Urdaibai, the only Biosphere Reserve in the Basque Country: a balance between people and nature

Ongi etorri (Welcome) to the Urdaibai Basque Reserve, the only Biosphere Reserve in the Basque Country. A place where people, nature and heritage, sea, estuary and mountains create a landscape full of life.

The Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve stands out for its wide variety of landscapes and environments shaped by 14,000 years of balance between nature, fishing and rural villages, culture and traditions.

Starting from the mid-altitude peaks covered by forests, we travel downstream to valleys where the farming tradition linked to “caserío” farmhouses is still alive; a place where settlements have been established throughout history. We continue to the floodplains around the estuary that are teeming with life, before approaching the imposing limestone formations that shelter the extensive Cantabrian holm oak forests, and on to the coast, dotted with capes, coves, beaches and seaside towns.

Urdaibai is a landscape rich in contrasts with an extraordinary natural value. Its high biodiversity index indicates the environmental quality of the area, with more than 3,300 species and subspecies in its different habitats: coastline and cliffs, marshes and sandbanks, forests and Atlantic countryside.

Types of protected areas

  • Biosphere Reserve
  • Wetland Ramsar
  • Natura 2000 Network: SPAs, 3 SAC

Commitment to Sustainable Tourism

The Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is clear that for tourism in Urdaibai to be sustainable, it must contribute to the protection of its natural and cultural heritage, and to the socio-economic development of its local population. That’s why it began adhering to the European Charter for Sustainable Tourism in 2019, becoming the first protected area in the Basque Country to be certified as a sustainable tourist destination.

Its objectives are:

  • To make Urdaibai-Busturialdea a recognised and recognisable tourist destination, offering visitors a high quality experience.
  • To involve local people in order to link itself to sustainable tourism and boosting the local economy.
  • To create excellent tourist products to attract quality visitors.

Ecotourism in Urdaibai

Urdaibai is an ideal environment for ecotourism with a range of activities that awaken the senses.

  • Feel the landscape. Get to know the area through the numerous trails through its varied landscape and lively villages. And discover what lies beneath through the interpretation of its heritage.
  • Listen to nature. Do birdwatching in one of the most important wetlands of the Cantabrian coast.
  • Smell the force of the sea. Find out how the force of the Cantabrian sea has sculpted its seabed.
  • Discover the town’s identity. Get to know its history and travel back in time by visiting its museums and through the interpretation of its cultural heritage.
  • Taste the land and the sea. Enjoy a delicious txakoli and indulge in a local food and wine experience


Bizkaia, Euskadi

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