Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe


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Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe: Tips for a Magical Day at Dragonstone
When I knew I was visiting the Basque Country in San Sebastian, one destination stood out in my mind: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, famously known as Dragonstone to Game of Thrones fans. My initial plan was to join a tour, but after much consideration, we decided to rent a car to have the freedom to explore on our own schedule. Despite not initially factoring in the tolls, the experience was entirely worth it. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your visit to this stunning location.

  1. Plan Ahead and Book Your Entry
    San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a popular destination, so it’s crucial to plan your visit in advance. Entry is free, but you need to book your slot online HERE. This helps manage the flow of visitors and ensures you have a smooth experience.
  2. Arrive Early
    To beat the crowds and enjoy the serene beauty of the site, aim to arrive early in the morning. The early hours offer a more peaceful atmosphere, and the lighting is perfect for capturing stunning photographs.
  3. What to Wear
    The hike to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe involves a fair amount of walking and can be quite steep in parts, so it’s essential to dress appropriately:

Comfortable Walking Shoes: Opt for sturdy, comfortable walking shoes or hiking boots. The path can be uneven, and you’ll appreciate the extra support.
Layers: The weather can be unpredictable, so wear layers that you can easily add or remove. A light jacket or windbreaker is advisable.
Hat and Sunglasses: Protect yourself from the sun, especially if you’re visiting during the warmer months.
Backpack: Carry a small backpack for essentials like water, snacks, and a camera.

  1. Bring Water and Snacks
    There are no facilities at the site, so make sure to bring plenty of water to stay hydrated. Pack some snacks to keep your energy levels up, especially if you plan to spend a few hours exploring the area.
  2. Respect the Environment
    San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is not only a tourist attraction but also a natural and historical site. Be respectful of the environment by staying on marked paths, not littering, and respecting any posted guidelines.
  3. Enjoy the Drive
    While the tolls might come as a surprise, the drive to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is part of the adventure. The scenic views along the coast and through the Basque countryside are breathtaking, so take your time and enjoy the journey.
  4. Capture the Moment
    Don’t forget your camera! Whether you’re a Game of Thrones fan or simply an admirer of natural beauty, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe offers countless photo opportunities. From the dramatic coastline to the iconic steps leading to the chapel, every angle provides a new perspective.
  5. Take Your Time
    Once you arrive, take your time to explore. Climb the 241 steps to the top, ring the chapel bell three times for good luck, and soak in the panoramic views of the Bay of Biscay. The experience is more than just a visit; it’s a journey through history and nature.

Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe was a highlight of my trip to the Basque Country. With a bit of preparation and these tips in mind, you’re sure to have an unforgettable experience at this magical location. Enjoy your adventure at Dragonstone!

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