TOP 15 Things to do in Vitoria-Gasteiz
Vitoria is a city that captivates visitors who discover it for the first time. And repeat visitors.
Vitoria is a city that captivates visitors who discover it for the first time. And repeat visitors. If you are wondering what to do in Vitoria, the capital of Alava offers a multitude of plans: bike rides along its green ring, a powerful gastronomic offer, a more than interesting cultural, sporting and nightlife scene, and a network of activities in the surrounding area that complete the options for the most restless visitor.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a medium-sized city full of life that offers a multitude of alternatives for visitors. Many of them are free and suitable for all ages. Do you want to know what our favourite activities are? Here is our #TOP 15 things to do in Vitoria that you can’t miss.
#1 Rent a bike and explore the streets of Vitoria’s city centre and the Green Belt
Vitoria is a city designed for cycling. Not in vain, it is one of the means of transport most used by the people of Vitoria on a daily basis. There are many bicycle rental points and hundreds of kilometres of cycle lanes (bide gorris) that allow you to explore the city and get to know it comfortably.
We recommend you discover its secrets by cycling through the streets of the Ensanche and the Old Quarter. Here you will find the city’s most interesting buildings, such as the Cathedral of Santa María, the Plaza de la Virgen Blanca, the Parque de la Florida and the medieval wall that once surrounded the city.
Vitoria is also surrounded by a green ring made up of parks, woods, gardens and cultivated areas that make up the Green Ring. This is a path of several dozen kilometres that is ideal for cycling when the weather is fine. If you don’t want to walk the whole of it, for us, the place of greatest ecological value is the well-known Salburua Wetlands, to the east of the city. In its Interpretation Centre there is a formidable platform for bird-watching, and guided tours and information about the park are offered from there. It is a real ornithological jewel within the city.
#2 Going for pintxos in the bars of the city centre
The Basque capital is a top culinary destination, so there’s no better way to end a good walk or bike ride than by going out for pintxos in the bars of the city centre and Casco Viejo. Pintxos are the quintessential appetizer of the Basque Country. They are small portions where the flavours of the Basque Country are offered in elaborate mini dishes that rest on a bread base. They are generally eaten standing up and are accompanied by wine, beer or cider.
Any time of day is a good time to take a tour of Vitoria’s most popular pintxo bars. One of the most famous is the Asador Sagartoki (on Calle Prado), a temple of Vitoria’s gastronomy with signature pintxos. Don’t miss their fried egg and potato pintxo, an explosion of flavours in one bite. El Toloño, next to Plaza Villa Suso, is another essential pintxo bar. The Taberna Tximiso has a very colourful pintxo bar, and an unbeatable service provided by its owner Jon, a lover of gastronomy who elevates the culture of detail to its maximum expression. Anboto Taberna offers an affordable set menu and its potato omelettes are among the most famous in the city.
Something very popular in the city is the pintxo-pote offered in some of the local bars. It consists of a pintxo accompanied by a glass of wine or beer for an affordable fixed price. Thursdays are the most popular day: the more bars you go to, the more opportunities you have to sample different and iconic snacks. This is also one of the best things to do in Vitoria to connect with the local culture.
#3 Go to the ARTIUM Museum
The ARTIUM Basque Museum of Contemporary Art houses one of the most important collections of Basque art from the 20th and 21st centuries, as well as some paintings by Spanish artists such as Picasso, Dalí and Miró.
Visiting the ARTIUM is a good plan for a rainy day. It is also a good way to spend a day with the family. Every Sunday it organises activities where children and adults can get up close to contemporary art by experimenting with different techniques and materials.
#4 Go to see a play at the Teatro Principal Antzokia
This charming theatre is usually the place chosen for the presentation of plays, operas and concerts of all kinds. It is also the venue for the annual FESTVAL gala, which brings together national TV celebrities. The building is more than a hundred years old and offers more than 150 shows a year.
#5 Take a walk to the Basilica of Armentia
A delightful walk, perfect for days without rain. It’s a good way to get to know the Ensanche area of the city. From Plaza de la Virgen Blanca it takes less than two hours to get there and back. The path crosses the Parque de la Florida with its unique trees, and runs along the Paseo de la Senda, full of mansions and mansions such as Ajuria Enea (the Lehendakari’s residence), which starts in the Parque de la Florida and continues south, leaving behind the Palacio Zulueta, the Palacio Agustín Zulueta, home to the Álava Museum of Fine Arts, which houses an important collection of Spanish and Basque art from the 18th-20th centuries. Admission to the museum is free.
The path then leads to Paseo de Cervantes and then Avenida San Prudencio, where you will come across the statue of the city’s patron saint. From there, you can see the Basilica of San Prudencio (also known as the Basilica of Armentia) in the middle of fields that are perfect for a picnic if the weather is fine. Considered a true jewel of Romanesque architecture, the basilica was built in the 12th century and renovated in the 18th century. On 28 April every year, the pilgrimages of San Prudencio are held here
#6 Going out for beers in the bars of the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter)
There is no better option for a few beers than the bars and taverns in Vitoria’s medieval quarter. The atmosphere is concentrated in the streets Cuchillería, Pintorería, Zapatería, La Cuesta and around the emblematic squares in the centre.
We recommend the Kirtsch for a good selection of craft beers, the Parral if you want a more youthful atmosphere, the Dublin for a terrace with good views, and Zilarra and Burdina for a drink.
#7 Have an aperitif in Calle Dato and Plaza España
Eduardo Dato is a pedestrian street full of bars with terraces and shops for shopping. It is one of Vitoria’s shopping streets, a road without traffic that connects Plaza España with the railway station. It is perfect for shopping, having a drink and getting to know Vitoria’s Ensanche outside the Old Town.
The street is dominated by the typical buildings of Vitoria, with white closed balconies on the façades, so typical of the city. However, all eyes are drawn to the gigantic statue of “El Caminante”, where many tourists immortalise their trip with a photo. It is also a meeting point for many locals.
In the surrounding area there are several cafés and bars perfect for a snack and a good time. We recommend Taberna Saburdi, a classic in Vitoria, with a good pintxo bar.
#8 Guided tour of the Cathedral of Santa María
A must in Vitoria. The Cathedral of Santa María is famous for being an architectural rarity that stands in the old part of the city. Popularly known as Catedral Vieja (Old Cathedral), it is a 13th century Gothic style temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is also one of the most fascinating places in the capital of Alava.
The Cathedral of Santa María offers the guided tour “Open for works”, so called because of the restoration works that have been carried out for years to prevent the building from deteriorating. This tour explains the history of the temple and of the city itself, starting at the foundations of the cathedral, which was built on the cemetery of the primitive village of Gasteiz.
We recommend climbing the bell tower to enjoy spectacular views of the historic centre. The guided tour lasts approximately one hour and must be booked in advance by telephone or through the website of the Vitoria Cathedral Foundation.
#9 Night route of Vitoria organized by the Tourist Office
If you want to know the most emblematic places of Vitoria-Gasteiz in a unique and curious way, we suggest the night routes through the medieval quarter organized by the Tourist Office. The corners of the city center are the scene of all kinds of legends and supernatural stories about crimes, ghosts, curses and miracles. And the guided night walk allows you to appreciate this little-known face of the city. The tour starts at the Tourist Office, in Plaza España, and includes entrance to some buildings, such as the Lantern Museum.
#10 Go to see a Basque pelota match at the Jai Alai in Mendizorrotza.
Beyond the uniqueness and spectacularity of the sports related to Basque pelota, the atmosphere that you experience at a game is something you will not easily forget. Every week there are competitions in the frontons of the Mendizorrotza Sports Complex, next to the Paseo de la Senda. Also in the fronton in the Plaza de los Fueros, groups of Basque pelota amateurs usually get together to play a game.
#11 To make the route of the murals
Many building facades in the Old Town are adorned with large-format murals by various groups of artists. This initiative arose in 2007 as a way of further enriching the city’s historical heritage. And since then, the urban art gallery has grown to turn the Casco Viejo and some downtown areas into an open-air museum.
For us, “Al hilo del tiempo”, in the iconic Plaza de la Burullería is one of the most emblematic. Other murals you can’t miss are “El triunfo de Vitoria” in Santa María Street, “Cubiertos de cielo y estrellas” in Pintorería Street, “La noche más corta” in Correría Street and “Eskuz esku” in Herrería Street. These are just a few examples.
#12 Get to know the great street atmosphere during the Vitoria Jazz Week
In summer, Vitoria is a city that breathes music. The Azkena Rock festival is joined by one of the most important jazz festivals in Spain. And the atmosphere in the streets and bars is guaranteed. The event usually takes place in early summer.
The event has been in the limelight for more than forty years and has several venues where top international artists perform, such as the Teatro Principal and the Mendizorrotza Stadium. But it is in the streets of the city where the real atmosphere is breathed, with free music concerts in terraces, bars, parks and squares.
#13 Visiting the Fournier Card Museum
Vitoria has been a point of reference for many years for card shufflers, dealers and card game enthusiasts from all over the world. The name of Vitoria has traveled through the casinos of half the world printed on the cards of one of the most iconic card factories in the world: Heraclio Fournier. Now, its museum is the ambassador of that past where chance met leisure.
The Fournier Playing Card Museum shares space with the Archeology Museum and both make up the Bibat museum complex. This space houses one of the best collections of playing cards in the world, cards that were part of the personal collection of the famous card manufacturer Féliz Alfaro Fournier. Decks from different eras and parts of the world are on display. Admission is free.
#14 Go to the Azkena Rock Festival
This is an unmissable event for rock lovers; one of the most powerful music festivals on the national scene and a pole of attraction for music lovers from half of Europe. The Azkena Rock Festival gave its first concert in 2002 and since then, it has been the stage for legendary bands such as Pearl Jam, The Who, Tool and Queens of the Stone Age, among many others. The event also features national and local bands that are well known or looking to make themselves known. The event takes place in Mendizabala, next to the Mendizorrotza Sports Complex, on the outskirts of Vitoria and relatively close to downtown
#15 Watching the sunset from the street benches of the San Vicente Church
Perhaps one of the most beautiful sunsets from the center of Vitoria can be seen from the outside of the church of San Vicente, a curious temple that is also worth visiting.It is bordered by a street that connects with the entrance of the street cuchillería and separated from the Plaza del Machete by a slope.From its benches located at the top of the hill of gateiz, while the sun sets, the views of the city of Vitoria, with the mountains surrounding the city as a backdrop and the New Cathedral that stands imposing, is a panoramic view that is savored at slow fire..