Game of Thrones filming location

During our journey through the Basque Country in Spain, we visited the monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

What a beautiful discovery! HBO used it as a filming location for several scenes in the series Game of Thrones. If you’re familiar with the show, you’ll easily recognize it as the setting for Dragonstone’s Castle and the beach where Jon Snow arrives in certain episodes.

But whether you’re a fan of the series or not, this place will surely dazzle you! It’s a visit that should not be missed.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a bit of history

Located offshore along the Basque coast not far from Bilbao, the island is accessible via a steep hike (which is a bit challenging on the way back) followed by a narrow path with over 200 steps! Needless to say, it can leave you breathless quickly! However, it is doable even with young children. We recommend avoiding visiting during the peak summer heat as the path offers little shade.

Once at the top, you’ll see the monastery, which is quite small! Legend has it that once you reach the top, you should ring the monastery bell three times and make a wish, though unfortunately, it was closed when we visited!

This small church is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. According to legend, he landed at Bermeo and reached the island in three strides.

The church you see today is not the original one, sadly. It has been destroyed multiple times by fires and battles, and rebuilt each time. It’s worth noting that once at the top, there are shelters for picnicking and restroom facilities available.

Access, hours and fees for Gaztelugatxe

Please note, during high season access to the site is restricted, and you must reserve your ticket here in advance. Admission is free, but without a reservation, you will not be able to access the site. Therefore, make sure to visit the website before your trip and check the calendar to see if you need a ticket!

Gaztelugatxe is open year-round, but certain days have restricted access; check the calendar here for details.

Access to the island is from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM at the time of writing this article, as maintenance work is being done on the stairs.

The path to the top is very steep over 1,200 meters with a gradient of 35%! Needless to say, it’s not suitable for flip-flops or heels! Be prepared: wear appropriate shoes, bring water, and wear a hat.

Unfortunately, the route is not suitable for people with reduced mobility.

How to get to Gaztelugatxe ?

By car or camper van

From Bilbao, the journey takes approximately 45 minutes. Take the BI-631 road and follow the signs towards Bakio. Drive through the town and follow the signs to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

From Gernika, take the BI-2235 road towards Bermeo and then follow the signs to Gaztelugatxe.

By train

It’s not possible to reach Gaztelugatxe by train as the island is very isolated.

By bus

The bus network is well-established, and you can easily travel to Bakio by bus from Bilbao or other locations. From Bakio, you can take another bus to Gaztelugatxe.

Where to park a camper van at Gaztelugatxe ?

There are several free car parking areas available, but unfortunately, there are no designated spots for camper vans.

The uppermost parking area is permitted but very small, with spaces more suited for vans or smaller campers, making it quickly fill up. Other parking areas are prohibited, and since there are no other designated spots, your options are to visit during the off-season or, like many others, disregard the prohibition signs and take your chances.

Where to sleep in a camper van at Gaztelugatxe ?

It’s not possible to stay overnight at the site itself. For overnight accommodation, you’ll need to return to Bakio where you can find a designated area at “2 Txirrikaldeko Bidea.”

The cost is 15 euros for 24 hours without electricity during the high season, with an additional 3 euros if you require electricity.

To summarize

  • Entry is free.
  • Access may be restricted, check the website.
  • Parking is free.
  • No RV parking.
  • There is a restaurant before the start of the hike.
  • Be equipped for hiking.
  • There is a paid parking area in Bakio.

About Author

We are Sophie, Adrien, and our two adorable little ones. Passionate about travel, discovery, and gastronomy, we bought a 2007 Rapido camper van to travel differently, travel more, and introduce our children to the world. Here, we share our wonderful discoveries and tips for activities to do with children in France and beyond ! Welcome !

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