The Best Kept Secrets of Northern Spain

It’s no secret that Basque Country is a must-see for anyone who steps into Spain for it’s endless greenery, winding mountains and hidden beaches, and incredibly kind people.

But, of course, I don’t just mean Bilbao.

BILBAO

Before heading into Spain when revealing my itinerary to some friends, one of the made a sour face and told me they would never go to Bilbao because it didn’t have much to offer. And while it made me initially skeptical, I remained really excited to be spending 6 DAYS THERE (lots compared to my 2 in Barcelona and 3 in Madrid). And boy were my instincts correct because I became madly in love with the city from the bus ride over from the airport where I passed through countless green hills and crossed the “Prince and Princess” bridge overlooking the Guggenheim museum and it’s giant metal spider.

“Yup, I’ll like it here,” I thought to myself.

The following days were then filled with walks to numerous parks, crossing loads of bridges, eating some vegan cupcakes and spotting several cute dogs.

Simply put, if ever here these are some things that are worth doing:

  • Walking around the Guggenheim Museum and eyeballing the numerous sculptures outside and marveling at the museum’s architecture.
  • Walking across the “Prince and Princess” bridge right outside the Guggenheim, taking the elevator down and checking out the street art.
  • Now that you’re on the other side, take a walk all along the bridge into Casco Viejo, or Old Town
  • While in Casco Viejo, stroll past St. Jame’s Cathedral (because nobody’s looking to pay to get into a church) and eat some yummy food at Bohemian (which is completely 100% cruelty-free and vegan)!
  • While you’re here, definitely go to the Basque Museum (plus, if you’re a student you pay 1.5 euros instead of 6 — and if it’s Thursday it’s free for all!)
  • Reading a book underneath a shady tree at the Parque de Dona Casilda de Iturrizar, feeding the pigeons and swans and getting sprayed by the fountain!
  • Go to the Museum of Fine Arts, but only on Wednesday when it’s free!
  • Ride the funicular up to Artxanda to get a stunning view of the city and check out the awesome (and old!) vehicle!
fullsizeoutput_49c
a little stroll down the riverbank

AZKORRI  BEACH

I visited this breath-taking beach on my third day in Bilbao for no reason other than to see the sea and my hostel host recommended it. Why not? It would take a short hour to get there and cost 3 euros roundtrip. Nothing beats that!

You can easily take the A3411 bus from the Museum of Fine Arts right to the last stop which is the beach! And from there, you just walk downhill to get to the beach which is what I did after taking a little side-turn/hike along the cliffs for a beautiful view (hence the picture below). From there I found out pretty quickly that this beach was a nude beach to my surprise… minutes later I was down there “doing as the locals do”, soaking up some sun (too much!) and reading a bit. Even in July the water was icy cold so I just dipped my toes in (who wants to swim in oceans nowadays), went back up to the super-fun Fangaloka for some lunch of salted green peppers and took another side hike before feeling super sun-dazed and sleepy and going back to my hostel in Bilbao.

What a good day!

fullsizeoutput_4a9.jpeg
a panorama from my cliffside hike

Funny enough, I ended up with a brutal face burn except for the outline of my glasses, leaving me (and probably anyone else in sight) in a perpetual state of laughter anytime I passed by a mirror.

LEKEITIO

Lekeitio is known for having a lonnnnngggg fishing tradition, especially with whales but and in the 19th century it became a bustling tourist town, known for being one of Queen Isabell II’s key vacation spots.

My main reasons for going were the colorful port, a gothic church and the beach! And it’s so compact that from the dock you can see all there is to do, from the church to the restaurants and beach to the mountains and little island. This escape was around 7 euros roundtrip and took me through several little towns and mountains basked in sunshine! For lunch I sat at the park overlooking the beach and had some fruit and a home-packed sandwich since there wasn’t really much for me to eat in the fishertown.

ALGORTA

I actually passed by this little town on my way to the Azkorri Beach and felt the need to come back, taken aback by the super-chic architecture and kooky side stores. I spent my morning walking around the city center window-shopping and sitting on park benches to people watch before heading downhill to the beach (spoiler: it’s a nude beach too) to sit in some shade and admire the colorful parasols and giddy children.

Afterwards I made my way up some steps to the Algorta elevator to take in the magnificent view and powerful ocean breeze. This kept me in a state of enjoyment and deep awe for hours before I pushed myself to grab some gelato and be on my merry way. For 3.65 euros rountrip with the metro (get off at ‘Algorta’), it’s a place to be if even for a day!

fullsizeoutput_4bd.jpeg
the lovely view from my initial descent

 


fullsizeoutput_493
In front of the colorful houses in Casco Viejo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s