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Bilbao may often find itself in the shadows of Barcelona and Madrid, but this Spanish city in the North has so much to offer. Known for its culture, world-renowned restaurants, and historical architecture, you really can’t go wrong in Bilbao.
As a cultural hub, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has helped curate a strong interest in art and history. The museum has hosted over 20 million guests since it opened in 1997. Not bad for a small Spanish town.
Another huge part of the Bilbaoan culture is the incredible food tradition that has sprung up in the area. If you’re a serious foodie, you can find it all in Bilbao. With over 40 Michelin-starred restaurants (more than anywhere else in Europe) and iconic Basque-style tapas, called pintxos, found on every street corner, your tastebuds will be in heaven. Splurge on fine dining at Azurmendi, Mina Restaurante, or go a bit further out into Basque country where you’ll find many more highly rated restaurants in San Sebastian. For a more casual pintxos experience, stop into any local cafe. Cafe Iruna, Bar Bacaicoa, and Guretoki are a few favorites.
Architecture is another massive aspect of Bilbao culture. From interesting bridges to modern city buildings, there are some incredible projects to see in the area. Zubizuri (or “white bridge”) is the perfect selfie companion and the Calatrava Bridge is a footbridge that’s just begging to be crossed. You’ll also see La Salve, the “red bridge” when you visit the Guggenheim as it’s right in front of the museum.
Fun Fact: Bilbao was named Best European City at the 2018 Urbanism Awards.
Things to do in Bilbao
Bilbao is filled with deep cultural values in art, food, architecture, and more. Even if you’ve never considered visiting this northern Spanish city, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its vibrancy.
If you need a few pointers, here are the top spots to check out in Bilbao:
Start your day in Plaza Nueva admiring the stunning architecture of this public square. On Sundays, it’s the site of a bustling market or if you need to send a quick email, there’s free wifi throughout.
Take a long stroll through Casca Viejo, the historical district of Bilbao, or take a break to feed the ducks in Dona Casilda Park.
Be sure to scope out the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a huge part of the cultural scene in the area, or the Museo de Bellas Artes which has a lot to offer as well.
Go shopping in El Ensanche complete with boutique shops and well-known brand name stores.
Check out Vizcaya Bridge, the world’s first transporter bridge built way back in 1893 nearby and other iconic bridges including Zubizuri, Calatrava Bridge, and La Salve.
Take in the mountaintop views via the Artxanda Funicular.
Experience Basque dining culture at Mercado de la Ribera (River Market) for local street food or book a table at Restaurante Mandoya. For an extra special occasion, spend the evening at one of the countless Michelin-starred restaurants in Bilbao like Azurmendi or Mina Restaurante.
Enjoy a boat ride with incredible views along the Nervion River.
Sip on a cocktail at one of the local bars in El Ensanche such as La Casa del Bandito or Abadia del Gin&Tonic.
Transit Options in Bilbao
Metro Bilbao (subway)
Biblobus (city buses)
Luggage Storage in Bilbao
You might be simply stopping through Bilbao on your way to Madrid. Or, your train doesn’t leave for another few hours and you want to explore while you can. Either way, you won’t want to carry all your luggage around with you.
Bounce partners with local businesses to provide affordable, convenient, secure luggage storage in Bilbao. Just download the app, search your location, and drop off your things with one of our vetted partners. It’s super easy and you’ll be ready to see the city, hands-free!
Activities and Attractions in Bilbao
Once your luggage is safely stored and you’re no longer tied down to your stuff, you’ll be ready to experience Bilbao in all its glory. We suggest starting with the food.
Dining: Many people travel to Bilbao to experience its world-class fine dining and while in the city, it’s certainly recommended if you’re ready to splurge on a fancy dinner. Bilbao has the most Michelin-star rated restaurants in all of Europe, boasting 40 in all.
Most of these restaurants are outside the city in the heart of Basque country in San Sabastian. However, if you want to stay in Bilbao itself, go to Michelin-starred Azurmendi or Mina Restaurante for some of the best dining in the world.
Pintxos are traditional Bilbao tapas that are also worth a taste on your visit. They can be found in nearly every cafe in town. We recommend Cafe Iruna, Bar Bacaicoa, or Guretoki.
Architecture: Architecture is another huge part of the Bilbao experience and crossing a few of the iconic bridges like Zubizuri, Calatrava Bridge, and La Salve will be worth it.
However, one of the best ways to experience the architecture and landscape of Bilbao is by taking the Artxanda Funicular to the top of Artxanda mountain. Not only will you bask in the amazing views from the top but the ride itself is just as enjoyable. It’s a must-do.
Museums: Museum-lovers can check out the Guggenheim Museum Bilboa or the Museo de Bellas Artes, and the streets of Casca Viejo are sure to transport you back in time.
Frequently asked questions
How much does it cost to store luggage in Bilbao?
The price for luggage storage in Bilbao is just €5/bag for the entire day.
Where can I store luggage in Bilbao?
There are multiple locations all around Bilbao which can be booked through the Bounce platform including near Playa de Gorliz-ko Hondartza, Playa Barinatxe / Salvaje Hondartza, Playa de Laidatxu and many other areas.
Is it safe to store your bags in Bilbao?
Yes. Every bag is tagged with a security seal and comes with the $10,000 Bounce Guarantee. Every location is required to uphold tight security precautions. You may be asked to show ID and you will be required to use a credit card to book through Bounce in advance. With hundreds of thousands of bags stored, you can count on Bounce to handle your baggage in Bilbao.
Are there storage lockers in Bilbao?
Yes. There are storage lockers and many other luggage drop off points in Bilbao. Bounce has multiple locations throughout Bilbao where you can conveniently store your luggage with full security and the $10,000 Bounce Guarantee.
Where are the best places to stay and eat while in Bilbao?
The most popular restaurants to visit are Bilbao Airport (BIO) (Aeropuerto de Bilbao), Casco Viejo (Bilbao), and Pozgarri. Additionally, the highest ranked hotels within Bilbao are Hotel Artaza, Vincci Consulado de Bilbao, and Ilunion San Mamés.
Where are the best parks and nature attractions in Bilbao?
Bilbao offers several scenic parks including Parque Bizkotxalde parkea, Mendikosolo Parkea, and Parque Artaza.
Where can I find tourist information and guideposts in Bilbao?
You can find local tourist information at Bilbao Turismo, Bilbobentura, and Oficina de Turismo de Bilbao.