The fishing towns and villages of the Basque Country
We present four fishing villages in the Basque Country: Bermeo, Lekeitio, Getaria and Hondarribia. These destinations have always been closely linked to the sea, and have a long maritime tradition waiting for you to discover.
Bermeo, a village with a strong fishing tradition
It is only 30 kilometres from Bilbao and is one of the most important coastal fishing ports in the Cantabrian Sea. As well as strolling around its old quarter, we recommend a visit to the Fishing Museum, the perfect place to learn all about the lives and fishing techniques of Basque fishermen. Another point of interest is the old whaling boat of Aita Guria. Moored beside the multicoloured boats in the port, it has been transformed into a visitor centre featuring an exhibition on whale hunting.
A a distance of about 8 kilometres from the centre, another place worth visiting is the shrine of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe where you can enjoy the views over the coastline.
Finally, make the most of your visit to sample the local gastronomy. You're bound to make the right choice if you ask the restaurants for the season's catch. What's more, bear in mind that May is the date of the Fish Festival and September is the time of the festivities in honour of the patron saint, two times when the streets of the town are even livelier than the rest of the year.
Lekeitio, a town where peace and quiet reign supreme
It is about 35 kilometres from Bermeo. A good place to start your visit is at Txatxo Kaia port. From here you can make your way on foot to the shrine of San Juan Talako, the ideal setting for watching the sun go down, and where you can see for yourself why Lekeitio is part of the Cittaslow network of towns in Spain. The views over the cliffs are spectacular, and you can also see the shrine and the lighthouse of Santa Catalina. This lighthouse is open to visitors, and houses the Navigation Visitor Centre.
Then you might continue through the streets of the historic quarter, where you can stroll around its fishing and commercial neighbourhoods. Places to see include the Basilica of Santa María de la Asunción, containing one of the largest Gothic-Flemish altarpieces in Spain.
And as for the local gastronomy, we recommend fresh fish such as tuna, Atlantic mackerel and anchovies. A good time to visit the town is in early September, as the festivity of the goose, with its long-standing maritime tradition, is held every 5 September.
Getaria, land of txakoli
It is located only 45 kilometres from Lekeitio and is one of the most important coastal fishing ports on the Basque coast. It is also one of the main production centres of txakoli, a light, fruity white wine typical of the Basque Country.
This is a small peninsula with an attractive old quarter. A stroll around the streets will reveal mediaeval houses, an charming port and places such as the Gothic church of San Salvador and the passageway of Catrapona. We also recommend climbing up to the viewing point on the ridge of San Antón and taking a leisurely stroll around the pedestrian promenade between Getaria and Zarautz.
Getaria is also the birthplace of personages such as Sebastián Elcano (who is featured in various statues in the town) and the designer Cristóbal Balenciaga, who has a museum in his name which is well worth a visit.
Hondarribia, medieval and maritime
It is about 60 kilometres from Getaria and is a place which invites you to slow down and relax. A great way to do this is to take a stroll around the mediaeval historic quarter where several of its original features can still be seen, such as the wall, two entrance gates, the La Reina bastion, the fortification of San Nicolás and the bastion of Santiago. You'll also find a variety of typical fishermen's houses and beautiful palaces.
Another of the pleasures to be had in Hondarribia is sampling the typical canapés known as pintxos, while you relax in an outdoor café in the Plaza de Armas square in the heart of the historic centre, or along the street known as the Calle San Pedro. Finally, if you want to enjoy spectacular views of the bay, the best thing is to head for the shrine of Guadalupe.
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