4 famous places on the Biscayne Coast, Biscay Bay, Basque Country, Spain.

In my tours of the Biscayne coast, travellers find remarkable the beauty of the natural and social environment, where the mountains and the sea meet in a beautiful continuum of beaches, rocks, cliffs, ports and villages. There are some of these places or towns that already transcend the knowledge and enjoyment of the Basques, and are known beyond the seas around this immense Gulf of Biscay. They are:

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Aitor Delgado in San Juan de Gastelugatxe.

It is an island located near the coast in a beautiful place created by nature 35 kilometers from Bilbao. Gaztelugatxe means in Basque "Castle of Rock".

The island has a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist at its summit, which possibly exists since the 9th century (but the one surviving it was made much later). The temple houses several votive offerings of sailors who have been saved from a shipwreck.
To arrive to the chapel three are 241 access steps which have become famous for being the location of the entrance to the island of Dragon Stone, the house of Daenerys Targaryen, in the 7th season of the HBO’s series Game of Thrones.

It is mystical for locals not only for the cult of St. John or for the bucolic of the place. Once you climb the 241 steps you can ring the bells 3 times and make a wish (I wish yours will be fulfilled) others say that this will drive away evil spirits. And you can also pray for what you want to our Lady Virgin of Begoña. The Virgin of Begoña, patron saint of Bizkaia, is submerged in the waters of the Cantabrian Sea next to the island (there is a buoy that marks the place where you can find her 10 meters below the sea).


Mundaka town. 

A legend says that some Scots found here a fountain with crystal clear water and called it "munda aqua". Nowadays though, those who enjoy the town and its waters at its the best are the hundreds of surfers from all over the world who annually surf on their famous left wave.

The left wave is formed with moderate to intense waves (better in autumn and winter), with low tide and south wind, so you will not always see it or see surfers; but you will always see a spectacular natural landscape that changes color every season. In the estuary of the mouth of the Oka river, nutrients accumulate both from the sea and the continent, which generates a very particular biodiversity. Remember that here you are the entrance to the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai.

Also not to miss is the visit to the Basilica of Santa Catalina at the end of Mundaka, where the views of the Bay of Biscay, the island of Izaro and the mouth of the Oka river are a dream.

Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve

View of Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve from Mundaka town.

UNESCO Heritage since 1984 for the uniqueness of its marshes and river valleys, pastures, countryside, Cantabrian holm oaks, cliffs, beaches and dunes. It is the space with the highest levels of biodiversity in the Basque Country and belongs to the route of migration of East Atlantic birds, used by about 90 million birds annually.

In the Urdaibai Bird Center you can understand very well the importance of this reserve, and try to spot the osprey, the spoonbill, the bittern ... which are birds very difficult to see in Spain.


Assembly House in Gernika town.

"Guernica" is the most universal painting by Picasso and one of the most important works of the 20th century in the world, due to its anti-war theme. The town of Gernika was bombed by the German forces in 1937. Today it is the political and cultural center of the Basque Country and here you will find the Assembly House “Casa de Juntas” and the Tree of Gernika, living symbols of the history of the Basque People.

This place has been a meeting point for the representatives “junteros” of the Señorío de Bizkaia since the Middle Ages, since the Lord of Bizkaia swore to respect the Biscayne freedoms (the Fueros de Bizkaia) under an oak tree. The Tree of Gernika is the most universal symbol of the freedoms of all Basques, so that important acts are carried out along with it, such as the taking of possession and the oath of the Lehendakari (autonomic president of the Basques). Of course, since the fourteenth century there have been different trees, it is estimated that the "Father Tree" was born in 1334 and lived until 1881. You can see the dead 'Son Tree' in the garden and the one which is a current referent was planted in 2015 (it was born in the year 2000).

The building is from 1833 and it is located in the same place as the hermitage of Santa María de la Antigua, where the meetings and the oath were made. This hermitage was demolished to undertake the construction of the new building, taking as reference the primitive church; the altar and the piles of holy water are originals of the hermitage.

And remember, if you are thinking to come to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja, Vitoria, Pamplona or anywhere else in the Basque Country, you can get a better understading on our culture and traditions with a local guide. 

 contact Aitor Delgado Basque Private Tour Guide 


 Enjoy the Basque Country!

What to do in the Basque Country - May 2018


A list of mains events in the Basque Country (in Spain & France), Navarra, Rioja & Cantabria to enjoy after your private tour.

Maritime Festival Pasaia. From May 17th until 21st.

Regarding traditions and festivities in Basque region:

  • In Gernika, Biscay. Anchovie day. Spring is the time for anchovies and being Gernika a big Basque fishermen port, this is one of the best moments to visit this village and taste anchovies with a local txakoli of Biscay. On May 4th.
  • In Arrigorriaga. XXIII Clowns Festival. From May 4th until 6th.
  • In Idiazabal, Gipuzkoa. Basque Cheese Fair. Contest and fair of Basque sheep cheeses in the city which gives the name to the Denomination of Origin of this Basque delicacy. On May 5th and 6th.
  • In Castillo de San Francisco Javier. "Javieradas". They are the popular, festive, penance or missionary pilgrimages to San Javier, Patron of the Missions and of Navarre. May 5th and May 11th.
  • In Berango. Agricultural and craft fair, and XX Euskadi Championship of Basque Pastry. Fair of agricultural products and artisans; wood, pottery, fossils and minerals, jewelery ... there will also be stalls of talo, cheeses, honey, preserves, chocolate, txakoli ... etc. May 6th.
  • In Dicastillo, Navarre. Asparragus Day. See and taste best of Spanish asparragus produced in the South of Navarre. May 6th.
  • In Orduña. Festivities Otxomaio. May 8th.
  • In Gernika, Bizkaia. Medieval Market. In addition to the Anchovie Day, a lot of events for all the family members. From May 11th until 13th.
  • In Zigoitia. V Livestock Fair. Exhibition of horses, cattle, sheep and goats. Championship of aizkolaris. Exhibition of crafts and producers. Natural Park of Gorbeia. May 12th.
  • In Balmaseda, Bizkaia. Medieval Market. It is done in commemoration of its foundation. It is the first Villa of Bizkaia. From May 12th to 13th.
  • In Laguardia. Bagpipers Day. The bagpipers from Alava and Spain. Concerts, dance festivals, composition competitions and restoration works, dances, parades ... May 13th.
  • In Kuartango. Mushroom and cattle day. Cattle exhibit and local mushrooms in this lively fair. May 13th.
  • In Ataun. Festival of San Isidro. Day of the Baserritarra (farmer). Vegetable competition. Elaboration and tasting of cheeses and cider tasting. May 15th.
  • In Pasaia. Maritime Festival Pasaia: Maritime cultures of the world. It will bring together boats from different parts of Europe, and their crews, and will offer various cultural and gastronomic activities. Visit of the Hermione, a replica of the frigate with which the Marquis de Lafayette made his contribution to American independence. From May 17th until 21st.
  • In Bermeo, Biscay. Arrain Azoka. Fish market in one of the biggest ports of the North of Spain. A good opportunity to try also fishes and preparations not so common in the Basque Country. Lamera Park. From May 18th until 20th.
  • In Errenteria. MUSIKASTE - Basque Music Week: Women: hidden heritage. From May 18th until 26th.
  • In Ondarroa. Antxoa Egune (Anchovy Day). A full day dedicated its most iconic fish. The central day of the party is Saturday 19th, but during the week various events are also organized.
  • In Amurrio, Araba. Txakoli Wine Day. Best local white wines of Arabako Txakolina and an interesting food contest using the local white wine. May 20th.
  • In Antoñana. Spring fair of honey. Competition, tasting, sale of honey and artisan products. Exhibition of crafts. May 20th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. GastroSWING. International Swing Festival in the Basque Country. From May 31st until June 3rd.
  • In San Sebastian. Gastropote. Market of San Martín. Gastronomy and live performances. Every Thursday of the year between 19.00 and 22.00.

In San Sebastian. UNWTO executive council. From May 23rd until 25th.

 Regarding arts and exhibits in Basque region:

  • In San Sebastian. Tango Festival. With demonstrations and free courses. Victoria Eugenia Theater & Parque Tecnológico Miramón. From April 24 until May 1st.
  • In San Sebastian. ICOME'18. International Conference on Materials and Energy. Miramar Palace. From April 30th until May 4th.
  • In Bilbao. Tutti-fruti of sensations. Basque Symphonic Orchestra. The Symphony No. 41 of Mozart and other extraordinary manifestations. Director: Clemens Soprano: Elena Sancho-Pereg. Euskalduna Palace. May 2nd.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. Tutti-fruti of sensations. Basque Symphonic Orchestra. The Symphony No. 41 of Mozart and other extraordinary manifestations. Director: Clemens Soprano: Elena Sancho-Pereg. Principal Theater. May 3rd.
  • In Bilbao. “Welcome” Global Travel Forum. Forum of meeting of tourism professionals, leaders of the sector. Bilbao Exhibition Centre. From May 3rd until 5th.
  • In Bilbao. VIII Fair of Used Vehicles. Bilbao Exhibition Center. From May 3rd until 6th.
  • In San Sebastian. Tutti-fruti of sensations. Basque Symphonic Orchestra. The Symphony No. 41 of Mozart and other extraordinary manifestations. Director: Clemens Soprano: Elena Sancho-Pereg. Kursaal Palace. May 4th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. An evening with... James Rhodes. XIII Great Concerts Cycle. British pianist has, among pieces of Bach, Chopin, Rachmaninov, Schubert or Beethoven, the story of his life and how music has helped him overcome the many obstacles that have been found along the way. Principal Theater. May 4th.
  • In Basauri. MAZ Basauri. Festival of diverse music. Social Theater. From April 27th and 28th, until May 4th and 5th.
  • In Bilbao. 20th Anniversary Tour: Fito and Fitipaldis. Bizkaia Arena Bilbao Exhibition Center. May 4th and 5th.
  • In San Sebastian. International Fair of Contemporary Art DONOSTI ARTEAN. It has workshops for children, digital space, talks and meetings with artists, and guided tours to the Fair and Kubo Kutxa Hall. Kursaal Elkargunea Center. May ¿?th.
  • In Bilbao. “Expovacaciones”. International Tourism Contest. Guest country: Japan. Bilbao Exhibition Centre. From May 4th until 6th.
  • In Bilbao. Fantastic film FestivalFANT. Cinemas Golem - Alhóndiga Bilbao, Campos Theatre, BBk Room. May 4th until 11th.
  • In Biarritz. Festival des arts de la rue. Festival of Street Arts: theater, fairground art, dance. Place Clemenceau. From May 11th until 13th.
  • In Bilbao. HENRI MICHAUX: The other side. A selected review of sixty years of visual work by Henri Michaux (Namur, Belgium, 1899-Paris, France, 1984), an unclassifiable figure of twentieth-century art and literature, and a cult reference for great artists such as Francis Bacon or Asger Jorn . Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao. Until May 13th.
  • In Bilbao. Requiem Luigi Cherubini (1760-1842). Mixed chorus with four voices and orchestra. Higher Music Center of the Basque Country, Musikene, and Orfeón Donostiarra. This work combines musical moments of tragedy, fear and surprise with other more emotional ones. Arriaga Theater. May 13th.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Andalusian Festival 2018. May 18th and 21st.
  • In Bilbao. Opus de Circa Contemporany Circus (Australia). Fusion of classical music with extreme acrobatics, lyric movement and group choreography. Arriaga Theater. May 19th and 20th.
  • In Getaria. Course introduction to the kinetic method for the construction of garments. Cristobal Balenciaga Museum. May 19th and 20th.
  • In Bilbao. Elena Copons and Rubén Fernández Aguirre. French music series. Recital that remembers three composers: Francis Poulenc (Paris 1899), Henri Duparc (Paris 1848), Felip Pedrell (Tortosa 1841). Arriaga Theater. May 21st.
  • In San Sebastian. 108th Session of the UNWTO executive council. From May 23rd until 25th.
  • In San Sebastian. Ola tu !!! Talk a !!! Cultural festival. Multidisciplinary festival of theater, music, dance ... designed by the own citizenship that establishes ways of collaboration between professional and amateur artists. From May 25th until 27th.
  • In San Sebastian. Book day´s. Gipuzkoa Square. May 23rd.
  • In Bilbao. Opera Txiki: Allegro vivace. Show of initiation to the opera, created by Comediants Company. Opera for children from 7 years old. Arriaga Theater. From May 26 until 28th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. International Festival "Poets in May". There are local and foreign poets, associations, workshops, musical groups, actresses and actors, singers and artists of music and dance. May ¿?th.
  • In Bilbao. Goya and the illustrated court. Exhibition for the life and work of the artist during his years of consolidation as a painter in the Court of Carlos III and Carlos IV. Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. Until May 28th.
  • In Bilbao. XXX Spanish Biennial of Machine-Tool. Most advanced technological solutions and Industry 4.0: industrial digitalization. BEC. From May 28th until June 1st.
  • In Bilbao. BeDIGITAL by BIEMH. Professional Fair. Bilbao Exhibition Center (BEC) and Advanced Manufacturing Technologies (AFM). From May 28th until June 1st.
  • In Bilbao. ADDIT3D 2018. Professional exhibition of Additive Manufacturing and 3D. Bilbao Exhibition Center and Addimat. From May 28th until June 1st.
  • In Bilbao. Industrial Maintenance Innovation Conference 2018. BEC Conventions. From May 28th until June 1st.
  • In Bilbao. Cinema concert: Metropolis. A masterpiece of science fiction films with its soundtrack live by the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. Arriaga Theater. May 31st.
  • In San Sebastian. Program: Deaf outbreak. Robert Treviño, director Nikolai Lugansky, piano. Kursaal Auditorium. Symphonic Orchestra of Euskadi. May 31st.
  • In Getaria. Course of manual textile printing techniques. Theoretical-practical activity. Instructor: Virginia Ameztoy Montenegro. Cristobal Balenciaga Museum. Quarterly workshop April-May-June. Every Saturday from April 14th to June 2nd, and Sunday, June 3rd. In May: 5th, 12th, 19th and 26th.
  • In Bilbao. The Sun. The Ibero-American Festival of Advertising Communication. It gathers thousands of professionals from more than twenty European and Latin American countries in the network, exchanges ideas and awards prestigious awards. Euskalduna Palace and Azkuna Center. May 31st until June 6th.
  • In Getaria. "Balenciaga. Fashion and Heritage". Exhibition that shows the evolution of the work of the couturier in its successive stages and aspires to become a reference sample to understand and know in depth the legacy generated by Balenciaga: where he comes from, what he contributes in his time, and what he transmits to us today. Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum. Until January 29th 2019.
The Challenge Cup is on May 11th and the Champios Cup on May 12th. San Mamés Stadium. Bilbao.

Regarding Basque sports:

  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Child football tournament of the 7 Basque provinces. Kechiloa Stadium. May 1st.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Golf Tournament: Artisans' Prize. Chantaco Golf. May 5th.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Regatta traineria in the bay of St Jean / Ciboure. May 5th.
  • In Bilbao. Basque sports. Indautxu Square. May 5th.
  • In Ondiz-Leioa. Drag stones with oxen. May 5th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. Martin Fiz Marathon. A distance of about 42 kilometers. Four other races will be contested: the half marathon, the popular race, the marathon on skates and the "Kids" marathon. On May 6th.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Tournoi de golf: Prix Domaine de Chevalier. Golf Tournament: Domaine de Chevalier Award. Chantaco Golf. May 7th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. Araba Rugby Cup. It is the main event of the quarry rugby in Spain, with visitors from France and Portugal. May ¿?th.
  • In Bilbao. Challenge Cup and Rugby Champions Cup. The Challenge Cup is on Friday May 11th and the Champios Cup on Saturday May 12th. San Mamés Stadium.
  • In San Sebastian. PuntaPunta 2018. Motorcycles and landscapes. Velodrome Anoeta. May 16th and 17th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. Oxfarm Intermon Trail Walker Euskadi. A walking tour of 100 km that will include the Ullibarri reservoir and the Montes de Vitoria, to be performed as a team in a maximum time of 32 hours. May 19th and 20th.
  • In Vitoria-Gasteiz. Orbea Race. Cycle tour by road. Organized by Juan Carlos Nájera. Provision of 6,000 participants. May 26th.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Cycling tour: "The quiet valleys". May 19th and 20th.
  • In Bilbao, Triathlon 1.8km swimming in Nervion River, 90km riding in a bike & 21km along the streets of Bilbao city. On May 26th.
  • In Saint Jean de Luz. Tournoi de golf: BMW Golf Cup. Chantaco Golf. May 26th.
  • In Zegama. Alpine Marathon along the Aizkorri Mountains (qualified for Skyrunner World Series). More than 42 kilometers, it leaves from Zegama and runs through the mountains of Aizkorri. On May 25th and 26th.
And remember, if you are thinking to come to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja, Vitoria, Pamplona or anywhere else in the Basque Country, you can get a better understading on our culture and traditions with a local guide.

 contact Aitor Delgado Basque Private Tour Guide 


Enjoy the Basque Country!