Bilbao's Most Famous Hike: Pagasarri

13/07/2021

Pagasarri is easily the most popular hike in Bilbao. It is accessible from the city centre and offers incredible views. This semi-challenging adventure will you leave feeling satisfied. The climb to Pagasarri is the one hike that every outdoorsy person that steps foot in Bilbao must do.

Pagasarri summit
Pagasarri summit

This 673 meter (2208 feet) climb up Mount Pagasarri is a Basque tradition. From the valley floor of central Bilbao to the elevation markers atop, this local classic is a beauty, Pagasarri is well worth your time and energy. Enjoy the ascent, have a cold beverage, and savor the views. Sometimes the juice is worth the squeeze.

Getting There From Bilbao

There are multiple ways to get to the summit of Pagasarri. If you want to make the hike shorter and have a vehicle, you can cut this adventure in about half by Googling Pagasarriko aparkalekua (Pagasarri Parking Lot). Follow the directions to the parking lot where the trail head begins.

The road up to Pagasarri
The road up to Pagasarri

The majority of people that venture to Pagasarri do so by walking from the city centre. The closest Metro Bilbao station is Indautxu. However, the Renfe Ametzola station is actually closer. Other stations that offer similar time frames and distances are the Miribilla and La Peña. Depending on your starting point, the route up will vary.

Pagasarri Mountain Trail

The main trail of the hike is a service road that winds up the mountain. There are multiple different side trails that go up between the switchbacks of the main trail. This forested trek provides plenty of shade on a hot and sunny day.

Pagasarri trailhead
Pagasarri trailhead

The first section of the hike, past the parking lot, climbs gradually. Once you pass the vehicle service gate and turn the first corner, it gets tougher. There is pedestrian access on either side of the service gate. The gate is only meant to prevent unwanted car traffic from getting any further.

It should take roughly five minutes to clear this difficult section. You'll know that you've completed the most trying part when the road forks in a few different directions. Not to worry, there is a direction pole that will point you in the correct direction. 

3/4 of the way up the trail
3/4 of the way up the trail

The trail will wind up the mountain a few more times. Be on the lookout for animals. Don't be surprised to come across some cows, goats, horses, or even a bull. As you approach the summit, the tree covering will dissipate into a park area with picnic tables.

The Pagasarri Summit

The summit of any hike always feels great. This is the case with Mount Pagasarri this is no different. Here you are also rewarded with incredible 360 degree panoramic views of Biscay. If you are able to do this hike on a clear day, you'll be handsomely rewarded.

Picnic area at the summit
Picnic area at the summit

The trail itself comes to a conclusion at a park in the saddle of the summit. To the right side is a small hike up to the radio and cellular towers the can be seen from most places in Bilbao. It is worth taking note of them and then look for them when your hike is completed and you're back in the city. It's a nice way to jog memories of previous adventures.

View of Pagasarri
View of Pagasarri

To the left of the saddle is a small mountain shelter that has been converted into an eating establishment. It's not a full service restaurant but it does offer a well deserved beverage and pintxo upon arrival. There are a few places to sit inside, however, most people take their snacks and refreshments outside to enjoy the view.

Pagasarri summit view of Bilbao
Pagasarri summit view of Bilbao

Further up is what most people would consider the true summit. It is where the summit markers are and the place that you should end up at some point during your time at the top. This is also the area with the best photo opportunities. It has the largest views of Bilbao, from north to south. The ocean views past this sprawling valley city are a welcome reward for completing the climb.

Pagasarri summit with city and ocean view
Pagasarri summit with city and ocean view

When surveying the surroundings of Pagasarri, you begin to grasp the extent of the beauty of Basque Country. The impressive mountainscape includes peaks such as Gongeda, Zambia, Malmatsin, Eretza, and of course, Ganekogorta. 

Pagasarri summit mountain view
Pagasarri summit mountain view

Ganekogorta is a majestic mountain with a sharp peak that slopes dramatically downward without much tree cover. It is one of the most famous mountains in Biscay. However, we will leave that for another day.

Basque forest view from Pagasarri
Basque forest view from Pagasarri

The hike up Pagasarri is an all time, regional classic. It is within reach from the city center and offers incredible vistas. If you like outdoor activities and outstanding views, this adventure is for you. Do yourself a favour and summit Pagasarri.

Pagasarri panoramic view
Pagasarri panoramic view

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