Time  9 hours 25 minutes

Coordinates 4261

Uploaded September 1, 2019

Recorded July 2019

1,357 f
0 f
78.43 mi

Viewed 119 times, downloaded 3 times

near Bakio, País Vasco (España)

This beautiful but sometimes demanding cycling tour takes you along the wild coast north of Bilbao, through the bustling town of Bilbao and its industrious agglomerates and through Urdaibai natural reserve. You also cross the Ría de Bilbao on the Vizcaya Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, pass the famous Guggenheim Museum, pass through the old center of Bilbao with plenty of opportunities to lunch on pintxos, cycle through Gernika, the town bombed by Nazi Germany in the Spanish Civil War and subject of the famous painting by Picasso, and enjoy a panoramic view of the islet of San Juan de Gazelugatxe. The tour is on paved roads and cycling paths, but includes some mainly pedestrian boulevards close to the sea, and a short stretch of paved walking path with very good views near Sopela, but also a few sets of stairs that are best negotiated walking… You need to climb a few hills, the most strenuous one being a particularly steep variant of the Alto de Vivero, starting in Bilbao. See waypoints for more information on the climbs. The transporter bridge requires a fee of 70 cents. The overall length and the frequent and sometimes steeper climbs made me rate this tour difficult, although I expect that experienced cyclists might also rate it ‘average’.
The tour starts in Bakio, popular with surfers, where I had my holiday house. At the start you have a panoramic view of the beach and the town. You take the boulevard along the sea and then follow the river inland, through a park. At the outskirt of town you start the climb of the Alto de Goitisolo. This climb is not steep and offers great views of Bakio and the coast beyond with San Juan de Gazelugatxe in the distance. You continue descending towards the reservoir Urbietako urtegia. You pass a dismantled nuclear power station and continue to Armintza. You go inland and cycle to Gorliz. Here you cycle towards the large beach and cycle along a boulevard towards and along the Plentzia river estuary. In the town Plentzia you follow the boulevard along the tidal river full of boats until you get to a bridge for pedestrians and cyclists. You cross the river and then climb to a ridge of hills on the sea with occasional views of the sea. Near Sopela you cycle to the coast. Above beautiful Barinatxe beach you take a paved path along the coasts with good views. The 1.1 km path has a few steps which you best negotiate on foot with a road bike. Especially take care on the set of steps on the steep downhill stretch near the end. You could also give this stretch a miss (see waypoint), but then you miss the great views. After the 1.1 km, the paved path continues without steps past the Azkorri coast with a wild beach and great flysch cliffs. At Punta Galea you follow the cycling path with great views of the harbor and the town of Getxo, passing by the Castillo del Principe. At the end of the cycling path you cycle through the town of Getxo towards the quay at Areetako Kaia. A cycle path takes you towards the place where the Ría de Bilbao flows into the sea. Around the corner is the Vizcaya Bridge, a transporter bridge, where a gondola is taking you to the other side of the river. The gondola is suspended from an impressive metal structure. At the other side of the bridge at Portulagete you cycle inland until you get to the cycling path BI-R1 Barakaldo-La Arena Bidegorria. This cycle path takes you across and beneath bridges, along highways and past the Río Galindo back towards the Ría de Bilbao, and then to the town of Barakaldo. You cycle to the center here, and then back to the Ría de Bilbao, which you then follow on cycling paths to the center of Bilbao. You take a peek at the famous Guggenheim museum. On the river side is a walkway forbidden for bicycles, but worth a short look, which is interesting for the famous art works ‘Tulips’ by Jeff Koons, the ‘Tall Tree & The Eye’ by Anish Kapoor, the ‘FOG’ sculpture (with real fog) by Fujiko Nakaya and ‘Maman’, a huge spider, by Louise Bourgeois. Up on the right you can see the huge flower-covered ‘Puppy’, also by Jeff Koons. After having had a look around the museum you continue towards the old center of Bilbao. You cross the river and then enter the old center with narrow alleys surrounded by high houses, a cathedral, and the Plaza Nueva. I had some pintxos here at the famous Bar Bilbao. After leaving the old center (watch out for the pedestrians) you continue along the river for almost 3 km before you turn north and start your ascend of the Alto de Vivero. Initially through town, the ascent is easy, but shortly before leaving the built-up area the road becomes steep (~20 % in places). You cross the BI-631 on a cycle/footbridge and then climb further to the BI-3732. On this road following the ridge the ascent continues gradually until the summit. Occasionally the views are great. About 4 km after the summit you turn left and descend on a sometimes steep and badly-paved road towards the N637 at the foot of the hill. From here you cycle to Larrabetzu where the start of the climb to Alto de Morga starts. This is a wide road, but not very busy. After the summit you descend to Andra Mari, and continue towards Kurtzero in the Reserva Natural del Urdaibai. Here you follow the busy road to Gernika, and then cycle into the center. This town used to be the Basque capital and people adjourned at an old oak tree of which only a stump is left in the center. A bit further you will find a mural of the famous Picasso painting. After Gernika you follow cycle path R10 along the busy road towards Bermeo. At San Kristobal you leave the busy road and cycle on minor roads and a cycling path with good views to the Mundaka river estuary towards the Playa Antonio. This is a good place for a short stop. You continue back to the main road and follow this road with occasional good views of the sea to Bermeo. In Bermeo starts the last climb of the day of the Alto de San Pelaio. At the top you have a parking with a view of San Juan de Gazelugatxe. A bit further on the right is the starting point of the hike to this islet, not suited for a road bike. Instead you continue down towards Bakio, the starting point of the trip.
Sacred architecture

Andra Mariaren Zeruratzea

Church on a hill

Areetako Kaia Cycling Path

Cycling path along the Areetako quay.


Armintza is a little town on a bay

Bakio Boulevard

The boulevard is mainly for pedestrians, but you can also cycle there (especially early in the morning as I did). At the western end you can see San Juan de Gazelugatxe in the distance towards the east.

Paved path at Barinatxe beach with stairs

This paved path along the coast can be cycled but there are a few stairs (about 5 of 5-6 steps) which cannot be negotiated with a road bike, and you have to get off your bike (watch out at the steep section down at Azkorri beach). It is a section with good views, and not long (1.2 km). You could however give this section a miss. The next session 'Paved path along Azkorri coast' is without stairs. To get there you should go straight ahead at the roundabout at the entrance of Taleganeta (instead of going into town towards the coast), follow the cycling path down and along BI-637 to Berango, turn right and follow Calle Gorrondatxe Bidea, Estrada Moreaga and Carretera Zientoetxe.

Bermeo view

View of Bermeo

Boulevard Los Cargaderos

Cycling path along the Ría de Bilbao

Bridge on Plentzia river

Bridge for cyclists and pedestrians across the Plentzia river

Climb Alto de Goitisolo

Start of the climb towards Alto de Goitisolo. Nice views towards Bakio on the way. See https://www.cyclingcols.com/col/Goitisolo, and then the East approach

Cycle path along Ria de Bilbao

Cycle path along the river all the way to the city center

Cycle path BI-R1 Barakaldo-La Arena Bidegorria

Cycle path to Barakaldo between highways, across bridges and along Río Galindo and Ría Bilbao

Cycle path R10

Cycle path largely along the main road from Gernika to Bermeo. After San Kristobal the cycling route climbs on a minor road with a view of the Mundaka river estuary

Cycle path Ria de Bilbao

Cycle path along the river east of town.

Cycling path from Punta Galea

From Punta Galea you follow a cycling path along the coast with good views of the harbor and the town of Getxo, passing by the Castillo del Principe.

Former nuclear power plant

Dismantled nuclear power plant of Lemoiz


Center of Gernika. In the garden to the west of this point you could find the tree stump of the old tree of Gernika (and the new tree behind the building). Here, the Basque lords used to convene to make decisions below the tree. The town was largely destroyed by the German Luftwaffe as a gift from Hitler to Franco in the civil war. A bit further is the mural of the Picasso painting on the latter topic.

Gorliz beach

View across Gorliz beach

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao East

At the river side of the Guggenheim museum is a walkway with art works. It is forbidden to cycle but it is worth walking a little to see the art works, for example the gigantic spider and the foggy pond.

Museo Guggenheim Bilbao West

At the river side of the Guggenheim museum is a walkway with art works. It is forbidden to cycle but it is worth walking a little to see the art works. On this side you also see ‘Puppy’, by Jeff Koons on top of the stairs. The first picture is from the nearby Puente Pedro Arrupe which you can also cycle on (excluded from the route).

Old town of Bilbao

Old town with narrow streets. Watch out for the pedestrians

Paved path past Azkorri coast

This paved path for pedestrians is also good for cyclists, although the tiles are a bit bumpy. You pass beautiful Flysch cliffs and have excellent views across the coast and harbor of Bilbao. This section ends at Punta Galea.

Playa San Antonio

The beach has kiosk here. It makes for a nice break. The last two pictures are of Ria Mundaka a bit further on from the main road.

Plaza Cruces

You cycle across multi-level Plaza Cruces (mainly pedestrian)

Plaza Nueva

Square in the old town surrounded by buildings. In Bar de Bilbao you can enjoy good pintxos...

Plentzia waterside promenade

You can cycle on this promenade which you have to share with pedestrians, so watch out.


Views from the Portulagete site around the transponder bridge.

Puente Bizkaia

Transporter bridge and world heritage site Puente Bizkaia. A gondola is suspended from an impressive metal structure, and takes you from Las Arenas to Portugalete. Fee is 70 cents for a person with a bicycle.

Puente del Ayuntamiento

Bridge across the river.

Ría de Plentzia

Tidal river of Plentzia with a lot of boats

Start climb Alto de Morga

Start of the climb to Alto de Margo. See https://www.cyclingcols.com/col/Aretxabala (West approach). On the way down in Ugarte you can find tap water.

Start climb Alto de San Pelaio

Here the clim to Alto de San Pelaio starts, initially in the center. The climb (apart from the start) is also described on https://www.cyclingcols.com/col/SanPelaio (East approach). Near the top is a viewpoint of San Juan de Gazelugatxe

Start climb Alto de Vivero

Here you start your climb of the Alto de Vivero, the hill north of town. Parts of it are very steep.

Steep cycling path with view of Mundaka river estuary

Short stretch of very steep downhill cycling path with bad paving.

Summit Alto de Vivero

Highest point of the Alto de Vivero, and also of this trip (414 m). The climb also features on CyclingCols, but not the version described in this trip.

Urbietako urtegia Lake

Lake close to the nuclear power plant

Viewpoint Bakio

There is a viewpoint here across the bay at Bakio, with the town, the beach and the rocky coast around it. There is a also an art work with fishes.


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