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Basque Coast to Bay of Bilbao

Walking the Basque Coast to the Bay of Bilbao

Overview

The Basque coast is green, wild and steep, with old forests, stunning cliffs, beautiful beaches and estuaries. This jagged landscape has shaped the character of the Basque sailors and fishermen who have lived there for centuries. The coastal towns are quiet and charming. Enjoy this walking holiday along the coast, from the rural tranquillity of the fishermen villages to the lively city of Bilbao. Take in the nature, culture and gastronomy of the Basque Country.

Highlights

  • The coastal walks and the inland mountain views from Illuntzar Peak
  • Laida and Laga beaches, among the most beautiful in Spain
  • The Basque fishermen villages which have preserved their fascinating character and culture: Lekeitio, Ea, Elantxobe, Mundaka and Plencia
  • The iconic San Juan’s hermitage
  • The grand finale at the Bay of Bilbao
  • Enjoy lively Bilbao at the end of the week

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Lekeitio

Lekeitio is one of the most beautiful towns in the Basque Country. Visit its harbour, church, mansions and enjoy its bars by the sea.

Day 2: Lekeitio Walks | 14 km

Today you can choose between two routes: Walk along the River Lea to Aulestia (15 km), or take a short bus ride to climb Illuntzar peak (726 m uphill and 14 km) with stunning 360º views. Return to Lekeitio using the excellent local bus service.

Day 3: Lekeitio to Ea | 14 km

Start with the ascent of Otoio, rewarded by incredible views of cliffs and remote beaches. Descend to visit a couple of lonely coves and walk along the coast to Ea’s charming little coastal town.

  • Walking for the day: 13.7 km ↑↓600m or 8 km ↑↓300m if you start in Ispaster (optional bus transfer)
  • Overnight at Pension Bekale (modern, comfortable rooms)

Day 4: Ea to Mundaka | 18 km

Start this stage along a nice coastal path and climb up to pretty Natxitua, the perfect place to take a short rest before walking into the unique town of Elantxobe, an authentic little fishing harbour. You can also take a short walk to Ogoño cliff offering impressive views. The first 8 km can be skipped by taking a bus or a taxi (paid locally). Head to Laga beach and from there climb up to pretty Akorda and to San Pedro de Atxarre hermitage, a magic place with probably the best views in the Basque Country. Descend to Laida beach, take off your shoes and enjoy a walk on the sand. Have a coffee (or a beer and tapas) at Atxerre bar, definitely a moment you will remember.

A taxi will pick you up at the beach to take you to Mundaka (or drop you in Guernica to explore this interesting town, later head to Mundaka by train). Still, if you prefer a boat ride, you can take the small ferry to cross to the other side of the estuary during June and September.

  • Walking for the day: 17.5 km ↑↓630 m or 13 km ↑↓600 m or 10 km ↑↓600 m
  • Overnight at Eco Hotel Mundaka (well located, friendly staff) or you can upgrade at a small extra charge to Atalaya Hotel (not possible in the high season months of June and September)

Day 5: Mundaka – Bermeo – San Juan – Bakio | 14 – 18 km

Take the train or walk to Bermeo, a lively and interesting fishing town, from where you hike to the San Juan de Gaztelugatxe hermitage, one of the most famous and iconic places in the Basque Country. After that, head to Bakio along a quiet lane with great views and enjoy the beach and the surf of this coastal town.

  • Walking for the day: 13.5 km ↑↓630 m or 17.5k m ↑↓800m (shorter option with bus transfer)
  • Overnight at Arimune (small hotel by the beach), Villa Isabela (lovely room in a villa; shared bathroom!), or Joshemari (friendly hotel with a nice bar and terrace)

Day 6: Bakio to Plencia | 23 km

Hardcore walkers can take the challenge of the full stage, and even climb up to Jata, a hill with amazing views. Most mortals will travel with luggage to the small harbour of Armintza and walk the beautiful cliffs for the last 12 km to Plencia, a lovely town with a great beach, an estuary and an interesting Gothic town centre.

  • Walking for the day: 23km ↑↓980m or 12km ↑↓ 500m) (shorter option with transfer)
  • Overnight at Hotel Kaian (nice hotel in the harbour), Bahia Plencia (nice hotel close to the river) or Casa de Marinos (small hotel close to the river, with nice restaurant and bar)

Day 7: Plencia to Bilbao | 11 – 22 km

Walk the cliffs from beach to beach, with views of the whole coast and even of faraway Cantabria, and then, all of a sudden, after the Punta Galea cape – the Bay of Bilbao! Enjoy this last part with magnificent views and head to the pretty old fishing harbour of Algorta. You can keep walking along the promenade for one more hour to the end of the Bay and admire the fantastic hanging bridge, built in 1890, or you can take the metro in Algorta and stop to visit the bridge and later head to Bilbao’s town centre, where you will stay. The length of this stage is variable: you can walk the full length or take a bus at the start and stop at different places of interest.

  • Walking for the day:  Choice of 22, 18, 15 or 11km ↑↓450m
  • Overnight at Hotel Cosmov (nicely decorated hotel located close to the Guggenheim), Caravan Cinema (highly rated boutique pension in the old town), Lô, or Basque Boutique Hotel (nicely decorated pension in the heart of the old town)

Day 8: Departure

Departure, or stay for a few more days in Bilbao.

What to Expect

Accommodation

On this walking holiday, you will be staying in nice 3-star hotels and pensions. We have carefully hand-picked all places and regularly monitor their quality. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour.

Click to view default hotels

Hotel Silken Palacio Uribarri, Palacio Oxangoiti, Pension BekaleEco Hotel Mundaka, Atalaya HotelVilla Isabela, Hotel Kaian, Bahia Plencia, Hotel Cosmov, Caravan Cinema, Basque Boutique Hotel

Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.

Meals

6 breakfasts (no breakfast in Bilbao) and 1 dinner (in Ea) included. When no restaurant location is available on route lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before.

Difficulty & terrain

This holiday is appropriate for experienced walkers (no high mountain experience required) and requires a good level of fitness (read more about difficulty grades). On many days there is a choice of easier or more demanding walks. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.

When to go

This trip is available in April, May, June; September, October and early November. The flexibility of self guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date in the season. The best months to come are May and October.

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Click to view travel options

By plane

Our recommended airport for this tour is Bilbao.

By train or bus

Inclusions

Included

  • 7 nights in small hotels or guesthouses
  • 6 breakfasts (no breakfast in Bilbao) and 1 dinner (in Ea)
  • Taxi lift at the end of Day 4 (in the case you prefer it to the optional boat transfer)
  • Taxi lift at the start of Day 6
  • Luggage transfers from hotel to hotel on all walking days
  • Detailed holiday information pack including GPS-checked and regularly updated route descriptions, road notes and maps
  • GPS tracks
  • 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative

Excluded

  • Flights and airport transfers
  • Bus ticket from Bilbao to Lekeitio (around 4€)
  • Bus tickets from Lekeitio or back for optional shorter walks (around 1.5€) on Day 2
  • Boat tickets (around 3€) for the optional boat trip on Day 4 available in June and September
  • Train tickets from Guernica to Mundaka or Bermeo (around 1.5€)
  • Metro or bus tickets at the start or end of Day 7
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Lunches, dinners (dinner in Ea is included), breakfast in Bilbao
  • Personal expenses such as snacks, drinks, phone calls, extra transfers, tips, etc.
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as ‘included’ in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
  • This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
  • Extra night in Bilbao before or after the holiday available upon request only

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