Discover the Basque Country

Seaside Gems West of Donostia-San Sebastián

A wonderful way to explore the Basque country is coastal town hopping.  Our little family tends to head east towards Iparralde (Northern Basque Country) across the Irun-Hendaye border to explore the coastal flavours of towns along the way to Bayonne.  However, last weekend, we turned west, and made some pleasant discoveries from Zarautz to Lekeitio!

Starting our coastal tour in Zarautz, just 15 minutes on the highway from Donostia, we journeyed west on the stunning coastal road, in line with the surfers in Zarautz and coming up on the “Mouse of Getaria” in the distance.  Getaria is only a couple stoplights, so be sure to look right and wave to Juan Sebastian Elkano’s statue—did you know he was the first to circumnavigate the world?

Down the road a couple kilometers, you will pass Playa Gris, which, during the right conditions (usually in winter), the world’s best tow-in surfers gather to ride 30ft liquid monsters.  If you’re lucky enough to pick one of those rare mountainous sea days you will notice crowds and film crews so you may want to pull into one of the lookout points and see the action.

Around the longer curves comes Zumaia with Santiago beach and the Ermita de San Telmo (Hermitage) looks over the flyshe cliffs with caves below and tiny figures walking along the green cliffs above.  They are probably Santiago pilgrims or locals out for a walk, or maybe just sheep.

Through some twists and turns, blending woods and sea-views, you’ll come to Deba, a delightful town divided by a river.  The new bridge takes you directly into a tunnel and to the other side of town, then a few more curves and you’ll find Mutriku, surprisingly close.

Ondarroa is next with an interesting waterscape, and finally Lekeitio with its Gothic Basilica and fishing port.  We went for a stroll along the beach with a view of San Nicolás Island and then dinner on the promenade by the church building.  If you’re there at just the right tide, you can see people walking on water….Or maybe it’s just the concrete walkway to the island, hiding right below the water’s surface.

If you’re staying near Donostia why not drop into San Sebastian Food and chat with our team for some more ideas?

By Jonathan McCallum

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