Day trips from Vitoria: Salinas de Añana and the Salt Valley
Visiting the Valle Salado is like taking an astonishing journey back in time. We know that these salt flats have been exploited since prehistoric times, at least 7,000 years ago. However, you have to go much further back to understand the rich quantity of salt in an area that is more than 80 kilometres from the coast. The answer lies in the Triassic, more than 200 million years ago, when this valley lay beneath the ocean. The evaporation of these waters and the inexorable passage of time did the rest, forming up to four saltwater springs.
In prehistoric times, the ingenuity of humans discovered ways of converting this liquid into salt. At that time, the solution was rudimentary, consisting of thick clay pots heated by fire. From Roman times, they began to build channels, terraces and salt pans which took advantage of the heat and the wind for evaporation during the summer. The technique was gradually perfected, and they were eventually able to obtain large amounts of salt. The Muslim invasion, the Reconquest, the Middle Ages and the Desamortizacion also left their mark on the area. Currently, the valley is a living history that deserves a leisurely visit to learn about this fascinating legacy.
What to see in Salinas de Añana
There is a varied programme of visits that allow you to admire an environment of high natural and cultural value, which has earned it to be declared an Important World Agricultural Heritage System. It’s the first enclave in Europe to achieve this recognition. The Salt Valley (Valle Salado) excursion gives you a general tour to see the highlights. Those who want to delve into this wonder can explore a virtual reality experience and visit the springs. If all this isn’t enough for you, there are additional proposals, such as a salt tasting, the “salt workshop” and dramatised visits. And between April and October, you can also enjoy an outdoor spa, an irresistible offer that mixes history and fun in a unique setting.
To complete the route, a walk through the town allows you to admire the historical and artistic heritage left behind over the centuries. Architectural jewels such as the Monastery of San Juan de Acre, the San Cristóbal fortress, or the Palacio de Los Ozpinas await you as you pass by. Other points of interest are the manor houses of the Zambran-Herrán, the Casa Consistoriador and the temple of Santa María de Villacones.
Where to eat in or around Salinas de Añana
One of the best options for eating in this area is the Palacio de Añana. The location is perfect, in a building with traditional Basque architecture that features an impressive gallery. The interior is exquisitely decorated, and outside you can enjoy beautiful views of the mountain. This restaurant offers a wide variety of local gastronomic specialities, with exquisite meats and delicious fish presented with a modern touch. Another possibility is the Gesaltza restaurant, also very close to the salt flats. Traditional dishes and fresh products, with flavours of the land such as peppers or asparagus, and delicious mains such as ribeye, sea bass or cod. If you prefer something more informal, at Urgazi Taberna, you will find pintxos, sandwiches, pizzas, and various snacks. A modern place and a lovely terrace overlooking the salt flats.
How to get to Salinas de Añana from Vitoria
The route by car is comfortable and straightforward, connected by the highway in just over half an hour. From Vitoria, take the exit N-102, following the directions for the N-102 Alto de Armentia. Then, follow the A-1 / E-5 / E-80 highway for 11 kilometres towards Burgos-Madrid and take exit 340 towards A-2622 Nanclares de Oca – Los Llanos. Continue for 30 kilometres on the A-2622 towards Nanclares de Oca until you reach Salinas de Añana. Once at the destination, the easiest option for parking is to continue to the outskirts of town, then leave the car in a parking lot by the pools.
Other points of interest near Salinas de Añana
If you want to make the most of the day, you can take the opportunity to visit other exciting places in the vicinity, such as the Valdegovía caves. These are artificial caves dug by hermits during the Middle Ages. Another recommended option is the Valderejo natural park, perfect for hiking enthusiasts. The next town of Villanañe is also worth a stop, where you can admire the Torre-Palacio de Los Varona. Finally, to complete the route, what better than a tour of the Santa Catalina botanical garden in Iruña de Oca.
Apartahotel Líbere Vitoria
Booking an apartment in Vitoria city centre with Líbere gives you the advantage of getting around quickly. It’s a perfect solution for getting to know the city and planning leisurely excursions in the surroundings. You can choose between studios and apartments with one or two bedrooms, depending on your needs. In addition, having parking makes it easier for you to adapt your plans as you wish and take each day at your own pace.