Experience the best of both worlds in the Basque Country. Visit Bilbao, a city full of culture and history, and then escape to the picturesque beach towns that line the coast. So, join us on an exciting journey as we explore some of the best beach towns near Bilbao.
Just a short drive from Bilbao, these towns offer visitors a variety of options, from secluded spots for relaxation to lively towns with plenty of activities. We are taking a look at our favorite places on the coast with a special focus on towns that have an excellent beach.
Discover the unique charm of each town as we take you on a tour of the 7 must-visit beach towns near Bilbao, each offering a different and memorable experience.
Did you know? The northern coast of Spain is full of amazing beaches that are perfect for surfing. These parts are known well in the European surfing scene and they are great places for beginners.
Lekeitio is a picturesque beach town on the Basque coast that’s well worth a visit. Located halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastian, it’s only an hour’s drive to either of the towns. This makes Lekeitio quite well-positioned.
It’s a beach town where you can spend a whole holiday yet still have access to the most important highlight of the Basque Country.
With a population of around 7,000, it has a charming and intimate atmosphere. The highlight of Lekeitio is the magical Isuntza beach, which changes with the tide, revealing a path that leads to the island of San Nicolás. This rocky wall is hidden in the water when the tide is high but you it provides access once the water has pulled back. Be aware of the slippery surface but it’s an otherwise nice walk to San Nicolás island.
You will be happy to learn that the town of Lekeitio offers much more than just a beautiful beach. Its bustling harbor, teeming with bars and restaurants, adds to the lively atmosphere, and the impressive Gothic church is a must-see.
It’s one of the best beach towns near Bilbao and it’s one of our favorites in the area.
Read More: Best Things to do in Lekeito
Laredo, a picturesque seaside town on the Cantabrian coast, offers a unique blend of sun, sand, and history. Located between the Treto estuary and Santoña Bay, it’s a must-visit destination for travelers after an unforgettable experience.
The town’s main attraction is the stunning La Salve beach, a five-kilometer stretch of sand that is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. It’s a delightful spot that makes Laredo one of the most popular vacation spots in northern Spain.
The beach itself is quite well-equipped and it’s a popular spot for kitesurfers due to the nice waves. During summer there is a full lifeguard service making it also a safe option for families.
In addition to the beach, Laredo’s medieval center, Pueblo Vieja, is something to keep you busy when you want to stay in town. Here you’ll find original walls built to protect the city from pirate attacks, narrow streets lined with 16th and 18th-century houses, and many of the typical Cantabrian balconied houses.
Laredo is around 50 minutes from Bilbao. It means that it’s still easy to visit Bilbao yet you are far enough to have a completely different atmosphere.
Bakio is another cute beach town near Bilbao that has a pretty long beach. Located 27 kilometers from Bilbao, this idyllic village is known for its iconic surfing beaches on the Bay of Biscay and its breathtaking natural surroundings.
The beach, the longest in Bizkaia, is perfect for surfing and offers waves of all levels, making it an ideal destination for surfers of all abilities.
Don’t worry if you don’t surf: the beach is also perfect for swimmers. There is plenty of space for everyone, usually, more space than actually needed. We loved how this town does not fill up with tourists as much as some other parts of Spain.
We must also make a note here of the amazing scenery. The backdrop for the town and the beach is quite great with hills and a rugged coastline.
It’s a great choice among the coastal towns we mention today however keep in mind that Bakio really is a small town. You’ll spend a lot of time on the beach and you’ll need to do day trips to otherwise get the best out of your vacation.
Zumaia is a charming seaside town located in a picturesque bay where the Urola and Narrondo rivers meet. It offers visitors a wealth of natural and cultural attractions. The town is surrounded by verdant mountains that slope down to the sea. Rugged cliffs on the coastline are a sight to behold. Needless to say that the impressive landscape is awe-inspiring.
Zumaia is home to two of the most spectacular beaches in the area, Playa de Itzurun and Playa de Santiago. Playa de Itzurun is located amidst the extraordinary flysch cliffs of Zumaia. A dip in the sea with this spectacular backdrop is an unforgettable experience. It was also used as a location for the seventh season of Game of Thrones.
Playa de Santiago, located at the eastern end of the city, is a beautiful stretch of sand that borders the wetlands at the mouth of the Urola River. Both beaches are rich in iodine, a mineral with great health benefits.
Beyond the beaches, Zumaia’s old town is a treasure trove of history and culture. With its narrow cobblestone streets, charming architecture, and modern marina it offers a wide range of dining and entertainment options. Visitors can also take a walk along the entire flysch ledge, starting at the Ermita de San Telmo, which is another unique experience.
Zumaia is around an hour away from Bilbao and it’s a great choice for a longer stay.
Plentzia is a quaint and picturesque coastal town that promises visitors an unforgettable experience. It’s located just 25 kilometers from Bilbao. The most striking feature of the town is its extensive sandy beach. It is the centerpiece of the town’s natural beauty and a major draw for tourists. The calm waters and huge sandy area make it an ideal place for swimming and water sports. Needless to say, the town fills up quickly during the summer months.
Plentzia’s rich history is also a major attraction. The town has managed to preserve its historical heritage throughout the ages. Plentzia offers visitors a glimpse of its past through its charming old town. Visitors can explore the ancient streets and admire the unique blend of popular maritime architecture and more elaborate Palacio-style buildings. The church of Santa María Magdalena, with its remarkable 16th-century tower, is a must-see.
Getting to Plentzia is easy, as it can be reached via Bilbao’s metro system. We highly recommend a visit if you are staying in Bilbao during the summer. You’ll have yourself an amazing time on the beach.
Located on the edge of the Basque Country, Zarautz is a great beach destination for travelers seeking a blend of natural beauty, history, and culture. This charming seaside town of 23,000 is one of the most visited areas around San Sebastian. The drive from Bilbao is one hour. Its extensive beach and historic old town are not to be missed.
Although Zarautz is generally a quiet town, it comes alive during the summer months when the population nearly triples and the atmosphere changes. The beach is a favorite spot for both locals and tourists and is popular with families, young and old couples, and surfers.
Zarautz has become a popular destination for several reasons, including its long sandy beach, which stretches 2.5 kilometers along the Cantabrian Sea, making it one of the longest in the Basque Country.
Beyond the beach, Zarautz offers a wealth of activities and sights. The old town is a great experience and the town’s cultural monuments and the local gastronomy are well worth exploring.
Getaria, a charming fishing village on the Basque coast, offers travelers an authentic glimpse into coastal Basque culture. The medieval fishing village is a charming and attractive destination, known for its freshly caught fish and local wine.
The atmosphere is quite different from the nearest city San Sebastian but it’s also very different from the metropolis that is Bilbao.
Nestled between two beautiful beaches, Getaria has a picturesque islet that is ideal for hiking. The town’s beach is almost completely protected from the huge waves of the Atlantic. This means it’s less for surfing and more for safe swimming.
The views surrounding Getaria are breathtaking. The village is the perfect destination for those who want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and experience the beauty and culture of the Basque Coast.
Read More: Top Things to do in Getaria