Sopela, also known as Sopelana, is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain. The town is roughly 820 hectares in area, located in the comarca Mungialdea on the north east side of Bilbao and due east of the Nervión river estuary. In the municipality, other former towns like Larrabasterra are now merged to make Sopela larger. The population is 11,185 people, as recorded in the 2003 census. Thriving expansion of the town puts this number to well over 12,000 people. The area of Sopela is situated among green hills and beaches. This makes for a very attractive suburb to Bilbao, with a short commute of 35 minutes on the metro.
Sopela's oceanic climate is very different from the one of southern Spain. Harsh winds tend to pick up speed along the coast and precipitation is very common all year round. Northern winds often bring the winter temperature to just above the freezing point, but summers are usually comfortable from late May to early September. Snow is common three days each winter on average 1. The summer climate is warm and the temperatures are moderated by the constant sea breezes.
Sopela is known for three beaches Atxabiribil, Barinatxe and Arrietara. They are rather exposed to the elements of the Bay of Biscay and have good conditions for surfers. A fourth beach, Meñakoz is of less appeal for sun worshippers and more for the surfer crowd due to the pebble bed ground. Sopela is frequently the host of regional surf competitions as conditions are adequate for surfing in its beaches. A less famous, but also internationally known event, is the yearly nude race on Barinatxe beach in the fall. Barinatxe is a clothing optional beach. Another special place in Sopela is a small creek called Ikatza known only by its citizens.
The town is connected to the main transport arteries with two metro stations on the Line 1 of Bilbao Metro and highways.
Larrabasterra station is located to the far south of Sopela in Larrabasterra, while Sopela station (formerly Sopelana) is at the center of the municipality. Several bus routes also connect Sopela to Bilbao and nearby towns, like Barrika, Plentzia, Gorliz and Armintza. There is also a local bus service which connects the town centre with the beaches.
There are no large shopping areas or malls in Sopela. The shopping centres are located a short car ride away in nearby towns like Getxo, Leioa, Barakaldo or Bilbao. However, the centre of Sopela is full of small shops with a wide variety of goods. Along the main road to West Sopela, there are several youth oriented shops and surf shops open all year round.