The Best of Basque

Urkiola Natural Park, Nature Reserve in Labets-Biscay

Table of Contents

In the heart of the Basque Country, where the Cantabrian and Mediterranean waters intertwine, lies the Urkiola Natural Park. A green jewel that stretches between Bizkaia and Alava, and is home to some of the most impressive mountain ranges in the region: Aramotz, Duranguesado and Arangio.

The Majestic Urkiola

Urkiola is not simply a mountain; it is a set of rock formations that defy the sky. The imposing limestone formations of Mugarra, Aramotz and, above all, the Anboto range, rise majestically above the surrounding valleys, creating dreamlike landscapes that captivate any visitor.

In these mountains, nature has carved caves, crevices and chasms, giving rise to karstified landscapes that are home to a rich biodiversity. Here, the flora and fauna linked to the rocky terrain become the protagonists. Rupicolous birds, such as Egyptian vultures, peregrine falcons and griffon vultures, soar through the skies of Urkiola, while in the depths of its caves, bats find refuge.

1280px P1090177 Urkiola Horses panoramio

Forests and Traditions: The Legacy of Urkiola

The park is not only rock and mountain. More than half of its surface is covered with forests, where acidophilic beech forests, calcareous beech forests and Cantabrian oak forests are the main protagonists.

However, the current landscape of Urkiola also bears the marks of history and human activity. For centuries, grazing and logging shaped the landscape. These activities, along with limestone quarrying, have left indelible marks on the park.

Ria Bilbao
logo the best of basque web w

Half-Day Hiking of Urkiola Natural Park from Bilbao

Book This Tour: Half-Day Hiking of Urkiola Natural Park from Bilbao

San Antonio Sanctuary: A Place of Pilgrimage and Legend

In the port of Urkiola, one of the most emblematic places in the Basque Country is located: the Sanctuary of San Antonio. This historic place is not only a religious site, but also a living testimony of Basque traditions and legends.

The sanctuary has been a place of pilgrimage for centuries. Every year, thousands of the faithful come to pay homage to Saint Anthony, seeking his protection and blessing. The pilgrimages, full of music, dance and tradition, give life to the park and connect the new generations with the roots of their land.

In addition, the sanctuary is the starting point for numerous mountain routes. Hiking and mountain lovers find in Urkiola a paradise to practice their favorite activities. And for those seeking adrenaline, places like Atxarte or Baltzola have become a reference point for climbing.

1280px Urkiola Santuario 14

Urkiola Parke Naturala: A Treasure to Protect

The ecological and cultural wealth of Urkiola does not go unnoticed. The park is home to 16 habitats of Community interest, and is home to a variety of fauna protected by European directives.

Rupicolous birds, in particular, find a vital refuge in Urkiola. The presence of species such as the golden eagle and the bearded vulture, although they do not nest in the area, highlights the park’s importance as a habitat and ecological corridor.

Urkiola is not only a natural park, it is a reflection of the Basque soul. Among its mountains and forests, in every stone and in every corner, hides the history, the tradition and the essence of a land that has managed to maintain its balance between nature and the hand of man. Urkiola invites you to discover, to dream and to connect with the magic of the Basque Country.

Author Profile

Irene was born and raised in Bilbao. She has a deep rooted passion for her country and culture. She has a Bachelors degree in education and has traveled to over 85 countries throughout the world.
List of professional guides in the Basque Country

Author Profile

Zachary was born in Michigan, USA. He has lived in the Basque Country for over 10 years, and fell in love with the natural beauty and quality of life found here. He earned a Bachelors degree in economics from DePaul University in Chicago.