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The Basque Coast in Bizkaia: A coast full of surprises

The winding coast of Bizkaia is dotted with small fishing villages and jagged coves that make up a landscape full of contrasts. Beaches, harbours and cliffs merge into the nearby summits along the whole length of the Basque coast. From Bakio to Ondarroa, the route is full of visual surprises.

To get to this suggestive coastline from Bilbao, we must take the road towards Mungia and continue on towards Bermeo. 5 km down the road is the turnoff for Bakio, the cradle of Bizkaia's txakoli. This town, a locl tourist destination, has a long beach which is packed with beachgoers during the summer months.

The coast road takes us to the beautiful view of the San Juan de Gaztelugatxe promontory. This rocky island, which is joined to the mainland by a small bridge, together with the hermitage on the top, is a nearly sacred place for many Bizkaians. A little bit further down the road we arrive at the lighthouse and Cape Matxitxako.

The town of Bermeo, with its gothic church of Santa Eufemia, the medieval Ercilla tower, and the port, is one of the most important towns along the coast. It has a lively street atmosphere and excellent restaurants, which are another two good reasons to visit the town.

Just a couple of kilometres down the road is Mundaka. The view from the Atalaya or vantage point is one of the most beautiful and relaxing in the whole of Bizkaia: the mouth of the Urdaibai estuary, merging into the ocean,and Izaro island on the horizon. This symbiosis originates the best left hand wave in Europe, which attracts many surfers from around the world.

The same view can be contemplated from Portuondo lookout, on the road to Pedernales-Sukarrieta, which is the next town down the coast. This secluded place has a few caves on the banks of the estuary.

After going through Axpe-Busturia, we arrive at the historical, "foral" town of Gernika, where we can visit the Casa de Juntas or Assembly Hall, the symbolic oak, the swearing in church of Santa Maria, and the Park of Peace. In the surrounding area and in the river wetlands is the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve.

Heading towards Lekeitio, we go past Kortezubi, the place where we find Santimamiñe caves, magnificent natural grottos with beautiful paintings; and Oma Painted Wood, by Agustin Ibarrola. We continue via Gautegiz Arteaga and join the road to Kanala.

We get to the magnificent Laga and Laida beaches, in the right bank of the Urdaibai estuary. After going past Ibarrangelu, we arrive Elantxobe, a picturesque fishing village. The route continues through Natxitua, Ea and Ispaster, until we arrive at Lekeitio, another important, beatiful fishing town along Bizkaia's coastline.

Near the port is the gothic church of Santa Maria de la Asuncion. The narrow, steep streets of this densely populated town see lively crowds of people drinking at the bars, in particular in the summer and on the weekends. The restaurants offer very high quality products.

The route ends at the neighbouring town of Ondarroa. Access is through a panoramic winding road. In this town it is a must to visit the gothic church of Santa Maria, the medieval tower of Likona, and of course, its gastronomic temples. The return to Bilbao is via the A-8 highway from Elgoibar-Deba.

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