Nature Escapes Near Bilbao: Mountains, Beaches, And Coastal Beauty

Famous for the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art and for being the center of the semiautonomous Basque country, Bilbao is a major cultural hub and one of the most underrated cities in Spain to explore.

Along with fascinating Basque culture, including its unique language, you’ll encounter excellent art galleries, Europe’s largest covered market, unique food, and a revitalized urban core that has received the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize. Also called the Nobel Prize for Urbanism, it was awarded for the urban transformation this former manufacturing city has been able to achieve.

All of these factors make Bilbao a fantastic city to explore. But that’s not all it has to offer. Even from the redeveloped heart of Bilbao, you can see the fertile green mountains that are characteristic of the Basque country. And with the wild beauty of the Atlantic Ocean just a short drive away, Bilbao makes a fantastic gateway to explore more of the countryside of northern Spain.

Far from the arid landscapes of the south of the country, Bilbao sits in a region of high mountains, dense forests, and regular rain sweeping in from the sea. And if you want to explore this natural environment further, you’re in luck.

Leave your heavy bags behind at a luggage storage facility in Bilbao and check out some of these great natural escapes for yourself. Along the way, you’ll gain a new appreciation for the natural beauty of the Basque country.

Elorritxueta / Vivero

Elorritxueta / Vivero

 

If your time in Bilbao is limited or you just don’t want to stray too far from the city, this hilltop park is a great place to get away from it all without having to go on a long journey. Located just outside central Bilbao itself, this wooded park offers incredible views over the city and the surrounding mountains, and the picnic tables and barbecue facilities make it the ideal place for a picnic.

You’ll also find plenty of walking trails both in and around this park that can lead you to other points of interest in the region. For example, there’s an old bunker and system of tunnels dating back to the Spanish Civil War just a short walk away from the park and a scenic spot that provides one of the very best views of Bilbao from above at Ganguren Mendiaren Gailurra. Easy to reach from the city itself with a drive of less than half an hour, this is a popular spot with locals that is not well-known to travelers but provides a great natural escape close to the city.

Atxabiribil Beach

Bilbao isn’t technically coastal itself, but it’s not at all far from the wild Atlantic, and in the summer, the beautiful beaches overlooking the Bay of Biscay become some of the most popular places in the area to hang out and enjoy nature.

This beach nicknamed the Wild One for its unspoiled scenery, is a beautiful example. Huge waves roll in from the ocean, and it’s rumored that this was the first place anyone ever surfed in the Basque country. That’s a tradition that’s kept alive today, with surfers traveling here from across Spain to enjoy some of the best waves anywhere in the country.

Reachable via Bilbao’s Metro system, this isn’t a place where you can expect to have the sand all to yourself, especially on a sunny day in summer. It’s also one of the most accessible beaches in the area, making it popular with families with kids. Still, if you want a beautiful beach that’s easy to reach and big enough that you can usually find some space even on the hottest day, this is a great option.

Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve

Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve

Just a little to the east of Bilbao, this sprawling nature reserve is the perfect place to get away from it all. Covering 22,000 hectares surrounding a coastal estuary, this park offers dense forests, towering cliffs, and secluded beaches that feel like the middle of nowhere.

The park is perhaps best known for its marshlands, which provide a crucially important habitat for shorebirds and other wildlife in this ocean area. That makes this a fantastic place for birdwatching. You’ll also find tons of hiking trails in the area leading you to spectacular views over the sea. If you want to get away from it all in the Basque country, there aren’t many better places to come than this.

Faro Del Caballo

For a stunning encounter with the rugged coast of the Bay of Biscay, head to this lighthouse outside Bilbao. An hour’s drive from the city, the astonishing views of the bright blue ocean and the frowning cliffs above it make it worth a special trip.

The lighthouse itself isn’t all that impressive, but with the surroundings, it doesn’t need to be. There is a long coastal trail that will take you up over the cliffs and reward you with exceptional views, and there are even places where you can jump into the water from the cliffs to cool off on a hot summer’s day.

Gorbeia Natural Park

Around an hour’s drive from the city, this natural park protects Gorbeia, the highest peak in the area and a mountain of deep significance to Basque people. Rising to 1482 meters above sea level, the mountain provides unrivaled views over the Basque country and beyond. It’s also a popular place for hiking and climbing, with a variety of trails offering everything from an easy stroll to a challenging multi-day adventure.

Don’t miss the beautiful Gujuli waterfall, and if you have the stamina for it, attempt the mountain peak. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful natural areas in the area, this is a place any outdoor lover will cherish.

Enjoy Basque Country

Enjoy Basque Country

Along with its artistic and cultural treasures, Bilbao is blessed with some truly exceptional scenery. Leave your bags behind and allow yourself to explore this rich natural environment on your next trip to northern Spain.

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Ankita Tripathy loves to write about food and the Hallyu Wave in particular. During her free time, she enjoys looking at the sky or reading books while sipping a cup of hot coffee. Her favourite niches are food, music, lifestyle, travel, and Korean Pop music and drama.

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