The capital of Vizcaya in the Basque County of Spain, Bilbao is a lush, green city based on the banks of the river Nervion. With a total popular of around one million, this diverse and bustling city makes a welcome break from its hotter and drier neighbours. Divided into eight districts, there is plenty of Bilbao to discover during a stay in the city. Original architecture is dotted around the city along with more modern examples of development and structural art. Popularity in the city has grown over previous years as the city hosts several festivals and events throughout the year.
Visitors might want to take the drive up into France from Bilbao, so a hatchback is a good choice in that instance. It’ll get you around Bilbao with minimal fuss.
Driving in Bilbao
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Important things to note
The structure of the city, primarily designed in the 1400s, can make it difficult to navigate for those visiting for the first time. It is recommended that drivers allow 30 minutes extra to any travelling time to safeguard against getting lost.
The majority of the city is built upon various hills and so many of the roads are uphill. This, combined with a widespread one-way system can make driving difficult for those with little experience.
As parking can be difficult, it is recommended visitors park at the Termibus car park found on A-8 Exit 117 and travel into the city by foot or train.
Highlights & Hotspots
The world-famous Guggenheim Museum, one of the most celebrated buildings of the 90s, is a must-visit for anyone new to the city. While the exhibition on show is interesting in itself, the aquatic design of the building is the true draw as titanium tiles are used to create the effects of a fish glistening in the water.
One of the true highlights of Bilbao are its Gothic architecture that are best seen through the many churches in the city. Cathedral of St. James is a stunning example of this period while Iglesia de San Anton, built in 1422, incorporates Gothic style with Renaissance and Baroque.
For a modern taste of the city, Alhondiga will provide hours of entertainment. The stunning building contains one of the best libraries in the country, along with several fun and relaxing bars and restaurants. Its main draw, however, is the rooftop swimming pool complete with a glass floor.
There are numerous annual events throughout the year and for a taste of them all visit the city in the summer. A nine day national holiday takes place the Saturday following 15th August with numerous street festivals taking place on all days.
Bilbao Airport is served by several low-cost airlines from around Europe. Travel to the outskirts of the city will take around 25 minutes, while those travelling to the most popular eastern part of the city can expect a journey to take around 1.5 hours.