By Liz Pitt
When most people think of the beaches of Spain, they conjure up images of the Costa del Sol, white sand beaches on the Mediterranean, and the fiestas that last all night in Ibiza. Bilbao is not one of the places that typically come to mind.
Industrial, gritty, developing: these are the words that people think of when they think of Bilbao. However, after living in Bilbao for almost a year and a half, I have thoroughly explored the coastline just outside the city, and and want to share some of my finds with you.
Sopelana is quite possibly my favorite beach in Bilbao. It’s gorgeous. Cliffs drop into the ocean and create a stunning backdrop for your sunbathing. You can also rent surfboards and take lessons there. There are also a couple cafes that overlook the beach to have a coffee and a sandwich. If you’re not the ‘laying on the beach’ type, but still want to appreciate the beauty, you can hike along the cliffs and witness some amazing views.
How to get there: Take the metro line 1 in the direction of Plentzia. Get off at the Sopelana stop. You will have to walk through the town, otherwise there is a bus that drops you off right at the beach.
Azkorri isn’t as well known, and it’s a bit of a mission to get to, and this seems to deter a lot of people. For me, it’s worth it, because it’s usually less crowded than most other beaches in the area. A heads up: I knew people in Spain were usually comfortable with their bodies when it comes to sunbathing. What I didn’t know was that Azkorri is a nude beach. Once I got over the initial shock, I was able to enjoy my beach experience.
How to get there: Take the A-3411 from the city center-either Plaza Ensanche or right in front of the Museo de las Bellas Artes. Get off at the last stop, and follow the hill down to the beach.
This beach takes the longest to get to, as it is the last stop on the metro line. It is worth the trek. Plentzia is a quiet town that grows in population over the summer when the Bilbaínas use it as their refuge from the city heat.
The beach is fairly large, with lots of room to lay out or play the ever popular paddle ball game. It’s also a good walking beach with lots of coastline. The waves are usually smaller than the other beaches, which is nice if you want to take a dip and are not a strong swimmer.
How to get there: Take the metro line 1 to the end of the line. Follow the river on your left until you get to the beach.
4. Castro Urdiales
Castro isn’t technically in Bilbao. It’s not even in País Vasco, it’s in the neighboring community of Cantabria. However, it’s the shortest ride of all the beaches I’ve listed.
There are two beaches to choose from along with a jetty that many locals use for sunbathing as well. The town is also nice for taking a stroll, and the boardwalk has many cafes where you can have coffee or sangria.
How to get there: At the Bilbao bus station (Termibus), take the “Castro Directo”. It’s a 25 minute ride, and while you can get off at any stop, the closest to the beach is the second stop, Menéndez Pelayo 2
Liz Pitt is a Wisconsinite who transplanted to Bilbao. You can check out her stories and photos on her blog, http://www.lizenespana.com/p/who-is-liz.html
Photo Castro Urdiales Beach by Matt Bardwell.