San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

TOP BASQUE COUNTRY · 10 reasons to come to Basque Country

241 steps, rocks, sea and wind. The magical island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is an essential stop on the Basque coastline.

In the middle of the Basque coast, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is catalogued as protected biotope and far from any urban nucleus.

This idyllic place is located between the coastal towns of Bakio and Bermeo joined to the coast by a stone bridge and a 241-step staircase.

The church we see today unfortunately is not the original one. Over the centuries there have been fires and battles and the church has had to be rebuilt on multiple occasions. It is believed that the first hermitage was erected in the 9th century. In the 12th century, it became a convent. However, two centuries later the friars left the place taking all the valuables with them.

Gaztelugatxe has been the scenario of pirates covens and legends and it is no coincidence that it accumulates titles of “most voted wonder” or “most valued” enclave by travellers from around the world. Do not forget to ring the hermitage bell three times in order to attract good luck and chase away evil spirits.

At the end of the steps you can step in a footprint said to have been left by Saint John the Baptist and to bring good luck. At the top you will find a picturesque chapel and, above all, spectacular views over the stormy Bay of Biscay, which has carved cliffs, tunnels and impossible arches out of the island.

Remember to wear sensible clothes and shoes. In spring and autumn the island may be calm and you can savour all of its mysticism and beauty. In summer you won’t be able to resist a dip at one of the small stony beaches around the bottom of the steps. Gaztelugatxe is a natural wonder that you’ll certainly want to come back to.


  • Free ticket to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe: It is necessary to have a free access ticket in order to visit it.

How to get about by public transport

  • How to get around San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from Bilbao:  From the Bilbao bus station (Termibus) there is a bus line with a stop in San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (A3527 Bilbao-Mungia-Bermeo). And another line (A3518 Bilbao-Mungia-Bakio) that can be complemented to get there with the summer bus service Bakio – Bermeo and in winter -only on workdays-, with the Taxibus.You can consult the timetables of the bus at the telephone: 946 125 555.
  • From Bermeo and Bakio: You could take the A3527 bus that connects Bermeo with Bilbao or use the taxibus (with a maximum capacity of 8 people).

Nearby essentials

Nearby routes and plans

Boat trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Boat trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
The Flysch route in Geoparkea
The Flysch route in Geoparkea
Sail along the Urdaibai estuary
Sail along the Urdaibai estuary


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