Bilbao, with a population of about 350,000 (2018, and over a million in the metro area), is the largest city in Spain's Basque Country. Bilbao is perhaps the best place in the world to experience the ancient culture and language of the Basque people, which has stubbornly held its own over thousands of years and is now completely unlike any modern-day culture in Europe.
Milder and rainier than most other parts of Spain (temperatures here rarely fall below freezing in winter nor rise much above 25°C even in the height of summer), the greenery of this city on the banks of the Nervión is both a blessing and a curse: the climate here is as much a welcome relief from the heat of the dry plains in the south as a thorn in the side of those hoping for a day at the beach.
All buses to other provinces leave from the TermiBus terminal aka Bilbao Intermodal. There are regular connections from Santander (75 minutes), San Sebastian (60 minutes), Vitoria-Gasteiz (60 minutes) and Madrid (arriving at Avenida de América bus station, 4–5 hours) among others. There are many ticket machines in a line behind the escalators so you may be able to avoid the long queue (line) at the ticket window. You need a ticket or Barik card to get to the -2 departure floor.
The bus companies connect Bilbao with many cities in Spain more cheaply and frequently than the rail companies.
- ALSA, ☏ . The company links Bilbao to Santander. Be prepared for long waiting lines of half an hour as there are only two ticket offices. It's usually better to buy the ticket the day before or print your ticket on the company's website. Instead of printing, you can also use the text message they send to your mobile as proof of purchase. Moreover, you can now use four automatic machines.
For Vitoria-Gasteiz, take La Unión Alavesa buses.
- 1 Bilbao Airport (BIO IATA). Bilbao is served by a few European airlines and low-cost carriers, with Vueling and Volotea being the primary tenants. Others include British Airways, easyJet, Air France, Lufthansa, and KLM while Iberia provides further domestic connections. An alternative might by a flight to Santander, which is served by Ryanair.
To get to downtown Bilbao from the airport, take Bizkaibus A3247 from the arrivals hall. There is a ticket booth at the far right end of the floor. As of 2023, a ride to the city costs €3, however they do no longer sell the multiuse Barik Card (see Public Transport below) but the Barik cards are accepted on the bus. The bus will stop at Alameda Recalde (near the Guggenheim), Plaza Moyua and Gran Via (both in the city center) before terminating at Bilbao intermodal bus and San Mamés train & metro stations. The timetable for the reverse journey.
Taxis to downtown Bilbao from the airport cost about €25-30.
Bilbao is connected to other major Spanish cities few times a day and also has regional connections within Bizkaia. Note that there are three different main stations within the city centre.
Renfe runs Alvia trains to Madrid and Barcelona and Intercity services to Vigo (Galicia). All Renfe trains leave from Abando station and only run on sparse schedules, so check ahead. As the high-speed network towards the region is still under construction as of 2023 allow plenty of time, e.g. the journey to Madrid takes over 5 hours, making same-day connections within Spain often impractical.
feve runs regional trains to Santander (3 daily), and León (1 daily). They are very slow, and make a stop in almost every single town they pass through but provide a unique way of seeing the North Spanish coast. From Santander you can continue to Oviedo (Asturias), and La Coruña (Galicia). This journey has three legs, but it is only possible to do 2 legs in any one day. trains leave from La Concordia station, which is next to Abando station but surprisingly not signposted from there.. These trains are now run by Renfe.
EuskoTren runs a (often) hourly local service to Amara station in Donostia (San Sebastian), with connection there for Hendaye (Hendaia in Basque) just over the Spanish-French border. It takes two hours to reach San Sebastian with trains leaving from Zazpikaleak (Casco Viejo) station. Note. Station names are usually shown only in the Basque language on this network.
Brittany Ferries run a direct car ferry between Bilbao and Portsmouth, England. It is best to book early, since the ferry is often booked out in summer. Ferries land at Zierbena, at about 15 km of the centre of Bilbao.
Distances to Bilbao: Madrid 395 km, Barcelona 615 km, A Coruna 570 km, Lisbon 900 km.
Bilbao is difficult to drive in. Hilly one-way streets, and frequent construction projects, make it a nightmare for drivers in parts of the city. Having an automobile map helps a lot; without it allow at least 30 min extra to find the right exit from the city.
If you are going to take more than a few journeys on public transit, a Barik card would be a good investment. It is convenient, and can save you a considerable amount compared to single tickets. It is valid on the Metro, bus, tram, Euskotren services and on local Renfe trains in Bizkaia (Bilbao metro area). It can be bought from machines at Metro/Euskotren stations and from other outlets displaying the Barik sign. The card costs €3.00, and at the time of purchase it can be charged up with whatever amount is desired. It is easy to add further credit in the machines in Metro stations or by using the Barik NFC phone app with a credit card in €5 increments. A Barik cardless phone app is being piloted at July 2023 but is not generally available.
Barik cards can be used by more than one person on buses - so you may see a family of four swiping their card four times. They are valid through the province of Bizkaia (eng Biscay) and work on a zonal basis for the Metro, EuskoTren & Bizkaibus. Local Buses & Trams are a flat fare. The Barik card is valid outside Bizkaia on the EuskoTren to San Sebastián and the Dbus buses there. It is also valid on the trams in Vitoria-Gasteiz. The card can only be reloaded at Euskotren stations outside Bizkaia or using Barik NFC phone app.
Whilst the Barik card is an example of excellent public transport integration. The same cannot be said about public transport information with no proper citywide map for all modes of transport. Google Maps seems not to have any bus information. Moovit is better.
- MetroBilbao Convenient, Norman Foster designed Metro. Stations are indicated by this symbol: which is often on a very tall pole and is sometimes hidden by trees. Line three uses blue symbol of a part circle becoming a down facing arrow. It is clean and efficient, and security guards are often in evidence to reassure the public. Effectively single line within Bilbao, splitting into two lines after San Inazio station. runs from Etxebarri to Plentzia; from Etxebarri to Santurtzi. Additionally there is operated by Euskotren (but fully integrated with rest of metro) between Matiko & Kukullaga-Etxebarri connecting to the other two lines at Zazpikaleak(Casco Viejo). Trains run every couple of minutes at peak hours, and the stations are mostly very close together, meaning a lot of stops if you are going on a long journey. Single journey tickets cost from €1.70-1.95, depending on how many zones your journey covers. If making more than a couple of journeys you are advised to get a Barik card, place your card over the reader in order to enter at the automatic gates, and do this again at the end of the journey when exiting. Barik fares are from €0.48 to €0.62.
- Bilbobus City bus service usually red in colour. flat fare. Cheapest with Barik card. Touch in when getting on bus only.
- Euskotren Tranbia A green tram from La Casilla to Bolurta. The single line runs along the river passing the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and also serves the bus station (Bilbio Intermodal) at San Marmes & Albando. Single tickets cost €1.50 from machines at tram stops. Don't forget to validate the ticket on the validator next to the ticket machine before boarding. A cheaper option is to use a Barik card, touch in once per passenger before boarding: do not touch out at the end as it will have already debited your card with the flat fare.
- Renfe Cercanias (Basque:Aldiriak) Suburban trains. Three lines C1, C2 & C3 run from Bilbao Abano station & one Renfe feve service C4 from La Concordia station (near Abano). The Barik card be used on these services. From Bilbao Abando station lines C1 & C2 head North via Barakaldo to Santurtzi (C1) and Muskiz (C2). Line C3 heads south to Orduna. Additionally line C4 heads south west to La Calzada. If using a Barik card you must touch in at your origin station and touch out at your destination.
- EuskoTren Local train service leaving from Zazpikaleak(Casco Viejo) station for Bermeo, Gernika(Guernica) and Donostia Amara (San Sebastian). Some good views but the train is slower than buses. Barik cards can be used in a similar way to the Metro.
- BizkaiBus For buses which operate outside Bilbao city limits. They are generally green in colour with four digit service numbers. If using a Barik card you must touch in when getting on and touch out when getting off.
- 1 Artxanda Funicular. Spectacular views of Bilbao. The Barik card can be used on this service and is vastly cheaper than buying a ticket.
It takes about 30 minutes to walk along the river between the Guggenheim Museum and the Casco Viejo.
- Taxi Bilbao, ☏ . This single number is used by all taxi operators in Bilbao. Your cab should appear within five minutes.
- 1 Guggenheim Museum, Abandoibarra etorbidea, 2. Tu-Su 10:00 to 20:00; Jul and Aug: daily 10:00 to 20:00. Closed Jan 1 and Dec 25. Frank Gehry's spectacular twisting titanium-clad modern art museum is perhaps the most celebrated building of the 1990s, even starting what would be called the 'Bilbao-effect': The idea in urban planning that a star-quality building can single-handedly change the entire image of a city. Although this effect is unproven in its pure form, the Guggenheim nevertheless changed the world wide perception of Bilbao. The graceful, sensuous curves, evocative of the ships that used to be ubiquitous along the docks of Bilbao, are covered in titanium squares, which resemble the scales of a fish and shimmer in the sunlight. In keeping with the maritime theme, appropriate for the setting, the skylights of the largest gallery (formerly known as the Fish gallery) are designed to look like the fins of fish. Many parts of the building are purely decorative, and don't serve any purpose. The permanent collection is not particularly impressive, but the museum always hosts at least one interesting temporary exhibit, frequently comprised of masterpieces from the other Guggenheim collections. Adults €16.00; +65, students, -26: €8; -18 free (online prices, door prices €1-2 higher).
- 2 Puppy. Not a museum, but it is directly in the front of the Guggenheim Museum, created by Jeff Koons. It's one of the most famous symbols of modern Bilbao. It is a west Highland terrier 12 m high covered in flowers that are changed each season.
- 3 Museo de Bellas Artes (Museum of Fine Art), Plaza del Museo, 2 (Metro: Moyuako). M W-Sa 10:00-20:00; Su and public holidays 10:00-15:00; Tu closed. 1 Jan and 25 December: closed. The Museum of Fine Art's remarkable collection boasts more than 6,000 works dating from the 12th century to the present day, and includes paintings, sculptures, drawings, engravings and decorative objects. From 2023 the museum is undergoing a major extension & renovation project, only part of the old museum is open. For 2023 until major renovation works are complete: free.
- 4 Basque Museum (Euskal Museoa), Plaza Unamuno, 4. M W-F 10:00-19:00; Sa 10-13:30,16:00-19:00; Su 11:00-14:00. Tu and public holidays: closed. Established in 1921 to focus on the prehistory, archaeology, ethnography and history of Euskadi (Basque homeland). Not a particularly well laid out museum. It will be of passing interest to people who study Basque culture. Adults: €3.5; +65 12-26 and groups €2. Children under 12 & everyone on Th: free.
- 5 Itsasmuseum, Muelle Ramón de la Sota, 1. Winter: Tu-F 10:00-14:00, 16:00-18:00; Sa Su 10:00-14:00 and 16:00-20:00; summer: call to check. It's in what used to be the Euskalduna shipyard, this maritime museum is next to the current Euskalduna Performing Arts Centre. The museum covers an area of 27,000 m², 7,000 m² for indoor exhibitions and 20,000 m² for outdoor exhibitions, the three docks, the walkway surrounding them and the estuary. Adult €6, student, 65+, -18&students €3.00..
- 6 Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum), ☏ . Martín Agüero, 1, Plaza de Toros de Vista Alegre, (Near Plaza Zabalburu). Next to a bullring, the Museo Taurino highlights the role bullfighting has played in Euskadi. €3.
- 7 Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro (Museum of Sacred Art), Plaza de la Encarnación, 9-B, Atxuri, ☏ . closed Mon. A former convent founded in 1515 by Dominican nuns. General €3; student, senior, and under 18 €1.5; free on Tuesdays.
- 8 Museo de Reproducciones Artísticas (Museum of Artistic Reproductions), Conde Mirasol (no number), ☏ . Full-scale reproductions of the world's most famous works of art. Call ahead for a guided visit.
- 9 Cathedral of St. James (Santiago). Gothic-style 14th-century cathedral, named after Bilbao's official patron saint. Three naves and small Gothic cloisters. The building was designated a cathedral in 1949. Its Neo-gothic tower and main façade were designed by Severino de Achúcarro in the 1800s. The adjoining square (Plaza de Santiago) bosts a fountain designed by Luis Paret during the reign of Carlos III with the inscription Por el bien público (For the good of the people).
- 10 Iglesia de San Antón. Gothic style church from the first half of the 15th century (1422). Dedicated to San Anton in the 16th century, the building is a mixture of styles including a renaissance portico and baroque tower which was built in 1777. The church was constructed on the ruins of a former alcazar, and is shown on Bilbao's shield.
- 11 Basílica de Begoña, C\ Virgen de Begoña, ☏ . Overlooking Bilbao, this is perhaps the most symbolic religious building in the city. Built in the 16th-century by Sancho Martinez de Arego, who was also responsible for the Iglesia San Anton. It is a basilica of three naves. During the first Carlista War, in 1835, the façade and the tower were destroyed. The present ones were designed Jose Maria Basterra and constructed between 1902 and 1907.
- 12 Iglesia de San Nicolás, Esperanza, 1 (Arenal, Casco Viejo), ☏ . The Iglesia de San Nicolás, finished in the 19th century, is dedicated to the patron saint of sailors. One of the best examples of Baroque architecture in Vizcaya.
- 13 Iglesia de San Vicente Martir (Plaza de San Vicente), ☏ . Gothic church built in the 16th century.
Other places of interest
- 14 Vizcaya Bridge (West side Cercanías Portugalete C-1, East Side ). Also known as Puente Colgante (the hanging bridge), this is the only UNESCO World Heritage site in Spain listed in the "Industrial" category. You can use your Barik card to cross but the price is the same as buying a ticket.
- 15 Azkuna Zentroa (Alhondiga). An amazing building which has been modernized (according to designs by Philippe Starck and Thibaut Mathieu). It is an amazing complex containing a library, several bars and restaurants, a cinema and even a roof swimming pool with a glass floor! A must visit!
- Birthplace of Miguel Unamuno, c/La Ronda 16 (Next to Plaza Unamuno, Metro station: Casco Viejo). Spanish author born on 29 September 1864. His works include the novels Niebla and San Manuel Bueno, Martir, which are both read in AP Spanish Literature classes in the United States. Unamuno died on 31 December 1936 in Salamanca.
- 16 Teatro Arriaga, ☏ . Inaugurated on 31 May 1890, on the site of several former theatres, the first Teatro Arriaga burnt down on 22 December 1914. The second Teatro Arriaga opened on 5 June 1919. Evocative of the Opera House in Paris, the theater has an ornate façade and beautiful interior. The theater, and the square in front of it, were named after Juan Crosótomo de Arriaga, a composer from Bilbao. There is a tourist information office in the theater building: the entrance is on the left side as you face the theater.
- 17 La Concordia Station (Estación de Santander, FEVE Station). It was built between 1898-1902 on the banks of the Nervión. Designed by the engineer Valentín Gorbeña, with the art nouveau main façade added later with a design by the architect Severino Achúcarro.
- 18 Estación Abando (RENFE station) (Next to La Concordia feve station. Metro Abando.). Even if you are not going to take a train, visit the platforms, there is an impressive stained glass atrium depicting some traditional Basque jobs.
- 19 Puente de San Antón. Next to the Iglesia de San Antón sits Bilbao's most emblematic bridge.
- 20 Mercado de la Ribera. Another emblem next to the Iglesia de San Antón is the Mercado de la Rivera. One of the biggest covered markets in Europe. It was built in 1929 on the site of the original Rivera Street market. Produce fish and meat are sold in the market every morning, except Sundays.
- 21 Plaza Nueva. Bilbao's Plaza Nueva was first named Plaza de Fernando VII. Construction began on the plaza on December 31, 1829 and finished exactly 20 years later on December 31, 1849. This plaza was the seat of the Diputación de Vizcaya until July 1900 when the Diputación moved to its new home on the Gran Vía. The Academy of the Basque Language (Euskaltzaindia) occupies the old Diputación building in the Plaza Nueva. There is a market of used books, stamps, coins, and other small items in the plaza every Sunday morning. The Plaza Nueva is surrounded by buildings and only has entrances on some sides.
- 22 Palacio de la Diputación. Ornately decorated palace situated on the Grand Vía. Baroque-style monument designed by Luis Aladrén in 1897 to serve as the seat of the Diputación Foral de Bizkaia (Vizcaya) and inaugurated on July 31, 1900. The interior is just as lavish as the exterior, with beautiful stained glass windows.
- 23 Palacio Euskalduna (Euskalduna Conference Center and Concert Hall). A convention centre and concert hall housed in a modern building at the far end of paseo Uribitarte. Home to the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra and Bilbao Opera.
- 24 Plaza Moyua and Gran Vía. On the strech of the Gran Vía between Plaza Abando and Plaza Moyua is the main shopping and fashion district of Bilbao. On this short stretch you can find tons of clothes shops (For, Zara, Mango, H&M) and department store El Corte Ingles. This is a must-walk street.
- 25 Parque Etxebarria. The site of a former steel factory, this park was created in the 1980s as the first step of reorienting Bilbao from the industrial sector to the service sector. Wonderful views of the Casco Viejo and the Teatro Arriaga. There is a prominent chimney in the park, left over from the site's time as a factory. The park hosts a fun fair in August.
- 26 Ayuntamiento (City Hall), Plaza Ernesto Erkoreka, ☏ . Also known as la Casa Consistorial or Udaletxea. The city hall opened in 1892. Designed by architect Jaquin Rucoba in neo-baroque style. Don't miss the main reception area, called Arab Salon.
- 27 Zubizuri. The graceful white pedestrian bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, actually zubi zuri means white bridge in Basque. It spans the Nervión connecting the riverwalks Campo Volatin and Mazarredo. Be careful: the bridge is slippery when wet!
- 28 El Tigre. Tiger statue on top of a building in Deusto. Seen from Euskalduna Performance Center.
- 29 Bilbao Airport. Curvaceous white 'bird-like' building by Santiago Calatrava. Strangely missing an arrival hall.
- 30 Biblioteca Municipal de Bidebarrieta, Bidebarrieta, 4 (Casco Viejo, near Teatro Arriaga), ☏ . Commissioned by El Sitio society at the end of the 19th century, this building was built by architect Severino de Achucarro as a social hall. Now home to the city's historical archives and library.
- 31 Palacio de Ibaigane, Alameda Mazarredo, 23, ☏ . Home to the Athletic Club de Bilbao, Bilbao's football team. Built in the early 20th century. Note the arched entranceway. The nearest metro stop is Moyúa.
- 32 Palacio de Olábarri (Palacete del Puerto Autónomo de Bilbao), Campo Volantín, 37, ☏ . An interesting mix of several architectural styles. In the late 19th century it was the residence of Bilbaino entrepreneur José María de Olábarri. Now the seat of Bilbao's port authority.
- 33 Santa y Real Casa de la Misericordia, Sabino Arana, 2 (Next to Plaza del Sagrado Corazón), ☏ . Constructed in the mid-19th century as a charitable house for the poor.
- In the summer see an open air concert at the Kiosko del Arenal El Arenal Parque (across from Plaza Arriaga). The stage was built in 1923, and renovated in 1985.
- Beginning the first Saturday after August 15 and lasting for 9 days is Aste Nagusia / Semana Grande, the city's fiesta (holiday). An interesting time to come, but be prepared for lots of noise, music, street theater and events, with firework displays in the evening. Details from the tourist office in Teatro Arriaga.
- Walk through the seven streets of the old town Casco Viejo.
- Climb the Mallona stairs from Plaza Unamuno to Parque Etxebarria for the great views.
- Walk along the river.
- Walk through Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park, admiring the ponds and gardens, next to the Fine Arts Museum.
- Take the Artxanda Funicular, again for the views.
- Go kayaking or rent a boat from Bilbobentura (a company that rents out kayaks on the bank of the river nervion).
- Football: Athletic de Bilbao play soccer in La Liga, Spain's top tier, and indeed (along with Barcelona and Real Madrid) have never been relegated from it. They're noted for only signing players native to the Basque Country. Their home ground is the San Mamés stadium (capacity 53,000) on the river bank 2 km northwest of city centre: it's opposite the Termibus station and has its own Metro and local rail station. Their women's team play in Liga F, their top tier, at Lezama 2 Stadium near Zurbaranbarri metro station.
- First Saturdays Flea Market. Dos de Mayo Street transforms every first Saturday into a flea market selling antiques, books, and second hand clothes.
Clothes and shoes
- Hazel, Rodriguez Arias 4, ☏ . 10:00-20:00. Gorgeous shoes, simple but unique and pretty bloody affordable clothes.
- Falstaff, Colon de Larreategui 29 (Abando), ☏ . 10:00-20:00. Stylish clothes for fashion conscious women of all ages.
The local custom is to call what are known in Spanish as tapas by the Basque name, pintxos, probably much more elaborated than their Spanish cousins due to the Basque love of gastronomy.
Friday and Saturday nights are most popular time for eating pintxos - as it is for going to bars.
- Aritz, Calle Zugastinobia 4. Was once one of the best Pintxos bars in Bilbao, quite out of the way (almost hidden really in a very small, one way street away from the main thoroughfares). Ask for it and you will be given directions. It is worth the walk since they have won the local Pintxo contests for ages. It's worth going to this street though because there are dozens other pintxos bars.
- Restaurante Kasko, c/Santa María, 16, ☏ . This restaurant claims that their Pintxos are a miniaturization of Basque cooking culture. The Pintxos are presented very nicely and in an appetizing way on the bar counter. Staff proficient in English, occasionally live Piano music. Can be crowded at times.
- 1 Malatesta (Malatesta Kultur Lubakia), Goienkale/Somera 10, Bilbao, ☏ . From 11:00 to 22:30, Friday and Saturday until 02:00. Monday closed for rest. A place where you can have a drink, snack on pinchos and eat in the heart of Bilbao's Siete Calles. Vegetarian and vegan options. There is always an exhibition on, and cultural events are held here.
- Bilbao Cafe bar, Plaza Nueva, 6, ☏ .
- Charley Bar, Plaza Nueva, 8, ☏ .
- Fernando, Plaza Nueva, 12, ☏ .
- Víctor, Plaza Nueva, 2, ☏ .
Near the Diputación
- El Globo, c/Diputación, 8, ☏ .
- La Viña del Ensanche, c/Diputacion, 10, ☏ .
- à table, Dos de Mayo 18, ☏ . Cozy place in the old quarter of Bilbao. An authentic Basque-French restaurant offering a true flavour of that traditional cuisine. Good cellar. Reservation required. Service in English.
- Agape, c/Hernani, 13, ☏ .
- Harrobia, casco viejo; c/del Perro, 2, ☏ . Modern Basque cooking.
- Matxinbenta, c/Ledesma 26, ☏ . M-Sa 08:00-23:30. Basque food, specialities include fresh tuna in piquant tomato sauce and piperada. Reservations required.
- Zortziko, c/Alameda de Mazarredo 17, ☏ , . Tu-Sa 09:00-23:30. Traditional Basque dishes such as pigeon breast or marinated sea bass. Formal environment with late Victorian style furnishing, frequently booked days in advance. Ask about reservations to dine in the wine cellar.
- Buddah Palace, 2A Avenida de Ferrocarril (; Trambia: San Mamés: Autonomia C-1 C-2), ☏ . Indo-nepali restaurant with vegetarian options,
Vegetarian & Vegan
- Copper Deli, Plaza del Museo 3, ☏ . Convenient for the Museo de Bella Artes. Meat based, Vegetarian & Vegan dishes. Craft beers in bottles.
Tap water is safe to drink, also from the outdoor taps if not clearly marked with signs saying No Potable (not potable). On weekend nights a lot of people gather in the bar area in eastern Casco Viejo, get their drinks from any of the bars and hang around on the streets before heading to nightclubs.
- Bar Jamon Jamon, c/Luis Power 3, Deusto (Deusto Metro Station), ☏ . Simple neighbourhood bar. Good ham baguettes (bocadillo). Freshly baked baguettes, counter-carved Spanish Ham and the friendly service of Luis and Nekane. Not fancy but familiar with authentic atmosphere.
- Cafe Nervión, c/La Naja 7. Wonderful views of the river.
- Lamiak, c/De la Pelota (Casco Viejo). Comfortable coffee house, with chocolate cake to die for.
- Three spectacularly decorated bars (which are owned by the same people) are:
- Cafe Iruña, c/ Colon de Larreategui 13. With its Arabesque motifs and antique mouldings it is a sight to behold. If you go at night, you can also get some nice shikabobs - some of the only ones you'll find in Bilbao.
- Cafe La Granja (in Plaza Circular, across from the BBVA tower).
- Cafe Boulevard (on the Arenal, across from Teatro Arriaga).
- Kafe Antzokia, San Vicente 2, ☏ . This former theatre was converted into a multi-purpose venue in 1995. It is best known for promoting the Basque culture, both as an artists' venue and for the clientele. With a varied schedule of concerts of Basque and international bands, it serves as a night club on weekends. Run by a cultural association aimed at promoting the use of Basque language, it also hosts a restaurant, a Basque academy and a community radio station.
- Bar Juantxu, c/ Licenciado Poza, 39.
- Dakar, C/ Heros, 13, ☏ . Nightly karaoke and Spanish dance music.
- Galeon, Alda. Mazarredo, 25, ☏ . Maritime motif a mermaid statue at the entrance and decoration resembling the inside of a ship.
- Gran Casino Nervión, C/ Navarra, 1, ☏ . Two bars, on-site restaurant. Formal/semi-formal dress required.
- La Mutua, C/Ercilla, 2, ☏ . Serving breakfast during the day, and reopening at 23:30 for the night.
- Otxoa, C/Lersundi, 8, ☏ .
- Panko. Great stylish place that sells bread, pinxtos and meals. Good selection of regional wines
- 1 Singular, Lersundi Kalea 2 (Trambia: Uribitarte), ☏ . closed Sun. Good choice of beers with at least one local one on draught. Additional choices in cans. Good selection of Raciones if you want a snack.
- 2 Basquery, Ibañez de Bilbao Kalea 8 (Trambia: Pio Baroja; Metro: Ablando), ☏ . Brewpub with eight of their beers on tap. Bistro with view of brewery with Pizzas, Burgers, Salads & other dishes. Vegan & Vegetarian dishes available.
There are many inexpensive pensions in the Casco Viejo.
- Albergue Bilbao, Ctra Basurto-Kastrexana, 70, ☏ . A youth hostel with 48 rooms (22 double rooms). A bit of a journey away from the centre, but connected by bus.
- Bilbao Akelarre Hostel, Morgan 4-6, ☏ . A private youth hostel a few minutes by walking from the Guggenheim Museum, in the historic district of Deusto University. €17-21.
- Ganbara Hostel, Prim 13, ☏ . The only hostel in the Seven Streets area: the heart of the Old Town district of Bilbao. This makes it the ideal spot for anyone who wants to keep their finger on the pulse of the city: it is close to most of the museums and monuments, to the venues of the city’s cultural activities and to its night-life hot-spots.
- 1 Resa San Mamés Residence Hall, Termibus, Gurtubay Kalea, 1, (Located behind Bilbao Intermodal bus station. ; Trambia: San Mamés: rail C-1 C-2), email@example.com. Check-in: 3PM, check-out: noon. University accommodation available to IYHA members and members of the educational community. Single & Double Rooms. Great location for transport connections.
- NH Palacio de Oriol, Avda. Cristobal Murrieta, 27, 48980 Santurtzi, ☏ , fax: . Overlooking the Abra Bay, the hotel occupies a palace built in 1902.
- Holiday Inn Express Bilbao, Zarandoa Kalea 5, ☏ . Contemporary hotel close to Bilbao Airport and 10 km from the city centre.
- 2 Carlton, Plaza Moyua 2, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Melia Bilbao, Lehendakari Leizaola 29, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Miró Bilbao, Alameda Mazarredo 77, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Barceló Nervión, Campo Volantin 11, ☏ .
- Conde Duque, Campo Volatin 22, ☏ .
- Hotel Ilunion, Calle Rodriguez Arias 66 (near the Bus Terminal, very near to the metro and quite near to the Guggenheim museum.), ☏ .
With a rate of only 33.4 crimes per 1000 inhabitants, the Basque Country has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.
Crime rates can, however, vary significantly between rural and urban areas, though urban areas are still not particularly dangerous. Avoid the San Francisco area, however. Violent crime is extremely rare, but the usual precautions will keep you out of trouble.
While some may advise you not to wear any Spanish symbols, the reality is that the vast majority of Bilbainos will not even notice, much as it is true that a small minority might be upset about them. As a statistical precaution it is also best to avoid referring to the Basque Country as Spain.
Inhabitants of the Basque Country are divided between those who support independence or autonomy from Spain and consider themselves primarily or entirely Basque and others who consider themselves primarily or entirely Spanish. Within these currents, there are further subdivisions of opinion ranging from supporters of the terrorist group ETA (officially disbanded in 2018) at one end to those who supported the fascist regime of General Franco at the other (though an overwhelming majority of people fall somewhere in between these extremes).
These political issues have dominated life in the Basque Country for generations and you will still find coverage of them in news media across the Basque Country every day. Also certain bars will have a distinctly Basque nationalist clientele (such bars will generally have posters and slogans on the walls) where pro-Spanish opinions will be unwelcome, but which are otherwise perfectly safe places to go and indeed interesting to anyone who would like to learn more about the Basque identity. If speaking to strangers, bear these divisions in mind and try not to cause offence.
- France, Albia II - 10th floor C/ San Vicente, 8, ☏ , fax: , email@example.com.
- Greece, Alameda Recalde 27, ☏ , fax: .
- Romania, Plaza Circular 4, ☏ , fax: , firstname.lastname@example.org.
As of June 2022, Bilbao has 5G from all Spanish carriers.
- Balmaseda Charming town an hour from Bilbao
- Guernica - Gernika—Basque stronghold town, bombed by the Nazis during the Spanish Civil War. Inspired Guernica by Picasso in the Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid.
- Mundaka Medieval port and famous surf spot.
- Sopelana Town near the beach, can be reached directly from the city by MetroBilbao.
- Portugalete Take the Transporter Bridge from Getxo to this charming town.
- Plentzia Another town near the beach, can be reached directly from the city by MetroBilbao.
- Getxo Very nice walk along the coast, from the bridge to Sopelana. More than 10 km long.
- San Juan de Gaztelugatxe—Small chapel situated on a breathtaking island between Bakio and Bermeo.
Cities in other provinces
- San Sebastian — Beautiful resort with bar counters full of tasty Pintxos (Tapas)
- Santander — Resort City
- Vitoria-Gasteiz – Capital of the Basque Autonomous Community, green city with a nice old town