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What travelers to Bilbao are saying

A fairly simple city. Not especially exciting in my experience, and not great for vegetarians. You may have difficulty for these things.
Ivan B. 12 Jul 2015
Bilbao is worth seeing. If you want to walk and explore and don't mind getting lost in the midst of it all.
christopher l. 11 May 2015

Bask In Bilbao

How does Bilbao party so hard yet remain so civilised? Bilbao is capital of Spain’s Basque Country, a region that was once vastly different to the rest of Spain. However, after an architectural and cultural makeover, the vibrancy of Spain now comes through – even if some of the locals still dream of independence.

Surrounded by the lush greenery of the Ría Nervión, it’s not just Bilbao’s lifestyle that’s colourful. The sea-themed Museo Maritimo Ria de Bilbao’s interesting and engaging exhibits belie its space-age exterior, while the ancient artefacts in the Arkeologi Museo prove that Bilbao has been bustling for centuries. But if there’s one thing Bilbao does better than making over post-industrial sprawls, it’s lip-smacking cuisine. Café Iruna is an age-old classic, or head to El Huevo Fritofor something bite-sized. In Bilbao, if you’re still keeping it classy after 10pm, you’re doing something wrong.

Bilbao's Top 10

10. Euskal Museoa Bilbao Museo Vasco A museum dedicated to the much-maligned but unique Basque culture.

5. Artxanda Funicular A funicular railway linking downtown Bilbao with nearby Mount Artxanda.

9. Casco Viejo The medieval district is a haven for small squares and hidden bars.

4. Catedral de Santiago This colossal 14th century cathedral is named after Bilbao’s patron saint.

8. Museo Diocesano de Arte Sacro Formerly a convent, religion is now expressed in the artworks rather than the customs.

3. Museo de Bellas Artes The Museum of Fine Arts houses over 6,000 remarkable pieces in its opulent interior.

7. Zubizuri Resembling a toppled harp, this giant white pedestrian bridge is one of Bilbao’s modern icons.

2. Mount Artxanda Home to some of the city’s greatest distractions, including several restaurants and a sports ground.

6. Estadio San Mames A visit to Bilbao isn’t complete without seeing a Lions match at this impressive stadium.

1. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao The exterior of this contemporary architectural masterpiece is as much a work of art as anything inside it.

Bilbao History

  • Casco Viejo - The old town area of Bilbao with a town square that dates back to the 1800s, a gothic cathedral and a lively market on Sundays.
  • Catedral de Santiago - With an amazing Renaissance portico and lovely little cloister.
  • Sanctuary of Loyola - Visit the home of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits.
  • Iglesia de San Anton - Gothic-style church dates back to the early 1400s with a mix of styles including a baroque tower and a renaissance portico.
  • Puente de San Anton - The most emblematic bridge in Bilbao.

Bilbao Art & Culture

  • Museo Guggenheim - Catapulted Bilbao and modern architecture to the 21st century with an inspired use of cliffs, flowering canopies, promontories, towers, ship shapes and flying fins.
  • Open Air Gallery - A lovely place to enjoy art in gorgeous outdoors.
  • Museo de Bellas Artes - An amazing collection with everything from gothic sculptures to pop art from the 1900s.
  • Euskal Museoa - Housed in a wonderful old building and covers the culture and history of the basque region from the early days.
  • Museo Maritimo Ria da Bilbao - Brings the maritime history of the area to life with bright, well-thought-out displays.

Bilbao Shopping

  • Mercado de la Ribera - This local marketplace in Bilbao provides a marvellous experience.
  • Gili-Gili - Outlet store and place to find top-brand labels of fashionable clothing and accessories.
  • Elkar Megadenda - Local bookstore with a wonderful selection, including English books and an excellent section of maps and travel books.
  • Dos de Mayo - On the first Saturday of each month, this flea market offers books, antiques and more.
  • Hazel - The place to find simple but unique clothes and gorgeous shoes at affordable prices.

Gay & Lesbian Bilbao

  • High - Cruising bar open until the wee hours of the morning.
  • Balcon de la Lola - Local club with a young party crowd.
  • La Bola de Cristal - Offers drag shows on Thursday nights.
  • Conjunto Vacio - Great Bilbao club with lots of music.
  • Lamiak - Quiet cafe by day and hopping bar at night.

Bilbao Outdoor

  • San Sebastian - Enjoy a walking tour of the Old Quarter, followed by local cuisine on the waterfront of the fishing village of Hondarribia.
  • Funicular de Artxanda- A breathtaking view of Bilbao.
  • Victoria and the Rioja Wine Region - Take a wine tour through the area, visit a traditional cellar and enjoy the wine tasting followed by a walking tour of Victoria.
  • Elorrio, Oinata and Arantzazu - Discover the beauties and charm of the Basque country with its rural villages, historical buildings, palaces and breathtaking landscapes.
  • Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park - A 231-acre area located near the centre of the city with a dancing water fountain.

Bilbao Sport

  • The Nervion River offers wonderful opportunities for boating and kayaking.
  • The Athletic Club soccer game plays at the San Mames Stadium.
  • The Bilbao area offers wonderful hiking and rock-climbing opportunities.
  • For local basketball games with the CB Bilbao Berri, stop by the ACB Arena.
  • The Sopelana and Mundaka beaches are great places for surfing.

Bilbao Events

Parades and celebrations fill the streets in March for the crème de la crème of street parties, Carnaval.

Children’s choirs provide the backing tracks for the Easter celebrations of Semana Santa.

The best in local and international jazz music goes on show during July at the vibrant Getxo International Jazz Festival.

Also known, rather aptly, as ‘Big Week’, the cultural and artistic festival Aste Nagusia brings fresh flavour to the city in August.

Local farmers and growers showcase the fruits of their labour at December’s Christmas Markets, when preserves and sausages reign supreme.

When To Go

Autumn is the most pleasant time to visit Bilbao, when temperatures are pleasantly warm and the seawater is, too.

September’s International Film Festival brings hundreds to this small city, meaning prices soar.

Winter is especially unpredictable weather-wise, so come prepared.

Getting Around

With its narrow pedestrian streets built in the Middle Ages, Bilbao is not very car-friendly.

The Metro is a great way to get around and services most of the city’s main attractions.

Explore Bilbao on foot to increase your chances of discovering small alleyway bars and hidden boutiques.

General Information

Although the Guggenheim Museum tops the list of must-see attractions in Bilbao, the Basque city is much more than a one-trick pony. To be sure, the iconic Frank Gehry design is a modern masterpiece that for many, put Bilbao on the map. The Guggenheim however, was just the cherry on top. Bilbao has always been a rewarding destination for travellers to Spain's unique Basque Country. Wonderfully distinct from the rest of the country, Bilbao and indeed, the region as a whole, boasts a unique culture and lifestyle.

Start with Bilbao's medieval heart for one. The "Alde Zarra" contains a slew of landmarks and gems, from historic churches to the massive Mercado de la Ribera and beautiful Arriaga Theatre. By far the most colorful section of Bilbao, the old town is the ideal place to take the pulse of the city, either from a lively local tavern or quaint artisan shop.


  • Plaza Nueva
  • Teatro Arriaga
  • Guggenheim Museum
  • Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
  • Bizkaia Delegation Palace
  • Activities

  • Getxo International Jazz Festival
  • Getxo Folk Festival
  • Bilbao Fantastic Film Festival
  • Bilbao Book Fair
  • Bilbao Live Festival
  • Restaurants

  • Casa Victor Montes
  • El Perro Chico
  • Bermeo
  • La Gabarra
  • Mandoya
  • Nightlife

  • Caos
  • Jaragua
  • Rock Star
  • Columbus
  • Distrito 9
  • Climate

    Bilbao has a mild oceanic climate with minimal swings in temperature throughout the year and on average, only three days of snow in winter.

    • Winter (December to February) 5-15°C
    • Spring (March to May) 6-20°C
    • Summer (June to September) 13-26°C
    • Fall (October to November) 8-21°C

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    Hotels in Bilbao

    Recommended hotels

    From US$70

    1 Hesperia Zubialde

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 3 reviews

    Camino De La Ventosa, 34 Map

    FREE WIFI in Lobby & Rooms

    Hesperia Zubialde Hotel Bilbao offers plush accommodations for chic corporate and leisure travellers staying in downtown Bilboa. While in the area, tourists can catch sporting events at San Mames... More

    Safety issues
    Hotel was OK but nothing special - right next to Sporting Club Bilbao. Good and eassy access from tram. In the bathroom the safety grab handle was very loose. I reported this to reception and it...
    26 Sep 2014
    From US$81

    2 Silken Indautxu

    4 stars
    4.5 / 5 4 reviews


    Includes Breakfast Buffet

    Featuring an elegant decor and a warm hospitality, Silken Indautxu Hotel welcomes you for an unforgettable vacation. GeneralThe hotel's public rooms with capacity for 350 guests and full... More

    From US$65

    3 Ilunion Bilbao

    3 stars
    5.0 / 5 1 reviews

    Rodriguez Arias, 66 Map

    Presenting unperturbed atmosphere, plush accommodation and outstanding service, Ilunion Bilbao cater to the needs of both business and leisure travellers alike. GeneralIlunion Bilbao features 12... More

    From US$78

    4 Mercure Bilbao Jardines De Albia

    3 stars
    4.3 / 5 4 reviews

    Calle San Vicente 6 Map

    Rate includes up to 40% off, breakfast & more

    Blending tranquil ambience and congenial service, the Spa Husa Jardines De Albia Hotel Bilbao is an excellent choice for discerning travellers. GeneralConference facilities are also provided for... More

    From US$80

    5 Hotel Hesperia Bilbao

    4 stars
    3.8 / 5 5 reviews

    Campo Volantin 28 Map

    FREE WIFI in Lobby & Rooms

    One look at Hesperia Bilbao Hotel's frontage and you know you're in for a fun-filled stay. Its ultramodern design is just a joy to stare at. It also features modern conveniences including meeting... More

    good location
    very quite hotel. helpsome staff. will stay there again
    2 Oct 2014
    From US$98

    6 NH Collection Villa de Bilbao

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 1 reviews

    Gran Va, 87 Map

    FREE WIFI in Lobby & Rooms

    Offering comfortable accommodation and excellent facilities in the heart of Bilbao, NH Collection Villa de Bilbao is an ideal place for business and leisure travellers. GeneralNH Collection Villa... More

    From US$66

    7 Zenit Bilbao

    4 stars
    4.0 / 5 1 reviews

    Autonomia 58 Map

    With its excellent facilities, the Zenit Hotel is a fine place for guests of all types and offers you a chance to get to know the fantastic city of Bilbao. GeneralGuests on business can access the... More

    From US$58

    8 NH Bilbao Deusto

    3 stars
    3.7 / 5 3 reviews


    FREE WIFI in Lobby & Rooms

    With a unique atmosphere, staff's hospitality and the facilities, the hotel offers excellent services that make you to feel at home. GeneralMeeting and conference facilities are also available... More

    Very good location and value
    This hotel was not perfect but overall a very good value for the price. The morning breakfast is not free and actually overpriced (15 euro), and the street is somewhat loud, especially because we...
    13 Jul 2015
    From US$105

    9 Sercotel Hotel Coliseo

    4 stars
    4.3 / 5

    Alameda de Urquijo, 13 Map

    Book Now & Save 10% - Non Refundable

    Offering free Wi-Fi, a gym and casino, Sercotel Coliseo occupies Bilbao''''s former opera house. Centrally located, it is a 5-minute walk from Abando Metro Station and Bilbao Train Station.The... More

    From US$81

    10 Hotel Ercilla

    4 stars
    Not yet reviewed

    Ercilla 37 Map

    Ercilla makes for an ideal base for discerning travellers looking for tastefully designed spaces and favourable location in this Spanish city. This chic Bilbao hotel places holidaymakers within... More

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