One of the “touristic” places to visit in Bizkaia’s countryside is the Oma painted forest. In this post I’ll tell you how to get there using public transport.
The local artist Agustín Ibarrola started painting the trees of this forest in 1982. In a couple of years, he had achieved a collection of paintings that you can see from different standpoints (which are signaled on the ground).
Since trees are living things that grow, some of the drawings may not be nowadays as perfect as a couple of decades ago (maybe some repainting work has been done to solve a bit of this problem, but I am not sure, so don’t quote me on this).
Another funny thing is that the artist started painting a forest that was not of his property. Someday the owner decided to cut a few trees and some drawings were spoiled (after that the government said the forest should be protected).
OK, now how to get there 🙂 My suggestion is to start in the village of Gautegiz-Arteaga, which is a few minutes after Gernika (a very important village in Bizkaia’s history!).
From Bilbao, there is the Bizkaibus A3513, going from Termibus.
The bus stop in Gautegiz-Arteaga is number 4045, in Herriko Enparantza 28. (The buses have an electronic screen telling what’s the next stop, but you can also warn the driver that you want to get off there, just in case, and [s]he can maybe remember that and warn you when you must get off).
[More info on the bus should be found here. If not, just google Bizkaibus]
In this map, the starting point is the green circle. The route to the forest is in blue (starting in the valley and then going upwards), and in yellow there is an extra option, a visit to a small castle (which nowadays is run as a hotel and restaurant).
The blue circle is an area with a baserri restaurant, a parking, pic-nic area, and also a path to the cave of Santimami(ñe), which is possible to visit only with a guided tour requested beforehand. In this cave lived some of the “ancient Basques“, so it’s also an important spot for our history, and also World Heritage of UNESCO. If you are really adventurous, you can try to find the way up to the mountain, starting from this cave (it’s a narrow path between the trees, not relly comfortable maybe). The view from the mountain (Ereñozar) is really good – you can see perfectly the Urdaibai area, with its tidal river.
From this area there are two options (A and B) to get to the forest (and option C is the way to the cave).
“A” goes through the valley, so it’s more calm and in my opinion is more beautiful (really beautiful during spring-summer, with all in gren, with the flowers and the beautiful Basque sheep [Latxa sheep] and other animals) and I would take it as the option to go there, then “B” for coming back.
“B” goes through the mountain and forests, it’s not so beautiful, and I prefer it for the way back, when you are not so interested in the view but more in just getting back 🙂 (during summer an extra in path “B” is that you might find wild strawberries on the side of the path – actually in “A” too, but not so many).
A good point to start with “B” and use “A” to come back is that it would be the “official” way to enter in the forest.
In the picture I don’t show you the forest, just the starting points. From there you still have a nice walk to the forest (maybe 30-45 minutes, always depending on the speed).
If you get there by car, you’ll have to leave it in the parkig, so also in that case this will be your starting point.