay of Biscay; order the succulent chargrilled seabream, turbot or kokotxas rebozadas (battered fish cheeks) – true delicacies.
If you’re more in the mood for pintxos (Basque-style tapas), there is no shortage of establishments serving excellent local products. Head to Giroa (Nagusia, 20) to find an interminable bar piled-high with a variety of appetising pintxos. Pick your pintxo and wash it down with a cold glass of Txakoli; it doesn’t get more Basque than that.