The Basque Highlands region (known as Goierri in Basque) is made up of 18 municipalities, the best-known and most inhabited of which are Beasain, Ordizia, and Lazkao. This magical place’s proximity to San Sebastián, Bilbao, and Vitoria, its wide variety of restaurants and lodging, and the authenticity of the destination all make it the ideal place for getaways of three to five days.
The region is nestled between the Aizkorri-Aratz and Aralar natural parks. Both natural parks have an interpretation Center, in Zegama and Ataun respectively, where information is provided on access to the parks and the activities that can be done therein, such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and bicycle routes.
These natural parks are home to very important sporting events: the Zegama-Aizkorri skyrunning competition (a race valid for the World Series that gets more than 12,000 applications for its 225 runner bib numbers), the Ehunmilak ultra trail (a 167-kilometer race that lasts two days), Goierriko Bi Haundiak (an 88-kilometer race done in one day) and Marimurumendi (a mountain marathon held during the same weekend as the other two ultra trail races and open to all runners).
The Basque Highlands also have two magnificent paths for hiking: the Cheese Trail and the Green Way. GR-283, known as the Cheese Trail, crosses the Aralar and Aizkorri-Aratz natural parks over a path measuring 100 km that is usually done in six stages and that allows one to discover the secrets of Idiazabal Cheese production (the region’s culinary gem) by making stops at dairies and places related with the production of cheese. The Green Way ties together the municipalities of Mutiloa and Ormaiztegi over a 4.2-kilometer path that is appropriate for families. This route has an orienteering game for children, and a stop at the Aizpea Mines in Zerain is also recommended.
In the towns of Segura and Zegama, there are six orienteering courses that are ideal for playing with family or friends and learning about this discipline, which combines leisure and sport.
Goierri likewise has the first National Trail Running Station, which reaches the neighboring region of Tolosaldea and is marked and equipped for mountain runners of all levels.
The Tunnel Route of Saint James passes through the Basque Highlands, where it becomes a Camino Realor “Royal Road” as it advances through the region. The San Adrián tunnel and the Highlands’ mountains make this stage one of the most spectacular of the entire journey. In the year 2015, the Northern Way of Saint James was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and the San Adrián tunnel was declared a milestone along the journey.
Local gastronomy, culture, and –especially– nature are the three great attractions of the Basque Highlands, a region that captivates sport lovers, couples wishing to rest in a quiet place, and tourists who want to get to know the rural areas that surround San Sebastián.