There are more things to do in Bilbao than you’d have thought

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Located on Spain’s northern coastline and providing a dynamic and authentic experience, no trip to Spain is complete without a visit to Bilbao and the Basque Country. Best known for Frank Gehry’s 1997 Museo Guggenheim Bilbao, the city’s industrial past exists within a highly acclaimed modern urban overhaul as a hotspot for art and architecture.

Spain’s tenth largest city offers a mild climate and easily accessible beaches. The economic and cultural hub of Northern Spain, Bilbao contains world-class museums, charming neighbourhoods, and renowned Basque cuisine including ubiquitous and tasty pintxos (small plates).

There are so many things to do in Bilbao, it can be difficult to pick and choose. And this Bilbao travel guide won’t make it any easier for you as it delivers much more than the essentials to enhance your Bilbao experience. In addition to learning what to do in Bilbao, you’ll receive valuable hotel and tour recommendations and general information such as ‘Where is Bilbao’ and ‘How do I get to Bilbao’.

Things to do in Bilbao in and near Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo

Start your trek around the city, visit Casco Viejo and enjoy a traditional three course lunch at one of the many Bilbao restaurants located in the district. Also known as the Old Town, Casco Viejo is the medieval neighbourhood of Bilbao and is made up of seven streets, lined with an abundance of shops and restaurants to choose from for a nice culinary experience. The typical Bilbao lunch takes place in the early afternoon and consists of three courses: A starter, a hearty main dish, followed by a dessert. After lunch, stroll around in the area and visit nearby shops and buildings.

How to get there for your travel planning

You can get here by taking the Bilbao Metro, tram or bus from various areas of the city.

Plaza Nueva

Built in 1821, Plaza Nueva is the town square of Bilbao, and it features a monumental neoclassical design. It’s surrounded by buildings, but can be accessed through arches, which also host many historic restaurants and shops. Formerly the site of the Biscay government, Plaza Nueva is now home to the Basque Language Royal Academy.
Plaza Nueva is the place, where locals like to meet to have a beer with Pintxos. Pintxos are small pieces of bread covered with all kinds of wonderful things, e.g. a fish ratatouille. Take a trip to this square on Sundays, when a traditional flea market takes place, filled with antiques, flowers, produce, and more.

If you want to stay in a hotel as close as possible to Plaza Nueva you should stay in AliciaZzz Bed And Breakfast Bilbao.

How to get there for your travel planning

Take the Bilbao Metro stop to Casco Viejo and walk the short distance to Plaza Nueva.

things to do in Bilbao - Things not to be missed in Bilbao Spain

Arriaga Theatre

Inspired by the renowned Opera House in Paris and constructed in a Neo-Baroque style, Bilbao’s Arriaga Theatre is home to year round entertainment including opera, ballet, concerts, and plays. The Arriaga Theatre was opened in 1890, then remodelled first in 1919 due to a fire and again in 1985 after sustaining damage from flooding. Located in the Casco Viejo (Old Quarter), the Arriaga Theatre is named for Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga who composed his first opera at age 13 and became known as ‘Spanish Mozart’ after his death at age 20. Plan ahead if you wish to secure tickets to a performance.

Secure yourself a room right next to Arriaga Plaza and Arriaga Theatre by booking the Arriaga Apartments.

The Bilbao: 3-Hour Guided Bike Tour makes a stop at Arriaga Theatre.

How to get there for your travel planning

Located in Arriaga Plaza, the Arriaga Theatre can be accessed by the Metro station Casco Viejo or the tram station Arriaga.

La Ribera Market

Have a traditional European shopping experience at La Ribera, an indoor marketplace. For a real sense of the Bilbao community, walk around the market and chat with local shoppers and sellers. Popular as a place to buy fresh fish, you can also find other goods such as Bilbao souvenirs, produce, and more. The building inside the market features an art-deco design, with large windows and natural lighting.

How to get there for your travel planning

The market is located besides the river estuary in Bilbao, and can be accessed from the metro to Ribera.

Catedral de Santiago (St James Cathedral)

While the official construction date is credited as 14th-15th Century, this Gothic/neo-Gothic cathedral is believed to have existed in some form as far back as the 1300’s and may be Bilbao’s oldest existing building. Originally the town’s main parish church, it was not titled a cathedral until the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao was formed in 1950. Named for the city’s patron saint, apostle James the Great, the Catedral is a stop along the route of the Way of St James (Camino Santiago).

If you like cathedrals you should book your stay in The Tenderia Apartment Bilbo Bilbao. They are situated nearby the Cathedral.

How to get there for your travel planning

The Catedral de Santiago is located within the Casco Viejo and can be reached by Metro or tram.

Basque Museum of Bilbao (Euskal Museoa Bilbao)

Housed within a 17th Baroque building that once served as a convent and Jesuit school, the Basque Museum of Bilbao focuses exclusively on the rich history and tradition of the Basque people. Opened in 1921, the museum contains over 20,000 objects some dating to prehistoric times. Among the museum’s exhibits are included a large scale model of Biscay and extensive information about the region’s traditional industries- sheep-herding, fishing, and farming.

How to get there for your travel planning

The Basque Museum is located within the Casco Viejo which is served by Metro and tram.

Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari

Just across from the Arriaga Theatre in the Old Quarter one of the most photographed churches in Bilbao, San Nicolas de Bari, can be found. Constructed 1743-1756, the distinctive Baroque façade and twin towers make this church a beloved local landmark. Adjacent to a pleasant waterfront park area, the Arenal, San Nicolas is named for the patron saint of sailors and the church was a meeting point for those who were headed out to sea. The design of the building is unique for being an octagon within a square and it is said to take the form of a Greek Cross.

The Arriaga Apartments are also a good choice if you want your stay to be near the Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari.

How to get there for your travel planning

Located within the Casco Viejo, San Nicolas is accessible by Metro, tram to Arriaga, and bus.

Things to do in Bilbao from the Guggenheim museum to the Plaza de Frederica Moyua and nearby

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this museum features a breathtaking chrome and metal construction. Not only is it a monumental site to view for its architectural beauty, but the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao also features a large collection of modern and contemporary art. Explore this must-see landmark during your Bilbao trip and be inspired by the many exhibits of both Spanish and international artists.

Even I, normally a “museum avoider”, was impressed by the external and internal architecture of the museum and by a temporary video installation, where you could see a band, playing a song and each musician had its own location in a house, e.g. one playing the guitar in bed with his lover, and all playing synchronously.

Do you want to have breakfast each morning on the roof terrace looking at the Guggenheim museum? Then you need to book your room at the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao.

How to get there for your travel planning

The Guggenheim Museum is located in the city centre, and can be accessed via the metro, taxi, or bus.

things to do in Bilbao - Things not to be missed in Bilbao Spain

things to do in Bilbao - Things not to be missed in Bilbao Spain

things to do in Bilbao - Things not to be missed in Bilbao Spain
I really liked those giant cotton buds or whatever they resemble. (My visit was in September 2014) Enlighten me in the comments please!

La Salve Bridge

While its popular name is La Salve Bridge, the official name of this 1970’s suspension bridge is the ‘Prince and Princess of Spain’ bridge. Built to provide a northern access to the city, the bridge became widely known when the Guggenheim Museum was constructed directly underneath. The first bridge in Spain to use a cable-stayed system, the La Salve Bridge is composed of green concrete. In 2007 at the tenth anniversary of the Guggenheim, the bridge received an addition in the form of a red arching gate and the bridge is now artistically lit by night with both static and mobile lights.

How to get there for your travel planning

La Salve Bridge is connected to the Guggenheim Museum, which is served by tram. Moyua is the closest Metro stop.

Dona Casilda Park

For over a hundred years, Dona Casilda Park has functioned as Bilbao’s primary outdoor green space and is well used by the public. Centrally located in the neighbourhood of Indautxu, Dona Casilda was laid out as an English Garden and contains a fine collection of centenary trees. The locals call it Duck’s Park and there is indeed a pleasant duck pond as well as other features such as a cybernetic fountain, rowing boats, and several sculptures. In ideal place for a peaceful stroll as well as home to frequent public performances, Dona Casilda also contains the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

How to get there for your travel planning

Dona Casilda Park is located less than five minutes from the Guggenheim Museum and can be accessed by walking from most areas within the city centre.

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

Located within Dona Casilda Park, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is the second most visited museum in Bilbao (after the Guggenheim) and contains a comprehensive collection of Basque, Spanish, and European works dating from the 12th century to present. The museum’s origins are from the Fine Arts Museum which opened in 1914 as well as the Museum of Modern Art established in 1924. Merged in 1945, today’s museum occupies a 1970 modernist building that received a major renovation in 2001. Considered to be one of the best Spanish museums outside of Madrid, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum contains over 10’000 chronologically arranged works.

Make the hotel Meliá Bilbao your Bilbao base if you want to be close to the Dona Casilda Park and Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. The Guggenheim museum is also not far away.

How to get there for your travel planning

Bilbao Fine Art Museum is located within Dona Casilda Park, just a few minutes walk from the Guggenheim Museum and is easily reached by foot from the central areas of the city.

things to do in Bilbao - Things not to be missed in Bilbao Spain

El Ensanche

The name El Ensanche means ‘the expansion’ and this is the area annexed to the original city in 1870. Once the independent municipality of Abando, today it serves as the financial and commercial core of Bilbao and is home to several popular visitor attractions. Modelled on Paris and London, the addition to Bilbao of the Ensanche allowed for the creation of a new, large swath of the city for both business and residential uses. Bisected by the Gran Via, the Ensanche contains many significant 20th century buildings including the forty story Iberdrola Tower and the neighbourhood is easily explored on foot. Within the Plaza Circular (Plaza de Espana) is a statue of Don Diego Lopez de Haro, the Lord of Biscay who founded Bilbao in the year 1300.

How to get there for your travel planning

El Ensanche is reached by Metro to Abando, Moyua, and San Mames.

Plaza de Federico Moyua (Elliptical Square)

Originally envisioned as a hub as early as 1876, eight streets radiate outwards from Plaza Moyua (Elliptical Square) such that it functions as a popular urban oasis as well as a meeting spot for locals. Located in the Abando ‘extension’ neighbourhood, today’s plaza dates to the 1940’s and is styled with English and French flower beds laid out around a central fountain while the plaza’s name honours a former city mayor. Nearby you will find the Palaccio de Chevarri as well as some of Bilbao’s old grand mansions.

If you want to stay at Plaza de Frederica Moyua choose the Hotel Carlton during your stay in Bilbao.

How to get there for your travel planning

Plaza Moyua has its own Metro stop (Moyua) and is also served by buses #1 and #76.

dontworryjusttravel-bilbao-Plaza-de-Federico-Moyua-Elliptical-Square
Picture source

Palacio de Chavarri

One of Bilbao’s most distinctive buildings, the Palacio de Chavarri’s current role is as the offices of the government of Spain in Biscay. Resembling Renaissance palaces in Antwerp and Brugge, the Chavarri Palace is the 1889 creation of Belgian architect Paul Hankar. It was designed to be the home of businessman Victor Chavarri who who had studied at Liege and thus requested it to be built in a Flemish-Renaissance style. The façade and roof are striking in themselves and a peculiar detail of the building is that no two windows are the same size.

How to get there for your travel planning

Palacio de Chavarri faces Moyua Square and is easily reached by Metro to Moyua.

Zubizuri “White Bridge”

Connecting the Campo Volatin riverbank to Uribitarte, Santiago Calatrava’s 1997 Zubizuri ‘White Bridge’ is a tied arch footbridge in which a curved walkway is supported from the overhead arch by steel suspension cables. 75 meters in length, the bridge structure is indeed white and the deck is uniquely constructed of translucent glass bricks. Opened the same year as the Guggenheim, the bridge offers excellent access to that museum. Said to resemble a sailboat, the Zubizuri is lit elegantly at night and while a newer attraction, has become one of the essential things to do in Bilbao.

For a stay near the white bridge the Hotel Conde Duque Bilbao is the perfect choice.

How to get there for your travel planning

Zubizuri is easily walkable from the Guggenheim, which is served by tram. The nearest Metro stop is Moyua.

Bilbao River Maritime Museum

Opened in 2003, the Bilbao River Maritime Museum contains both indoor and outdoor exhibits on the site of the former Euskalduna Shipyard which is itself on the left bank of the Bilbao Estuary. The museum recognizes both Bilbao’s extensive shipping history as a port but also the estuary itself which is discovering a new role as the city moves out of its industrial past. Euskalduna Shipyard was established in 1900 and until 1984, played a key role in the Basque Country’s modern shipbuilding industry. The materials used in the museum- stone, steel, wood- are the same ones used in shipbuilding.

The NH Collection Villa de Bilbao is close to the Bilbao River Maritime Museum. It is also near the Dona Casilda Park and Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

How to get there for your travel planning

The Bilbao River Maritime Museum is located underneath the Euskalduna Bridge. The nearest Metro stop is San Mamas and the area also has a tram stop.

Bizkaia Delegation Palace

One the more modern iconic public buildings of Bilbao, the Delegation Palace is the seat of the executive government of Biscay (the legislature is located in another nearby town). Built 1890-1900, the Palace is a mansion in the Eclectic style and features dramatic windows and an imposing grand balcony. Described as compact and elegant, the interior is decorated lavishly with various works of late 19th century artists. On the backside of the Palace is located the Library of Biscay.

How to get there for your travel planning

Delegation Palace is located within the El Sanche neighbourhood and has a convenient Metro stop.

Alhondiga (Azkuna Zentroa)

The Alhondiga began its existence in 1909 as a wine warehouse, but a newer facility was planned in 1970 and the Alhondiga was abandoned. The city of Bilbao purchased the property in 1994 to be repurposed into a public use space and the Alhondiga which opened in 2010 has become a favourite destination of local citizens. Today’s renowned cultural and leisure centre was remodelled by French designer Philippe Starck and in 2015, was renamed to honour former mayor Inaki Azkuna. Now titled Azkuna Zentroa, the former warehouse consists of exhibition spaces, auditoriums, a media centre, libraries, a multiplex cinema, a glass bottomed swimming pool, a fitness centre, a selection of popular shops and eateries, and a rooftop terrace.

How to get there for your travel planning

The Alhondiga is located within Plaza Arriquibar. Nearby Metro stops are Moyua and Indautxu.

Campos Eliseous Theatre

The modernist and Italian influenced Eliseous Theatre is one of Bilbao’s largest theatrical venues with a seating capacity of 800 and contains the most state of the art technology to be found in Spain. Built in 1902, the Theatre is Biscay’s best example of an Art Nouveau façade and is known locally as the Chocolate Box for its fanciful appearance. Evoking a Moorish style more associated with Southern Spain or the Middle East, the Campos Eliseous sat idle for 20 years until it underwent a major overhaul to be reinaugurated in present form in 2010.

If you want to stay close to Campos Eliseous Theatre and also want to be in walking distance to the main train station the hotel Sercotel Coliseo is your best choice.

How to get there for your travel planning

Campos Eliseous Theatre is easily reached by Metro to Abando.

Deusto University

The oldest private university in Spain, Deusto University was established by the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) in 1886 at which time it was the largest building in Bilbao. Today, the Classical styled main building of the University is prominent on the riverfront near the Guggenheim Museum in the Abondonoibarra neighbourhood. A business training program was added in 1916, Spain’s first and only such program for 50 years. Within the original Literary University building is contained two cloisters, a prominent grand central staircase, a Gothic chapel, the Paraninfo Room, and a library.

Want to spy on the students? 🙂 Then book a room in the hotel NH Bilbao Deusto, that is close by.

How to get there for your travel planning

Deusto University is easily accessed by foot by way of the Padre Arrupe walkway or the Deusto Bridge. The Deusto Metro stop also accesses this area.

Albia Garden

Located within El Ensanche, these were the first gardens to be planted in the city’s expansion area. Albia is popular today for walking, relaxing, and meeting up with friends. Beside the gardens is the Church of San Vicente Martir and across the street is the well known Café Iruna. There is a fountain in the centre of the garden which is itself surrounded by a collection of sculptures. Near Circular Plaza, this cosy urban garden is a short distance from several popular cafés and bars.

Just a few metres from one of the corners of Albia garden lies the Hotel Abando, which is perfect, if you want to stay near the garden.

How to get there for your travel planning

Albia Garden is within El Sanche near Circular Plaza and is served by Metro and tram to Abando.

Things to do in the rest of Bilbao

Subscribe to the Dont worry Just travel newsletter and receive the complete Bilbao travel guide from Dont worry Just travel as a PDF comfortably right to your inbox.

The Bilbao travel guide additionally covers those five places to see from the rest of Bilbao:

  • Mount Artxanda
  • Basilica of Begona
  • Museo Taurino (Bullfighting Museum)
  • Calzadas de Mallona (Mallona Stairs)
  • Etxebarria Park

It also additionally covers five more attractions from around Bilbao.

Tours Through Bilbao

Guided Historical Bicycle Tour of Bilbao

Learn about Basque history and Bilbao’s architecture from a local as you embark on a short guided bicycle ride through Bilbao’s Old Quarter and along the River Nervion, stopping at notable sights including the Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao Bizkaia Card: 24, 48, or 72 Hour City Pass

Available for 24, 48, or 72 hours, the Bilbao Bizckaia Card allows for exploration at your own pace, a “self made tour” you could say. The card includes unlimited rides on public transit, admission to many local museums, tours of Bilbao as well as Santimamine Cave and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, and a guidebook and planning maps. I used the card and can recommend it. Most entries are included with it.

Rioja Wine Region Full Day Tour from Bilbao

Explore Northern Spain’s legendary Rioja wine region as well as the charming Basque capital of Vitoria. Along with wine cellars and tasting, this all day tour includes time in the medieval villages of Haro and Laguardia and a guided walking tour of Vitoria.

Basque Coast Half Day Tour from Bilbao

This half day tour showcases the dramatic beauty of the rugged Basque Coast. En route to the islet hermitage at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, you’ll discover a landscape of rocky cliffs, picturesque coves, colourful fishing villages, and the awe-inspiring UNESCO Urdaibai Biosphere.

Best of Bilbao and Basque Country Guided 7-day Tour from Bilbao

Immerse yourself in the best of the Basque Country’s culture on this week long guided experience that includes as highlights metropolitan Bilbao and San Sebastian, the Basque Coast, the wine tradition of Rioja, and two notable religious sanctuaries.

Hotels in Bilbao: Recommendations

Hotel Miro Bilbao

One of the most popular hotels in Bilbao, the boutique Hotel Miro is located across from Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum and close to the Casco Viejo and its many fine restaurants. The creation of fashion designer Antonio Miro, Hotel Miro’s rooms are decorated in a refreshing minimalist style.

Click here for a full description and current prices of the Hotel Miro.

Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao

Topping many a list of fine Bilbao Hotels is the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, situated opposite the Guggenheim Museum and close to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Maritime Museum. Stylishly designed with minimalist furnishings by Javier Mariscal, the hotel features a rooftop terrace with excellent city views.

Have a look at the rates of the Gran Hotel Domine.

Hotel Carlton Bilbao

The elegant and sophisticated Hotel Carlton Bilbao is a beloved landmark on Plaza Moyua square. This luxurious Bilbao accommodation is conveniently located with easy Metro access as well being as a short walk to the Guggenheim Museum.

Check out prices and rates of the Hotel Carlton Bilbao.

Hotel Melia Bilbao

Inspired by sculptor Eduardo Chillida, the deluxe Hotel Melia Bilbao is located a conveniently walk from the Guggenheim Museum. The hotel’s award winning Quatre restaurant serves fine Basque cuisine with views of Dona Casilda Park and the River Nervion.

Click here for full description and current prices of the hotel Melia.

Mercure Hotel Jardins de Albia

Nestled in the heart of Bilbao’s main business district, the contemporary yet elegant Mercure Hotel Jardins de Albia is a short walk to the Guggenheim Museum and Casco Viejo. Conveniently served by nearby Metro services, the Mercure also is home to a permanent modern art exhibition.

Check out prices and rates of the Mercure hotel Jardins de Albia here.

Ibis Bilbao Centro

Close the Indautxu Metro Station, the Ibis Bilbao Centro offers affordable accommodation only a 10 minute walk from the Guggenheim Museum. The Old Quarter of Bilbao is just a half mile away and there are many restaurants in the surrounding area.

Make up your mind on the reviews and rates of the Ibis Bilbao Centro.

Hotel Abando

Bilbao’s modern and affordable Hotel Abando is well accessed from the Abando Metro Station, a nearby tram stop, and by long distance train service. The Hotel Abando is close to shopping, the Jardines de Albia, Casco Viejo, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Click here for a full description and current prices of the hotel Abando.

Hotel Bilbao Plaza

One of the newest hotels in Bilbao, Hotel Bilbao Plaza is well appointed yet economical and some rooms feature views of the river or city. The hotel is centrally located with easy access to Etxebarria Park, the Guggenheim Museum, and Zubizuri Bridge.

Have a look at the rates of the hotel Bilbao Plaza.

Blue Bilbao

Situated with the Casco Viejo/Old Quarter, Blue Bilbao is a two minute walk from the Santiago Cathedral and 1,000 feet from a Metro Station. Bars and restaurants are plentiful nearby this Bilbao accommodation and some rooms have a balcony or city views.

Make up your mind on the reviews and rates of the Blue Bilbao.

Silken Indautxu

One of the outstanding hotels in Bilbao, the elegant Silken Indautxu is convenient to the Guggenheim Museum, Indautxu Metro Station, shopping, and restaurants. Spacious and stylish rooms inhabit a refined sleek/glass exterior that is attached to an attractive traditional building.

Have a look at the rates of Silken Indautxu.

Bilbao restaurants and Bilbao night-life recommendations

One of the best ways to discover Bilbao restaurants is to wander on foot and explore the central neighbourhoods. There are many bars and eateries that serve traditional Basque cuisine and the locals will happily direct you to some of their personal favourites. The Basque Country is known for pintxos, the small plates that are termed tapas elsewhere in Spain. These often consist of bite-size rounds of toast that are topped with a variety of savoury ingredients and serve as an appetizer to a later main meal.

A few currently trendy Bilbao restaurants are:

Restaurante Zortziko: Highly ranked by Michelin and a favourite in the international food community, Restaurante Zortziko is run by renowned Basque chef Danial Garcia who adds an inventive twist to traditional dishes.

Casa Rufo: For over a hundred years, the family-run Casa Rufo inhabits a labyrinth of corridors lined with Basque grocery items. Welcoming and comfortable, Casa Rufo is best known for its txuleton, rib-eye steak.

Café Iruna: The much loved Café Iruna is considered by the locals as the place to see and be seen. The interior has beautiful Moorish-inspired décor and the café overlooks the picturesque Jardins de Albia.

Restaurante Mandoya: Located within the Casco Viejo, this popular eatery may be the best place in town to enjoy fresh local fish and seafood dishes.

Ittintzi: This Old Quarter ‘pintxo tavern’ is bustling and popular among the young and artistic crowd. Here the pintxos are presented as masterpieces and the social vibe of this trendy bar make it a fun stop in the Casco Viejo.

Some Bilbao night-life

Bilbao is home to a lively night-life scene that is born of a culture of late night eating and drinking. There is always something happening at night in Bilbao! The old Quarter and Abando both contain numerous bars, late night eateries, and clubs. Street cafés come alive at night and many offer attractive views of the city at night. Bars and taverns fill with locals as the evening progresses and on the weekends, disco venues offer the chance to dance to pop music.

The best resource for Bilbao night-life is ‘The Bilbao Guide’ which is published every two months by Bilbao Turismo. The guide features upcoming cultural events and can be found at city tourist offices and at many hotels.

Attractions around Bilbao

Subscribe to the Dont worry Just travel newsletter and receive the complete Bilbao travel guide from Dont worry Just travel as a PDF comfortably right to your inbox.

The Bilbao travel guide additionally covers five places to see from the rest of Bilbao.

It also covers five more attractions from around Bilbao:

  • Bizkaia bridge connecting Portugalete and Las Arenas (Getxo)
  • Juan de Gaztelugatxe
  • Santimamiñe cave (Cueva de Santimamiñe)
  • Playa de Azkorri
  • Plentzia Beach

Getting Organised

Getting organised to discover Bilbao should start with the acquisition of a good Bilbao map. Bilbao Tourism offers several useful maps available for download at Bilbaoturismo.net, including a Bilbao metro map. The Bilbao Metro is easy to use and will get you anywhere within the city and beyond. Bilbao Tourism can also provide many recommendations for things to do in Bilbao. Bilbao is not large in area and most attractions (with the exception of the beaches) are close by to one another in the central area of the city. The Guggenheim is an obvious first choice and will introduce you to the River Nervion, but you’ll also want to be sure to explore the Old Quarter (Casco Viejo) and some of the other attractions as listed above.

Fly to Bilbao

Bilbao has its own regional airport, and there are direct flights to Bilbao from within Spain and from select European countries. It is also an option to fly into Madrid and proceed to Bilbao either with another short flight or by train. If you intend to fly to Bilbao from the United Kingdom, there are flights to Bilbao from London on British Airways, Vueling Airlines, and Easyjet. The flight time is a mere two hours at most, and discounts are frequently possible should you allow for some flexibility in your travel dates. You may also choose to fly in or out of San Sebastian if you plan to explore more of the Basque Country.

Bilbao weather

The Bilbao climate is solidly maritime, meaning that in general summer is warm, winter is mild, and there are few extremes. Bilbao weather is overall cooler and wetter than other parts of Spain and fog, overcast days, and rain showers are not uncommon any time of the year. There are occasional summer hot spells and winter can bring sleet, but in general, weather in Bilbao is moderate and conductive to sightseeing.

Bilbao’s spring rains usually end by May, making that month and June good choices to beat the summer rush. July and August are the least rainy months, yet August is peak travel time and will be more crowded. September and October still have fine weather and the water remains pleasant for swimming.

Summer high temperatures in Bilbao rarely surpass 31 degrees Celsius while winter averages 5 degrees Celsius. Do keep in mind that while walking Bilbao is a key way to experience the city, many popular things to do in Bilbao are indoors and can be enjoyed in any weather.

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