Staggering architecture, a venerable dining scene and stunning landscapes just outside the city centre: Bilbao is one of the great treasures of the Basque Country.
Before visiting any town or city make sure you know the basics. General details and important information.
- Emergency Services: 112
- Language: Spanish
- Currency: Euro
- Country Code: ES
- Travel Visa: None required
- Population: 345,821
Researching various official sources, we perceive the risk to holiday makers and travellers are as follows;
Top travel advice and interesting tip bits of information from experienced travellers.
- The cobbled streets of the old town offer an authentic insight into Spanish life. Cafe and wine bars are a must, a great way to enjoy a delicious meal.
- The Teatro Arriaga is a beautiful opera house that is well worth the visit. The interior of the building has beautiful architecture, designed by Joaquin Rucoba.
For the Emergency services just dial 112 from any phone.
Bilbao is a compact city for getting around. Walking is a convenient way of exploring the city, but other transportation services are also practical. The Metro service has two lines that are efficient and cheap. Running to the north coast, it is a great way to explore the beaches. Alternatively, Bilbao’s tram system is useful, running from the Southwest of the city.
What are the common crimes?
Street robberies are common in Bilbao so please keep your belongings safe and hold onto them.
Drug crime and prostitution also has been know to occur in Bilbao so if you are approached say “no” firmly and walk away.
What are some safety tips I should know?
There is some political unrest in the city and even though this is not dangerous as such please be careful when talking to locals. The Basque Terrorist Group ETA is not a risk to visitors but it’s best to avoid speaking about Spanish politics whilst visiting to Bilbao to eliminate the risk of offending anyone.
Try to avoid unlit areas at night as this is when crime can occur.
Only use registered taxis and always use the designated taxi ranks.
How do I keep up with the local news?
Are there any areas to avoid?
The main areas to avoid are the streets of San Francisco, Las Cotes, and Lehendakari Aguirre Street. Whilst these areas are generally safe during the day, as they are common hang outs for prostitutes and addicts.
Improve Your Personal Safety
Knowledge – the more you have the better equipped you are.
Awareness – the more you see the safer you become.
Response – the right reaction can change a situation.
Every culture has its customs and traditions, they have been handed down the generations and are always held in high regards by the local residents.
The Our Lady of Begona Festival
Held every October and is a day-long pilgrimage which takes the locals through the streets to the Basilica de Begona to celebrate and visit the shrine of the Virgin of Begona (also known as Amatxu).
This is the main festival in Bilbao and runs day and night for an astonishing nine days every August! It includes dramatic bullfights, spectacular firework displays and unmissable open air concerts. It is held throughout the city and shops close down for the duration making room for the various regattas.
Annual events allow a city come together for some amazing experiences. If visiting at this time, make sure you have your accommodation booked and are always aware of your surroundings when travelling around.
Bilbao BBK Live
An annual rock concert and is held in the Recinto Kobetamendi complex in the south west of the city. It hosts a large variety of European acts and is held over three days every July. Perfect for any music lover!
Bilbao Strongman Concert
Held every August during the Aste Nagusia festival, you can capture a glimpse of history being made. It features gruelling tasks including hefty log cutting and carrying over 300kg of granite. Certainly not a competition for the faint hearted and most probably, not a lot more relaxing to watch!
Are there any natural attractions?
Along with Mount Artxanda is one of two beautiful mountain ranges surrounding Bilbao. It’s located in the scenic Basque mountains. The word Pagasarri translates as “thick forest of beech” and is almost 700 metres high. There is a hostel close to the summit to provide shelter and warmth and it is well worth a visit for any mountain climber.
One of two beautiful mountain ranges surrounding Bilbao. It is the smaller mountain range of the two and can be accessed by the Artxanda Funicular railway. It boasts several attractions including a park, restaurants, hotel and a sports complex. It is an excellent location to enjoy amazing views over the city.
Where else is good to visit?
Located in the city centre, is a large venue consisting of a cinema multiplex, fitness centre, library, showrooms, auditorium, restaurant and shops. The building was formerly a wine warehouse and was opened to the public in its current form in 2010. Whatever the reason for your visit, this venue will provide a fantastic day out.
Dona Casilda Iturrizar Park
Located in the centre of Bilbao, this beautiful park is definitely worth a visit. It boasts over a century worth of history and it’s english style only adds to its charm. Amongst its beautiful attractions are a large variety of waterfowl and an amazing fountain that offers fantastic light and sound shows. The park is open every day and admission is free to the public.
A beautiful white arched bridge over the city’s Nervion river. The walkway was designed by Santiago Calatrava and was opened in 1997. The beautiful decking consists of glass bricks and it offers amazing unmissable views of the city especially at night.
Are there any notable museums?
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
Located in the Dona Casilda Iturrizar park in the centre of Bilbao. Established in 1914, this museum has thousands of art exhibits including paintings and sculptures amongst others. The collection dates back to the 12th century and it’s rich history makes it a “must see” for any visitor to Bilbao. The museum is open every day apart from Mondays, 25th December, 1st and 6th January. There is a discount for students and the museum is free on Wednesdays.
Located next to the Nervion River in the downtown area of Bilbao, is a beautiful example of architectural work. It’s collections include a wide range of international modern and contemporary art and was opened in 1997. If you are a fan of art and architecture this is definitely an attraction not to be missed. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday and is also open on Monday’s in July and August. For students under the age of 26 there is a reduced admission charge.
Museo Maritimo Ria de Bilbao
Located at the Port of Bilbao, this museum boasts an excellent range of maritime memorabilia. It is situated on the old Euskalduna Society shipyards which were closed in 1984. The wide range of boats and boat models make this a “not to be missed” attraction for any maritime enthusiast. The museum is open every day except Monday. There is a discount for students under the age of 26 and admission is free on Tuesdays.