A Wonder of Spain: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

by Sojourner

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Try saying that name 5 times! This past weekend my friend and I took a day trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Basque Country which is the Spanish region just north of me. We had been wanting to go see San Juan for a few months now, but the weather was never good enough to do a hike outside. Luckily, it was one of the nicest and hottest weekends we’ve had thus far! After 2 buses and a 45 minute uphill hike we made it to the San Juan site…only to walk another 30 minutes and 231 steps. Though difficult, we made it and as you can see the view was worth it!

Getting to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

We left early Saturday morning around 8:30 to take the bus to Bilbao then walked to a plaza to catch the Bizkaibus to Bakio. Though tiring, catching buses is also a great way to get some extra sleep! After napping we ended up in Bakio and all it’s beauty. It’s a stunning beach town that’s about 30-40 minutes from Bilbao. I had never heard of the little village, so it was a nice surprise visit. After snapping some photos, and almost taking the wrong path to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, we began our uphill hike…and boy was it a trek. The sun was beaming down on us the whole time and when we thought all the hills were gone, another one appeared. After a sweaty and gorgeous 30 minute hike overlooking the ocean, we saw a peak of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and knew we were close.

History of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

To give a bit of the background on San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, it’s an island that is technically in Bermeo, Spain, very close to Bakio. It’s along the Bay of Biscay and at the top there is a bell you ring 3 times and make a wish as a reward for climbing the stairs. Historically, it has been attacked and used as a confrontation site for lords and kings. You can read more about that here. The church at the top has served as a refuge for shipwrecked sailors. In a few months, it will be featured on Game of Thrones (GoT)! As an avid view of GoT, I was ecstatic to see it in person.

Out of breath, but happy

Once we finally reached the top, after stopping for photos along the way, we were out of breath but so grateful for the opportunity to see San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. It’s one of the wonders of Spain and not a place many tourists aside from Spaniards and the French visit since they are the closest. We walked down, re-filled our water bottles, and took a few more photos before beginning the hike back. It was much easier and we rewarded ourselves with Oreo and mint gelato by the bus stop. Once back in Bilbao we walked around the city center, ate a veggie pizza with a fries and walked back to the bus station to catch our 8pm bus to Logroño. Of course…I napped! Walking 10 miles in a day will do that to you. If you have the chance to see San Juan de Gaztelugatxe I highly recommend it.


Thanks for reading! PIN this post for more outdoor adventures!



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