Fascinating Vizcaya: its most beautiful villages

The municipality of Vizcaya is rich as no other in Spain or the Basque Country. Not only because of its fascinating culture, breathtaking landscapes and delicious Basque gastronomy, but also because it is full of picturesque villages that are well worth discovering. Surrounded by nature and medieval heritage, these small destinations have the footpring of time. A time that seems to stop when you visit them for the first time. These lines are a beautiful tour through the 11 most beautiful villages of Vizcaya.

Elorrio, a journey through the past of Vizcaya

Basilica of Purisima Concepcion vizcaya

Basilica of Purisima Concepcion. | Shutterstock

Although at first sight Elorrio might seem like just another small town, the truth is that it has a charm that makes you fall in love. As soon as you arrive on its cobblestone streets, you feel like being in the middle of the 18th century. Palaces, noble buildings and a peace that makes you escape from the noise of big cities. The Gernikako Arbola square, the impressive Basilica of Purisima Concepcion and the temple of San Agustin de Etxebarria, built in 1051, invite visitors to immerse themselves in a unique medieval set.

As a result of the good conservation of these impressive constructions, Elorrio is known as the town of the Coats of Arms. In fact, it is said that throughout the town there are 69 coats of arms waiting to be discovered. Between pintxo and pintxo, we recommend a visit to the necropolis of Argiñeta, a large group of funeral stelae of medieval character in which there are writings in Latin of Visigothic origin.

Mundaka, the surfing paradise of Vizcaya


Colored houses in Mundaka. | Shutterstock

Mundaka is without a doubt one of the most beautiful villages of Vizcaya. Located in the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, this picturesque landscape is tinged with colorful houses and the smell of sea typical of coastal villages. The best way of getting to know Mundaka is a pleasant walk through the port combined with a good Patxarán. Or a delicious dinner to try the best gastronomic recipes of Euskadi. The hermitage of Santa Catalina and the Church of Santa Maria show visitors a centuries-old architecture that has survived the time.

This place is known for being the left wave of Euskadi. In other words, it is a surfer’s paradise. So much so that this tiny village has become the place where the international championships is held. Laida beach is another must-see, as are its Carnival festivities. One of the oldest in the Basque Country that attracts more and more curious people every year.

Lekeitio, the aristocrat’s paradise


Boats in Lekeitio. | Shutterstock

One of the things that most identify Lekeitio is that it was the favorite destination of the aristocrats of the 20th century to enjoy their summer holidays. And why? Quite simply. Because it is a real holiday paradise where the charm of its streets combines with the beautiful colors of its beaches.

Lekeitio is the perfect stop to relax by the sea while tasting the best of Basque cuisine in one of the terraces of the port. The picturesque fishermen’s neighbourhood, the fish market, the Uriarte palace and the beautiful Santa Catalina lighthouse are must-sees.

Orozko, charm among mountains of Vizcaya


Hanging houses in Orozko. | Shutterstock

Along the Altube river, there are several colorful hanging houses immersed in a unique natural space. Orozko is charming for several reasons. One of them is that it is located in the natural park of Gorbeia, so its beauty is infinite. A rural paradise that makes its visitors smile. Its most significant icons are the Tower of Aranguren, the Ethnographic Museum and its many traditional houses. Orozko sausage is one of its specialties.

Balmaseda, a rural getaway


Old Bridge, Balmaseda. | Shutterstock

Right on the border between the Basque Country and Castile and León is Balmaseda. A town full of charm where nature and architecture create their own landscape of contrasts. The first thing that catches the eye in Balmaseda is an impressive 13th century stone bridge known as Puente Viejo. At this point, one can already feel that it is an unforgettable place.

Its historic center is perfect get lost for hours. Declared an Asset of Cultural Interest, its streets lead to small palaces, stately buildings and churches. The Town Hall is of Mudejar inspiration and its Holy Week celebrations are one of the best known in the Basque Country. Young and old prepare every year to play their best role in the Via Crucis. Balmaseda is also well known for being one of the first towns in which a factory of txapelas, the well-known Basque hats, was built.

The gastronomic curiosity of this town is that it is the birthplace of the famous putxera, a delicious red bean stew. And it was conceived as many great successes are conceived: unintentionally. One of the train drivers working on a freight train came up with a curious formula that allowed him to heat his food: a small stove that took advantage of the steam from the railroad. Little by little the train driver tried more and more stews until the ingredients of the putxera convinced him. That is why this dish is also known as ‘olla ferroviaria’.

Ondárroa, land of contrasts in Vizcaya

Ondárroa vizcaya

Port of Ondárroa. | Shutterstock

Sea and mountains. Past and future. If there is one thing that is clear, it is that Ondárroa has all the ingredients to enjoy both a spiritual retreat in the middle of nature and to have fun the activities organized here. This town in Vizcaya has managed to combine tradition and modernism to perfection. Majestic medieval buildings stand in its old town giving way to more modern manifestations such as the Itsasaurre bridge. A must? The beach of Arrigorri.

Elantxobe, cliffs everywhere


Panoramic view of Elantxobe. | Shutterstock

Stepped houses, mountains cut into the horizon, cliffs… And a picturesque walled port. Elantxobe is a small village to discover little by little. To be surprised by the force of the waves breaking on the rocks, to taste its rich gastronomy with the best seafood and, especially, to discover the typical Cantabrian landscape.

One of the great attractions of Elantxobe are its natural pools, perfect to enjoy a refreshing bath in summer or an idyllic view in winter. Its streets are mostly cobblestone and steep. For this reason, if you have never visited the village before, be careful when walking downhill. And always wear comfortable shoes!

Ibarrangelu, the rural postcard of Vizcaya


Laga beach, Ibarrangelu. | Shutterstock

Very close to Elantxobe is this small rural beauty. Ibarrangelu is one of those little villages that attract attention from far away. Located very close to the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, this destination surprises already in its surroundings with the beautiful beaches of Laida and Laga and the cape of Ogoño.

Ibarrangelu has an important historical heritage. A walk through its quiet streets reveals the beautiful chapel of the Sagrado Corazon de Jesus, the neighborhood of Akorda with the church of Santa Maria Engracia and the chapel of San Pedro de Atxarre. The perfect getaway to enjoy the most authentic rural atmosphere of Vizcaya.

Plentzia, a walk along the estuary


Bridge of Plentzia. | Shutterstock

Although it may seem less touristy than the rest of the villages, the truth is that Plentzia is a fishing village with a very special beauty. A wide estuary separates the town in two and is decorated with small boats and colorful boats. The walk along the estuary is a must. First because it gives the walker with that idyllic look of a fishing village. Second, because the promenade leads to a bridge of modern design and, a few meters away, there are some terraces and restaurants perfect for enjoying an epic sunset.

It is said that Plentzia was once surrounded by a stone wall. The only witness that remains of those times is the mythical arch of Santiago, a must-see. Another of its architectural jewels is the Barri tower, belonging to the Butrón lineage, which exhibits an imposing stone shield.

Bermeo, the industrial jewel


The colorful port of Bermeo. | Shutterstock

In the heart of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve lies this small oasis of peace. Bermeo is one of those Cantabrian places that conquers you as soon as you visit them. Half seafaring and half medieval, this small town gives a trip through the colorful houses that are distributed in its port. Of its old town highlights the Town Hall, the church of Santa Maria and the Ercilla Tower.

Otxandio, the monumental Vizcaya

Otxandio vizcaya

A beautiful street in Otxandio. | Shutterstock

The imposing tower of the church of Santa Mariñe welcomes you to a stately village: Otxandio. A town full of palace houses, monuments and an architectural taste full of elegance. Its rich main square leads to the beautiful Vulcano fountain, the Town Hall, declared a National Monument, and Uribarrena street with its beautiful stately homes. A historical cocktail that is topped with an impressive natural landscape.

The wonderful location of Otxandio, between the natural parks of Urkiola and Gorbeia, makes it a unique destination to explore the medieval past of Vizcaya without losing contact with nature typical of the climate of northern Spain. Very close to this village is the Urrúnaga reservoir, perfect for water sports.

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