The Basque Country coastline, which extends along the Bay of Biscay has many spectacular beaches that nature lovers can enjoy all year round.
Spectacular landscapes contrasted by steep cliffs, charming fishing villages and some of the best surfing waves in the world! These are just a few of the countless wonders that the Basque coast has to offer to avid nature fans. Bilbao is home to some of the most impressive beaches (playas) in Spain, offering something for everyone, whether it’s catching waves or taking in the natural wonders on foot.
Most of the beaches are close to Bilbao and easily accessible by metro or local transport. Find out which ‘playa’ from the following list, is the ideal holiday destination for families and people who love nature, while still being able to enjoy some of the city’s conveniences (especially the restaurants), Bilbao and its surrounding areas never fail to delight visitors.
If you’re planning a trip to Spain in what’s left of 2018, we highly recommend you check out the amazing beaches around Bilbao.
Best beaches in Vizcaya (Biscay) for nature lovers
ATXABIRIBIL (Playa La Salvaje)
Located at Sopelana, this beach is well deservedly named ‘the wild one’ or La Salvaje, with its huge waves and natural windswept beach.
Found on the side of rocky cliffs which form an incredible landscape, it is said that the very first surfer ever seen in this part of the Basque coast was seen on this beach.
Surfing is the primary attraction at this beach throughout the year. Today, it has become one of the most popular beaches in Vizcaya constantly drawing large crowds to “La Salvaje”.
This beach has therefore become the ideal place for those trying the sport out for the first time, as well as for those who are constantly training to become pros.
Because of the beach’s proximity to the city of Bilbao, La Salvaje is a great place to combine both surf and city. It’s also very conveniently located, as it can be reached by metro directly from Bilbao.
It’s also more spacious and convenient to get to compared to nearby beaches, such as Larragbasterra, where there are lots of steps to walk down just to access the beach. This makes it particularly difficult for large families and children. One part of this Basque beach is nudist and the other part is not. It is easy to find each part for yourselves once you are there.
In La Salvaje it is also noteworthy that there are several people who leave the surf board aside and decide to try paragliding instead.
Also, as night falls, nature lovers can enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets in the area.
This beach located in the town of Gorliz, is surrounded by an extensive promenade and is the ideal option for those with children or those who want to barbecue in the green areas around it.
The beach is protected by a bay so the sea is usually calm and has moderate waves.
IZUNTZA & KARRASPIO (Lekeitio)
Lekeito is located between Bilbao and San Sebastián (Donostia).
Its beaches are among the best in Spain. The tide plays with the coastal shores creating magical sand patterns, accompanied by the backdrop of the Garraitz Island (or also Island of San Nicolás) on the beautiful horizon.
Isuntza beach is one of Bilbao’s best kept secrets. Whenever the tide goes down and the sea level lowers, a stone walkway (or “malecón” as it’s locally called) is uncovered, allowing visitors to walk from the shore to the Island of Garraitz on dry ground.
Karraspio beach, is longer than the previous one and also allows you to walk to the island at low tide. It’s worth visiting the island to take in the views of the beautiful town “Lekeitio”, an ancient fishermen’s port.
Gorrondatxe-Azkorri is a unique beach and probably our favorite beach close to Bilbao city, it is easy to reach by bus and the metro can get you closer to it as well. This beach with black sand, surrounded by a green blanket of dunes and flanked by a steep cliff, is the perfect spot for nature lovers. It is considered a geological and biological jewel. Locals from Bilbao visit often and word of this unique treasure is spreading to visitors from all over Spain and abroad.
The cliffs surrounding the beach, which contain rocks from the geological period known as Eocene, have been chosen as the best geological section (stratotype) in the world for studying this specific period. During the same period some 50 million years ago, several of the most important mountain ranges in the world were formed such as the Alps or the Himalayas. Several important climatic changes took place around that time leaving a mark on the strata in several locations across the planet, among them is Azkorri.
In February 2012 The International Union of Geological Sciences recognized the incalculable geological value of the existing strata on the cliffs of the beach at Gorrondatxe-Azkorri, officially awarding it the “Golden Clave”. Making it the official world reference of the Lutetian Period stratotype and replacing the former location in Paris.
Its wild appearance is characteristic, with stunning green and fossilized dunes that nature lovers will adore. The calcium carbonate has precipitated between the sand grains causing a solid cementation, giving it the characteristics of a consolidated rock or fossilized dunes. The origin of this curious case of artificial fossilization seems to be found in the calcified slag with a high content of carbonate, due to the industrial activities of “Altos Hornos de Vizcaya” since 1901 in front of the Abra Bay.
Regarding wildlife, the recovery plan for the corridor toad has been a huge success. The plan has enabled a previously endangered species from becoming extinct and is now thriving in two different areas of the Basque Country.
It’s also an excellent place for Nordic walking, as the dunes are hard and nicely compact. There is a beautiful path along the cliff which leads to the mouth of the Nervión River, which we highly recommend for its views to the Bay of Biscay.
Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve: a privileged setting for nature lovers…
Stretching for almost one kilometer, Laga Beach is located in Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, approximately an hour drive from Bilbao. Surrounded by the green mountains of Atxarre on one side and Mount Ogoño on the other, it’s a peaceful and pretty beach which is very popular for kayaking.
This is a very attractive spot for nature lovers. You can explore its clear waters by kayak or rent a boat, experience the nature and enjoy the landscapes of one of the most beautiful places you could possibly imagine.
Laida beach is also located in Bizkaia province, close to LAGA beach. This beach with dunes located by Mundaka Estuary, at the mouth of the Gernika River, features golden sands with changing patterns depending on the tides.
This area is located within the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve declared in 1984 by UNESCO and is one of the most spectacular beaches on the northern coastline.
This beach offers a lovely view of Izaro Island and is the perfect spot for nature and photography lovers.
LAIDATXU – MUNDAKA
This beach is known worldwide because of its left wave (direction the wave breaks) considered one of the best in Europe. The left wave can reach up to 4 meters in height and forms a tube-like shape, which attracts many surfers from around the world to Bilbao.
It is located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, a World Heritage Site of UNESCO, which boasts a spectacular environment. It is very close to the urban center of Mundaka, one of the most beautiful coastal towns along the Basque Coast and widely known as a surf attraction. The following video was recorded on a beautiful winter day…
This is just a glimpse of a few of the wonders that nature lovers can find along the Basque country coast, particularly off the Coast of Bizkaia. In our next post, we will reveal other wonderful beaches you can visit in the Guipuzcoa province.
Hurry up, pack your bags and come to visit Spain this summer. Bilbao awaits you with open arms!