Located in the north of Spain, Bilbao is the capital of the Basque region, with its distinctive culture and language that makes it unlike anywhere else in Spain. Surrounded by green and fertile mountains and home to some incredible tourist attractions like the Guggenheim Museum, there's never really a bad time to visit Bilbao.
But if visiting Spain to you means experiencing a Mediterranean climate, think again. Bilbao sits on the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula, giving it an oceanic climate that shows a lot of variation throughout the year. Average monthly temperatures can change a lot between the summer months and the winter weather, and you'll also need to contend with wind speed and a relatively high average humidity when you expose yourself to the Bilbao weather.
Choosing the best time to visit Bilbao is going to come down to what you most want to do in the city and the kind of weather you prefer. But whenever you choose to visit the Basque region, don't forget to drop off your bags at a Bilbao luggage locker. Whether you choose to visit during the hottest months of summer or the coldest months of winter, you'll have a lot more fun if you're not carrying more than you need to.
Summer in Bilbao
Summers in Bilbao are hot, with the average temperature hitting 79°F (26°C) in July and August. If you don't mind a little heat, this is a great time to visit the city as all the attractions are open and there's a lot going on. Just be sure to pack some light clothes and plenty of sunscreen!
Factor in the city's relatively high average humidity and the summer months can quickly become unpleasantly sticky and warm, with the perceived temperatures feeling much higher than the thermometer would suggest. This is the time of year when you'll experience the maximum temperature in Bilbao. Then again, it's also the period with the least rain. As is typical in the northern hemisphere, the summer months are the driest in Bilbao, with monthly rainfall totals averaging around 50mm.
If you're looking to enjoy some time on the beach while you're in Bilbao, summer is definitely the best time to visit. The city's two main beaches, La Concha and Ondarreta, are open from June to September and offer great facilities for sunbathing, swimming, and enjoying the views. Just be aware that the water can be quite cold even in August!
The high temperatures and dry weather conditions make this a great time of year to visit Bilbao for those who prefer a high average temperature. It's also a good time to visit for those who love the outdoors since you're unlikely to experience much rain even in the mountains that surround the largest city in the Basque region. However, the high average temperatures can be stifling, and you may find a day on the beach or in the coolness of the mountains is preferable to sweating it out in the city.
Summer is also a good time to enjoy cultural events and festivals in Bilbao, like the Aste Nagusia, which is a nine-day festival in August that features concerts, bullfights, and Basque sports like stone-lifting.
You'll also find that summer is the height of Bilbao's tourist season. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, this is probably not the best time of year to visit Basque country. However, if you don't mind less elbow room, the city's attractions are all open and there's a lot going on. Just be sure to book your accommodation in advance. And expect to pay more, since the lower availability of accommodation means that hotels will certainly charge more.
Fall in Bilbao
During fall in Bilbao, temperatures tend to drop from their summer highs, with an average temperature of 68°F (20°C) in September, 65°F (18°C) in October, and 59°F (15°C) in November. This is still warm enough to enjoy all the city has to offer, but you'll definitely need a jacket for evenings out. Early September has average temperatures similar to those you'll find during the hottest months, but as the season progresses, temperatures drop and the rain and wind speed pick up.
The humidity also drops during the fall months, making the weather more comfortable than it is in summer. However, the rainfall increases as well, with totals averaging around 60mm in September, 70mm in October, and 80mm in November. So be sure to pack your umbrella!
This is a great time of year to visit Bilbao if you're looking to avoid the crowds but still want to enjoy good weather. The city's attractions are all open, and the temperatures are pleasant during the day but cool enough at night that you'll need a jacket. Just be aware that it's likely to rain at least a few days during your stay.
The colder temperatures and lower relative humidity may well make the city more comfortable to visit if you're not a fan of the heat. And while rain is more likely in the wetter season, weather conditions in fall can be extremely pleasant.
Plus, fall in Bilbao is a great time to visit to take advantage of some interesting events. For example, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hosts a major art exhibition every October, which features works by world-renowned artists. And the fall is a great time to visit some of Bilbao's indoor attractions to stay out of the rain.
Winter in Bilbao
Temperatures in Bilbao during winter are cool, with an average of 54°F (12°C) in December, 50°F (10°C) in January, and 46°F (8°C) in February. This is definitely the time of year when you'll want to pack some warm clothes.
The rainfall also increases during the winter months, with totals averaging around 90mm in December, 100mm in January, and 110mm in February. So again, be sure to pack your umbrella. And if you're planning on doing any hiking or outdoor activities, be sure to check the weather forecast before you go as the mountains can be treacherous in winter.
Despite the cooler temperatures, winter is actually a great time to visit Bilbao if you're looking to avoid the crowds. The city's attractions are all open, and the weather is cool but not too cold.
Basque Christmas traditions are as unique as everything else about this region, so if you're in Bilbao during the low season, it's well worth checking out some of the city's Christmas events. For example, the Christmas market in Plaza Nueva is a great place to find unique gifts and try some traditional Basque foods. Plus, the Santo Tomas festival on December 21 has the people of Bilbao dressing in traditional costumes and dancing in the streets, making this a fascinating time to visit.
Winter is also the time of year when you have the best chance of finding low prices for your accommodation. Outside the Christmas period, Bilbao is much quieter during the winter, so you'll probably have your pick of places to stay, and at some very reasonable rates.
And if you don't like crowds, the winter temperatures can be a blessing, since they keep many visitors away. Visit Bilbao in the winter, and you won't have to line up for the city's top attractions or run into crowds on the countryside hiking trails. Wrap up warm, and you may find that even the coldest month in Bilbao is something you can easily enjoy.
Spring in Bilbao
The weather in Bilbao starts to improve in spring, with temperatures averaging 55°F (13°C) in March, 59°F (15°C) in April, and 63°F (17°C) in May. The rainfall also decreases during the spring months, with totals averaging around 60mm in March, 50mm in April, and 40mm in May. So if you're planning on doing any outdoor activities, this is a great time of year to visit. Like fall, it occupies a sweet spot between summer heat and winter cold that makes it an extremely pleasant time to visit. However, the weather can be unpredictable in spring. February is usually the windiest month, but March and April are close, and the wind makes the weather changeable. Therefore, if you're planning to visit Bilbao in spring, you'll need to bring lots of different clothing options with you so that you're prepared for anything the weather might throw at you
You should also be aware that the city can be quite busy during the Easter period as many Spaniards take their holidays at this time. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, it's best to visit Bilbao either before or after Easter.
The spring months are also a great time to visit Bilbao if you're interested in the city's history and culture. April is the month when Bilbao celebrates its patron saint, San Ignacio, with a week-long festival that includes concerts, parades, and other events. And on May 1, Bilbao celebrates International Workers' Day with a huge parade that goes through the city center.
As the weather gets warmer in spring, more and more of Bilbao's outdoor attractions start to open. For example, the city's parks and gardens are a great place to spend a spring day, and many of them have special events and activities during the months of April and May.
Spring isn't exactly a hidden gem. Even if you avoid visiting in Easter, you'll still find the crowds in the city are bigger than they are in the winter. On the other hand, it won't be nearly as crowded as it is in the summer, so the shoulder season offers a good mix. There's enough going on in the city and enough visitors to make the place feel lively, but usually not so many that you'll feel cramped.
You'll also find prices for accommodation are higher in the spring been in the winter, but usually still affordable if you avoid the Easter period. Keep an eye on the school holidays, and try to avoid visiting when the kids are out of school if you want to avoid the worst of the crowds.
What is the best time to visit Bilbao for you?
With beautiful scenery and fascinating culture, Bilbao is definitely a year-round destination. But the oceanic weather means you'll have a very different experience of the city depending on what season you visit.
If you want to enjoy the beaches or some of the top summer festivals, then you'll need to embrace the high tourist season of summer. You'll pay a lot more for accommodation and have to navigate your way through crowds in the city and even in the mountains. But on the plus side, you'll be far less likely to encounter rain and will be able to spend a lot of time outdoors, so long as you pack appropriately and remember the sunscreen.
The shoulder seasons of spring and fall are popular with lots of visitors since they offer a compromise between the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter. Likewise, the prices you'll pay for accommodation during these seasons fall somewhere between the highs and lows of Bilbao, so this can be a good time for a visit if you're looking to save some money. You'll avoid the worst of the crowds and probably still get some good weather, though you'll need to be prepared for rain.
Winter may have the worst weather, but it's a great time to visit if you want to experience cultural attractions. It's also a good time for budget travelers since accommodation is at its cheapest - at least if you don't visit during Christmas.
Ultimately, whenever you visit Bilbao, chances are good you'll have a great time. And the chances get even better if you remember to drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in the city. You'll need to be prepared for what the weather can throw at you, but traveling light will make it much easier to have fun.