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Oma Valley and Urdaibai Reserve

Nature lovers will delight in the Urdaibai Reserve...

One of the most authentic and amazing places in Biscay. Its windmills, medieval villages , churches and hermitages, karst outcrops and the oak forests of the area make this valley a unique natural gem within the Basque Country . It is located entirely in the Busturialdea area and comprises a series of ecologically rich habitats and discovery routes of irreplaceable value .

Our itinerary begins by visiting the Santimamiñe caves , located just opposite the  restaurant Lezika, which has ample parking for leaving your car .  At once you set off up  quite a steep path , which brings us to a rustic sixteenth century chapel of the same name , where there are two fragments of ancient tombstones decorated with the solar cross which appears on the lintel and the entrance threshold and are of great historical interest. There is also a barbecue area with tables and chairs.

Continue the ascent along the path constructed for access to the entrance of the caves. This is one of the most important sanctuaries of cave paintings of the Magdalenian period in the Upper Paleolithic Era , studied by the famous Basque anthropologist , Jose Miguel de Barandiaran . The visit is guided and limited to small groups , to prevent already marked deterioration . The inside cave paintings give us a glimpse of the wildlife that lived in these parts at that time . We recommend a visit as early in the day possible.

Back at the Lezika farmhouse -restaurant parking, a signposted dirt and asphalt track  leads through old Vizcayan farmhouses  and broad fields of oaks, to the centre of the Oma Valley . Before the school we find a beautiful picturesque country inn, usually in high demand so reserve in advance for lunch. Nearby is the home of Agustin Ibarrola , the Enchanted Forest creator and resident of the area , which is not hard to find as you go walking by. The famous Basque sculptor succeeded in putting together a giant natural canvas , decorating with bright colors and simple geometric shapes hundreds of pine trees. The sculptor Agustí­n Ibarrolla often said that this work has achieved a perfect complicity between art and nature. Descending through the forest , you will come to a pretty hamlet on the edge of the road. If we take the right hand lane and we walk along the creek to the left we see the walls of the Olakoerrota mill , which ceased operations in 1972 .

  • DistanceApproximately 6.5 km
  • DifficultyEasy ( gentle walk with some steep slopes ) .
  • Information:
For information on the Caves Santimamiñe call: 944207701 , As the council is considering closing it to the public .

Points of Interest

Less than 10 miles away is the town of Lekeitio , a major summer residential town in the nineteenth century , in which can still be seen many beautiful houses of the time. Also noteworthy are the Church of the Assumption and the square of the Jurisdictions . Between Lekeitio and Mundaka there are several fishing villages, among which is especially attractive Elantxobe , a village in which the houses seem to fall down in layers to a secluded harbor. The town has such narrow streets that it was necessary to install a  girating platform so that the local bus could be turned around . La Playa de Laida in Ibarranguelna or the Mundaka Estuary , an estuary river which makes up the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve are further attractions that you can visit without straying too far from the Oma Valley .


To access Oma Valley leave Bilbao for the A- 8 or N -634 towards  Amorebieta , taking here the BI -638 to Kortezubi . Before reaching this town, take a detour to the right that signposted to the caves of Santimamiñe, along the BI- 424 and follow the road to the farmhouse -restaurant Lezika . Another possibility is to take the bus service linking Bilbao - Vascongados - Lekeitio and get off at Kortezubi . The rest must be done on foot.

Points of Interest

Returning to the BI -638 , you get to Arteaga , a small farming town with its surprising silhouette of the castle of the same name , completely French Gothic style . In the same town there is a detour to Kanala , BI - 3234, leading to the magnificent beaches of Laida and Laga . In particular the second beach is worth a visit because its wild, the vegetation reaches to the very sandy beach and is under the immense mass of the Ogoño cliffs . The road twists into Ibarranguelua , but before reaching here a detour goes towards Akorda (BI -4236 ) , from where the road up to San Pedro de Atxerre begins . The car is best left in the village and the rest done on foot which is not very long . At the top you can enjoy the best view of the Urdaibai Reserve . And to finish the route , the little port of Elantxobe . This fishing village has grown deep roots on a very hilly slope . The houses fall down towards the sheltered harbor. From the viewpoint you can enjoy a beautiful panorama.

Finally , it is interesting to visit the town of Gernika- Lumo of great symbolic importance for the Basque people . For centuries meetings of the Basque Parliament were  held at the foot of a large oak tree. These are now held in the House of Gernika.. Picasso immortalized in the painting " Guernica " the terrible bombing that the city suffered during the Spanish civil war .

From Bermeo to Gernika

The next town after Bermeo is Mundaka , a popular tourism and fishing centre . It is an ideal place for surfing, and the town has a good surf school. In the town centre, visit the church of St. Mary , located in a strategic place. From this vantage point there is a breathtaking view of the mouth of the estuary of Mundaka . If you want to see the whole estuary, the best viewpoint is at Portuondo . Opposite is the small rocky and wooded islet Txatxarramendi , where the Technological Institute for Fisheries and Food ( AZTI ) is located.

Once in Gernika , visit the Meeting House where , in the shadow of symbolic oak parliamentary meetings where held. On the occasion of the Civil War , the town was completely destroyed on April 26, 1937 by German air raids . In 1988 the monument of Gure Aitaren Etxea by Eduardo Chillida was opened and, which has become an important symbol of peace. For this reason we have created the Gernika Peace Museum , which recalls everything that happened in the town . For information on research activities in the estuary visit the tourist office (Tel. 946 255 892 ) .