Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve (Urdaibai Reserva de la Biosfera)
Formed from the estuary at the mouth of Spain’s Oka River, the Urdaibai Reserva de la Biosfera (or Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is an important habitat for migratory and resident birds. Urdaibai also boasts some of the most popular beaches on the Basque Coast and several ancient archeological sites—such as Cave Santimamiñe, with its ancient paintings—to explore.
Visit the Urdaibai Bird Center to learn about the significance of the Urdaibai estuary and view herons, ducks, wader birds, and more in the wild from the center’s observatories. Beachgoers won’t want to miss the picturesque sandbars along Laida Beach and the scenic cliffs of Peñón de Ogoño from the Laga Beach. The hermitage of San Miguel de Ereñozar, the Caves of Santimamiñe, and the Painted Forest of Oma are also popular area attractions.
Things to know before you go
- Urdaibai is a dream destination for birdwatchers and nature lovers.
- An admission fee is required to visit the Urdaibai Bird Center; children under 5 are free.
- Shallow waters at Laid Beach make it a great destination for families with small children.
- Laga Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Basque Country.
How to get there
The Urdaibai Estuary is located on the Bay of Biscay between Bilbao and San Sebastian and comprises a wide range of ecosystems in over 85 square miles (220 square kilometers). The Urdaibai Bird Center is located in Gautegiz Arteaga on the east bank of the Oka River. The area is most easily explored by car, but is accessible via public bus from Bilbao and San Sebastian.
When to get there
You can catch birds in the Urdaibai Reserve year-round, but spring and autumn are the best time for migratory birds. The Urdaibai Bird Center is open daily iin July and August with limited hours the rest of the year. July and August are the busiest times at the beach, so visit June or September and you’ll find fewer crowds and still enjoy pleasant weather.
The Painted Forest of Oma
Just a 10-minute drive from the Urdaibai Bird Center, the Painted Forest of Oma in one of the area’s top family-friendly attractions. A work of art by Basque sculptor and painter, Agustin Ibarrola, the Oma Forest features hundreds of pine trees painted with colors and lines that form figures and animals when viewed from afar. The forest paintings change shape depending on the path you take and whichever way you look.
- Things to do in Bilbao
- Things to do in San Sebastian
- Things to do in Aragón
- Things to do in Aquitaine
- Things to do in Castile and León
- Things to do in Santander
- Things to do in Zaragoza
- Things to do in Bordeaux
- Things to do in Segovia
- Things to do in Madrid
- Things to do in Midi-Pyrénées
- Things to do in Catalonia
- Things to do in Galicia
- Things to do in Languedoc-Roussillon
- Things to do in Loire Valley
- Euskadi Biodiversity Centre
- Santimamiñe Cave (Cueva de Santimamiñe)
- Oma Forest (Bosque de Oma)
- Guernica (Gernika)
- San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
- Butrón Castle (Castillo de Butrón)
- Artxanda Funicular (Funicular de Artxanda)
- Zubizuri Bridge
- Bizkaia Museum of Archaeology
- Casco Viejo
- Basque Museum (Museo Vasco de Bilbao)
- San Vicente Martír de Abando Church (Parroquia de San Vicente Martir de Abando)
- Guggenheim Museum
- Arriaga Theatre (Teatro Arriaga)