The Urdaibai Top 10
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a rocky outcrop in the shape of a peninsula that belongs to the municipality of Bermeo. It is a protected biotope in the midst of the Cantabrian Sea, crowned by a small hermitage dedicated to St. John. You have to climb the 241 steps that wind their way up the rocky hillside to reach this modest temple that stands some 80 metres above sea level.
This marvellous enclave was turned into “Dragonstone” during the filming of the seventh season of Game of Thrones.
To walk up to the hermitage you have to book in advance (there is no charge).
The Casa de Juntas (Assembly House) and the Tree of Gernika
Symbols of Basque freedoms
Together, the Casa de Juntas and the Tree of Gernika form a monumental ensemble that has been declared an Asset of Cultural Interest. They are however much more than that: they are a symbol of the history of Vizcaya and the Basque Country.
The Tree of Gernika is the most universal symbol of all Basques and the venue for such important events as the swearing-in of the Lehendakari. Planted in 2015, the current Tree of Gernika, and all trees that have gone before it, are offshoots of the first Tree of Guernica in living memory.
The Assembly House gardens are also where you will find the so-called Old Tree, but this is NOT in fact the first of all the Trees of Gernika, but rather the oldest remaining one.
Advance booking is essential (free of charge)
The port of Bermeo
A seafaring nature
Together with Gernika, Bermeo is one of the most important towns in Urdaibai.
Fishing and the sea are its hallmarks; everything in Bermeo revolves around the sea. Residents of the town are said to have “salt in their veins” and maybe that explains why they are so cheerful - don't be afraid to strike up a conversation!
The lovely old port of Bermeo, full of colour and dotted with terraces, is an ideal place to relax and watch the world go by for a while. Bar-hopping and socialising with friends is one of the Basque Country’s most deeply-rooted customs.
But Bermeo has a lot to offer besides the old port - its old quarter, for example, or the cloister and church of San Francisco, the Atalaya watchtower... Discover Bermeo!
The best wave in Europe
The Mundaka wave is considered by many to be the best left wave in Europe, so it’s no wonder that some of the world’s best surfers - Kelly Slater, for example, or Mark Occhilupo and Aritz Aramburu - gather in this beautiful little enclave on the coast of Vizcaya.
The wave starts at the Mundaka bar and ends at Laida beach. It can reach up to 4 metres in height and 400 metres in length. Mundaka has hosted the World Surfing Circuit on nine occasions.
Having said that, Mundaka is much more than just an international surfing reference point, it has never lost its seafaring spirit and beside its small port there is a lively and bustling town centre.
The Oma Forest
An enchanted forest
Let yourself be captivated by the magical world of the artist Agustín Ibarrola. Human, animal and geometric shapes painted on tree trunks. You have to search for just the right position to see the images together, a fun game in a space full of magic and mysticism where the trees seem to come to life.
Advance booking is essential (free of charge)
The Santimamiñe Caves
World Heritage Site
This World Heritage Site is the most important archaeological site in Vizcaya. A cave that preserves the remains of human settlements dating back more than 14,000 years, fifty or so cave paintings, and a wealth of incredibly beautiful stalactite and stalagmite formations.
Sadly, it is not possible to enter the cave in person, but a 3D guided tour allows you explore the entire cave in an absolutely realistic way. This restriction is to avoid damaging the cave and to ensure that we can continue to enjoy this ancient site.
Advance booking is essential
Urdaibai Bird Centre
The international bird “airport”
The Urdaibai Bird Centre is a major bird research centre and a privileged observatory of the marshes. It is, in short, a splendid living museum of nature, where birds set the course. An absolute must for ornithology lovers and indeed for anyone and everyone who enjoys the spectacle of nature.
The centre is in Gautegiz Arteaga, in the very heart of the Reserve - the views will take your breath away.
It is managed by the Aranzadi Science Society which is dedicated to the research and scientific dissemination of birds, their migrations and their habitats.
You can enjoy spectacular images from your home through a series of web cams.
Authentic and picturesque
All the charm of an authentic and unique fishing village. That’s Elantxobe for you. Built on a hillside overlooking the sea and sheltered by Cape Ogoño, its terraced buildings and narrow, sloping streets lead down to the port.
Elantxobe’s origins go all the way back to a small fishing village that was already in existence at the beginning of the 16th century, and which started to grow when people moved there from neighbouring villages.
Elantxobe is actually split into two quite separate areas, the upper part and the lower part, each with their own distinctive architecture.
Standing in the UPPER PART, on the only flat stretch of land in the village, is the church of San Nicolás de Bari, surrounded by fishermen’s houses. As you stroll through its streets, keep your eye out for a number of viewpoints that overlook the harbour and the open sea This area is also where you’ll find the famous Elantxobe turntable. If you want to see it at work, check out the bus timetable.
The LOWER PART is where you’ll find the port and the main leisure area and bars.
Open to the sea through a small estuary
Ea is a rural village that hasn’t lost its fishing spirit. The friendly and picturesque town centre has a special charm thanks to its beach and the lovely stone bridges that connect the two banks.
A place oozing with originality and charm, not to mention nature trails, cliffs, landscapes straight out of a postcard... A village with Basque roots, an ideal destination for both families and groups of friends.
Ekoetxea Urdaibai. Biodiversity Centre
The Urdaibai marshland viewpoint
The Ekoetxea Urdaibai Centre promotes biodiversity and is located in Busturia, in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, one of the places with the greatest number of ecosystems in the Basque Country. It occupies a unique building known as the Clock Tower, which dates back to 1851. It is also strategically located, with a view of the entire Urdaibai estuary area.
Ekoetxea Urdaibai provides a wide range of activities for all age groups, but particularly so for children. All its activities are focused on promoting knowledge of and respect for biodiversity.