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The nerve centre of the area


The River Nervión is the nerve centre of Bilbao, the capital city of Bizkaia, and its metropolitan area.

The river becomes an estuary as it flows towards the sea, passing beneath the Puente Bizkaia bridge.

At the mouth of the estuary lie the municipalities of Portugalete and Santurtzi on the west bank and Getxo on the east bank.

A trip along the banks brings to light evidence of the area’s industrial past and present, including the Puente Bizkaia transporter bridge between Portugalete and Getxo, some fine mansion houses and the fishing port of Santurtzi with its fishermen’s guild building.

Santurtzi has traditionally been one of the busiest inshore fishing ports in Bizkaia.


Cerca de Santurtzi, Bahía del Abra

Main attractions

  • Santurtzi
    • Church of San Jorge
    • Casa Torre Palace
    • Fishing Port
    • Itsas Museoa
    • Seafront Promenade
    • Oriol Palace
    • Agurtza Museum Ship
    • Iron Wharf – Tide Gauge
  • Portugalete
    • Bizkaia Bridge
    • Old Quarter
    • Basilica of Santa María
    • Salazar Tower
  • Getxo
    • Paseo de las grandes villas
    • Old Port
Cerca de Santurtzi, Bahía del Abra

Leaving from Santurtzi

This trail starts at the church of San Jorge in Santurtzi town centre. This Romanesque church is home to a much-venerated figure of Our Lady of Carmel.

Beside the church stands the Casa Torre (“Tower House”), a sober, baroque style mansion built in 1760 which still bears a fine coat of arms. This building is now used as an exhibition hall and cultural event venue.

Walk on through the traditional FISHING PORT, which is famous for its sardines.

The colourful fishermen’s guild building presides over the port, giving it a unique atmosphere. It also houses the Museum of the Sea and its interpretation centre.

A visit to this museum gives you an idea of just how closely the fishing community, with its traditional work and customs, is linked to the sea, of how the coastline has changed and of how this in turn has changed the lives of local people.

Now take the seafront promenade to the AGURTZA MUSEUM BOAT. Guided tours are available of this boat, which is one of the last traditional wooden fishing vessels on our coast.

They include explanations of the lives of our fishermen and of different fishing methods

A five-minute detour from the promenade takes you to the PALACIO DE ORIOL. This Victorian style mansion, dating from 1902, exemplifies the golden age of Bizkaia, when wealthy middle-class visitors summered in the town on the advice of their personal physicians, believing that “taking the waters” of the sea was beneficial to their health.

The viewing balcony at the house provides magnificent views over the whole bay.

Back on the promenade, the next stop is the “Iron Pier” in Portugalete. The building of this pier in 1877 was largely responsible for transforming the coastline. Feel the sea breeze as you walk along the pier.

At its end stands a tide gauge built in 1883. The Iron Pier itself was declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 2012.

It is considered to be one of the greatest works of engineering of the late 19th century in the area, and its construction greatly facilitated the movement of shipping on the river estuary.

Desde Santurtzi hasta el Puente Bizkaia


Just 5 minutes’ walk away stands the PUENTE BIZKAIA transporter bridge, known locally as the “Puente Colgante” or “hanging bridge”.

Hundreds of vessels have sailed under this 61 m high bridge over the years. It links the banks of the river estuary via a car suspended on cables that runs on rails along the gantry at its top.

It carries around six million passengers per year.

It was the world’s first transporter bridge and is an icon of industry in Bizkaia. It opened in 1893. The reasons that led UNESCO to declare it a Human Heritage Site included its perfect combination of beauty, aesthetics and functionality and the influence of its technology on the construction of other bridges.

It is fitted with glass lifts to take visitors to the walkway 50 metres up, from where there are extraordinary views over the whole mouth of the Nervión River estuary.

The Old Town district of Portugalete near the bridge is worth visiting. In the Middle Ages the town basically comprised the three streets now called Calle Coscojales, Calle Víctor Chávarri (popularly known as “Calle del Medio” or “Middle Street”) and Calle Santa María. On this last street you will find the Torre Salazar tower and the basilica of Santa María, built in a Gothic style with Renaissance influence. Both these buildings date from the 15th century. The basilica is home to a museum of sacred art featuring silverwork, vestments, a 17th century choir book and a 19th century abat-son.

There are fine views of the river estuary and the Puente Bizkaia transporter bridge from outside the church.

Now walk back down to the promenade to visit the Rialia Museum of Industry. The remit of this museum is to recover and publicise what remains of the area’s industrial past.

You can cross the river on the transporter bridge, which runs 24 hours a day.
We recommend taking the lift up to the walkway for matchless views and more information on the history of this iron colossus.


Now continue your stroll in Getxo on the opposite bank. Getxo boasts many great houses along the waterfront on what is known as the “promenade of the mansions”. This pleasant promenade features plaques with information panels on the grand architecture of the buildings between the monument to Churruca and Ereaga Beach, where the Punta Begoña Galleries are also worth visiting.

The trail ends in the Old Port, the seafaring heart of Getxo, whose picturesque houses and narrow streets make it a favourite spot for locals and visitors alike. There are two lifts: one to the centre of the Old Port and the other to the centre of the district of Algorta on the cliff top.

An easy way of seeing the area and linking all three municipalities is to take a boat trip with EL BOTE TOURS.

Audio-guides are available on the trip to explain the historical events that have marked the character and lifestyle of this area at the mouth of the estuary. Tickets are for the full day, and you can hop on and off as many times as you like.


Cerca de Santurtzi, Bahía del Abra


Mount Serantes

Cerca de Santurtzi, Bahía del Abra

Enjoy spectacular views over the bay, the coast and greater Bilbao from MOUNT SERANTES.

There are 38 km of SIGNPOSTED PATHS to help you discover the fortifications built over the centuries at this strategic lookout point on the coast (Santurtzi Nordic Walking Centre).

The Serantes Guard Tower and the Fort hold Site of Historic and Cultural Interest status and are open to visitors at weekends.

La Galea

Cerca de Santurtzi, Bahía del Abra

This beautiful stretch of coastline is marked by steep cliffs and beaches with splendid views.

Points of interest include the Aixerrota windmill, the church of Andra Mari, the La Galea fort and lighthouse and several local beaches: Arrigunaga, Gorrondatxe/Azkorri, La Salvaje/Barinatxe.

More routes from Santurtzi