San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
It is a mile hike down and up to the ninth century religious site San Juan de Gaztelugatxe – Stairway to Heaven . The quintessential Basque landmark is a must visit in your Basque itinerary. The route from Bilbao passes through the high speed expressways before moving out to the beautiful pine and cedar hills with undulating farmlands in the horizon. There is a public parking in the area and from there you take a scenic walk to the Church.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is located between the towns of Bakio and Bermeo in the Biscayan coast, and is 35 km east from Bilbao(about 45 minutes drive). It is possible to get there by car or bus.
To get there from Bilbao by car, you need to take the road BI-631. Once you arrive at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, there is a free parking area next to the main road.
The visit to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a nice half day trip from Bilbao.
Picos de Europa
Picos de Europa
West of Bilbao lies the the beautiful mountains in the autonomous coummunity of Cantabria. The park is about 3 hrs drive from Bilbao.
With such natural beauty so close to Bilbao, I decided to explore it over the Sunday. The drive from Bilbao to Unquera is particularly beautiful with views of the sea and the mountains together. The high peaks can be seen after an hour west of Bilbao. No doubt why the name is ‘Picos de Europa‘ – the first view of Europe while coming from America.
From Unquera we head south and enter the deep gorge of the Rio Deva. The drive is scenic with stops for view points. After 30 minutes we reach Potes, the small town in the middle of the valley. From here we head up towards the beautiful chapel of San Miguel. The sweeping views of the valley and the high peaks on both side a are breathtaking.
After spending about 30 minutes in the bright sun at the chapel, the drive begins to Mogrovejo, a beautiful village higher up the valley. Do not miss this. After walking around, finally headed down the road to the end of the valley to Fuente Dé.
Fuente Dé is the end of the valley on the eastern part of the park of Picos de Europa. Here is a amazing cable car which takes you to the top of the peaks and gives a chance to enjoy snow and ice and breathtaking views of the park.
Explore our few days in the beautiful city of Bilbao – from the modern Guggenheim museum to the old town and of course the great food on offer here.