Basque Country – Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
The Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve constitutes one of the richest natural areas in the beautiful Basque Country. Mountains of moderate height, yet quite steep, lead to a valley that ends in the Cantabrian Sea forming a wide estuary: Its cliffs, beaches and inland woods and rivers, including the marshes and river meadows, accommodate probably the most diverse scenery and environment in the Basque Autonomous Region.
Bird Watchers Paradise
You can catch sight of groups of birds on the marshlands the whole year round: sandpipers, anatidaes, birds of prey such as the osprey, warblers, herons, terns, seagulls, divers, rallidaes, auks, etc. However, September – in full autumn migration – is one of the best times to observe the different ornithological species offered by the estuary.
The area is also and worldwide known due to the small coastal town of Mundaka that attracts surfers from all over the world who want to discover first hand what is considered Europe’s best left-breaking wave. As a matter of fact, Mundaka is venue of the “Billabong Pro Mundaka” contest – one of the most important tests of the ASP World Tour.
How to Get There
The main towns and villages of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve are Bermeo, Guernica and Mundaca. The main road is the BI-635, which connects Guernica with Amorebieta, village that gives access to the Bilbao – San Sebastian motorway.
Leave the city merging onto A-1/E-5 toward Burgos. From there merge onto E-80/AP-1 to Miranda de Ebro and from there onto E-804/AP-68 to Bilbao. Take exit 1 to BI-625 Basauri and E-5/A-8 Donostia/Francia. Follow the road and after approx. 3 km merge onto E-70 toward A-8/Donostia/S. Sebastián/Francia. Take exit 100 toward BI-635 Amorebieta/Gernika.
From France/San Sebastián or Bilbao:
Merge onto the A-8 motorway until Amorebieta and take exit 100 toward BI-635 Amorebieta/Gernika. Follow signs for BI-635 Zugastieta/Gernika.
From Bilbao Airport:
Leave the airport following signs for E-70/A-8/N-633/Bilbo/Bilbao/Santander/Donostia/S. Sebastián and merge onto BI-631 road. Take exit 9 to merge onto N-637 toward E-70/A-8. After approx. 10 km merge onto E-70/A-8 toward Donostia/S.Sebastián. Take exit 100 toward BI-635 Amorebieta/Gernika.
Basque Country – Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve: Plan your journey by public transport
Direct connections to Madrid and Barcelona in addition to regional destinations.
Termibus Bilbao serves both Spanish and international destinations and offers connections to the airport as well as the rest of the urban and metropolitan transportations (metro, streetcar, railway, Bilbobus and Bizkaibus buses).
The Bilbao Airport is located approx. 10 kms north the center of town and offers flights to Spanish and international destinations.
Basque Country – Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve weather forecast
|Amorebieta, España||68°F scattered clouds|
Wind 10 mph, SSE
Pressure 757.56 mmHg
Places to go
Designated a World Heritage in 2008, the Santimamiñe Cave, located on the right bank of the River Urdaibai, shows prehistoric rock art and an archaeological site.
TO SEE: The cave paintings here date from the Magdalenian period of the Late Palaeolithic era (13,000 BC). They include a range of animals such as bison, horses, deer, goats and brown bears. The cave also has many stunning formations of stalactites and stalagmites.
TO DO: The caves have been closed to the public since 2006. Nonetheless, hour and a half long guided tours are offered. You can also visit the chapel of San Mamés, which has been turned into an interpretative centre. There, with the aid of a sophisticated virtual tour, you’ll can travel to the inside of the cave, including the famous cave paintings.
RECOMMEND: Visit the archaeological site located at the entrance to the cave.
The Enchanted Forest of Oma
The enchanted forest of Oma was created in 1984 by Bilbao sculptor and artist Agustín Ibarrola who painted the trees bringing nature and art together.
A fantasy world where nature and art come together.
Oma Forest (in the province of Vizcaya, the Basque Country) is located in a unique setting within the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. There, the painter and sculptor Agustín Ibarrola wanted to bring together the technique used to paint on rocks in the Palaeolithic period with a modern trend known as “land art”, which consists of producing art on nature herself. The result: spots and lines of colour that form figures, eyes and rainbows throughout the forest, appearing before you like the spirits and fairies of ancient legend.
If you come to Oma Forest by car (it is in the village of Kortezubi, Vizcaya province), then the best thing is to leave it in the car park just 300 metres from Santimamiñe Cave. From here there is a forest track that runs to the Enchanted Forest, some three kilometres away.
TO DO: When you walk through this pine forest you will understand why people call it “enchanted”. Depending on the path you take and the direction you look, you will see that if you join together the figures appearing on different trees, they come to form specific shapes.
RECOMMEND: Although there are signs pointing out the most interesting groups of trees, remember that the magical thing about this forest is that different places appear according to the path you take. Take as long as you like and discover the forest on your own.
Beautiful Laga Beach is located in the area around the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and next to Cape Ogoño (279m), and belongs to the town of Ibarrangelu.
The 574 metre-long Laga beach of fine golden sand is one of the most beautiful beaches of the coast of Biscay, Basque Country.
Well equipped with showers, public toilets, changing rooms, lifeguards and beach keepers.
Holds the ISO 9001 and ISO14001 business and environmental management certifications.
TO DO: It offers the opportunity to practice many sports such as surfing, canoeing or sailing. Its waves attract many surfers. Besides, the most intrepid ones dare practice paragliding from the Ogoño rock.
In addition to this, Laga Beach boasts many walking areas and recreation areas in the vicinity.
Laida Beach is located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and belongs to the town of Ibarrangelu.
Laida Beach is located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and belongs to Bizkaia’s town of Ibarrangelu. Surfers all over the world come to enjoy Mundaka’s left wave.
The beach is well equipped: It has lifeguards, beach keepers, car park by the beach, showers, public toilets, changing rooms, bike parks and hotel and catering trade services in its surroundings.
TO DO: This beach offers the chance to practice varied activities such as canoeing or sailing, occupying surfing the most remarkable place since the famed Mundaka wave is to be found in front of the breaks on the shore of Laida Beach.
Bermeo is a fishing town whose harbour preserves all its traditional local seafaring charm.
TO SEE: Bermeo is a fishing town with a long tradition and rich history. During years, the local fishermen painted their houses with different colors to identify each house from their ship. It is a very particular place, where every corner reminds of the unity between its inhabitants and the sea.
TO DO: Since its foundation in 1239, Bermeo has had a rich history. Testimony to this is the collection of monuments in town. The following have been declared to be of Historic-Artistic Interest: The cloister of the church of San Francisco, built in 1357; the tower of Ercilla, which is Gothic and currently houses the Fisherman’s Museum; the church of Santa María; Santa Eufemia, a ‘Juradera’ church, probably the oldest in Bermeo; the City Hall, erected in 1732, on whose façade we can see two sundials; and Casa Kinkubera, catalogued under ‘Basque rationalism’, with a structure reminiscent of a boat.
RECOMMEND: Its main attraction is based on the picturesque haven, the fishermen neighborhood, its old quarter, small coves and cliffs and its typical and delicious gastronomy.
The Basque village of Mundaka is worldwide known due to its left wave that attracts each year surfers from all over the world.
TO SEE: Mundaka is a pleasant, quiet seaside town in the province of Bizkaia, located on the left bank of the estuary which bears the same name. Traditionally a fishing village, Mundaka has always been closely linked to the sea and open to the world. Surf lovers from all over the world come to enjoy what is considered one of Europe’s best left waves. That’s why Mundaka is also venue of the Billabong Mundaka Challenge, ninth probe of the ASP World Tour.
TO DO: Visit the Hermitage of St. Catherine, have a stroll through the village, spend a day on the beach, watch the surfers.
RECOMMEND: The Atalaya Viewpoint provides a superb view of the waves in the estuary of the inlet while the Portuondo Viewpoint offers one of the best panoramic views of the Mundaka river.
The town of Gernika-Lumo is worldwide known for being totally destroyed in 1937 by Hitler’s air force, a crime that inspired Picasso to paint his famous painting “Guernica”.
TO SEE: In town, you must visit the Casa de Juntas del Señorío de Vizcaya (the meeting hall of the gentlemen of Vizcaya), an emblematic place for the Basque people, with its symbolic tree: Known as the “Tree of Gernika”, the Basque leaders used to meet under it to decide on the interests of the community. Nowadays its venue of the the Juntas Generales (General Assembly) of Biscay and both the Lehendakari (head of the Basque autonomous government) and the respresentative of the province of Biscay swear their posts.
On April 26, 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, the town was razed to the ground by German aircraft belonging to the Condor Legion, sent by Hitler to support Franco’s fascist rebel coup. For almost four hours bombs rained down on Gernika in an “experiment” for similar atrocities carried out in subsequent wars. This crime inspired Pablo Picasso to paint “Guernica”, a painting considered one of the most important of the XX Century.
TO DO: Visit the Casa de Juntas del Señorío de Vizcaya (the meeting hall of the gentlemen of Vizcaya) and its symbolic tree, the Museo de Euskal Herria (Museum of the Basque Country) and the Museo de la Paz (Peace Museum).
RECOMMEND: Must-sees: The monuments “Gure Aitaren Etxea” (Our Father’s House) by Eduardo Chillida and “ Large Figure in a Shelter” by Herny Moore that represent Gernika-Lumo as City of Peace and the Museo de la Paz (Peace Museum), dedicated to the bombing suffered on 26 April 1937.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Gaztelugatxe is a tiny islet on the coast of Biscay belonging to the municipality of Bermeo, in Basque Country. Connected to the mainland by a man made bridge, on top of the island stands a hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist.
TO SEE: Rock, water and wind. In San Juan de Gaztelugatxe nature has unveiled all her magic to captivate you with. The islet, crowned by a rustic chapel, exudes supernatural charm and is shrouded in legend.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is one of those special places which, as soon as you see it, you know will stay with you forever. Torn between the immensity of the Cantabrian Sea and the solemnity of the Basque Coast’s cliffs, the Gaztelugatxe islet is imbued with a mystic atmosphere and magic which washes over everyone who comes to see it.
TO DO: Visit the island and the hermitage and enjoy the stunning views of the Basque coast.
RECOMMEND: If you have already witnessed its incomparable beauty from dry land, come and experience it from a different vantage point ― the sea (taking a boat trip in the fishing town of Bermeo); only by doing so will you be able to fully appreciate this mystical enclave on the Basque Coast, which will become etched in your memory.
Euskadi Biodiversity Centre – Madariaga Tower
The Euskadi Biodiversity Centre has a permanent public participation area with the aim of explaining the essence and the functions of Biodiversity.
TO SEE: The center was created with the fundamental objective of promoting the dissemination of nature and biodiversity in the Basque Autonomous Community, as well as for the need to give value to biodiversity; or, what is the same, to inform of the benefits that biodiversity brings to human beings and what we lose when species become extinct.
TO DO: The Euskadi – Madariaga Dorretxea Biodiversity Centre has a permanent exhibition area and a space for temporary exhibitions. Its facilities include an area for holding conferences, educational and training workshops, as well as a marsh observatory.
RECOMMEND: After having visited the different exhibition spaces, visitors can access to the viewpoint on the Basque Country Biodiversity Centre, which offers a wonderful view. By means of small telescopes and binoculars, details of Izaro Island, Laida beach and the marsh can be discovered.
Las Lamias Route
Nice, short and easy hiking route that offers stunning views of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve and its beautiful landscape.
Seaward Route (PR-BI 165)
Nice hiking route through the Urdaibai Nature Reserve on the Basque coast offering beautiful views.
Walking the Camino Real
Nice short and easy circular route in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, leading to a small beach.
Bermeo BTT Route
A unique route along forest trails that takes you to the town of Bermeo (Tribis windmill).
Festivals and EventsThere are no upcoming events at this time.
These are the upcoming fiestas, events and festivals in Basque Country – Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. The given dates may vary, so please contact the local tourist office if you wish to take part in or attend a specific event.
Vitoria Jazz Festival 2016
The festival of Vitoria is without doubt one of the most important jazz festivals held in Spain.
During one week, jazz tones will be spread all over the Basque town of Vitoria-Gasteiz. The thirty-seventh edition of the event will be held between 16th and 20th July, and will feature an excellent line-up of artists. Star performers are the lauded musicians Chick Corea, Paco de Lucía, Branford Marsalis and Melody Gardot. Ibrahim Maalouf and Jacky Terrasson “Gouache”, to name but a few, will also feature in Vitoria-Gasteiz.
When: 16-20 July 2013
Bilbao BBK Live Festival 2016
Kobetamendi (in Bilbao) will see the return of the very best in music at 2015’s BBK Live festival.
10th edition of the festival with participation of the best pop-rock groups of the world. Three days packed with performances by world-renowned groups, in the 2015 edition: Muse, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Mumford and Sons…
When: 9 – 11 July 2015
Where: Bilbao (Spain)
Lekeitio International Street Theatre Festival 2016
The Basque town of Lekeitio holds every year in summer the International Street Theatre Festival offering a natural scenery that is very hard to beat.
For more than 20 years now, Lekeitio has been hosting the largest street theatre festival in the Basque Country, and one of the leading events in terms of European street theatre. In the unique setting on the streets of Lekeitio, with the sea as a backdrop, several companies will perform their latest creations for the public.
When: 10-10 July 2015
Where: Lekeitio (Basque Country, Spain)
Aste Nagusia – Bilbao’s Big Week 2016
After more than 30 years, the Aste Nagusia (or Semana Grande or Big Week) of Bilbao has turned into one of the most popular and most visited festivities in the Basque Country.
Over nine days, festivities will take over the streets of Bilbao and thousands of people will meet on the streets to enjoy the good atmosphere and the numerous cultural activities available on the festivities’ programme.
When: 22-30 August 2015
Where: Bilbao (Spain)
San Sebastian Regattas 2016
The traditional regattas of San Sebastián attract each first and second Sunday in September thousands of people.
Within the unparalleled setting of the La Concha Bay, thousands of people gather on the first two Sundays in September to enjoy the traditional San Sebastián regattas, also known as “La Concha Flag”. The over-130-year old event was held for the first time in 1879 as a new activity included in the San Sebastián fiestas programme.
This is an essential appointment for those who love this sport and for all the people in general, as these days good atmosphere and festivities will prevail in every corner of the city.
When: 3, 6 and 13 September
Where: Donostia/San Sebastián
San Sebastian International Film Festival 2016
The San Sebastian International Film Festival, one of the most prestigious and internationally recognised film festivals, is an event that has been held every year since its began in 1953.
The festival is one of the most prestigious and internationally recognised in Spain, and big names in film, both actors and directors, have attended to present their films, making for a glamorous, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Apart from the different prizes awarded in the various sections, since 1986 the Donostia Prize has been awarded in recognition of those who have contributed to the world of film through their careers.
When: 18-26 September
Where: San Sebastian
Bilbao Nights Marathon 2016
Night marathon of 42, 21 and 7 kilometers distance through the streets of Bilbao, Basque Country.
The only marathon in Spain that takes place at night. It starts and ends at the spectacular Guggenheim Museum and goes along the Nervión River to the old town. There is also a half-marathon and a short distance race at the same time – the Pirate Race.
When: 17 October 2015
Where: Bilbao, Spain
Gernika market, autumn gastronomic event in Euskadi 2016
Harvesting the baserritarra (farmers) is the star of this gastronomic celebration. Gernika Market
Harvesting the baserritarra (farmers) is the star of this gastronomic celebration. Some 900 stalls set by central streets like San Juan Ibarra, Paseleku, Artekale and Juan Calzada give color and flavor to the historic Basque town. One of its main attractions is holding contests in various categories such as vegetables, fruits, flowers, cheeses, honey and txakoli. Next to the market, parades and performances by bertsolaris (improvisation poets declaim in Basque) are also organized. Although the market concluded around 1400 hours, the festive atmosphere continues in the afternoon.
When: 26 October
Where: Gernika-Lumo, Basque Country