Everything that awaits you on Biscay’s coastline
The north of Spain has long been known as having some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Its rocky coasts, its green landscapes and its fishing villages give it a special charm that cannot be found anywhere else. Biscay’s coastline is that through and through: a dream destination that you shouldn’t hesitate to visit.
Its long white sandy beaches, its great seafaring tradition and its coastal scenery straight out of a fairy tale are its main attractions and what will be waiting for you on your visit to this part of the Basque Country. In addition to its sights, the traditional food of Biscay’s coastline is of the finest quality, as the region has the freshest produce right on its doorstep – just another reason to visit.
This itinerary can be made in both summer and winter, its charm differing depending on the weather. Every time you visit the region you are in for a new experience, but what are the places you can’t miss?
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Rocadragón (ring any bells?) is the first on our list. These stairs were one of the scenes for the famous series Game of Thrones, and since then it has become a cult destination for fans of the series.
Getting there is a genuine adventure: you have to go down the hill before crossing the bridge and climbing up to the hermitage. The sea is often rough making crossing the bridge quite the challenge, which only serves to give the place even more charm.
The hermitage, dedicated to John the Baptist, had to be rebuilt on several occasions owing to the fires, looting and battles that it has sustained over time.
Although the closest town is that of Bakio, Gaztelugatxe belongs to the municipality of Bermeo, one of the most visited towns in the Basque Country in part due to its fishing village charm and because of the San Juan hermitage and the stunning landscape that surrounds it.
One of the most popular activities that you can do in this small town is whale watching. Boats set sail into the open sea from the old port at 10 a.m. after an instruction briefing. The area is frequented by several types of dolphins, sperm whales and fin-back whales, among others – a truly unforgettable experience.
However, if after visiting San Juan De Gaztelugatxe you just feel like stopping off in Bakio, much awaits you. Situated in a magnificent coastal area with stunning views, the area’s varied landscape is truly incredible. The cliffs where the waves break contrast with the vivid green of the mountains, which look this way due to the wet atmosphere typical of the region’s climate.
Excellent examples of northern architecture can be found in the town, where you will find several hamlets dating from different periods, which gives the area a very unique feel.
Biscay’s most unique villages
Close to these two towns is a third, Mundaka, a picturesque village situated within the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai.
Here, surfing is one of the most popular activities and it is said to have one of the longest left waves in the world. And if surfing is not your thing, you can also enjoy the magnificent views from Izaro island, Mount Ogoño or the Estuary, three key places in the Reserve.
If you really want to get a taste for history, Getxo is an obligatory stop off. The hermitage of Santa Ana and the churches of Our Lady of Mercedes or Andra Mari are some of the most ancient in the whole of the province.
Another of the area’s most characteristic sights are the Bizkaia bridge and the town of Portugalete, in addition to the Zugazarte promenade and the palace of Churruca, which is situated on it.
Ondarroa is one of the most-visited towns in this part of the north of Spain. Situated at the eastern end of the coast, the village boasts an old town with a medieval spirit and the Isasarrue bridge, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava.
As we mentioned earlier, the Basque coast is an excellent place for whale watching. If you feel like doing something a little more momentous after your excursion to Bermeo, you can go on a whale watching tour in Santurtzi. The ideal season to spot them is from July to October, for a day out at high sea enjoying these animals in their natural habitat.
Rounding up your route along Biscay’s coastline
If what you’re really after is getting to know all the special villages dotted along Biscay’s coastline, there are a couple more names to add to your list, such as Lekeitio, an attractive coastal town with great artistic heritage.
Nor can you miss villages such as Elantxobe, with its parish church in honour of Saint Nicholas of Bari, the patron saint of fishermen, or Plentzia and Gorliz with its magnificent beach as well as Butrón castle.
The best way to explore the area is by car. A route through the villages along Biscay’s coastline is all you need for an unforgettable break.