City-guide

Bilbao

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Make bilbao the right way!

Bilbao is Spain´s 4 largest city. It is the capital of the province of Vizcaya, has more than 400,000 inhabitants. It is on the bank of the river Nervión (‘Ibaizábal’ is Basque for ‘wider river’), is an episcopal seat and one of Spain’s biggest harbours and industrial centres. In recent years the “botxo” (the hole as locals refer to it) Bilbao has transformed itself and its industrial history is being “shadowed” by architectural inspiration, art galleries and a plethora of cultural activity.

 

Bilbao city guide - Contents

NEBAK Jatetxea 9
NEBAK Jatetxea 9

Practical information to plan your visit to Bilbao

5 top reasons to visit Bilbao

The Guggenheim museum building. This building is without a doubt one of the world´s most impressive pieces of modern achitecture. You may not feel like visiting the museum and yet decide to visit Bilbao to just enjoy the building from outside. 

Art Galleries.  The Guggenheim is not the only art gallery worth visiting in Bilbao. The Museo de Bellas Artes is located at 5 minutes walk from the Guggenheim and for many its collection is not just a perfect match to the one at the Guggenheim´s, but more complete and appealing. 

Casco Viejo or pintxos dreamland. Bilbao´s old quarter is a noisy district full of small bars and shops. At its heart you will find the 7 calles. The Casco Viejo is home for Bilbao´s Gothic Cathedral (not one of the top cathedrals in Spain but yet worth a visit). La Plaza Nueva boast many modern tapas and wine bars and is the location for a flea market on Sunday mornings. 

Great excursions at less than 1 hour: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has become famous in recent years thanks to Game of Thrones, and is knowntoday  by more people than the famous Puente Colgante, one of Bilbao´s highlight at less than 15 minutes drive from Bilbao and which connects Portugalete with Las Arenas (Getxo). The fishing village of Bermeo or Getaria (very close already to San Sebastian) are also great options for a day tour. Small wineries that specialise in txcaoli wine and Caserios that produce local cheeses can also be excellent ideas for a short tour from Bilbao. 

Beaches & surf . There  is no beach in Bilbao itself and the Ria cannot be used as a beach! But there are as many as 23 beaches at less than one hour drive from Bilbao. Some of them (Labarrasterra, Arrigunaga, or Ereneaga)can be accessed with public trasnportation from Bilbao with metro lane 1.  Mundaka and Getxo are great for surfers. Staying in Bilbao and enjoying a relaxing beach day is possible despite this may not be the main objective for your visit to Bilbao.

Best time to visit Bilbao

Our favorite months to visit Madrid are from May to mid October. Bilbao´s Semana Grande (Aste Nagusia) is end of August, a wekk full of activities and lots of fun!

Weather in Bilbao

Bilbao is known as one of the cities where it rains most in Spain. From September till May you can get rainy days often (as much as 1 out of every 4 days) By a wet day we do not mean a few rain drops…

Temperatures are moderate and the coldest months of the year are from November till february with high averages between 55 and 60 F and low averages between 40 and 48F

Recommended attractions in Bilbao

Bilbao is the most important city in the Basque Country (economically and in population terms).  Its transformation from an industrial, grey town into one of Europe´s most attractive cities has been fascinating. Bilbao is today a top tourist destination with many things to do and see.  You can find all our favorite Bilbao attractions here. 

san mames stadium

San Mamés stadium

San Mames – Athletic Bilbao stadium   San Mamés stadium is located in Bilbao, the capital city of the Basque Country. The stadium opened its

Guggenheim musem

Guggenheim musem- Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao  The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao is the city’s most emblematic monument. A visit to Bilbao wouldn’t be complete without at least

Recommended hotels in Bilbao

Many modern hotels have been built in Bilbao in recent years and the overall quality is high. The Botxo (the city center) is easy to walk and you will be able to use also the underground or taxi to move around hotel. Having said this, most hotels are located near the city center. Street parking is not allowed in teh city center for more than 2 hours – and it is almost impossible close to it- so if you drive you should consider to book a hotel with parking.  We have put together a complete guide with our recommended hotels in Bilbao.  Below you can find some of our favorite hotels and you will find a complete selection in our Bilbao hotels guide. If you will like to be as close as possible to the Guggenheim museum, please have a look at our recommended hotels near the Guggenheim Bilbao section. 

Recommended restaurants in Bilbao

The basque gastronomy is considered to be the best in Spain. Restaurants and bars (and families) take great care in the selection of ingredients at local markets, or finding the best fresh products. From pintxos bars, traditional asadores (griled houses) or fine-dining restaurants, we are sure you will find your prefect match in Bilbao.  With the arrival of many tourists prices are not as affordable as they once were, but Bilbao is not yet as pricey as San Sebastian and quality is not too far away from what you will be able to enjoy in San Senastian. We have put together a complete guide with our selection of recommended restaurants in Bilbao.  

NEBAK Jatetxea

NEBAK Jatetxea- Bilbao

Why we recommend hotel NEBAK Jatetxea? NEBAK Jatetxea is a small, traditinal basque restaurant that offers slightly modernized and delicious versions of all the classics.

Build your itinerary with our interactive map of Bilbao

Top things to do in Bilbao

Our team of local experts thought that it makes all sense in this Bilbao city guide to ensure you find the most interesting things to enjoy in Bilbao. A gastronomical heaven and paradise for foodies who love both bar hopping and fine dining, Bilbao is also a great place to enjoy art. Not far from Bilbao you will also be able to discover fantastic beaches full of surfers, and excellent trecking opportunities. 

 You can find our full list with top things to do in Bilbao here.

Bilbao river near city hall
The river in Bilbao offers a great walking experience
Sculpture near mirador Artanda Bilbao
Sculpture next to the mirador de Artxanda in Bilbao
Dog Guggenheim museum Bilbao
Puppy stands full of flowers next to the Guggenheim museum

In depth

Discover secret places, stories and more in Bilbao

History of Bilbao

The

city was founded in 1300 by Don Diego López de Haro, Lord of Vizcaya, and by the

15C it had become a major harbour, which later to be much fought over. Local ore

made Bilbao one of the first centres of the iron industry swords from Bilbao. In 1475 Ferdinand the Catholic conferred the status of Villa Noble’ on the city. In the 15C it began commercial trading with France, England and Guinea, and later with the West Indies; it also provided part of Philip II’ Armada fleet. In the first half of the 17C the city

fought off attacks from the Dutch, English and French and between 1808-13 it was

taken by the French. During the Carlist Wars it was besieged several times.

Bilbao in a few minutes

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Bridge of Vizcaya

Bridge of Vizcaya (Portugalete)

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