Castro Urdiales, the beautiful capital of eastern Cantabria.

In a privileged spot on the northern coast of Spain, to the east of Cantabria, lies the town of Castro Urdiales.

As early as the Roman Empire, the Roman colony of Flaviobriga was established, and since then it has been a town with a rich history.

Not only does its history make Castro Urdiales (or Castro as it is colloquially known) a unique city, but also its proximity to the Basque Country and the major city of Bilbao, along with its privileged geography, make Castro a very popular vacation spot.

 

This popularity means that during the peak summer season, Castro Urdiales doubles or even triples its population.

At times, a stroll through Castro Urdiales can remind one of other northern cities like San Sebastian, with an equally interesting gastronomic offer.

Now that we know a bit more about Castro Urdiales, let’s look at five reasons to visit this city:

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Castro Urdiales (Cantabria)

5 Reasons to visit Castro Urdiales in Cantabria...

1 - Its Historic Heritage

Castro Urdiales is not just another fishing village; it is pure history.

Since Roman times, Castro Urdiales has been a strategic point in northern Spain, and even today you can find various examples of the town’s history.

The symbol of the city is undoubtedly the Church of Santa María de la Asunción, which began construction in the 13th century and was completed in the 15th century.

It may resemble a cathedral (it is reminiscent of the Cathedral of Burgos), and even locally it is called a cathedral, but it is actually a church. It is also a must-stop on the Camino de Santiago.

Next to the church is the Castle of Santa Ana, which also serves as a lighthouse. We do not know the date when the first castle was built, which was originally protected by a wall. The current building began construction in the 12th century, and the lighthouse was added in 1853.

The entire complex, along with the church, was declared a historic-artistic site in 1978.

There are also other historical attractions in the city, such as the Palacete de los Ocharan and various archaeological sites in caves.

2 - Its Fishermen Town Vibe

We must not forget that Castro Urdiales is primarily a fishing town, and you can feel it on every street. Just take a stroll from the castle to Brazomar Beach to see various examples, from the fish market and the harbor to sports boats and even different types of fish visible from the promenade.

This translates into a fantastic selection of restaurants where you can taste local fish and seafood. You’ll find excellent examples in both the Plaza del Ayuntamiento area and Calle Ardigales. A good example of a restaurant is Marisquería Alfredo.

3 - Its Parks and Beaches

Castro is an ideal place if you enjoy walking, strolling, and enjoying the sea.

 

One of the reasons is its parks, such as Amestoy Park (which includes a huge underground parking, recommended if you come by car). Adjacent to the fascinating Brazomar Beach, you have Cotolino Park, highly recommended for those traveling with pets!

 

If you’re a beach person, we recommend Ostende Beach, also located right in the city center. The Pedregal is also an interesting spot if you’re passing through.

4 - Its Variety of Architecture Styles

We have talked about the history of Castro Urdiales, and that has a great impact on Castro Urdiales itself.

In Castro, you will see many similarities with cities like San Sebastian, especially in the area around Amestoy Park. We also have to highlight the Baroque architecture of the church, as well as the intriguing building of the town hall.

There are many examples of 20th-century modernist architecture, such as the aforementioned Ocharan Palace, the market, or the Plaza de Toros (bullring).

5 - Its Unique Cultural Style

Geographically, the city is very close to the Basque Country, and the fact that many Basques have their second homes in Castro Urdiales (many!) gives the town a very special atmosphere.

From a love for gastronomy and the famous pintxos to simply going from bar to bar, culturally the city has a strong identity that can be quite exotic even for people from outside of Spain.

It’s not uncommon to enjoy a coffee while listening to a local music band during their festivals, or to see boats decorated with flowers in preparation for their big event, the Coso Blanco!

How to get from Bilbao to Castro Urdiales?

Due to its proximity to Bilbao, Castro Urdiales can be a great starting point for your visit to Cantabria from the Basque Country. Also, if you are in Bilbao, you can take advantage of the opportunity for a day trip.

The best way to get from Bilbao to Castro is by bus. There is a direct bus from Bilbao (Termibus) to Castro (Plaza de Toros) every 15-30 minutes.

You can find more information on this website (In Spanish) and timetable.

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