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This ‘Freak of Nature’ Cliff Town Is One of Spain’s Best Hidden Gems

The cliffs of Zumaia and the beaches are hidden gems on Spain’s Bay of Biscay coast. The cliffs form unusual vertical stratified layers of rock that attract visitors interested in this geological phenomenon. This unique landform, called a Flych, is a UNESCO Geopark.  Zumaia is a fishing port located on the Guipúzcoa coast, where the Urola and Narrondo rivers meet.

The cliffs result from the wind and seas that have carved these mountains on the Basque coast in the north of Spain for 60 million years. The alternating hard and soft layers of rock result from sediments from the sea that were uplifted and compressed for millennia. The strata provide a chronicle of geological events from the past. This includes Cretaceous-Paleogene period and even mass extinction events! The Algorri Interpretation Centre offers more information about the unusual site.

Viewing the Flych

Playa Itzurun is the best place to see the rock formations, This beach is a short walk from the center of Zumaia. Visitors are advised to wait until the tide out to see the rock formations that extend into the sea. This beach area was featured in Game of Thrones.

Playa Santiago is a warm, sandy beach that also offers great views of the cliffs. The smaller Playa Aitzgorri is rocky, although it is located below the cliff. 

A Flych boat tour is also available from the port that allows visitors to see the cliffs from the sea. Visitors can also hike to the lighthouse built in the 19th century to guide sailors to the port’s entrance.

Visit the Basque Country

Walk through the center of Zumaia, a medieval town, and visit the 13th century gothic church of San Pedro. Enjoy Basque cuisine at many of the fine restaurants in this fishing port.

Visitors can fly into the airports in neighboring Bilbao or Donostia-San Sebastian. Bus routes lead to Zumaia and other towns on the Basque coast. Rental cars are available at the airports.

Spain’s north coast is unique with its Basque heritage. The Flych of Zumaia should be seen when visiting this region.

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