Art, History and Cuisine linked to the sea

Getaria is known as the birthplace of sailor Juan Sebastián Elcano and fashion designer Cristobal Balenciaga, and famed for its restaurants, which prepare grilled fish and serve up txakoli, a renowned and certified white wine grown on the slopes of the surrounding mountains.

Getaria is located on the central coast of Gipuzkoa, between Zumaia and Zarautz. A strategic point, both militarily and commercially, fishing has traditionally been its lifeblood. For hundreds of years whaling was a cornerstone of the local economy. In fact, the whale was, historically, the prevailing motif on its emblems.

Originally the town was walled, though it has all but disappeared. A storied passageway runs under the church of San Salvador, linking the Calle Mayor with the stairs leading to the port. This passage is called Katrapona, and represents a vestige of the town’s old defences.

Very near Getaria, towards San Sebastian, lies Zarautz, a destination especially well known for its surfing and hosting of international surf competitions. To the west we find Zumaia, a beautiful coastal town where we find “El Flisch”. Declared a protected biotope, this cliff attracts the world’s top geologists.

Puerto de Getaria


“Ir de Txakolindegi” means not only going out to taste txakoli wine directly from it barrels, and to savour the fare traditionally served with it, but also participating in a custom deeply rooted in the region’s culture, and enjoying a unique atmosphere.

The geographical area of the Getariako Txakolina Designation of Origin is currently the historical territory of Gipuzkoa, with 402 hectares of vineyards, 91% of them found in coastal areas, and employing trained vines.

The Ondarrabi Zuri white grape variety is the staple for the production of txakoli de Getaria.

28 wineries form part of the Getariako Txakolia D.O., and at 12 of them you can enjoy a guided tour of the vineyards, learn about how they produce their txakoli, and enjoy a tasting.

More information at GETARIAKO TXAKOLINA


Domingo de Bonechea Andonaegi, Pepita Enbil, José Francisco de Iturzaeta, Joaquín de Barroeta-Aldamar y Hurtado de Mendoza are some of the famous people who were born or lived in this city, although we must highlight two figures that have put Getaria on the international map:Juan Sebastián ElKano and Cristobal Balenciaga.

Juan Sebastián ElKano

A navigator born in Getaria. He was the first captain to circumnavigate the world, after taking over command of the expedition commanded by Magellan (killed in the Philippines) in search of an alternative route to the Indies, averting the need to round Africa. Elcano, as the eldest officer, took command of the expedition, captaining the ship Victoria. Only 18 of the 265 men who left Spain survived the 3-year voyage (1519-1522). Elcano was honoured by Carlos I with a coat of arms and a globe with the Latin inscription Primus circumdedisti me (You were the first to circle me).

Getaria celebrates Elcano’s landing

Every four years, on August 7, a fishing boat is festooned with tarps simulating the sails, and 18 men head out to sea.

They spend the day on board, eat well, drink heartily, sing all the songs they know, and don ripped shirts and tattered pants.

They put on makeup so that they look exhausted and, in the middle of the afternoon, enter the port to re-enact the end of that feat, as thousands of people turn out in the town to witness the spectacle. Step by step, staggering and barefoot, they make their way through the streets and enter the Iglesia de San Salvador.

Next event: 7 Aug. 2018.

Cristobal Balenciaga

A fashion designer considered the creator of the art of haute couture.

His father was a fisherman and his mother, a seamstress. Ever since childhood he dreamed of becoming a fashion designer, in his spare time drawing the great designs that he saw during that era. At the age of 13 the Marquise de Casa Torres, who summered in Getaria, was touched by the young man’s eagerness to learn the fashion trade, and decided to give him a challenge: she handed him a piece of cloth, along with one of her most exclusive dresses, for him to copy it and prove his talent. The marquise was so happy with the result that she became his patron.

Balenciaga Museum

The Balenciaga Museum is located, provisionally, in a 240 square meter locale just 5 minutes from Katrapona. As the work to remodel and expand the mansion that will serve to ultimately house Balenciaga’s work is completed, visitors have the opportunity to view an interesting collection of the best high fashion at the CRISTOBAL BALENCIAGA FOUNDATION.