Whatever you’re looking for, you’ll find it here
Friday Go green!
You’ve probably chosen to spend the night in natural surroundings, amidst the hills. So the moment you arrive, we recommend that you take a deep breath and soak in the view of the mountains. And if there’s a nearby cheese dairy or cider house, why not drop in and enjoy the authentic natural surroundings. Drink in the atmosphere with all five senses and meet the locals in a bar or restaurant. There are plenty of wonderful places to spend the night: rural B&Bs and guesthouses in peace and quiet where you can breathe in the pure fresh air; fashionable hotels for those with more exquisite tastes; apartments for those who like a bit of independence and hostels for anyone travelling in a group. Accommodation to meet all your needs — but always warm and welcoming.
Saturday Market day. And what a market!
On Saturday morning in Tolosaldea, the choice is easy: it’s shopping day! Our first visit is to the local Zerkausi farmers’ market (also known as the Mercado del Tinglado). You’ll need all five senses to get the best from it. See the vegetables, picked the day before from local market gardens, with all the colour and texture that guarantee their freshness. Smell the shepherd’s cheeses — Idiazabal, blue cheese, goat’s cheese… Then let a small sample and the cheesemaker’s explanations help you decide. Then it’s over to the Plaza Verdura, where the flowers, plants and saplings look particularly fine under the glass roof, after which this area is also known as “Plaza Cristales”. If you enjoy art and history, ask at the tourist office about guided tours of Tolosa’s historical centre, the Saturday market and the church of Santa María, a gem of Basque Gothic architecture. There’s something special about this place. Anyone who comes here always wants to return. It’s lunchtime and you couldn’t be in a better place. Tolosa beans accompanied by Ibarra guindilla chilis with all its “sacraments” (black pudding, chorizo, ribs, streaky Iberic bacon and more) make a delicious treat in any ostatu or restaurant in the region. And true carnivores will love a good T-bone steak in any of the asadores (steak-houses) in Tolosa.
Saturday Now it’s the turn of children... and adults who still have a sense of excitement.
A trip to the Topic Museum, the International Puppet Centre in Tolosa is a must. The centre, known throughout Europe, will wow you with its originality, innovation and imagination. Anyone visiting, adults and children alike, will leave with a smile. The Topic is a gateway to excitement! And outside, you won’t be able to tear your eyes away from the shop windows. The historical centre is full of high-quality small shops. Elósegui berets, made in Tolosa, are true cultural icons —and there are modern versions in every colour under the sun. They make an ideal souvenir. Or how about the famous sweet “Tolosa Tiles and Cigarettes” from the Eceiza cake shop or Rafa Gorrotxategi’s delicious gorrotxa almond cakes. At the end of the day, in Tolosa there is plenty of atmosphere, whether you want a few drinks or a round of pintxos. Try the famous “Gilda” pintxo —anchovy and olives and of course locally-grown Ibarra guindilla chilis, all on a cocktail stick. But there is much more: local restaurants and pintxo bars use seasonal produce to make traditional dishes and innovative creations.
Sunday Charm, culture, scenery and adventure. What a plan!
On Sunday morning we head out into the natural surroundings to discover the small villages surrounding Tolosa. On the road to San Sebastian you’ll find Alkiza and Asteasu. In Alkiza, art lovers will enjoy Koldobika Jauregi’s Urmara open-air sculpture museum. And for nature lovers there are several trails and an interpretation centre in Hernio-Gazume, a Special Area of Conservation. A bit further on, in Asteasu, lovers of literature or those who just want to enjoy a short walk in a picturesque village, can follow the Lizard Trail, based on Bernardo Atxaga’s book “Obabakoak”, in the author’s hometown. On the road to Vitoria-Gasteiz, take the Alegia exit to learn more about the Giant of Altzo. Joaquín Miguel Eleicegui, who was born in the Ipintza farmhouse in Altzo, suffered from gigantism and grew to a height of 2,42 m (7 ft 11 in). His life read like a film script and indeed, it served as inspiration for the award-winning “Handia”. Altzo is also wort visiting for its scenery, with its green meadows and scattered farmhouses. Back on the road to Amezketa, you’ll soon see a large peak looming up ahead. This is Mount Txindoki, the highest peak in the Aralar Nature Park. On Sunday morning, after mass, you can visit the Church of San Bartolomé (St Bartholomew) of Amezketa, which houses a fascinating treasure: the argizaiolas. In a tradition that continues to this day, a seat is kept on every family tomb with an argizaiola, a carved wooden board with a wax candle wound round it. Follow the route on up to Abaltzisketa and from there to the Larraitz district, the main entrance to the Aralar Nature Park. It includes an adventure centre (Txindokiko Itzala), with orienteering, trekking trails, an adventure forest, a play park, and an accessible 3-kilometre (1.9 mile) walk. And a zip-line! What better way of finishing off a great weekend... and getting to feel really brave!