This little village of some 5,000 people might seem like just another town outside of San Sebastián, but really it’s a small place with some pretty big fame, thanks to its cider and, more precisely, its cider houses. That’s because in these parts, sidra – a fermented alcoholic beverage made from apples – is pretty important, making Astigarraga quite special too.
It wasn't always this way, though. While cider drinking in these parts dates back many centuries, it went through a rough patch during the Spanish Civil War, partly due to the rise in popularity of wine. But now it’s back and better than ever, and so are the cider houses that serve it, many of which are located in what is considered Basque Country’s cider epicenter, the village of Astigarraga.
Indeed, Astigarraga’s typically farm-style cider houses – called sagardotegi in Basque – famously serve the bubbly beverage and massive (and often steak-filled) meals to go along with it. They provide quite the tasting experience too; as is custom, the apple libation is usually decanted from the barrel at a distance so that the liquid splashes upon contact and therefore infuses a certain effervescence into the drink.
There’s still more apple magic to be experienced in the Basque town of Astigarraga. While there, you can visit the Sagardoetxea Museum, which not only covers the history of the drink but also has a proper orchard, along with an area where you can sample the alcoholic apple juice.
Astigarraga is located just a short 10-minute drive from the San Sebastián city center. Though cider does in fact have a season – from January until April or May – note that the bottled beverage can be savored any time of the year.