With its over 350 inhabitants, Bilbao is the largest and most important city in the autonomous region of the Basque Country, as well as one of the most popular Spanish destinations for tourists. Location where art can be breathed in deeply, and not only in its museums. Bilbao enjoys an efficient public transport system, which well compensates for the scarcity of cycle paths and the management of traffic, which does not always live up to expectations. Although Spain boasts a road network that is also accessible to car rental enthusiasts, Bilbao is in some ways an exception in this regard.
But what is the best way to explore the famous Basque city? Let's find out together how to get around in Bilbao, info, costs and tips to make your stay easier and stress-free!
- Useful Tips
- How to get from the airport to the center of Bilbao
- How to get around on foot
- Con i mezzi pubblici
- By car
- User questions and comments
Bilbao boasts an efficient transport network, consisting of metro, bus and an ecological tram service. You can also move comfortably on foot, especially since most of the attractions are all close by.
We advise you to use more buses, trams and metro; The Barik Creditrans rechargeable electronic card is very convenient, valid for all means of transport (including the Artxanda funicular and the Puente Colgante), which can be purchased at the machines in the metro stations and allows you to pay less for the rides than the single ticket (card cost € 3,00).
Equally recommended is the Hop-on Hop-off boat, which in addition to being an effective means, can be considered a real attraction thanks to the wonderful views of the city it offers.
Avoid cars, bikes and taxis. Bilbao is not a bike friendly city, as the bike rental service is reserved for residents only (annual cost € 20,00). Getting around by car, on the other hand, can be difficult due to several one-way streets and streets closed to traffic. The taxi is a good service, but not really cheap (base € 4,00 + € 1,00 for each km).
- Recommended solutions and means: foot, metro, tram, bus, Hop-on Hop-off boat
- Solutions and means not recommended: car, bike, taxi
- City cards and season tickets recommended: Barik Creditrans (€ 3,00 + top-ups), Bidai 50 (50 trips from € 32,00)
How to get from the airport to the center of Bilbao
Those who decide to fly to Bilbao willthe main airport is Bilbao Airport (BIO), located in the locality of Loiu, less than 15 km from the city center and served by most of the main airlines, including low cost ones.
In addition to this stopover there is also Santander Airport, about 90 km from Bilbao, but well connected by the buses of the Alsa line.
Once landed, you can take the bus line A3247 outside the Arrivals Terminal. It reaches the historic center and makes many stops along the Gran Via, the main avenue, and ends at the Termibus. The buses from / to the airport are in service from 5: 00/6: 00 to 23: 00/24: 00 depending on the season (journey time 40 min, € 3,00, info on the official website of the Bizkaibus company). Alternatively, you can take a taxi, certainly faster and more comfortable (12 min, average cost € 20,00).
- Distance from the center: 15 km / travel time: 15 min
- By taxi: average cost € 20,00 / travel time: 15 min
- By bus: average cost € 3,00 / lines A3247 company Bizkaibus
Parayas Santander Airport
If you land in Santander, the cheapest option is the bus. From the Arrivals Terminal the ALSA bus line Bilbao-Santander departs (from 1 h 30 min to 1 h 50 min depending on the journey, from € 7,00).
- Distance from the center: 94 km / travel time: 1 h 10 min;
- By taxi: average cost € 90,00 / travel time: 1 h 10 min
- By bus: cost from € 7,00 / ALSA Bilbao-Santander line
How to get around on foot
Bilbao is a very usable city on foot. In the center you will find many of its main attractions within walking distance of each other, such as the famous Guggenheim Museum.
To give you an idea of the distances: it takes just 25 minutes to reach the Casco Viejo district from the Guggenheim Museum and, along the way, you will come across several architectural beauties of the city, such as the Cathedral of Santiago, the Municipal Library, the Church of San Nicolàs and the Arriga Theater. Furthermore, the Old Town area, together with Calle Amistad and the Calatrava Bridge, are entirely pedestrian areas closed to traffic.
Con i mezzi pubblici
Bilbao owns a modern public transport network (in addition to other private solutions), which allows you to visit and move around the city in a comfortable way.
The metro is certainly the fastest way for those who visit this locality and want to reach the northernmost areas in a short time. It also exists a tram line that runs around the perimeter of the center: convenient for going to the Guggenheim Museum, but in reality it also reaches areas served by the metro, so you only have to choose if you prefer to stay on the surface and admire the view from the tram window or travel the distances faster by metro. The city is also served by two bus companies: Bilbobus, which mainly makes urban journeys, and the Bizkaibus, which instead goes further and connects the city to the airport. For all these means it is valid the Barik Creditrans, with reduced fares for single journeys.
If you want enjoy the city from another perspective, we advise you to opt for the Hop-on Hop-off boat tour, which will allow you to discover the different attractions while you can get on and off the boat as many times as you want, for the duration of the ticket.
The Bilbao metro, which connects all parts of the city to the far north near the ocean, counts 3 lines, of which the two main ones travel along the banks of the Deustuko Kanala River, and 47 stations, of which 30 underground and 17 on the surface. The distances, and therefore the ticket fare, are calculated on the basis of three zones divided by color: L1 orange, L2 black, L3 purple.
- Downloadable map: metro-map
- 6: 00-23: 00, Fri until 2:00, Saturday runs every 20 min all night until 6:00
- Ticket / single ride cost: zone € 11,65, zone € 21,85, zone € 31,90
- Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: Bidai 50 (50 trips) from € 32,00, Barik Creditrans € 3,00 + top-up, discounted rates (zone € 10,66, zone € 21,10, zone € 31,20)
Bilbao also owns a tram network with currently a single line, which makes a semi-complete tour of the perimeter of the city and runs through the medieval streets of the center. This means of transport connects the Atxuri station with the Casilla and has 14 stops; it is an option to move around the central part of the city in an ecological way, allowing you to stop near its most representative buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum, the university library, the Iberdrola tower.
- Downloadable map: map-tramway
- 6: 00-23-00
- Ticket / single ride cost: € 1,50
- Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: Bidai 50 (50 trips) from € 32,00, Barik Creditrans € 3,00 + top-up, discounted fares (one way € 0,73)
Bilbao owns two bus companies: Bilbobus and BizkaiBus. To find timetables, lines and further information, we recommend that you visit the official sites of Bilbobus and BizkaiBus.
The first company, Bilbobus, deals with urban routes, has 43 lines, 8 of which are nocturnal, and covers 517 stops located in different parts of the city. Night lines that operate all week from 23pm to 00am are marked with the letter G and numbers 6 to 00.
The second company, however, BizkaiBus, it also goes to other provinces outside Bilbao, but the line that will probably interest you most is the A3247 which operates the airport-center service and vice versa (€ 3,00). Alternatively, to move around the city you will use the lines of zone 1.
- Downloadable map: map-bilbobus
- 6:00-23:00; linee notturne 23:00-6:00
- Ticket / single ride cost: Bilbobus € 1,35
- Cost of ticket booklet / season ticket: Barik Creditrans € 3,00 + top-up, discounted fares (single journey € 0,66)
In Bilbao you will also find the Artxanda Funicular which, besides being a useful means of transport, it has become a real tourist attraction! It is about 100 years old and connects the center with the top of the hill where there are several restaurants, a sports complex, a leisure park and a beautiful view over the whole city!
- inverno 7:15-22:00, estate 08:15-23:00
- Ticket / single ride cost: return ticket € 4,30
Finally, in the city you will find the Euskotre service, an ambitious project launched by the city of Bilbao: three ecological lines, whose transport is also supported by local railway lines, to fully cover the transport in the province. So you won't use it to get around the city, but it could be very useful if you want to organize some day excursions around Bilbao.
- Downloadable map: train-map
- 05 pm (CET)
- Ticket / single ride cost: variable according to the destination, see the official website
If you are traveling with your own car or with a rental car you should know this it is not the best way to get around Bilbao: many areas of Casco Vejo are closed to traffic and the city is full of one-way streets that keep changing, so if you don't have an updated navigator, you risk wandering around for hours looking for a parking space or the attraction to reach.
The advice therefore if you have the car in tow is to park it in a garage, in your hotel or in a suitable place and leave it there and then move on foot or by public transport.
ZTL and pedestrian areas
From September 2020 Bilbao has chosen to limit atmospheric and acoustic pollution by encouraging the use of bicycles and walking, but above all by implementing the reduction of the speed of motor vehicles to a maximum of 30 km / h for all the streets of the city.
In addition, many tourist areas are closed to traffic, establishing several areas for the exclusive use of pedestrians, where the circulation of motor vehicles is prohibited. These are: the area under the Ponte Deusto (district 1); Vía Vieja de Lezama (district 2); via Jesús Galindez, between Txomin Garat and Doctor Ornilla (district 3); the area between Zabalbide Santa Clara, Iturriaga, Juan de la Cosa and Santutxu (district 4); the Gran Vía between Alameda Mazarredo and Plaza Moyua (district 6); the streets Arane and Medina Pomar and part of Díaz Emparanz (district 7); Muelle Olabeaga from San Nikolas Muelle Sirgueras (district 8). You can find more info on tourism and transport on the official website of the city of Bilbao.
Stops and parking
In Bilbao you have three stopping options:
- Pay parking with OTA system: managed by the Municipality and located in central areas, you can pay by credit card, cash or mobile app (Bilbao Park) and extend the parking even remotely as well as recover the money if you stay less than expected. Rates: free up to 15 min, variable according to the area, from € 0,40 for 30 min to € 13,30 for 5 h. For more info see the official website.
- Free peripheral parking spaces: at least 30 minutes walking distance from the center (but well connected by public transport). They are located in the Deusto, San Ignacio, Zurbaran, Txurdinaga districts and at the Artxanda Park
- Central private pay parking: where long stops are also provided (prices from € 16,00 for 24 h, more info on the official website).