Discover Basque Coast Nature & History, Bilbao

Learn the coastal history northeast of Bilbao by visiting the Gaztelugatxe hermitage, the estuary in Mundaka, and Gernika Museum.


There's so much history beyond the city of Bilbao, and you can explore it with the help of an excursion down the Basque Coast, starting with the islet of Gaztelugatxe. You'll also visit Mundaka and Gernika to round out the area's important historical and ecological sites. All showcase the appeal of Northern Spain: how history and natural beauty intertwine. Discover the region's rural past while soaking in some of the most majestic views of the sea and mountains.


  • Visit the famous and stunning Gaztelugatxe island with its 10th-century hermitage
  • Walk along the picturesque estuary of the Urdaibai River
  • Learn about the Spanish Civil War and visit air shelters in Gernika
  • See the Ancient Tree where medieval kings would visit

Know before you go

4.5 hours
Recommended for
All ages
Small group

What you'll do

After your host picks you up at your hotel, you'll set off north of Bilbao toward the coast. Board your air-conditioned vehicle and enjoy a comfy drive into the countryside as your guide reveals a few historical tidbits. After about 45 minutes of driving, you'll reach your first stop at Gaztelugatxe. Here you'll find a 10th-century hermitage (called Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque) atop the island dedicated to John the Baptist. Game of Thrones fans might recognize this iconic site as Dragonstone.

The island and its hermitage are linked to the mainland by a stone bridge connecting to a walkway that dramatically climbs up the hill with drop-offs on either side. Enjoy the sea views, contrasting perfectly with the island, its cliffs, and the mountains in the distance. 

Next, drive about 30 minutes through the coastal forests, getting a few peaks of the sea as you go. Your next stop is Mundaka, a small town on the estuary of the Urdaibai River. Follow your guide along the pier and along the estuary, watching the famous waves come in—the area is known for its world-class surfing. You'll spend about one hour here learning about the ecological, historical, and political significance.

Finally, trade coastal views for the agricultural inland by visiting the town of Gernika. This village is the perfect place to dive into Basque history, as this is where you'll find the Ancient Tree, an important place where medieval kings pledged to uphold and honor local law. You'll also learn about rural life in Northern Spain, the region's agricultural traditions, and how the Spanish Civil War impacted the town at the Gernika Museum. You'll have some time on your own to enjoy lunch, then arrive back in Bilbao around 1:30 pm.

Start times

  • Daily
    9:00 am
  • Monday
    Not available

What's included

  • Hotel pick-up and drop-off
  • Transportation in a private vehicle with air conditioning
  • Gernika Museum entrance fees

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Like what you see?

Chat with our local specialists and let us help you customize your trip with experiences like this.

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Itineraries with Discover Basque Coast Nature & History