Bizkaia is a region in northern Spain. It is part of the Basque Country. The region is autonomous, colourful and especially different. Since it’s so different you get to discover, explore and learn a lot.
Mountains range over the whole region, yet the ocean is a central key in life and work.
People like to be outside enjoying nature or the small alleys of Bilbao, chatting, drinking wine or soaking up the sun.
If it’s your first time in the Basque Country and you don’t know where to start I have a few ideas for you.
1. Visit Gaztelugatxe by Boat
Along the coast you can chose between many tours. One highlight is Gaztelugatxe.
Gaztelugatxe is a small island and is connected by a rather impressive bridge. On the island you find an abbey that dates back to the 10th century.
Start the tour in Bermeo. During this one hour long boat tour, the Atlantic wind will blow around your nose. If you’re lucky, you’ll see whales.
2. Tour Bilbao
Bilbao is a lively place in the centre of the Basque Region. And life happens on the street: art, food, get together.
Especially those, who’re interested in art will find Bilbao appealing. Bridges, designed by famous architects, adorn the cityscape along the Rìa de Bilbao. For once, there’s the bended Zubizuri, in English White Bridge.
The best way to see the bridges is by taking a boat tour with Bilboats (pun noticed and used).
From the boat you can take a first look on sightseeing spots like the Maritime Museum, the Guggenheim Museum, La Salve Bridge or the stadium of Athletic Bilbao.
Back to the promenade, you can reach everything by foot: the dog made of flowers, museums like the Museo de Bellas Artes. During summertime, the walk is framed by many ice parlours.
If you get hungry exploring Bilbao, visit Kasko. This restaurant serves typical Spanish and Basque dishes and is located in one of the busy and colourful alleys of old town.
3. Visit Vinery Bodegas Virgen de Lorea
Spain is known for its wine. It’s part of their culture and everyone has something to say about it. They treat their guests to some wine, recommend and give advise; talking about wine is as important as drinking.
So visiting a vinery is as important as visiting a monument or a museum. I visited Bodega Virgen de Lorea in Otxaran. The wine production goes back to the 13th century.
The owner leads you through the wine-growing district and answer all your thirsty questions. Of course you’ll be able to try the house wine at the end of the tour.
And can I just say that the owner has the cutest dog?
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Music: Lakey Inspired
The Basque Region offers some amazing mountain ranges to bike, hike or enjoy nature.
And the view is picturesque: cows graze on meadows, fields blossom and you find old farms in the valleys.
There are lots of paths to hike, they’re signposted and vary between beginners and advanced. In the villages you find places to stop and refresh.
5. Watch the Sunrise
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea, waking up before the sun does. But it’s so worth it and not even hard when you think of the gain: enjoying the silence of the morning, watching the sun rise. Especially the view on the sun peeking behind the mountains, before she decides to come out, lighten up the region and turn the blue of the night into a golden warmth.
6. Eat at Casa Garras
On your trip through Bizkaia you should consider stopping in Concha and eat at Casa Garras. A cosy restaurant with a nice ambience. They serve regional dishes with local products. Let the chef know, if you’re vegetarian.
Address: Barrio Concha, 6, 48891 Concha
7. Santa Catalina Lighthouse and Lekeitio
There are a lot of old villages and towns in the Basque Region. One of those is Lekeitio by the sea and there is a famous lighthouse: Santa Catalina. Santa Catalina offers visitors the possibility to experience the life of a mariner family. An interactive tour guides you through starry skies, what life as a sailor means, stories are being told and you get to sit on a 4-D boat. It is going to be wet!
Sailors dominate Lekeitio. Till today, fresh fish is caught and sold at the harbour. Seamen are sitting in the cafés, talking about the water. Old man stand at the land, fishing and chatting in Basque while tiny waves are crashing on the boats.
It is a village with lovely alleys and small shops and inviting cafés.
8. Enjoy the Silence of Bird Centre Urdaibai
The Bird Centre Urdaibai is the right place if you want to enjoy some quiet time and learn something new.
This UNESCO protected centre is located in a nature preserve and offers a view on its surrounding. Migrant birds pass this marshland on their way, the East Atlantic Flyway, to Africa.
There’re several platforms to watch birds and other animals. One of the platforms has a camera with telephoto lens to observe the birds and their habitat up close. Signs and boards explain all animals living in the reservation. The centre isn’t only a place to educate interested tourists, it’s also a place for research. And the guides are pretty enthusiastic about their job, I loved it.
Urdaibai is multilingual.
9. Discover Guernica
Guernica isn’t only a painting by Pablo Picasso. Even though the piece from 1937 helped drawing some attention to the town.
Highlights are the mural of Picasso’s Guernica and an old oak tree, which has deep historical roots. Since the 14th century, the Oldest met under the tree to discuss society and more.
Best way to discover the little town is by foot. You’ll find a thriving art scene with a love for history.
10. Explore Cueva de Pozalagua
The caves of Pozalagua are, so it feels, on top of the world. Alone the ride up there is worth it. Slowly but surely, you make your way to the top of the mountain along meadows, valleys and viewing points. Once you arrived, you can book a tour with a guide. Our guide is Conxi and she is helpful and patient, I asked everything and more.
Pozalagua was discovered in the 1950s and teams are still working on fully exploring them. Only in the 1990s they were opened for public visitors, even then: guided tours only. Because the stalactites are special. They don’t grow straight, but curved. Millions of years formed different shapes and formations, some of them resemble cupcakes, some of them an organ.
Tip: The temperature is at a constant 13° Celsius. If you’re visiting on a hot summer day, bring a jacket.
How to get there: Fly to Bilbao with Vueling Airline
Get around: the easiest way is to rent a car
Stay at: Hotel Garaiko Landetxea or book via Airbnb and get a discount
Language: Spanish and Basque
Timezone: Central European Time
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