In Bilbao tourists are attracted by the ancient streets, famous museums, ultra-modern architecture of the newest areas and delicious Basque cuisine. Quite difficult to imagine that 30 years ago, tourists who came here, called the city a dusty maze of nameless streets.
Partly contributed to the development of tourism in Bilbao European Football Championship 2020! That’s why we decided to write this guide, so you won’t miss a single interesting spot. Meet our most comprehensive guide to Bilbao!
How to get to Bilbao
There are no direct flights from Moscow to the capital of the Basque Country, so you have to change planes. The most comfortable way to get to Bilbao is to fly with Iberia or Vueling via Madrid. The trip takes about 6 hours. You can also use the services of “Turkish Airlines” with a change of plane in Istanbul, “Brussels Airlines” via Brussels or “Lufthansa” via Frankfurt, but it may be cheaper to combine air and train.
For example, the central station in Madrid by train is about five hours away. The price for a one-way trip starts at 15€. The ALSA bus can also be hired for a four hour trip and you can get a ticket for about 10€.
If you catch a cheap flight to Barcelona, from Barcelona Sants station you can get to Bilbao in six hours and 30 €. Take the bus – you’ll spend about eight to nine hours and the ticket price starts at 36€ per direction.
You can buy tickets for these or other trains and get information about the cost of travel between cities through searching and buying tickets on the website Omio.Ru (former GoEuro):
How to get from the airport to downtown Bilbao
If you don’t come to Bilbao by train you still have to get from Aeropuerto de Bilbao to the center of the city, but it’s pretty easy – the Bizkaibus bus A3247 leaves from the airport. The cost per trip is 3 euros (you can buy it directly from the driver or at the ticket office). The time spent on the way – about twenty minutes. In winter, buses run at intervals of 30 minutes, in summer time – with an interval of twenty minutes.
Public transport in Bilbao
To travel around the city you can use the city buses, metro, streetcar or cable car. The approximate cost per trip is 1.5-1.8€ (depending on the travel area).
If you want to make more than two trips, get the “Barik” card. You can use it when you travel on any public transport and save up to half of the cost of a single ride. The “Barik” card costs 3€ and you can top it up as well. When you decide to return the card you will get back the €3 and the money you have left on your account. The Barik card can be used by up to 10 people per trip.
The city bus network is represented by the company Bilobus. One trip will cost 1.25€ and if you have the “Barik” card the cost will be 0.65€. All local buses are painted scarlet.
Lodging in Bilbao: How much does it cost and where to stay
If you want to live in a modern neighborhood of Bilbao, close to all the cultural values listed above, the Guggenheim Museum is the main reference point for your hotel search. Let’s list some of the best hotels in Bilbao, in which we ourselves or have already stayed or recommend to stay:
The designer hotel overlooks the Guggenheim Museum, has a reflection in its facade and flows seamlessly into the undulating lines of the atrium (room rates – from 7,000 rubles per night for two). It is now Number 3 on Tripadvisor’s traveler ratings.
Hotel 1935 in the city’s main square Plaza Moyua in Art Deco style: glass dome with stained glass windows, marble staircase with scarlet carpet (room rate – about 8000₽).
One of the most interesting hotels is the chain Ibis Bilbao Centro, with a price of less than 5 thousand rubles per night – but don’t rush to book it! If you decide to stay at a chain hotel, first read our article on how to save money on it.
Find affordable accommodation in Bilbao right on this page with our Bookings.com widget.
Bilbao sights: what to see in 1 and 2 days
Having undergone an industrial boom, an outbreak of separatism and severe floods, the largest city in the Basque Country has radically changed its appearance and entered an era of cultural renaissance. Today the city is a huge architectural reserve, studded with creations of the most famous architects of our days. The city’s main historical value is the Old Center – a quarter with a protected status. Historians believe that there used to be an ancient city on the site of Old Bilbao, which was described by Pliny the Elder.
And we will start our journey on the right side of the river Nervión, here are all the charms of today’s architecture and some entertaining old buildings in eclectic style.
The Guggenheim Museum (Museo Guggenheim Museo Guggenheim) is a branch of the famous Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of New York. Everything here is done in contemporary trends, from futuristic deconstructionist architecture to avant-garde exhibitions.
The museum building is a major landmark in the city. It is a fascinating example of modern architecture – the building has outlandish, futuristic forms and its contours resemble a huge bird or an intergalactic ship. It was designed by architect Frank Gehry. The building has an unmatched look in combination with the old houses. Some tourists see an unusually shaped flower in the museum building, with titanium and glass petals.
The museum was founded in 1997. It houses a collection of works by artists of our time: Picasso, Malevich, Miró and Kandinsky. At the entrance, visitors will meet Jeff Koons’ green sculpture “Puppy”. The skin of the “puppy” is made of living greenery, and an irrigation system is hidden in the middle of it. It is open Tuesday through Sunday from ten in the morning to eight in the evening.
The Palacio Euskalduna, another creation of current urban planning, serves as the Palace of Music and Congress. The building is located west of the Guggenheim Museum directly through the park alleys.
Afterwards, it is worth visiting the Museum of Fine Arts with masterpieces of the classics (Murillo, El Greco, Goya, Zurbarán), contemporaries (Gauguin, Caro and Bacon) and also masterpieces of native Basque artists Juan de Echevarria and Ignacio Suloaga and sculptors Eduardo Chillida and Jorge de Oteis.
The Palacio de la Diputacion (Palace of the Provincial Council of Biscayne) is an eclectic late 19th century structure of unparalleled splendor and elegance, facing the Gran Via. You can see it on a guided tour.
The Bilbao Town Hall (Casa Consistorial or Udal Etxea) is a stunning 19th century modernist structure by Joaquin Rucoba, erected where the Augustinian monastery used to be, on the left side of the Nervión River. Most eye-catching are the main staircase, the sculptures and the stunning decoration of the Arab Hall of City Hall.
We walk parallel to the river to the church of San Nicolas in the square of the same name. The ancient church of the beginning of the XVI century has undergone many floods by the waters of the Nervion and this caused its collapse. In the XVIII century, the church was rebuilt thanks to the diligence of Ignacio de Ribero and is now a stunning Baroque church.
The Teatro Arriaga is a large and splendid structure by architect Joaquín Rucuba, which has undergone fire and restoration. The Moorish-style ground floor of the theater, with French sculptures decorating its façade, is an oddity for this building.
The Archanda Lookout – From here you will have a scenic view of Bilbao from the Mirador de Artxanda. There are restaurants, hotels and a sports complex with a swimming pool on the mountain. The way to the observation deck is worth the trip. You can get to it from the central part of the city by taking the Archanda cable car. You can get there from Plaza del Funicularreko (Plaza del Funicular). The cost of a one-way trip is 0.96€.
Bilbao sightseeing videos
Consider Bilbao’s video overview! It talks about places to eat and places to go, in addition to the sights. All in all, this video is a complete guide to Bilbao.
Before your trip to Bilbao you can read many articles and memorize all the sights, or you can just take a tour of Bilbao with a local guide, who speaks Russian! You can do this on the site of online booking tours “Tripster.ru” .
What and where to eat in Bilbao – inexpensive and delicious
The basis of Basque cuisine is a huge variety of seafood, and they are caught in the Atlantic Ocean. In addition to seafood comes with vegetable slices and olive oil. The inhabitants of this region have their own variety of Spanish tapas, nicknamed pinchos, tiny sandwiches of a variety of products.
Tasty pinchos you can taste at Zuga bar on Plaza Nueva (the price for a pinchos is 1.6-2.6€). Cod baked in pots with garlic sauce and olive oil is one of the most popular dishes. The enormous portions and the most delicious cod in Bilbao can be found in the restaurant Guria on Gran Vía. Also, be sure to try the marmitaco (tuna stew), merlusa (hake-like) with greenish sauce, el changuarro (baked crab), inky squid, oysters, octopus and shrimp. We recommend eating seafood in a restaurant on the banks of the river Nervión Cubita Aixerrota. The local sweets are: Carolina cake, rice cakes, cherry pie, eclairs, and cuajada, a dessert made with sheep’s milk.
Here are the tastiest cafés and restaurants in Bilbao, as ranked by Tripadvisor and local review sites
In La Reina del Arenal – on the walls are engravings of small Dutchmen, under the ceiling – a large number of blocks of wood, as if someone is going to light a fire.
A stunning panorama of the river is from the white suspension bridge Subisuri, gently springing underfoot. Immediately by the bridge there is a bar called Tasaiz (Plaza de la Convivencia, Torre Isozaki 10), they serve white wine (from 1.51€ for a glass).
You will rarely find a free table at the restaurant Yandiola, so make your way to the bar for wine and cochas (Plaza Arriquibar 4, cochas 36€).
Bars in Bilbao
How not to get a drink?
- Visit the bar and gallery La Gallina Ciega (Máximo Aguirre 2), approx. 20€ for admission and drinks, also a modern art gallery.
- The Kendall Bar (Villarias 6) was named after a soccer coach known for his fondness for gin (the cost per glass is 8€) and has its own menu. However, wine tastings are held in a secret room hidden behind a bookcase door.
- The biggest concentration of bars is concentrated around the Jardines Albia Park. The Bitoque de Albia (Alameda Mazarredo 6) offers pintxos (from €2.7) and Ramones (from €6.4) so you can enjoy your meal. The owner of the bar is the English chef Darren Williamson, who has earned recognition even among the free-spirited Basques. If snacking is not too much for you, order any sandwich at random: cheese, jamón, bacalhau and cuttlefish – each one tastes great in its own way.
Soccer in Bilbao
It’s no secret that Spain practically lives with soccer, and Bilbao is home to one of the most famous and titled clubs in the kingdom – Athletic. The club was founded in 1898 and since the foundation of the Spanish Primera in 1929 (the highest division of soccer) has never left it! Only Real Madrid and Barcelona can boast a similar achievement.
Athletic Bilbao play their matches at the San Mames Stadium
- Capacity: 53,000 spectators
- The stadium is located in the city center
- Address: Rafael Moreno Pitxitxi, s/n, 48013
- How to get to the San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao:
- The stadium is practically in the center. The easiest option is to walk to the stadium.
- If you want to use public transportation, here are the options:
- There is a metro station near the stadium: if you go from the Bilbao train station, take the “Abando” station and go straight to “San Mamés” on the Kabiezes (orange) branch. Walk 300 meters from the station to the stadium.
- You can also use the train stops, there are two near the soccer arena:
- “Ingenieritza Eskola” – bus stop right in front of the entrance; numbers: #A3151, A3340, A3414.
- “Sabino Arana” – TR speed streetcar stop 250 meters from the stadium.
This concludes our article about Bilbao. Write your questions in the comments if you still have them, share this article with your friends on social networks and catch cheap tickets to Bilbao !
- Read how to get to the city center cheaply from Russian airports: Domodedovo, Sheremetyevo, Vnukovo, Pulkovo or Koltsovo .
- AviaSales: an aggregator to find cheap airline tickets and a service with the best parking at Moscow airports.
- And here you can buy an RZD train ticket through the site Tutu.Ru
- Or buy an “all inclusive” tour on the “OnlineTours” site
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Where to stay in Bilbao
Travel tips: where to stay in Bilbao for the tourist. The pros and cons of the different districts of Bilbao, as well as other useful information about the city worth reading before you book a hotel or apartment. Choose the right places! Talusha shares her experience.
The northern Spanish city of Bilbao is probably one of the most controversial and dynamic European cities: World-famous ultra-modern structures and monuments (the Subisuri/Campo Volantín bridge and airport designed by Santiago Calatrava, the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gary, the flower puppy in front of the museum by Jeff Koons, the Luisa Bourgeois spider) neighbor in it with the medieval old town, which looks as if pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela walk along it every day without end. You can come to Bilbao just for two or three days to see with your own eyes all the achievements of modern art and architecture, organically integrated into residential buildings, or you can make the city a part of the route through the north of Spain: for example, fly to Bilbao and go from there by car or train to the Atlantic Ocean, making a very interesting and unusual journey.
The Nervión River, flowing through Bilbao, makes a loop, forming a peninsula. The northern part of the peninsula is home to the Guggenheim Museum and a modern neighborhood of designer buildings, many of which are hotels. The central part of the peninsula has a shopping center with boulevards somewhat reminiscent of those in Paris. Across the river from the eastern part of the peninsula is the historic center of Bilbao.
Which neighborhood of Bilbao is best to stay in
If you want to live in a modern neighborhood of Bilbao, close to all the cultural values listed above, the Guggenheim Museum, which stands spectacularly on the banks of the Nervión River, is the main reference point for your hotel search. The windows of the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, an equally modern building designed by Javier Mariscal, look directly onto it. Those lucky enough to have a view can admire the titanium flower (this is what the Guggenheim Museum looks like), the huge flower puppy at its entrance, and the panorama of the river with its graceful bridges, while those who have a room with windows facing the yard can enjoy the same views from the rooftop terrace. From here about 20 minutes by bus to the airport of Bilbao (it is 5 km from the city), about 20-25 minutes walk to the railway station FEVE, about 5-7 minutes to the shopping streets. The only thing to complain about is the price of hotel breakfast – for 26 euros per person you can eat a whole day in Bilbao. So if you have enough coffee and croissant, you can refuse from breakfast. Nearby is the Miró Hotel, designed in turn by fashion designer Antonio Miró.
If you like minimalist room design and make good use of the spa facilities, this hotel is worth considering. There are bikes for rent, but it is quite expensive at 5 euros per hour, and considering that you need 6 hours to see the city, it is better to walk to the center and take a bike there for a reasonable 10-12 euros.
Another hotel with views of the museum is the NH Collection Ría de Bilbao, which stands across the river and has a colored glass facade. The view from here is very close to the museum with the same views but the price is half that of the hotels described above. Apart from the price, among the pluses is the fact that on this side of the river is much easier to find a free parking lot, unlike the “other”, museum side – it is absolutely impossible to park there, where it is “not supposed” – you will be instantly fined.
It is worth considering that when you stay in designer hotels should be prepared for some unexpected designer decisions – for example, the blue window glass or a transparent wall in the toilet.
If you do not want to stay in a hotel and want to cook for yourself, Bilbao offers apartments in the same area, such as the Apartamentos Abba Tower (former Abba Apartamentos Torre Iberdrola). However, if in most cities of the world the apartments are cheaper than hotels, these apartments are at the level of the five-star hotel Gran Hotel Domine, but also designer and located in a skyscraper with a panoramic view of the city. There is a branch of the famous Spanish chain Meliá Bilbao on the river bank 300 meters away from the Guggenheim Museum – not as nice a view of the museum as from the above described hotels, but with views of residential areas, the park, the river and the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts. It is worth stopping here if you like to have a hearty breakfast; the chain is famous for its breakfasts, which include red fish, lots of fruit, homemade yogurt, and even champagne and white wine.
The administrative and shopping center of Bilbao is no less pleasant to live in than the designer district, with wide, shady boulevards lined with Art Deco mansions. Prior to the Guggenheim Museum it takes 15-20 minutes at a leisurely pace to the Old Town – 10 minutes, but in the other direction. To the railway station is a 6-7 minute walk past the stores. The buildings in the neighborhood are very old and historic. The Hotel Carlton, for example, at different times hosted such persons as King Alfonso XII, writer Federico Garcia Lorca and singer Maria Callas, but in rooms for two it has a rather ordinary design, no frills. If you sleep sensitively, it’s worth bearing in mind that the hotel has rather noisy elevators and, in some rooms, plumbing, so it’s worth asking for a room away from the elevators and packing earplugs just in case. Nearby is a more modern hotel, the Ercilla, some of whose rooms have their own patio courtyard. If a breakfast of 16 euros per person seems too expensive for you, you can eat at the nearby Ercilla cafe. For family accommodation, apartments Edificio Santiago with a fully equipped kitchen (there is even a washing machine and dishwasher, but no kettle) may be a good option. A bus to the airport stops just steps away at Plaza Moyua. Please note that parking at this hotel must be booked in advance and free Wi-Fi can be “caught” in the business center of the hotel.
The peculiarity of the historic center of Bilbao is that it is located away from the administrative and shopping center of the city, and stay here mostly for the pilgrims walking to Santiago de Compostela – people who are unpretentious, and not allowed to be luxurious. Therefore, the hotels here are inexpensive relative to the museum district (it is possible to find a good “three rubles” for 70 euros), and the situation is more simple, and there are more small private pensions than large hotels. The main landmark of the area – the Cathedral of the city. Tourists shouldn’t neglect the historic center, especially if you have to travel further on the Basque railroad (the relevant railway station is located across the river from the Old Town). Before booking, it’s always worth reading travelers’ reviews, because some guesthouses in the area may not have their own bathroom in the room. The disadvantages include the fact that the entrance to the historical part of town is closed – if you are by car and with suitcases, you will not drive up to the hotel. Therefore, if the hotel description says “private parking”, it is likely to be a parking lot within 10 minutes on foot. Moreover, before you arrive you should always ask the hotel for the location scheme of the hotel, otherwise you will have to wander through the narrow confusing streets.
Hotel Basque Boutique with its wooden floors and stone masonry in the rooms can be an interesting option for accommodation. Additionally, each room is decorated by some piece of Basque art – a musical instrument, a piece of furniture, a toy or a funny installation. Ideally, you should give preference to rooms overlooking the courtyard, otherwise at night you will hear noise from the street. Hotel Iturrienea Ostatua has its own courtyard-patio, where in warm weather you can have an organic breakfast, and the walls of the rooms are decorated with paintings by local artists. Again, if breakfast at the hotel seems expensive, you can safely forego it – the Old Town is full of cute tapas bars and fruit shops with obscenely low prices.