Castro Urdiales is a charming seaside town in Cantabria, located
near the Basque border. Perched on a hill are the city’s main landmarks,
the Gothic Church of Santa María, the medieval castle of Santa Ana and
the Hermitage of Santa Ana.
The medieval vibe continues in the
city centre with its maze of narrow streets. Here you’ll find a series
of arcaded shops, bars and seafood restaurants.
only has a small beach, but there are much more worth discovering
further down the coast. Follow our one-day itinerary below to find the
best things to do in Castro Urdiales, including tips on where to eat and
where to stay.
As you arrive at Castro Urdiales, it’s hard not to notice the Iglesia de
Santa María de la Asunción. This impressive Gothic church stands
prominently above the town’s harbour, surrounded by a grassy field.
While built in the 13th century, new elements were added until the 19th
century. The result is a three-storey church with flying buttresses and
pinnacles that resemble the French Gothic style.
In the same headland as the church, you’ll find the Castillo de
Santa Ana. Dating back to 1163, this small castle has a classic military
style, with striking circular towers made of stone. It was erected at
the edge of the sea to defend Castro Urdiales against pirate attacks.
Attached to one of the castle’s towers is a lighthouse added later on
and used for the first time in 1853.
From the castle, walk towards the medieval bridge. Despite its Gothic
style, some locals call it the Roman Bridge. It was built to provide
better access to the Ermita de Santa Ana. This small hermitage sits on a
rocky crag overlooking the sea. The building you see today dates from
1941, but the site itself has been occupied since the Late Stone Age.
After touring the town’s main sights, head to Plaza del
Ayuntamiento. As the name suggests, this is where you’ll find the
Ayuntamiento aka, the Town Hall. The building resembles a castle with
its crenellated clock tower and elegant arcades. Surrounding the square
are a couple of shops and cafés where you can grab a drink. You can also
spot the town’s harbour from here with its colourful fishing boats. If
you continue down the Paseo Menéndez Pelayo, you’ll soon reach the gates
of the Ocharan Palace. It’s a private residence, but you might be able
to peek through and see this stunning eclectic building that combines,
Greek, Italian and Spanish styles.
End your day in Castro Urdiales with a stroll along the beach. The
closest ones to the centre are the Playa de Brazomar and Playa de
Ostende. Brazomar is an urban beach located in the southern end of town,
while Ostende is located near the castle making it a bit more popular
Costa Cantabria: Castro Urdiales
mighthave its own sandy stretches, but there are more beaches and
seaside towns worth discovering along the Costa Cantabria. From the
large city of Santander to the smaller towns of Noja, Laredo and
Santoña, you can cover most of these in one day.
Located close to the Basque border, Castro Urdiales is only a 30-minute
drive from the lively city of Bilbao. Plan a day trip to this Basque
city and discover unique buildings such as the Guggenheim or the
Santander: About an hour west of the
town is Santander, Cantabrian’s capital. In this modern city, you’ll
find plenty of beaches, art museums and lively food markets. The main
attractions include a Gothic cathedral and a 20th-century palace that
once welcomed the Spanish royals.
Castro Urdiales is a small town, so you can easily explore it on foot.
Kids will enjoy playing by the beach or in one of the town’s parks.
Parque de la Barrera, for example, offers a playground as well as a
It’s also fun to explore the medieval centre and climb up to the castle or cross the bridge to the Ermita Santa Ana.
can combine your trip with a visit to other nearby cities, such as
Bilbao and Santander, which have even more family-friendly attractions. The Cabarceno Natural Park is about 40 min away by car from Castro Urdiales.
Sitting along the Cantabrian sea, Castro Urdiales has always
been a fishing town, making it the perfect place to try some seafood.
Local specialities include sardines and anchovies, and you can find them
in many of the town’s restaurants. Below are some of the best places to
eat in Castro Urdiales:
Gastrobar Amarras: Sample creative
tapas at this cosy bistro in the town centre. Every dish uses quality
ingredients and comes with a colourful presentation. Highlights include
the vegetable tempura, the cod with gratin and the duck with raspberry
tapioca. You can come here for a meal or a mid-afternoon snack.
Puerto: Facing the town harbour, this restaurant serves traditional
Cantabrian dishes with a focus on seafood. Specialities include clams,
prawns and steamed mussels. You can order à la carte or pick the
three-course menu and try a mix of dishes. Grab a seat by the terrace
and enjoy the sea views while you eat.
Sercotel Hotel Las Rocas Playa (4 stars): Overlooking the Brazomar
beach, this four-star hotel is one of the best places to stay in Castro
Urdiales. It offers modern rooms with wonderful views of the city or the
sea. There’s also a restaurant on-site which serves traditional
Hotel Rural la Llosa de Samano (2 stars):
Housed in a picturesque stone house, this rural hotel is located around
2km south of Castro Urdiales. The rooms feel cosy with their wooden
furnishings and warm decor. Guests also have access to a restaurant and
charming gardens with ponds.
Posada Casa Rosalia: On the
outskirts of Castro Urdiales, amid the countryside, you’ll find Casa
Rosalia. This charming guesthouse stands out with its stone façade which
is over 200 years old. It only has 10 bedrooms, making it the ideal
place for an intimate stay. Every room has a rustic touch and some come
with hot tubs. Other facilities include a lounge with a fireplace, a
garden and a bar.
The best time to visit Castro Urdiales is between late June and early
September. Summers in this region are quite mild, with average
temperatures around 25ºC. This is also the best season to come if you
want to spend some time on the beach. November brings more rainy days,
but it’s during this month that the town celebrates its biggest festival
— the Fiestas de San Andrés. If you want to catch the lively side of
Castro Urdiales, you should plan your trip around this event.
Pasión Viviente: Around easter, Castro Urdiales reenacts the final days
of Jesus Christ with a religious parade in the historic centre. The
event has been taking place since 1984. From the script to the costumes,
everything is planned.
Fiestas de San Andrés: In late November, Castro Urdiales comes alive
with the Fiestas de San Andrés. This three-day festival celebrates the
town’s patron saint and its maritime roots. Locals participate in
regattas and eat plenty of snails and seabream.