Getaria, the World’s Most Perfect Village
A short drive from San Sebastián, the village of Getaria sits sleepily on the coast. Set between the sea and vine-covered mountains, Getaria has a privileged position that makes it a destination not to be missed if visiting nearby San Sebastián. Enjoy the local Basque wine, txakoli, in situ. Bonus points if you do so over some grilled fish, caught and brought daily to Getaria’s active port.
Arriving to Getaria can be done by bus, but one of the most unforgettable parts of visiting this village is approaching (or exiting) it by the sidewalk that winds along the sea. Depending on the time of year, you will have endless views of a calm sea or rough waves that remind you of the power of nature and make you admire the Basque people’s hardiness. It’s about a 40-minute walk from Zarautz to Getaria, on a flat sidewalk. There’s even a bathroom halfway. No excuses.
It’s scientifically proven: even if you think you don’t like anchovies, when you try the Maisor anchovies from Itsas Mendi store, you are 92% likely to change your mind. Getaria is anchovy central, and this store is located right on its port. In season, they get the haul of anchovies, process them in either salt or vinegar, carefully scraping every last unpleasant bone off of the fish meat. The result are the most exquisite anchovies known to man. Life-changing. If you get lucky, they might even be working when you stop in so you can check out the process.
Carretera San Prudencio, 0 S/N, 20808 Getaria, Guipúzcoa, Spain
Aroa farm, a 10-minute walk from the middle of Getaria, is a farm unlike any other in the entire country of Spain. Jaime Burgaña and his team cultivate exotic vegetables, fruits, and herbs on this 12-acre farm. But their focus is on perfecting and rescuing produce typical to Basque Country, such as the guisante lágrima, or tear pea. This exquisite, labor-intensive vegetable can retail for as much as $350 a pound. Explore the farm, where they also have a tasting room and Jaime is almost always around to chat.
Potzuaga Kalea, 8, 20808 Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Txakoli. It’s not as hard to say as it looks, and it’s really easy to drink. This slightly fizzy white wine is unique to the Basque Country and is made (officially, at least) from the local Hondarribi varietal. Many of the bodegas in the D.O. Getariako are open for public visits, and some of them will even prepare you a mini feast to accompany the wine while you feast your eyes on the gorgeous scenery.
Getaria, Gipuzkoa, Spain
A unique feature of Getaria’s city streets are the grills, built into the side of buildings. The outside observer can glean that the general purpose is cooking, but seeing them in action is a different story. Fish are brought fresh from the port, laid on the smoking grills, and adorned solely with olive oil and salt. Fresher doesn’t exist. Dine at one of the restaurants lining main street to experience this for yourself.
6 Parque Aldamar
Few names in fashion have the caché of Balenciaga. That’s why it may come as a surprise that he is from the tiny village of Getaria. After years of contention and fighting over precious pieces, the Balenciaga Museum finally became a reality. It’s a lovely piece of modern architecture—airy, spacious, and sleek. The permanent collection holds Balenciaga’s most iconic dresses, and rotating exhibits explore different aspects of the designer’s life, such as his role in cinema.
Elkano, Gipuzkoa, Spain
Elkano is world-famous for its grilled seafood. From clams to tuna, this spot grills it all and sells it by the kilo. They specialize, like Kai Kaipe, in grilled fish. Locals who prefer Elkano, and even those who prefer Kai Kaipe, say that the grilled seafood at this spot is the best in the village.
1 Katrapona Plaza
San Salvador Church, located in the middle of Getaria’s central quarter, dates back to the 1400s. It has a curiously naval vibe to it, with a sloping floor and blue stained glass that gives the illusion of being on a vessel. A crypt nearby hides a quiet, dark chapel littered with spare euro coins tossed in by locals.
4 Calle del General Arnao
“A poorly grilled turbot is a turbot that has died in vain.” This is the motto that hangs in Kai Kaipe, one of the two stars in a village that really shouldn’t have any. They specialize, like Elkano, in grilled fish. Locals who prefer Kai Kaipe do so for the wine list and the ambience.