angle-left Gaze at the Cantabrian Sea from terra firma

In Bizkaia, the coastal waters can be powerful. The waves from the Cantabrian Sea are constantly crashing against the rocks, shaping the coastal landscape with towering cliffs as in Punta Galea, valuable geological formations like flysch in Getxo, or pillow lavas as in Meñakoz beach, in Barrika.

Since time immemorial, the people of Bizkaia have had strong ties to the sea. For centuries, Basque fishermen have set sail in search for fish. For them, lighthouses were of vital importance on their way back home. In Bizkaia, there are four lighthouses set in spectacular coastal environments.

The Santa Catalina lighthouse, in Lekeitio, is probably the most important of the lighthouses on the coast of Bizkaia. For one thing, it is the only one open to the public. Its visitor centre provides information on the interesting world of lighthouses and takes visitors on a virtual voyage from Lekeitio to Elantxobe.

In Punta Galea, Getxo, you can look at the cliffs from the lighthouse. In the old days, large fires were made on this site to guide the boats on their way to the port of Bilbao. Also, the place was used to watch whales. As you come closer to Gorliz, you can visit a bunker and batteries built during the Spanish Civil War. The views from the Gorliz lighthouse – at 165m, the highest lighthouse on the Cantabrian coast –, are fantastic.

The last lighthouse you will come across on the coast of Bizkaia stands on Cape Matxitxako, in Bermeo. Actually, there are two of them, but one of them is only remnants: the tower and the old school for lighthouse keepers, in use from 1854 to 1863. The last lighthouse keeper in Bizkaia worked here until he retired. The new Matxitxako lighthouse stands 110m away from the other one. Although it is active and closed to the public, you can still enjoy the beautiful vistas from a privileged viewpoint.

Routes

The coast of Bizkaia features numerous scenic routes you can follow on foot, by bicycle or by car. Soaring cliffs festoon the coastline from Getxo to Armintza. You can stop on the beaches, at the lighthouses and in the villages along the way. Our picks: Getxo, Sopela, Barrika, Plentzia and Gorliz.

There are two main routes: the cliff route from Getxo to Armintza and the Bizkaia lighthouse route. Both are awe-inspiring

If you are looking for calm, secluded beaches, go to Meñakoz in Barrika. It features a peculiar geological formation: pillow lavas, created by incandescent lava flowing under water. Come and take a close look: They won’t disappoint you.

Meñakoz is a 400m-long nudist beach. Its huge wave is a favourite of expert surfers from all over the world.

The lighthouse route will take you to all the lighthouses along the coast of Bizkaia. There are four of them, in Getxo, Gorliz, Bermeo and Lekeitio, travelling east. Get out of your car at each of these locations, have a little walk around, and stand on the edge of the impressive cliffs to gaze at the horizon and feel the salty breeze from the sea on your face.

How to get there

Gastronomy

Where to eat

In the coastal region they make dishes with the freshest, top-quality fish from the port. Basque classics on the menu are bacalao al pil-pil, a simple but delicious dish made with cod, garlic and olive oil, marmitako (Basque fish stew), baby squid prepared in black ink sauce or with onions, sardines, and many others.

In the fishing village of Bermeo, nearby the Matxitxako lighthouse, you can buy canned tuna or anchovies. Bermeo has a flourishing canned fish industry, so pick your tasty souvenir to bring home from Bizkaia.

Accommodation

Where to sleep

In Bizkaia, the distance between one town to another is never too long, so you can stay in Bilbao or in the fishing village you like best. For a quiet stay, book a room in a country house in Sopela, Barrika or Gorliz. However, if you are more of a night owl, stay in Bilbao or Getxo, where there are hotels, B&Bs and hostels for every taste and budget.

Bear in mind that the coast of Bizkaia is a favourite with tourists, especially in the summer and in Easter Week. This means you will need to book your accommodation in advance.

  • Below, find information on the four lighthouses that light up the coast of Bizkaia. The Santa Catalina lighthouse, in Lekeitio, is open to the public.

    Santa Catalina Lighthouse
    Avenida Santa Katalina, 65. 48280 Lekeitio, Bizkaia
    Phone number: +34 946 844 017
    Email address: turismo@lekeitio.com

    Matxitxako Lighthouse
    Matxitxako Cape. 48370 Bermeo, Bizkaia
    Phone number (tourist office): +34 946 179 154
    Email address: turismoa@bermeo.eus

    Gorliz Lighthouse
    Bidea Fano, 13A. 48630 Gorliz, Bizkaia
    Phone number: +34 946 774 348
    Email address: turismo@gorliz.net

    Punta Galea Lighthouse
    Carretera La Galea, 56. 48993 Getxo, Bizkaia
    Phone number: +34 944 910 800
    Email address: turismo@getxo.eus

    • Timetable

      Low season
      Open Saturday 11:30am to 1:00pm and 4:30 to 6:00pm and Sunday 11:30am to 1:00pm
      Group visits on appointment on weekdays (+20 people)

      Peak season (July, August and Easter)
      Open Wednesday-Saturday 11:30am to 1:00pm and 4:30 to 6:00pm and Sunday 11:30am to 1:00pm

    • Price

      Adults: €6
      Ages 3-12, seniors: €4.5

    • Location

      Bizkaian seaside.

  • Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes for these scenic seaside routes. In winter, the wind from the Cantabrian Sea can be cold, so you will need warm clothes. In the summer, pack your sunglasses and sunscreen. If you are planning to do water sports, do not worry about your gear, since in the seaside towns along the coast of Bizkaia they have everything you may need for sale or hire.