Contrary to what the song might have you believe, the rain in Spain does not fall mainly on the plains, but in the mountains. And Bilbao, the capital of the Basque country, is surrounded by mountains.
Rain in Bilbao averages 44 inches or 1100 mm per year, with most of it falling in the winter. However, even in the summer, a rainy day in Bilbao is certainly possible. That's why it's a good idea to bring at least a rain jacket no matter what time of year you plan to visit.
Fortunately, if you're forced to spend some time indoors, Bilbao has some great activities that let you shelter from the rain and still enjoy everything this fascinating city has to offer. Rainy days are the ideal excuse to visit some of the excellent museums in Bilbao, go shopping for interesting souvenirs, or enjoy the delicious and unique flavors of the Basque region.
In other words, you don't need to let the rain stop you from enjoying all that Bilbao has to offer. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage in the city, grab your jacket or an umbrella, and head to some of these interesting attractions. There's so much fun to be had on a rainy day in Bilbao that you may not care if the sun ever comes back.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is one of the best art museums in Spain, and it's a perfect activity for a rainy day. With over 4,000 works of art on display, you can easily spend several hours here. The museum has an excellent collection of Spanish and Basque art, as well as works by international artists. Even if you're not usually interested in art, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is worth a visit. It's one of the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and it's easy to see why.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the most iconic buildings in the city, and it's a must-visit on any trip to Bilbao. Even if you're not interested in art, the museum is worth a visit for its architecture alone. The building was designed by world-famous architect Frank Gehry, and it's one of the most unique museums in the world and a bona fide architectural masterpiece.
Inside, you'll find an astounding collection of modern and contemporary art, including lots of installations and site-specific art designed especially for this unique building. Stay dry while you get a crash course in the brightest names in contemporary art, and you'll be enjoying one of the best museums in Bilbao. If you can't get enough of the Guggenheim, there's also a smaller museum in nearby Portierres de Bizkaia.
La Ribera Market
Mercado de la Ribera, as it's known in Spanish, is Bilbao's central market, and it's one of the best places in the city to find fresh produce, meat, seafood, and Basque delicacies. The market is also a great place to get a quick bite to eat or sample some of the local specialties. There are several bars and restaurants inside the market, as well as stalls selling everything from cheese and olives to chocolate and Basque cider.
If you're looking for a souvenir to take home with you, Mercado de la Ribera is the perfect place to find something unique and typically Basque. You'll find everything from traditional hand-painted pottery to Basque-style clothing and jewelry. Even if you don't buy anything, it's worth a visit to soak up the atmosphere and see a side of Bilbao that most tourists don't get to see.
The market is also home to an excellent food court where you can try incredible pintxos made on-site by produce selected from the market itself. You won't find better or fresher food anywhere in the city, so if you're looking for the best street food in Bilbao, this is the place to come.
Basque Culinary Center
The Basque Culinary Center is one of the best places in Bilbao to learn about the local cuisine and sample some of the delicious food of the Basque region. The center offers cooking classes, wine tastings, and other gastronomic experiences. It's also home to a Michelin-starred restaurant, so it's the perfect place to enjoy a special meal on a rainy day.
If you want to learn how to cook like a true Basque chef, sign up for one of the hands-on cooking classes. You'll learn how to make traditional dishes like pintxos (Basque tapas), txakoli wine, and Idiazabal cheese. The classes are taught in English, so you don't need to worry about language barriers.
The Santiago Cathedral is one of the most important religious buildings in Bilbao, and it's a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. The cathedral is home to a number of important works of art, including a painting by Zurbaran and a sculpture by Chillida. It's also one of the best places in the city to get a panoramic view of Bilbao.
If you're interested in the history and architecture of the cathedral, there are guided tours available in English. The tours last about an hour, and they're a great way to learn more about this fascinating building.
Museum of Sacred Art
The Museum of Sacred Art is one of the most important museums in Bilbao, and it's home to a collection of over 4,000 pieces of religious art. The museum is located in the Santiago Cathedral, and it's a great place to learn about the history of Christianity in Bilbao. This location is an added bonus since you won't have to brave the rain to get here from the Cathedral.
Bilbao Zoo is one of the best things to do with kids in Bilbao, but it's also a great place to visit if you're an animal lover. The zoo is home to over 2,000 animals, including lions, tigers, elephants, and gorillas. There's also a playground, a petting zoo, and a restaurant.
If you want to learn more about the animals at the zoo, there are guided tours available in English. The tours last about an hour, and they're a great way to learn more about the different species that call Bilbao Zoo home.
One of the best ways to enjoy Bilbao's delicious cuisine is to go on a pintxos tour. Pintxos are small Basque tapas, and they're the perfect way to sample a variety of different dishes. On a pintxos tour, you'll visit several bars and restaurants, and you'll get to try a variety of different pintxos.
Pintxos tours are a great way to learn about the local cuisine and sample some of the best food in Bilbao. They're also a lot of fun, and you'll get to meet new people and explore the Casco Viejo, or Old Town, while trying authentic Basque food.
Azkuna Zentroa is a cultural center in Bilbao that was once a wine cellar. Today, it's home to a library, a museum, a cafe, and a rooftop terrace with views of the city. The center also hosts regular events and exhibitions.
If you're looking for something to do on a rainy day, Azkuna Zentroa is the perfect place to go. You can browse the library, visit the museum, or enjoy a coffee and a view from the rooftop terrace.
Abandoibarra is Bilbao's waterfront district, and it's the perfect place to go for a walk on a rainy day. The area is home to a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops. And, of course, there are stunning views of the river and the city. Just grab your rain jacket and umbrella and you're all set.
If you want to learn more about the history of Bilbao, there are guided tours of Abandoibarra available in English. And, if it's raining out, you won't have to fight the crowds as you navigate the area.
Explore Casco Viejo
Bilbao's Old Town is a beautiful place to wander for a while, and even if the weather isn't cooperating during a rainy day in Bilbao, that doesn't mean you can't see one of the jewels of the Basque country. The rain may stop you from occupying an outdoor table in Plaza Nueva, but just taking a walk through the charming streets lets you soak up the atmosphere and get some incredible photos to commemorate your time in Bilbao.
If you want to know more about what you're seeing, you can even take a guided tour to see some of the most important historic buildings in the center of the city. But really, all you need to do is wander. And any time the rain gets too much for you, you can always pop into a bar or restaurant and treat yourself to some delicious food, a coffee, or a cocktail. This area of the city is just too beautiful and atmospheric to miss out on, whether it's raining or not.
Bilbao's Archaeological Museum is also known as the Basque Museum, so it's not surprising that this museum functions as an ethnographical as well as an archaeological museum for the whole of the region. If you want to know more about the history of this distinct region and why it has such a different feel to the rest of Spain, this is the place to learn more.
One of the best ways to see Bilbao is from the water, and a boat tour is a perfect way to do that. There are a number of different boat tours available, but all of them will give you a different perspective on the city. Just make sure you book a covered boat so that you can take shelter from the rain.
Or you could just enjoy the views and the fresh air on a leisurely cruise down the river. Either way, a boat tour is a great way to spend a rainy day in Bilbao.
San Mames Stadium
If you're a soccer fan, then you'll want to visit San Mames Stadium, home of Athletic Bilbao. Even if you're not a soccer fan, though, the stadium is worth a visit. It's one of the most iconic buildings in Bilbao, and it has an interesting history.
The stadium offers guided tours in English, which are a great way to learn more about the history of the team and the stadium.
Unfortunately, rainy days in Bilbao are not rare. Even if you visit in the summer, there's a chance you might encounter a few showers. And if you visit northern Spain in the winter, you can certainly expect to get your share of rainfall. It's a small price to pay to be in such scenic surroundings.
That's why it's a good idea to be prepared. Bounce has multiple locations to store your luggage throughout Bilbao, so you don't need to worry about bringing too much. Pack a raincoat and an umbrella so that a bit of bad weather doesn't have to stop you from enjoying what the city has to offer.
After all, Bilbao has so much to do. From the incredible food of La Ribera Market to the stunning architecture of the Guggenheim to the many bars and restaurants serving exquisite pintxos in the city, you'll find plenty to like here no matter what the weather is doing.