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Discover the Ancient Salt Pans of Salinas de Añana: A Hidden Gem in the Basque Country spain

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Have you ever wondered where that precious sprinkle of salt on your plate comes from? In the heart of Spain’s Basque Country lies Salinas de Añana––also known as the salt valley of Anana, a little-known but fascinating ancient salt production site that has been in continuous operation for an astounding 7,000 years. I recently had the opportunity to visit this hidden gem and was amazed by its history, unique architecture, and the high-quality artisanal salt it produces.

I opted for a Day Trip Tour from Vitoria-Gasteiz–– guided tour and salt tasting experience which I highly recommend. Keep reading to learn more about why Salinas de Añana is a must-visit destination for any curious traveler and my tips for making the most of your visit.

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Discover the Ancient Salt Pans of Salinas de Añana: A Hidden Gem in the Basque Country

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  • Over 7,000 years of continuous salt production
  • Unique terraced architecture and ingenious brine distribution system
  • High-quality artisanal salt prized by top chefs and Michelin star restaurant worldwide
  • Designated an Important World Agricultural Heritage System by FAO
  • Beautiful natural setting with hiking trails and spa using the mineral-rich salt water
  • Book a Guided tour of Vitoria-Gasteiz and Salinas de Añana and salt-tasting experiences available

Where is Salinas de Añana located?


Salinas de Añana is located in the Basque Country region of northern Spain, about 30 km from the city of Vitoria-Gasteiz in Álava province.

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What Makes Sal De Añana Salinas de Añana Special

Salinas de Añana is no ordinary salt production facility. Its origins date back to prehistoric times when salt was harvested by boiling brine in clay pots over fire. Around 2,000 years ago during the Roman era, a terraced system was developed to harvest salt through natural evaporation from the sun and wind.

 Salinas de Añana

The site takes advantage of salt water springs created by an ancient underground salt deposit from the Triassic period over 200 million years ago when the area was covered by ocean. The salt water emerges at a concentration 7 times saltier than seawater.

Over the centuries, the Añana salt workers developed an ingenious gravity-powered system of wooden channels to distribute the brine across terraces built from wood, stone and clay. In total, there are over 4 kilometers of channels bringing brine to crystallization pans across the 120 hectare site.

This sustainable production method is still used today to produce a high-quality, unrefined, mineral-rich salt that has become prized by top chefs in Spain and beyond. In fact, the Añana salt was featured at the 1851 Great Exhibition in London for its purity.

Visiting Salinas Añana: What to See at Salinas de Añana & Do Salinas Añana


Guided tours of Salinas de Añana explain the history, culture, and salt production process. Visitors can walk the catwalks over the salt pans to see the brine distribution system up close.

Helpful tip: Wear sunscreen and a hat as there is little shade out on the salt pans.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

Best Time To Visit Salinas de Añana

Between April and October, you can experience the therapeutic and relaxing effects of the mineral-rich salt water for yourself at the on-site spa which offers salt water foot baths and hand baths.

For a deeper dive, book the specialized “Springs” tour to visit the source of the salt water at the Santa Engracia spring and walk a trail alongside the river to see unique geological formations. Or sign up for the hands-on “Salt Workshop” to learn how the salt is produced.

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I opted for the “Salt Valley + Tasting” guided tour which I highly recommend. In addition to an informative tour of the salt pans and their history, it concludes with a professional tasting of Añana’s different salts. Using a methodology developed by the Sensory Analysis Laboratory of the University of the Basque Country, we evaluated the appearance and flavor profiles of Añana’s Mineral Salt, Fleur de Sel, Liquid Salt, and Salt Stalactites (called “chuzos”).

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

The tasting also includes flavored salts that combine mineral salt with spices like cayenne, garlic, Provençal herbs and even wine salt. It’s a fun and educational way to appreciate the culinary potential of this ancient craft. You even get to take home samples of the salts. This was such a fun and informative experience. I highly recommend it! I learned a lot about their special salt and salt production in general. 

Salinas de Añana also makes a great starting point for exploring the surrounding Basque countryside. There are hiking trails in the nearby Valderejo Natural Park and cultural sites like the historical Monastery of San Juan de Acre in the village itself.

How far is Salinas de Añana from Vitoria-Gasteiz?

is located about 30 km from the Basque capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

Getting There: How To Get to Salinas de Añana valle salado

You’ll most likely stay in the nearby village of Vitoria-Gasteiz (Like I did). From Victoria here are the best ways to get to Salinas de Añana

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The Best way to get to Salinas de Añana is By a Guided tour

 For convenience, I recommend booking a guided tour with round-trip transportation from Vitoria-Gasteiz which includes admission and a guided tour of the salt pans.  This is the only tour company that offers an all inclusive tour from Vitoria. The private tours to  Vitoria-Gazteis and Salinas de Añana are limited and you can check the pricing and availability here. Hotel pick-up and drop-off is provided.

#1 pICK TOUR
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salina de Anana & Vitoria Day Trip

  • 5 star reviews
  • private full day tour
  • flexible cancelation policy

How to get to Salinas de Añana By car

Rent a car in Vitoria-Gasteiz, I recommend prebooking your car from Discover Cars.

Take highway A-2622 towards Nanclares de Oca and follow signs for Salinas de Añana. There is a free parking lot next to the municipal swimming pools, a 5 minute walk from the salt pans entrance. Rental cars are available at the Vitoria-Gasteiz airport or train station.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

How to get to Salinas de Añana By bus 

Autobuses Jiménez operates infrequent service between Vitoria-Gasteiz bus station and Salinas de Añana. The trip takes about 1 hour. A taxi from Vitoria-Gasteiz costs around €35-50 each way.

Tip: there are only 2-3 buses daily from Vitoria so make sure you take a look at the bus schedule online before deciding with this option.

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

Salinas de Añana Ticket prices and ticket Options & Pricing

Admission to Salinas de Añana is by guided tour only. you must book a guided tour through the company I recommended above or make reservations online ahead of time on their website.

Tip: The morning tours are most popular and regularly sell out so book at least 2-months in advance. 

Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

alinas de Añana Tour options include:

  • Salt Valley Tour (1 hr) – History and overview of salt pans. Apr-Oct includes spa access. Adults €9.
  • Springs Tour (1.5 hr) – Geology-focused tour with Santa Engracia spring visit. Adults €11.50.
  • Salt Workshop (1 hr) – Hands-on activity to learn traditional salt harvesting. May-Oct only. Adults €9.
  • Salt Valley + Tasting Tour (1.5 hr) – Salt pans tour plus a professional tasting of Añana salts. Adults €11.50.

Tip: All tickets include access to their salt foot bath at the end of your guided tour.

Tours operate daily, generally at 12:30 and 5:30pm. Bookings can be made on the Salt Valley website: vallesalado.com. Reservations are mandatory. Special discounts are available for students, seniors, and children.

Where to Eat + Restaurants by Salinas de Añana

After exploring the salt pans, enjoy a meal at one of these local restaurants:

  • Añana Palace – Basque cuisine in a traditional building with mountain views
  • Gesaltza Restaurant – Local flavors and fresh fish, next to the salt pans
  • Urgazi Taberna – Casual spot for pintxos and snacks with a terrace
Coco Tran — Curated Aesthetic Travel Blog By Film Photographer Coco Tran https://cocotran.com/salinas-de-anana/

Hotels Nearby Salinas de Añana

Make a weekend of it by staying at one of these hotel options:

HotelLocationPriceAmenitiesBook
Casa Torre CantoblancoRuined village, rural setting, 5 km from salt pans€65-80Restaurant, gardenBook
Hotel DurtziAmurrio town center, 25 km from salt pans€75-100Bar/loungeBook

In conclusion, Salinas de Añana is a unique piece of living history that provides a fascinating window into the ancient craft of salt production. It’s an under-the-radar destination that should be on any curious traveler’s itinerary when exploring Spain’s Basque Country. I thoroughly enjoyed my tour and salt tasting experience and highly recommend it to appreciate the site’s history and culinary tradition. The high-quality artisanal salt also makes for a great souvenir. I hope this inspires and informs you to discover the hidden gem of Salinas de Añana for yourself!

FAQs about Salinas de Añana

How old are the Añana salt pans?

Salt has been harvested continuously at Salinas de Añana for approximately 7,000 years, since prehistoric times. The terraced pans and channeled brine distribution system has been in use for around 2,000 years since the Roman era.

What makes the salt from Añana special?

The salt is harvested from an ancient underground salt deposit using traditional, sustainable methods that yield an unrefined, mineral-rich salt prized for its flavor and purity. It is considered one of the best salts in the world.

What is there to do at Salinas de Añana?

Visitors can take guided tours to learn about the history and salt production process, walk over the salt pans on catwalks, relax in salt water baths at the spa, taste and learn about the different Añana salts, hike nearby trails, and visit cultural sites in the area. There are also restaurants serving local cuisine.

When is the best time to visit Salinas de Añana?

Salinas de Añana is open year-round but the salt production season runs May through September. To enjoy the on-site spa, visit between April and October. July and August are the busiest months.

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