Biscay, #SeaLovers territory
The Biscayan coast is made up of cliffs that seem to defy the waves, large bays, huge beaches at the foot of green mountains, traditional fishing ports, and small coves where you can chill out surrounded by unspoilt nature.
The Cantabrian Sea also gives us plenty of special spaces, places full of history, mystery and adventure, as well as it offers an unparalleled environment that everyone should experience first-hand.
One of the many unique places that can be found on our coast is the Flysch of Biscay. The rocks that emerged from the bottom of the sea over 40 million years ago, and later folded to create the most amazing of the shapes, visible in the cliffs at Punta Galea, in Getxo, and in the black rocky terrains by the port of Armintza, in Lemoiz, formed this spectacular seascape.
In Barrika, these geological formations are real treasures. With the passage of time, the continuous crashing of the waves and the strength of the wind have eroded the imposing cliffs that stand like walls against the sea, creating the distinctive wave-cut platforms for which the sea and the land fight when the tides come in and go out.
The layers of the sedimentary rocks that have been deposited there for years, give shape to a magical setting, where thousands of diverse contours merge. It is also easy to see how a variety of sea animals and plants have turned the Flysch into their home thanks to the singular conditions existing in the gaps between its different strata.
Another gift of nature that you can visit in Biscay is the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. This is a true wildlife sanctuary, especially for the birds that, during their migrations, stop to rest and breed at the Oka estuary, which stretches from Gernika (home to the Casa de Juntas and the Tree of Gernika) to the sea. Urdaibai has also been the home of human beings for millennia, as it is attested by the cave paintings in Santimamiñe, hidden in the mountains of Kortezubi; the megalithic site of Katilotxu in Sukarrieta; the oppidum of Arrola in Arratzu; the Roman necropolis of Tribisburu in Bermeo and Busturia; the Forua Historic Complex; and the Medieval summit of Erenozar in Ereño.
Next to the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, between Bakio and Bermeo, the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe emerges, surrounded by legends, as one of the most impressive sights of the Biscayan coast. Connected to mainland by a bridge and 241 steps, the chapel on its top has a bell that, some say, brings good luck and wards off bad spirits.
The seaside towns are also part of the soul and essence of the Biscayan coast: Ondarroa with its bridges; Lekeitio with the magical island of Garraitz; the historic town of Bermeo with its port; Mundaka with its world-famous left wave; or the picturesque town of Elantxobe, built on a steep slope facing the sea. Each have their own character as well as a maritime history forged over the centuries. Fishing boats and commercial vessels have set sail from these harbours, crossed the ocean, and eventually returned home guided by the light of the Matxitxako lighthouse or Santa Catalina’s, which is the first and only lighthouse open to visitors in the Basque Country.
Sheltered from the sea, beaches of all kinds spread along the coasts of Biscay. From small rocky coves to large sandy beaches, they are ideal to spend a day with your family, with friends, or even to enjoy nature on your own. Some of them are easily accessible by public transport, others are hidden at the bottom of huge cliffs, others are on urban soil, and others are wild.
The Vía Verde de Itsaslur is located near La Arena Beach. This walk connects the neighbourhoods of Kobaron and Pobeña in the town of Muskiz, following the course of a former mine railway. Along the way, you can still see the remains of the mining installations that were once used to help fill the ships with the prized iron extracted in Biscay.
The Abra is the bay at the mouth of the Nervión Estuary, the gateway to Bilbao. On its way towards the capital, the estuary flows under the unmistakable Vizcaya Bridge (one of our World Heritage Sites), going past sea towns like Getxo and Santurtzi. On its banks, looking towards both the estuary and the sea, Portugalete, Sestao, and Barakaldo (back in the day symbols of the powerful industry that once existed in Biscay) are now modern cities with a high quality of life.
To soak up the marine atmosphere of the coast of Bizkaia, the best thing to do is to relax and enjoy the views from the baserris - our farmhouses - that dot the shores of the Bay of Biscay, agritourisms that offer the best of our territory with an authentic flavour. Staying in front of the cliffs, near the harbours or next to the beaches and saying goodbye to the day watching the sunset over the ocean is a unique experience. unique experience.