San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, A “Must Visit” When Going to Bilbao
Quite a mouthful for a non-Basque, we know, but well worth both learning to pronounce (that last bit is pronounced gath-teh-loo-GACH-eh) and the 45-minute drive out of Bilbao, as it’s one of the treasures tucked away along the Bay of Biscay coast. And summertime is the perfect time to explore this small island in the township of Bermeo – a delight for nature and sea lovers.
Getting here via public transport is also quite doable via Autobuses Bizkaibus, with better frequency and options during Summer season:
- From Bilbao’s Plaza Moyúa line A3518 will take you out along the motorway toward Bakio. Our destination is three kms away from this town.
- Line A3517 goes all the way to Bermeo, with a stop at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, but only during Summertime.
- Line A3524 joins Bermeo and Bakio, departing every two hours. It's a minivan holding up to eight passengers, and a ticket is just 1.30 euros.
Bermeo is about 8 km from San Juan and Bakio 6 km. A road of just over three kilometres snakes along the coast and comes out at the island, so why not do it on foot – it’s healthy and fun! In that case, be sure to go prepared by wearing comfortable shoes – not just for the walk but also the 231 steps from the port to the hermitage of San Juan. Once you’re there, don’t forget to follow tradition by making a wish and ringing the bell three times.
Photo | PhillipC