Make sure you have your passport or ID card on you at all times if you're travelling around - if the Guardia Civil stop you (and this did happen to me while we were driving to some caves) and you don't have ID, they can get a bit funny. Fortunately we had our driving licenses at least, but they weren't too happy about it and had to get them checked out.
Apparently they quite frequently set up road blocks on the border between the Pais Vasco and Castilla y Leon.
Unfortunately, not everything is bucolic and pastoral in the Basque Country: violent separatism remains a problem that keeps on empoisoning the Spanish political life and triggering heated debates among opposed parties. ETA, which stands for Euskadi Ta Askatasuna (Basque Country and Freedom), is, sadly, the main reason why the Basque Country has attracted global attention in the last decades. This Marxist-Leninist inspired separatist organization is one of the few remaining terrorist groups in Western Europe. Since it was founded in 1959, during the Franco regime, ETA has brought immense suffering to the country, claiming the lives of more than 800 victims, including hundreds of civilians. In addition, more than 500 militants are still held in prison.
As a tourist, though, there is not much to fear, for indiscriminate or tourist-aimed attacks in the Basque Country are almost inexistent. There are still, however, occasional street riots in some cities and towns, usually following non authorized demonstrations, where pro-ETA gangs hurl stones at the police, burn buses and vandalize cash machines. Tourists are rarely involved in these actions of kale borroka (street struggle), but it is always wise to stay away from any problem, in the rare event that one of these clashes would coincide with your visit. The old towns of Bilbao, San Sebastian and Vitoria, as well as some of their outlying suburbs are some of the most frequent hot areas.
While the chances of terrorism to threaten your life as a tourist are almost inexistent, you will perceive a non negligible social support to the terrorist methods used by the violent separatists. This support is confined to certain areas: rural communities, parts of the old towns in the big cities, some suburbs… They are usually closed communities which offer a context of social control enabling mass legitimisation of political violence. Within these "ghettos", terrorists and street vandals are regarded as brave patriots and graffiti depicting the ETA's emblem (a snake wrapped around an axe) and banners supporting ETA and its prisoners are not uncommon, sometimes even with the support of the local authorities.
Muskiz is a small town at the end of the C-2 railway line out of Bilbao. It is on the coast, and may offer some nice beaches.
Sadly, it is dominated by the Petronor Oil Refinery. 15 Minutes in the town and we all had a headache. You would not have to buy petrol there, there is so much in the air.
This is a sad reminder that Vizcaya, for all its beauty and culture, was and is an economic powerhouse, and that this has an impact on the environment.
It is said that, the Basque Country is a risky place, I must day that it is not true, I t is more dangerous to walk in another town in Europe. To Walk in any Basque city is really save and pleasant, of course you will have to be cautious like in any small town in the world trying not to get involved in any riot or something like that.
This is the Harriluze pier in Getxo a nice place to walk.
Autopista A-68 Km 36, Area De Altube , Zuia (Vizcaya), Alava, Vizcaya, 01139, Spain
Good for: Couples
This hotel is one of my favourite parts of this vacation. The rooms were amazing, like most...more
The stay here was incredible. The staff was amazing. The room and view was excellent. The only...more