San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is the Dragonstone Real Game of Thrones filming location that looks absolutely jaw dropping and dreamlike. Even though we are not into fantasy drama television series , We decided to pay a visit to this place as we were already in the Basque Country. We are so glad that we did this! It was honestly one of the best things to do in Basque Country, Spain.
Overview of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Gazteugatxe is a small island nested on the coast of the Spanish Province in the Basque Country.Historically, Gaztelugatxe has been around since about the 9th century and has been used as a confrontation site for lords and kings. Atop the rock, you will find a little church called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe which was built in order to honour John the Baptist. The church is believed to be more than 1000 years old and is still a favourite amongst locals and tourists. The path to the church can be accessed by a path that has a bridge connected to the mainland with 241 steps .The serpentine stairs was great fun to explore and also perfect for photography. However we would like to warn you that you will need lots of energy and patience to reach this gem of a place.
How to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from San Sebastian?
You have to first travel from San Sebastian to Bilbao City. There are several options to get there and you can take the bus, train or car. If you are opting for the Bus option then you check out the PESA Bus or ALSA Bus. It would take roughly 1.5 – 2 hours to get to Bilbao city center from San Sebastian. Upon reaching Bilbao, we explored the city for a bit and then went to The Bilbao Tourism Office where the staff was very friendly and helpful . They gave us the San Juan de Gaztelugatxe map and information on the bus schedule and timings.They told us that San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is best reached by car but even the public transport was easy to do and hassle free. Since we didn’t have a car we chose the bus option that we have listed below.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from Bilbao by bus
We followed the directions given by the Tourism Office Personnel and decided to head to Plaza de Don Federico Moyúa in Bilbao and then take the A3518 Bilbao–Mungia–Bakio route. The buses run every 30 minutes, but the bus ride itself is about 40 to 45 minutes. It costs 6 euros for a round trip and you get off at the last stop .We recommend you check the timings and schedule at Bakio.org to verify the most up to date hours for both directions. Once in Bakio, you’ll have to walk about 3 km along a lovely coastal path to the church.
Visting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
What Rituals to follow ?
After the mighty climb of 241 steps, you will make it to the door of a beautiful chapel. Do not forget to follow the ritual of ringing the bell three times and to make a wish. In the past people did this to pray for fertility or drive away evil spirits. We too gave it a try.
What to Wear for the hike to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe?
Check the weather beforehand and dress appropriately..Wear sensible clothes and shoes.There is a lot of walking to do so always keep comfort in mind over style. Wear hiking shoes, or sneakers. The stairs can be slippery with dirt or rocks . Do not forget the sunscreen and an umbrella/hat. The Basque Country is known for raining throughout the year especially in Spring.
What are the timings at the Chapel of Gaztelugatxe?
You can visit the monument at anytime but the church/ chapel itself has the following hours: Tuesday to Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
What to bring for the hike ?
If you have a Drone, then you must bring it along to capture the mind-blowing views. We do not own a drone and the one below is only a phone camera shot. Also maybe pack a lunch if you wish to do a small picnic up there. Do not forget to carry some snacks and a bottle of water.
We hope you enjoyed this post. If you are planning a trip to the Basque, do not forget to check out our post on Top Things to do in San Sebastian .