A Short Guide to Basque Pintxos

One of the many highlights of our Bilbao to San Sebastian Cycling Holiday are the pintxos that we enjoy throughout the route.

Pintxos can be seen as a kind of Basque tapas; however, such a title doesn't really do them justice. Today they are elaborate creations which often border on works of art, as they line the bars of Basque towns and cities.

Pintxos in Bilbao




What are Pintxos?

Pintxos are a bar snack, usually with a chunk of bread as a base, topped with various ingredients. The toppings range from simple products, such as ham and cheese, to sophisticated combinations of seafood or vegetables.

They are usually held together by a tooth pick, and are lined up on the bar. The cost of pintxos varies, but they usually range from between €1.50 to €4. depending on how sophisticated they are, and depending on how posh the establishment is!



How to Eat Pintxos?

Pintxos can be eaten straight from the bar, or, more commonly, you can ask for a plate from behind the bar to eat them more leisurely.

The Basques usually eat them standing up with a glass of txakoli (Basque white wine), red wine or beer.

In some bars you must leave the cocktail sticks from the pintxos on your plate, and when you are finished the barman will count the number and add it to your bill accordingly. In other bars, you just show the barman which pintxo you are taking and he will make a note of it.

Pintxos at the table

Pintxos can be brought to a table like this, or eaten individually at the bar





Where to Eat Pintxos?

Without doubt, the best city in Spain (and probably the world) to eat pintxos is San Sebastian. This stylish city has over 200 bars, many with their own unique designs. The Gros area is one of the main areas for pintxos bars, however, our favourites are on the other side of the river in the area around Calle de Fermin Calbetón.

Bilbao has started to challenge San Sebastian in recent years, with many bars now also offering great pintxos there, particularly around the Plaza Nueva area.

But good pintxos bars can now be found in all Basque towns. And, indeed, in most cities throughout Spain, such has their popularity grown.
Pintxos in San Sebastian

Pintxos lining a bar in San Sebastian




Five Pintxos to Try

Bacalao (cod)

Cod is abundant in Basque cuisine, and the Basques have perfected the art of cooking it. One of our favourite pintxos consists of a thick slab of cod combined with red peppers and a slice of sheep cheese.

Bacalao Pintxos



Salmón y Morcilla

This unlikely combination of salmon with Morcilla (similar to a Spanish black pudding) produces a fantastic pintxo. The depth of flavour is complimented perfectly by red wine.
Salmon Tapas



Boquerones con Gulas

These pintxos, consisting of freshly pickled anchovies and baby eels, provide a good amount of protein after a hard day cycling.

They also look spectacular as they tend to be overflowing on the plate, and are drenched with tasty home made sauces.

Gulas Pintxos




Queso de Cabra con cebolla

This relatively simple combination of goats cheese and caramelised onions is a must try. The sweetness of the onion goes really well with the depth of flavour provided by the goats cheese.
Goat Cheese Pintxos




Jamón Ibérico

Some of the best pintxos are the simplest ones. It's difficult to beat some high quality slices of Jamón Ibérico packed high on top of the bread.

Some bars add manchego cheese, mushrooms, aubergine as well as many different kinds of sauces and marmalades to try to bring out even more spectacular flavours.


Jamon Pintxos





If you would like to join us for some pintxos in our favourite bars, you may be interested in our cycling holiday to the Basque region. The tour samples the excellent food and wine in the Basque country; combining eating with exploring the stunning scenery of the region.

Or check out the links below for details of some of our other holidays that have a particular gastronomic focus.



Basque Coast Beach
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Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: €1,690 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Monte Igeldo - San Sebastian
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Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: from €1,390 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Medieval Villages of Catalonia
Catalan Flag Spanish FlagSpain

Self-Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 8 Days
Level: Difficulty Medium Challenging
Price: from €1,470 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Rioja Vineyards
Basque Flag Spanish FlagSpain

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: €1,540 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Navajas Reservoir
Spanish FlagSpain

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: €1,330 EUR
*Bike Hire Included

Montserrat Monastery
Catalan Flag Spanish FlagSpain

Guided Cycling Holiday
Length: 7 Days
Level: Difficulty Easy to Medium
Price: €1,780 EUR
*Bike Hire Included