6 must-see places in Biscay

Bilbao
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Biscay is a province in the north of the Basque Country on the Spanish side. It is a surprising region, both innovative and authentic. Its capital, Bilbao, is in his image. A renovated, modern and dynamic city, but which has managed to retain its character. Its coast is wild and steep. Its hinterland is natural and preserved. To discover its many facets, we have selected for you the unmissable sites of Biscay.


Photos of the article © Guide to the Basque Country

Opening photo: San Juan Gaztelugatxe opening


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N°1: Bilbao, the capital of Biscay

Wondering why visit Bilbao ? We will help you answer this question! And for that, we tell you what are the best things to do in Bilbao:

  • What to visit first? The Guggenheim Museum of course…
  • What is the most typical neighborhood to soak up the atmosphere of Bilbao? Casco Viejo, the historic old town of Bilbao.
  • What is the best view of the city? From Mount Artantxa, using the Funicular.
  • Where to walk in Bilbao? In the Parc de la Ribera which extends along the banks of Ria Bilbao, with a beautiful playground for children.
  • What to do with family? Introduce the youngest to modern art, thanks to Puppy, the flowery dog of the Guggenheim Museum.

Learn more? What to do in Bilbao in 2 or 3 days?


Bilbao  Zubiri Bridge

The beautiful and colorful city of Bilbao

No. 2: The San Juan Gaztelugatxe Peninsula

To the north of Bilbao, the Gaztelugatxe Peninsula is an extraordinary site, with an exceptional panorama. It is an unusual place, between history, secular tradition and legend. Here's why we chose this site:

  • An extraordinary walk: With its 241 steps to access the site, you take a path steeped in legend and mystery...
  • An extraordinary point of view: The panorama at the top of the rock is absolutely beautiful.
  • A historic site: This is a 19th century chapel, built on the ruins of an old Hermitage of Saint John the Baptist, dating from the 9th century.
  • A Basque tradition: Don't forget to ring three times the bell of the legends of the chapel of San-Juan as tradition dictates.
  • An unusual anecdote: The Gaztelugatxe Peninsula was chosen for the filming of certain scenes from the “Game of Throne” series.

Learn more? Come and discover the most beautiful coastal villages of the Basque Country, on the Spanish side.


San Juan Gaztelugatxe Peninsula  San Juan Gaztelugatxe Peninsula

N°3: The Urdaibai Nature Reserve

On the territory of Mundaka, is the mouth of the Oka River. This encounter between the river and the Atlantic Ocean creates an original environment and breathtaking landscapes. These brackish waters, half-fresh, half-salty, are conducive to the development of flora and fauna specific to this natural environment. You will therefore see particular aquatic species there. In addition, this food richness attracts many birds, to be observed with the family.

Did you know ? The mouth is the exchange zone between a river and the ocean. When the river is dominant, the mouth is called a “delta”. When the ocean is, it is called an “estuary”. The mouth of Urdaibai is an estuary.

The essentials to do on site:

  • Visiting the Bird Observation Center: The site is on the path of migratory birds. The center lists the species and allows you to get to know them better, thanks to the Marais Observatory, an open-air museum.
  • A hike in the Nature Reserve.
  • The Painted Forest of Oma : This forest is decorated with colorful works of art, which gives it a somewhat magical character!
  • The Cave of Santimamiñe and its interpretation centre: On the side of the Erenozar mountain, real scenes of history are told to you by cave paintings, in a one-hour guided tour.
  • The Txatxarramendi peninsula and the Urdaibai watchtower: At the heart of the mouth, this natural area allows for a pretty forest walk, with an unusual view of the estuary.
  • The beaches of Laida, Kanala and San Antonio, to relax with the family, in an idyllic setting.

Learn more? Our top 3 of the most beautiful places to discover in the biosphere of Urdaibai.


The Painted Forest of Oma

Photo © Charline Prod'Homme

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No. 4: Butrón Castle

Butrón Castle is located on the lands of the village of Gatika. Perched on a hill and surrounded by a century- old forest, this " fairy tale castle " is very mysterious. At the heart of a forest estate from the Middle Ages, the old fortress was rebuilt in a 19th century neo-Gothic style. Her romantic character would make any princess dream…

What you will like:

  • Its turbulent and bloody history.
  • A walk in its gardens to admire its unusual architecture.
  • The exhibition on life in medieval times.
  • Its exotic and flowery park.

Butron Castle Photo © Bob Mudford Public Domain

    Butron Castle Photo © Bob Mudford Public Domain

    No. 5: The Urkiola Natural Park

    The Urkiola Natural Park is a national reserve in southern Biscay. It is a Natura 2000 classified area. In this protected site, lovers of botany will appreciate the very interesting local flora. You will also see birds of prey there.

    What you can do there:

    • Walks. There are also caves to visit: La Grotte Mari and that of Baltzola.
    • It is an exceptional climbing site .
    • Its interpretation center allows you to spot the fauna, notably the birds of prey, and the flora, especially the pollard beeches, typical of the region.
    • A little anecdote: If you are looking for love, be sure to touch the stone at the entrance to the sanctuary!

    Photo © Iskander Gutierrez | Adobe Stock

      Photo © Iskander Gutierrez | Adobe Stock

      No. 6: The Vizcaya Bridge

      The Vizcaya Bridge is a transporter bridge, built in the 19th century. It connects the towns of Portugalete and Getxo and spans the Neviron. It allows the movement of people and goods, thanks to a system of nacelles suspended from a trolley.

      Why visit it:

      • It is the largest transporter bridge in the world.
      • It is listed as a UNESCO heritage site.
      • It is a symbol of the industrial revolution.
      • From the bridge, you will have a nice view of the Port of Bilbao and the Ria river.

      The Vizcaya Bridge


        Our selection is obviously not exhaustive and you will discover on site many other visits that are worth the detour!


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