Wonderful and unknown, the essence of the Basque Country
Friday afternoon Welcome to the Basque Coast Geopark!
Take the Itziar exit off the motorway, and feel the sea breeze in your face as you admire the coastal scenery from two splendid viewing points: Itziar and La Hilandera. The coast stretches out on either side —Gipuzkoa to your right and Bizkaia to your left. On a clear day you can see all the way to Hendaye in the east and the mouth of Bilbao Port in the west. And if you want to spend the night, there are plenty of rural B&Bs, apartments, campsites, hotels and hostels on offer in the rural districts of Deba: Itziar, Elorriaga, Itxaspe and Mardari. You’ll find a warm welcome in unique natural surroundings in the very heart of the Basque Coast Geopark. There are also restaurants, steak houses and sidrerías (cider houses serving food) set amidst the fabulous rural scenery. Or if you prefer, you can go to the urban centre of Deba and join the locals for a spirited “poteo”, when groups of friends stroll from bar to bar drinking “potes” and eating delicious pintxos (tapas).
Saturday Mendaro Chocolates... delicious!
In the morning, head inland. From Deba, it’s just a short step to Mendaro, where we recommend a trip to Chocolates de Mendaro, a small family firm that has been making home-made chocolates since 1850. Visit the oldest cocoa mill in the Basque Country and sample some of their wares. You can buy all their specialities in the factory shop. But you’ll need to get an early start to make the most of the day. Try to be in Mendaro by 10:30 am. You can book the 20-minute tour by phone or e-mail.
Saturday Soraluze- dolmens or a greenway on the route of the old Basque-Navarrese railway. You choose!
Heading up the river Deba, pass Elgoibar on your left, and head towards the imposing summit of Mount Karakate. Here you will find one of the best viewing points anywhere in the Basque Country, with views of the coast from Hendaye to Bilbao and inland as far as the Mountains of Alava. This is also the starting point for the Dolmen Trail, an 11-kilometre (7-mile) path running along the Karakate-Agirreburu ridge, past a number of dolmens and tumuli that make up the Elosua-Plazentzia Megalithic Complex. If you want a pleasant bike ride for all the family, you can take the greenway from Soraluze, which runs along the old Basque-Navarrese Railway line. The return trip to the neighbouring town of Bergara takes about an hour by bike. Or if the weather is fine and you’re feeling energetic, you can continue on towards Antzuola, Arrasate and Oñate. It’s easy to find a place to park in Soraluze, next to the old cannon factory or on the road from which the greenway starts. There are a number of bars and restaurants in the urban nucleus where you can get something to eat, or even buy a take-away.
Saturday In the afternoon… Mutriku with its vantage point overlooking the whole Basque coast
In the afternoon, head back to the coast and Mutriku. We recommend parking behind the church in the public car-park. This is a good place to begin a walk round the historical centre of the town, which is a listed heritage site. Ask in the tourist office about guided tours of Mutriku and the Nautilus interpretation centre. From the Atxukale viewing point there are great views over the harbour, and you can soak up the maritime atmosphere of this delightful little town. At sunset, we recommend taking the magnificent path that runs beside the road from Mutriku to Deba. From the viewing point at Arbe, there are great vistas of the black flysch cliffs. And to finish off the day, how about a delicious fresh fish dinner at any of the restaurants in the area? There are plenty of delightful places to stay overlooking the sea or in rural surroundings amidst the green hills.
Sunday Deba: beaches, nature and ancient secrets
Find a place to park next to the beach, the train station, the estuary or in the Artzabal district. This beautiful, lively coastal village offers plenty of pleasant hikes and walks.
- The more adventurous can take the track leading up to the Santa Katalina chapel, which offers magnificent views of the Basque Coast Geopark and information on Deba’s past. The ascent is quite steep, so don’t forget to take suitable footwear.
- Or if you want something more relaxing, take a stroll along either of the two beautiful beaches, Santiago and Lapari, and admire the Black Flysch. Following the river inland, you will come to the Casacampo marshes, an area of incomparable beauty that hosts a rich and diverse ecosystem.
Or if the sun is too hot, take a visit to the narrow streets of Deba’s old quarter and discover the Church of Santa María, a gem of Basque Gothic architecture. Ask at the tourist office about guided tours. The historical centre of Deba is also a good place to get a meal or some pintxos and enjoy the calm atmosphere..