I arrived in Bilbao in October 2023. We spent 2 mind-blowingly delicious days there, following Yulia’s recommendations. Therefore, instead of doing my own review, I decided to go with Yulia’s reccomendations.
Over the past month, 4 different people asked me about Bilbao, each time I answered on the run and I had to retell the “life hacks” many times. Today I was asked about Bilbao for the fifth time.
Therefore, while one lesson has been cancelled, I will try to collect all my stories in one quick post “Bilbao, instructions for use”.
Transport in Bilbao, how to save money?
As soon as you get to Bilbao, the first thing you need to do is buy a BARIK card at any metro station and top it up with at least 5 euros.
It is sold in vending machines at every station; when purchasing, you need to select Barik anónima – this card can be used by two or three people, writing off money for trips on all types of transport, including a bus to the airport. The card is applied at the entrance and exit of buses, and, accordingly, at the entrance and exit of the metro. Economy – about 40% of the price of separately purchased tickets.
You can also top up your card at metro station machines.
The discount also applies to the Funicular de Artxanda high-altitude funicular – which is great for going up and looking at the city from there).
Where to stay?
Bilbao has expensive hotels. If you are just sleeping in a hotel or generally traveling solo, then it’s great to live on a university campus – book through booking, this is one of the nicest places I’ve ever lived, everything is perfectly thought out, including a small personal kitchen and high-speed wifi, that’s exactly what I’m talking about o micampus, I can’t say anything about the rest.
Follow this LINK.
What to see? Where to go?
Take a free city tour (available in Spanish and English, in 2 hours you will learn a lot of useful and interesting things – at the end of the tour, if everything went well, give 10 euros to the guide). Book a tour via LINK.
The Guggenheim Museum and its surroundings are beautiful, even if you are not a museum-goer, it is really interesting for people of all ages, it is better to buy tickets in advance online, and it is better not to take a backpack with you – you will have to check it in the locker. But a laptop in a regular bag is easily allowed through; I worked in one of the halls of the museum without any problems).
The Santiago Way passes through Bilbao, if you want to feel at least a little of this atmosphere, climb the 300 steps from the Plaza Nueva area to the BASÍLICA DE BEGOÑA Cathedral, the most beautiful cathedral and beautiful steps will dispel bad thoughts in your head.
If you have more than two days at your disposal, go see the wonder of the world, the Biscay Bridge, where a flying ferry will take you to the other side of the river (you can also pay for everything there with a Barik card, which also applies to all adjacent suburbs up to and including San Sebastian.
Food in Bilbao. Where to sit? What to eat? What to drink with it?
Bilbao is a gastronomic paradise, I was forced to give up and give this city absolute primacy in terms of the amount of incredibly delicious food for very modest sums. The only thing – I’m not talking about restaurants now – but if you’re flying for 3-4 days, you really have plenty of bars, which are wonderful.
You should never order a lot of food in one bar – a glass of wine and a couple of pintxos (a slice of bread on which absolutely everything can lie). The total cost of a glass of wine and pintxos should not exceed 5 euros, (or you are in a tourist place) – after that you move to the next bar and repeat the same thing. And so 6-7 times.
A glass of wine means TXAKOLI – txakoli – (in the Bak language there is no Spanish letter C, the combination TX is read as Ch). Txakoli is a local high-mineral white wine that goes perfectly with pintxos – in principle, you can order it anywhere and anytime, you definitely can’t go wrong.
At least a third of the pintxos you eat should contain Bacalao al Pil pil or simply bacalao, this is the most delicate cod that goes well with Txakoli. Try it in several places and make your own rating.
Three bars that will change your idea of what delicious is – all three can be easily found on Google Maps.
- Bar SantaMaría in Casco Viejo (old quarter) – there you can immediately take pintxos with cod and tuna and you will be happy;
- Bar El Globo, a 10-minute walk from the Guggenheim Museum, is one of the best bars in the city, a multiple winner of competitions for the best pintxos – there you can simply ask for a miniset of pintxos, but pintxos with *Cangrejo crab are a must to order.
- Sorginzulo on Plaza Nueva – just like that, take whatever your eye catches.
All these bars will be very difficult to get into on a Friday or Saturday night, but on any other day – just go in and don’t be afraid of the large crowds, there are always a lot of people there, this is completely normal.
Bar information obtained from locals and double checked!
If you’re tired of walking around the old quarter, go to any bar and ask for CALIMOCHO – a cocktail of red wine, Coca-Cola and ice – this divine cocktail will bring you back to your senses and you will be able to walk for many more kilometers
If you are a pizza fan even in Spain, or your children are pizza fans, then in Bilbao you should go to Pizzeria Demaio on Francesco Street. This place was given to me by Italians who have lived in Bilbao for 10 years, so you can definitely trust them
All night bars are located in the area of Barrenkale Barrena street, restaurants of the old quarter are collected on Calle del perro.
It is better to visit the market for educational purposes – the food there is designed purely for tourists, the Spaniards do not go there)
If you buy Helado de leche de oveja quemada ice cream, then know that it will taste exactly like “burnt sheep’s milk” – and this is absolutely wonderful).
I envy those who still have a trip ahead and hope to definitely return, because this city has not faded one bit from my heart over the past 4 months.