Santurtzi, Bilbao’s gateway to the sea

Well-connected to Bilbao by rail, metro and bus, Santurtzi is an excellent gateway to the sea. Within its municipal boundaries lies the Port of Bilbao, one of the main commercial shipping ports on the Cantabrian seaboard.


From Santurtzi, you can sail out into the Bay of Biscay and go whale watching, sport fishing, or birdwatching. The town is also on the Camino, or Way of St. James, and is just a short hop away from Monte Serantes, one of the most popular mountains in Bizkaia for hiking.

Santurtzi has always been synonymous with the sea. Famous for the sardines which were immortalized in a popular song, visitors can take a guided tour of the route taken by the famous sardineras (sardine-sellers) when selling the fish they carried in baskets on their heads.

The ‘Agurtza’ is another interesting visit in the town. One of the last tuna fishing-boats to be built in the Bizkaia shipyards, it was used in the past for fishing albacore tuna, sardines, mackerel and anchovies, and currently houses the Fishing Interpretation Centre. Visitors can also see a dramatized fish auction at the Maritime Museum which is housed in the former Fishermen’s Guild.


Santurtzi used to have one of the biggest off-shore fishing fleets in Bizkaia, with up to 50 fishing boats in its heyday.  However, until the mid-twentieth century, the most common vessels used for fishing were the traditional Basque ‘traineras’ or rowing boats. Nowadays, ‘Sotera’ is the name of the trainera that represents Santurtzi in the popular fixed-seat rowing regattas.


Go whale watching, fishing or birdwatching from a sailing boat

Sailing/birdwatching trips are available from the port on Saturdays from December to March. The excursion takes just under five hours. January is a good time to spot common loons, common mergansers, razorbills, guillemots, and Mediterranean, ring-billed and little gulls.

Game-fishing expeditions for catching larger species such as albacore tuna or sword-fish can be booked in advance all year round. No experience is needed, the skippers guarantee an unforgettable day or half-day experience.

If you’re looking for something different, why not go whale-watching? Santurtzi has been running whale-watching trips for over five years. Experience what it’s like to see dolphins swimming up next to the boat, sail along beside a pod of long-finned pilot whales or stop to admire a large whale. The excursion includes a brief introduction to marine fauna, a handbook for identifying birds and cetaceans, an expert guide to accompany you and travel insurance. There is a waiting list and trips start in spring.

Discover the gateway to the sea at Santurtzi.


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