Enjoy a natural spectacle in Uribe
The Atlantic countryside, a wide variety of seascapes and 24 municipalities in a region full of history
Filled with grasslands, wild forests, mountains, and gentle hills, the valleys in the region of Uribe hide great secrets. Secrets that are revealed on the towering cliffs and the crowded beaches that stretch along the coastline. Like open books, these natural sceneries – uncovered by the strength of the wind, the tides, and the waves – give us valuable insights on how the natural forces have been shaping our planet for millions of years.
History has also left a rich legacy in Uribe: towns founded in the Middle Ages, roads that were once followed by our ancestors, palaces and tower houses, all of them witnesses to amazing happenings. Traditions are still preserved in our rural areas, where you can find top quality products – used to make our best-known dishes –, and Biscayan wines such as txakoli.
The history of Uribe began millions of years ago, when the sea still covered what is now the Biscayan coastline. Sediments and small sea shells were being deposited on the seabed for a long time, until a collision of plate tectonics occurred around 40 million years ago, raising the ocean floor. With the years, the wind and the sea gradually eroded the cliffs of Uribe, exposing the rock strata in which we can now read the Earth’s history. This is a priceless treasure for those who are keen on geology, but it is also a delight for the eyes of anyone who comes to admire this wonderful scenery.
Just as artists do, by folding and twisting the sediments, the powerful natural forces that shaped the Flysch of Biscay have left us impressive landscapes. This rather impressive natural phenomenon can be fully appreciated not only from the high cliffs of Punta Galea, in Getxo, but also from the entire coast of Uribe. A curious fact is that, in places like the fishing port in Armintza (Lemoiz), the flysch changes colour to black, and in Barrika, where the strata come out of the sand as if a mythological creature were emerging from it, you can see the pillow lavas that the eruption of past volcanoes formed.
Another place where geology has undoubtedly given shape to an outstanding landscape is San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Here the combination of rocks, sea, nature and tradition offer a dreamlike view. Going up the 241 steps that take you to the chapel at the top of its islet is well worth it. Apart from the incredible views over the coastline you can enjoy from there, legend has it that the footprint you can find on the last of the steps was left by St John the Baptist and it brings good luck to anyone who puts their foot on it. Last but not least, it is said that ringing the bell of the chapel three times protects you against evil spirits.
On the coast of Uribe, you can find some of the most attractive beaches in Biscay. Several of them are easily accessible from Bilbao by public transport. Either quiet or ideal for families, hidden or wild, our beaches are perfect for those who like surfing or getting the adrenaline flowing with exciting extreme sports. Sopela has not one, but four wonderful beaches: Barinatxe, a large sandy beach – with a nudist area – from which you can often see paragliders soaring high in the sky; Arriatera-Atxabiribil, two beaches that become one when the tide is low, usually frequented by surfers; and Meñakoz, a small and unspoilt rocky beach that Sopela shares with Barrika. In the latter town, we can find the wild Barrika Beach, where rock strata poke out of the sand, and Muriola Beach, a small sandy beach known for being one of Game of Thrones filming locations.
In the bay, at the mouth of the Plentzia Estuary, there are two quiet sandy beaches that belong to the adjacent towns of Plentzia and Gorliz. You can spend a day out with your family or friends and try different water sports in the calm Cantabrian waters. In Lemoiz, Armintzakalde Beach is located next to a traditional fishing port, in an area of immense natural value. The beach in Bakio, with the incomparable Gaztelugatxe Protected Biotope in the background, is the longest in Biscay and a common destination for everyone who likes surfing and having fun or relaxing in the sand.
The Butrón Castle is another iconic landmark in Uribe. The fortification was the setting for bloodthirsty power struggles in medieval times and, in the 19th century, it was converted into the castle with a romantic air that we can see in Gatika today. Its turrets rise from among the trees that grow in its wonderful garden, which surrounds the building as if in a fairy tale. The Middle Ages also left a clear archaeological imprint in the region thanks to constructions like the Martiartu Tower in Erandio, Torrebillela in Mungia, the Anguleri Palace in Larrabetzu. Zamudiotorrre in Zamudio, or the multiple chapels scattered about Uribe.
Inland – with their green fields dotted with forests, crops, vegetable gardens and country houses called ‘baserris’ –, the gentleness of the valleys of Txorierri and Butrón take us back to past times. Some of the most representative ‘baserris’ in Biscay are precisely found in Uribe. Dating back to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, these buildings have great architectural value and reflect a traditionally rooted lifestyle in communion with the land and the environment.
Good food is one of best-stablished traditions in Biscay. Fresh products from local small farms have always been used to make traditional recipes, but now they are also indispensable in the restaurants that offer the most modern creative cuisine and in the bars of the region, where our delicious pintxos are prepared. Here in Uribe, you can savour it all: the dishes that have made the Basque cuisine famous and the original dishes created in the innovative kitchens of the restaurants in the area.
We cannot forget that Uribe has a long tradition of txakoli making. For those who are interested in discovering the secrets of this young fruity wine, highly cherished in the region, nothing beats a vineyard walk followed by a visit to one of our wineries. The Museo del Txakoli – Txakolingunea in Bakio, is the perfect place to find out more about the history and traditions associated to our wines. Learn everything you need to know about the wine-making process or have a wine-testing experience to learn to distinguish the different varieties of txakoli.
The old paths that connected the towns in Uribe, together with the routes ox carts once frequented and other tracks our ancestors followed for hundreds of years are now part of the GR 280 Uribe Trail. You are welcomed to follow this seven-stage trail along its 137 km throughout towns and villages, culturally significant places and precious natural corners.
Divided in several stages, this path goes among cliffs, mountains, and valleys, crossing the rural neighbourhoods of Urizar and Andraka in Lemoiz; the Txipio marshes in Plentzia; Sopelabaso Forest and the prehistoric burial mounds of Munarrikolanda in Sopela; Martiartu Tower in Erandio; the territories of Unbe and Lauroeta in Loiu; Berreaga hill in Derio; and the rural village of Fruiz.
After crossing the town of Arrieta, Mount Itzurigana, Urtalde and the south side of Mount Sollube, the path takes you to the neighbourhood of Mesterika, in Meñaka. From there, you get to Larrauri in Mungia and, after climbing to the chapel of San Miguel de Zumetzaga, you arrive at the coast of Bakio. The path goes back to Larrauri again and then turns towards Maruri-Jatabe, going all the way up to the summit of Mount Urizarmendi and then all the way down to the neighbourhood of Armintza, in Lemoiz. It is here where the path is forked, offering an alternative route that connects Plentzia with Gamiz-Fika via Mungia. This detour allows you to see other attractions such as Butrón Castle, the mill of Bolu and Kafrangaetxebarri (traditional country house) to finally rejoin the GR280 Trail in Fruiz.
Lastly, a circular walk allows you to discover the historic treasures of Zamudio, Lezama and Larrabetzu. Along the way, you can see the remains of Bilbao's Iron Ring, the medieval towers in Zamudio and Lezama, and the Villa and the Church of Goikolexea in Larrabetzu.
There are 44 shorter trails more in Uribe, ideal for a pleasant walk, where you can find plenty of picturesque corners: villages, chapels, palaces, villas, cliffs, rural areas, geological wonders, rivers, streams, summits, or lighthouses. It is even possible for you to follow the Biscayan section of the Coastal Way, the route that pilgrims have been taking for centuries in their pilgrimages to Santiago; or, if you prefer, you can follow one of the multiple Nordic Walking trails, classified into levels according to ther difficulty.