Lekeitio

LEKEITIO

Overview of Lekeitio, Spain

The town of Lekeitio on the Basque coast is located halfway between Bilbao and San Sebastian (about 1 an hour drive from each one). With only around 7,000 inhabitants it’s quite small, however, it has a magical beach that changes based on the tides, exposing a sandy pathway that leads to San Nicolás Island.

Lekeitio is a town with a very long fishing tradition. As with many other communities along the Basque coast, Lekeitio was known for its brave whale hunters. This lasted from the Middle Ages up until the 18th century. With the passing of time, whales started to disappear but fishing and maritime related activities continued.

The 19th century saw the first tourists arrive, among them some aristocracy such as Queen Isabel II and the Austro-Hungarian empress Zita. Tourism has slowly been growing since then and while Lekeitio is a sleepy community in the winter time, it has now become a lively but relaxed town in the summer months. It has a charming atmosphere and an interesting cultural agenda (concerts, exhibitions, festivals, etc.).

Apart from its gorgeous beaches, Lekeitio also has a colorful port surrounded by bars and restaurants as well as an impressive gothic church worth a visit.

 

Beaches in Lekeitio

Beaches in Lekeitio
What makes Lekeitio so beautiful and unique is its geography, sitting right at the mouth of the Lea River. When the river meets the ocean, it forms a stunning landscape with a a sandy beach on each side of the river’s mouth and the island of San Nicolás is situated right in the middle. In addition, this landscape changes completely with the tide. San Nicolás Island is accesible by foot during low tide, making it quite a special spot to go for a walk and explore.
Lekeitio Tourism
Isuntza Beach
Things to Do in Lekeitio
Karraspio Beach
Beaches Lekeitio
San Nicolas Island
La Salvaje Beach, Lekeitio
La Salvaje Beach
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Isuntza Beach

Isuntza Beach is Lekeitio’s main beach. Located right next to the port and the old town, it is perfect for families with children because of its easy access and calm waters.

What makes Isuntza Beach special is that during low tide, it is possible to cross to the island of San Nicolás walking on top of a concrete and rock wall (called “malecón” in Spanish) that is covered by water during high tide. Be careful, because it is quite slippery and can get dangerous.

At one of the ends of Isuntza Beach there is a bar and in that same building, it is possible to rent kayaks. At the beach the following facilities are available: showers, WCs, changing rooms, lifeguards and parking.

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Karraspio Beach

With its more than 500 meter length, Karraspio Beach is Lekeitio’s longest beach. Karraspio Beach is very popular but usually not as crowded as Isuntza. Again, during low tide, it is possible to get to the island of San Nicolás, but this time by walking directly on the sand.

There are also some facilities in this beach: showers, WCs, changing rooms, lifeguards and parking.

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Island of San Nicolás (Garraitz)

The Island of San Nicolás, also known as Garraitz Island, is one of the things that makes Lekeitio so special. A skinny sand crossing is exposed during low tide.

Legend has it that during the Middle Ages the island of San Nicolás was used for a colony of lepers – to keep them away and avoid contagion. Today, visitors will just find some rabbits and maybe one or two shepherds with their goats.

If you have the opportunity to hike to the top of the island, you will be rewarded by a nice lookout point with impressive views of Lekeitio, its beaches and the rest of the Basque coast. It is definitely recommended!

While visiting the Island of Garraitz, it is important to keep the times of the tides in mind. The typical tourist mistake is to cross over to the island with food to spend the day on it and when they are ready to go back, find out it is now high tide and they are forced to swim back to shore.

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La Salvaje Beach

La Salvaje Beach is the smallest beach of Lekeitio. This beach is formed by the mouth of the Lea River and its particularity is that it only exists during low tide – it is completely covered during high tide.

La Salvaje beach offers some impressive views of its surroundings: you can see the town, the port and the mouth of the river with the different types of vegetations and birds flying around. In addition, next to the beach stands the ruins of an old shipyard building, adding more charm to this relaxed town.

Lekeitio's Top Things to Do & See

Lekeitio's Top Things to Do & See
We have put together a hand selected list of the most important things to do and see in Lekeitio – if it deals with Lekeitio tourism, we’ve got you covered.
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Port & Old Town

Lekeitio's old town
Lekeitio's old town
Lekeitio's colorful port
Lekeitio's colorful port

Located next to the Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Lekeitio’s port is probably the most picturesque corner of town. Although it doesn’t have a large number of big fishing vessels like it used to, it definitely hasn’t lost any of its charm. The mixture of the boats on the water surrounded by skinny houses with colorful balconies and wooden shutters make up the most characteristic image of Lekeitio.

Lekeitio’s port is the perfect place to go for a walk in the evening, enjoy the fresh breeze of the Cantabrian sea and the quaint atmosphere. There are many bars and restaurants with a wide variety of eating options: you can just have some pintxos, sit down to eat a bocadillo or enjoy a banquete of fresh fish.

Right behind the port you will find the old town. These narrow cobblestone streets have a few more shops and restaurants. The main street is called Arranegi Kalea and there are a few smaller side streets off of it as well that may be of some interest.

Further down the Arranegi Kalea is the Arranegiko Zabala Square, where fish has been sold throughout the centuries. The women of the fishermen pick up the fish at the port and bring it to this square (only meters away from the port) to sell it.

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Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora

Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora, Lekeitio
Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora

Located in a corner of Lekeitio’s old town, the Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora was built in the second half of the 15th century on top of the ruins of a roman temple. This large gothic temple is very impressive and something quite unusual to see in such a small town (about 7,000 inhabitants).

Apart from its magnificent presence, other highlights of the Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora are its eastern facade and the richness of its furniture. The most important element is the grandiose altar-piece, carved in a mixture of hispanic and flemish gothic styles. Finished in 1514, the altar-piece is impressive not only in its details but, again, also in size – it is one of the largest in Spain.

OPENING TIMES
Monday to Friday: 8am to 12pm & 5pm to 7:30pm
GUIDED VISITS BY REQUEST
Monday to Friday: 8am to 10am & 5pm to 6pm
Phone: (+34) 94 684 09 54

Lekeitio's Surroundings

At the northern most point of Lekeitio you will find the Santa Catalina lighthouse. Together with the watchtower (“atalaya” in Spanish), it forms the Interpretation Center for Navigation Technology. The center aims to keep the fishing tradition alive by allowing visitors to learn about the basics of navigation and its development throughout the centuries. It also offers very nice views of the Basque Coast and, if you have the opportunity, it is a great place to watch the sunset.

The lighthouse is a nice 20 minute walk from the old town (about 1.5 km away). It is open to the public during the weekends.

Another nice easy hike in Lekeitio is the walk to the top of the Lumentza Mount. The hike starts at the Church of Asunción de Nuestra Señora and it takes about 10-15 minutes to get to the top, from which it is possible to enjoy some of the best views of town. Centuries ago, the top of the Lumentza Mount was used as a watch point for whales.

Santa Catalina lighthouse
OPENING TIMES
Saturdays: 11:30am to 1pm & 4:30pm to 6pm
Sundays: 11:30am to 1pm
ADMISSION
Adults: 6 €
Children & Seniors: 4.5 €

Eat & Drink in Lekeitio

Eat & Drink in Lekeitio
Due to its geographical location and its long fishing tradition, Lekeitio’s gastronomical options are centered around fish and seafood. For such a small town, there is quite a large number of bars and restaurants to choose from. And just like most other places in the Basque Country, it is difficult to go wrong with any choice you make.
Fresh Fish, Lekeitio
Fresh Fish

Restaurants

Meson Arropain: Located at the entrance of Lekeitio, right next to the Lea River, the Meson Arropain is a classic establishment in town that has been open for over 25 years. It specializes in fish and seafood – always serving the freshest! – and we recommend hake (grilled or “koskera style). A main dish of fish or seafood usually costs between 20 and 30 €. (Iñigo Artieta Etorbidea 5 // +34 946 24 31 83)

Restaurante Egaña: This establishment has been open for over 50 years and is currently run by the third generation of the same family under the motto “Family tradition in culinary excellence.” They offer traditional Basque cuisine with a great quality-price ratio. From Tuesday to Friday they offer a daily set menu for 12 €. (Antiguako Ama 2 // +34 946 84 01 03 // www.eganarestaurante.com)

Taberna Mantxua: Located in Lekeitio’s center, this is a simple restaurant offering traditional Basque food at a very affordable price as well as a nice welcoming atmosphere. During the week, they offer a daily set menu for 12 €. (Beheko Kalea 24 // +34 944 65 33 49)

RESTAURANTS LOCATIONS
Skip to Map of Lekeitio

Pintxo Bars

Like in any other Basque city or town, pintxos are very popular in Lekeitio. Although you may find pintxos anywhere in town, the most popular area for pintxo bars is around the port.

Taberna Lumentza: This is a very popular establishment in Lekeitio and, as such, it can get quite busy (difficult to get a seat at a table). However, the nice atmosphere and good food are worth it. They offer a large variety of pintxos as well as raciones, sandwiches and burgers. (Buenaventura Zapirain 3 // +34 946 84 15 01, www.lumentza.com)

Taberna Kai-Abixa: Located directly in the port, the decoration of this spacious pintxo bar is dedicated to cinematography. The atmosphere is welcoming and there is also a terrace with nice views. (Muelle Txatxo Kaia 43)

Bar Gallo: Pintxo bar with an Andalusian touch in the center of Lekeitio. They offer a nice selection of pintxos and raciones at very good prices. (Igualdegi Kalea 2 // +34 946 03 44 45)

Taberna Mantxua: A very popular bar in Lekeitio with a nice local atmosphere. They have a large variety of pintxos in the counter and also offer raciones, bocadillos, burgers and salads. (Paskual Abaroa 12)

BARS LOCATIONS
Skip to Map of Lekeitio

Festivities in Lekeitio

Festivities in Lekeitio
There are several festivities and events celebrated every year in Lekeitio. Here are the most important ones.
Kaxarranka dance – San Pedros, Lekeitio
Kaxarranka dance – San Pedros
  • San Pedros: The celebrations in honor of San Pedro, the patron saint of the fishermen, are some of the biggest in Lekeitio. This long-standing celebration takes place every year between June 29th and July 1st. The celebration starts with a mass and a procession with the image of San Pedro. This is followed by the Kaxarranka dance, which a traditional male dancer executes in different points of the town while on top of a chest carried by 8 fishermen. During those days, there are also many more activities such as concerts, sport competitions, etc.
  • San Antolines: San Antolín is the patron saint of Lekeitio and the festivities in his honor are celebrated from September 1st to 8th. During this feast, there are many activities such as free concerts, Basque sport competitions, dance exhibitions, etc. However, one of the most unique and controversial events is the “Fiesta de los Gansos” (Geese Feast) celebrated usually on September 5th. This activity has a very long tradition in town (documented since the 5th century) and consists of tying a goose (used to be alive, but not anymore) from two ropes one at each end of the port. The local young men jump, trying to stay as long as possible hanging while grabbing the goose.

Hotels in Lekeitio

Hotels in Lekeitio
We have hand selected a few great hotels in Lekeitio and its surroundings. However, if you want to see a complete listing of all available hotels, be sure to use the search function below.

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Get In & Around

Get In & Around

Once you are in Lekeitio everything is reachable by foot.

Arriving to Lekeitio

PLANE – Bilbao’s airport is 56 km away from Lekeitio (about 1-hour drive). However, there isn’t a direct bus from Lekeitio to the airport; it is necessary to go to Bilbao’s bus station first and change buses there.

The airport of San Sebastian is 92 km away from Lekeitio (about 90-minute drive). Again, there isn’t a direct bus connecting Lekeitio with that airport and it is necessary to change buses in San Sebastian.

CAR – Both Bilbao and San Sebastian are about 1 hour drive away from Lekeitio.

To get to Bilbao there are two options. It is possible to take the road BI-2405 that connects Lekeitio with the road BI-633, which continues to Durango. There, it meets the national road N-634 and the toll road A-8. Both go all the way to Bilbao. The second option to get to Bilbao is to use the road BI-2238 which connects Lekeitio with Guernica and continues to Amorebieta through the road BI-635. In Amorebieta the road meets the national road N-634 and the toll road A-8 (again, both go all the way to Bilbao).

To go to San Sebastian, it is necessary to follow the road to Ondarroa and continue by the coast to Deba. From Deba, it is possible to use the national road N-634 or the toll road AP-8 to get to San Sebastian.

BUS – The company Bizkaibus offers several bus lines that connect Lekeitio with Bilbao (lines A3512, A3513 and A3523), Guernica (A3513 and A3523) and other towns in the region.

The company Lurraldebus offers a bus line (DB03) that connects Lekeitio with San Sebastian four times per day. The bus stops in Ondarroa, Deba and some other towns on the way. It takes approximately 1 hour 40 minutes and costs around 7 €.

TRAIN – There isn’t a train station in Lekeitio. The closest train stations are in Guernica, Deba and Durango.

Other Places of Interest in the Surroundings

In the Surroundings

Map – Things to Do in Lekeitio

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