What to see in Bilbao in 3 days

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Martí Micolau

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Author and references

Be enchanted by the wonders of Bilbao: 3 days to discover the culture and dynamism of the Basque city.
Located in northern Spain, the city is known as a stop on the historic Northern Way to Santiago de Compostela. It's not just the beautiful landscapes to distinguish Bilbao but also those artistic and historical: the wonders of art nouveau and baroque monuments harmoniously marry contemporary museums and modern buildings designed by world-famous architects. Follow our guide and prepare your trip… Bilbao is waiting for you!


  1. 1 day
  2. 2 day
  3. 3 day
  4. How much does a weekend in Bilbao cost
  5. User questions and comments

1 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast at Cafeteria Swansea and Guggenheim Museum

Our journey begins in a great way and we start right from breakfast. We arrive by subway to the San Mames stop and not far away we find the Cafeteria Swansea, a small but very welcoming place renowned for its fabulous tortillas. Inside, a wide selection of pastries, brioches and bocadillos await you. Breakfast is quite cheap and averages around € 4,00 per person.
After a nice breakfast, we begin our journey to discover the very famous Guggenheim Museum, symbol of the city and its momentum towards the future. Bilbao, formerly an industrial area, has focused on innovation and urban redevelopment while preserving its tradition. It is possible to visit the museum from 10:00 to 20:00 and we always recommend taking an audio guide to fully grasp the meaning of the contemporary works of art exhibited in the museum. Adult ticket: € 16,00. Tickets for students up to 26 years: € 9,00.
In front of the entrance is the sculpture of Puppy: a cute 12-meter puppy dog ​​that welcomes museum visitors. The metal structure is covered with colorful plants and this originality is highly appreciated.

2 - Afternoon: Doña Casilda Park, Lunch at Nerua restaurant

Right in front of the museum is one of the most characteristic restaurants in the city, the Nerua Guggenheim Bilbao, which offers a wide choice of typical Spanish dishes as well as vegetarian and gluten-free specialties. The prices are a bit higher than average (5 to 18-course tastings vary from € 80,00 to € 170,00) but the quality is far superior and it is definitely worth letting yourself be tempted. Considering the tourist destination, we always recommend booking in advance and securing a table with a panoramic view.
Continuing to explore the wonderful Abando district, we leave the museum and head towards the Doña Casilda Park, an English garden that often hosts cultural events. If time permits, you can enjoy a few hours of relaxation lying on the fresh grass.
Inside the park we find the Fine Arts Museum of Bilbao which hosts majestic exhibitions of historical and contemporary artists. The museum is open from 10:00 to 20:00 and the ticket costs € 10,00, after 18:00 it is free.
Shopping lovers can not miss the Gran Vía Don Diego López de Haro and get lost in the windows of boutiques and typical shops… You just need to immerse yourself in the atmosphere, you don't need to spend a fortune.

3 - Evening: Aperitif to discover the Pintxos in La Viña del Ensache, Abando district

Country you go, custom you find ... You can't end the day without trying the Jamón Joselito, las tapas and los pintxos, typical Basque dishes. The pintxos-based aperitif is typical of this city and consists of slices of bread accompanied by various toppings. In the heart of the city, a few steps from the Palacio de la Deputación, the characteristic restaurant The Viña del Ensache which offers set menus for € 40,00 and typical tastings for € 30,00.
Before returning to the hotel, take a leisurely stroll along the elegant boulevards of the Abando district full of boutiques and cafes.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 3,9 km / 49 min
  • Places visited: Guggenheim Museum (Adults € 16,00 - Students € 9,00), Doña Casilda Park (Free), Museum of Fine Arts (€ 10,00 - free after 18:00), Abando District (Free)
  • Bilbao: private city tour and Guggenheim Museum
  • Breakfast at Cafeteria Swansea (Get directions), Lunch at Nerua Restaurante (Get directions), Dinner at La Viña del Ensache (Get directions)

2 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast at Café Bar Bilbao, Casco Viejo, Arriaga Theater

Old Town it is the beating heart of Bilbao, the traditional soul that still emerges in a city in constant evolution and where you can breathe the true essence of the Basque town. We take the tram and arrive at the stop Puente del Arenal, A few meters from the Arriaga Theater.
Before starting our tour to discover the ancient side of the city, we stop at Café Bar Bilbao, a quaint little bar located in the central square of the old town. The picturesque style and the blue ceramic furnishings remind us of a tradition that is still very present today.
After having breakfast, we begin the visit towards the river bank where we find the Arriaga Theater in neo-baroque style and continue towards the New Square, an elegant square square surrounded by arcades, where you can find the best tatxos in Bilbao and where you can sip authentic txacoli, a typical wine of the Basque region.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch at La Ribera Restaurant in the heart of the Mercado, Santiago Cathedral, Vasco Museum

Before resuming our tour, we stop for a moment inside the La Ribera market and walking among the stands of succulent local gastronomic specialties, we head towards the restaurant of the same name, The Ribera, located on the bank of the river which gives a very suggestive atmosphere. Prices are normal and there are fish and meat specialties. Prices range from € 6,00 to € 20,00 per course.
After relaxing along the river, we set off towards the Santiago Cathedral, the oldest building in Bilbao and the main place of worship in the city. Located in the heart of the old town, the Casco Viejo, this splendid Gothic church, which takes its name from the patron saint of Bilbao, also corresponds to one of the stages of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The peculiarity of this church lies in the beauty of the fusion of three architectural styles: Gothic, Neo-Gothic and Baroque. Ticket cost € 5,00.
Lovers of culture and art cannot miss out El Museo Vasco de Bilbao just 300 meters from the Cathedral. The museum is located in an ancient Baroque style church building opposite Plaza Miguel de Unamuno and hosts an impressive collection of sculptures, commemorative works and various finds through which the story of a people that is proud of its culture and tradition is told. The museum is open every day from 10:00 to 19:00 (consult the official website for any time changes), except Tuesdays. Ticket cost € 3,00, reduced for children € 1,50.

3 - Evening: Museum of Sacred Arts, Dinner at Arandia de Julien and walk along the river

Have you noticed that Bilbao is a very rich city in culture and if your thirst for knowledge has not yet completely subsided, you can take a trip to Sacred Arts Museum, where restored religious works dating back to various historical periods are exhibited and temporary exhibitions are often organized. The museum is open every day from 10:30 to 13:30 and from 16:00 to 19:00, closed on Mondays. Ticket cost € 3,00, reduced for children € 1,50.
Just opposite the museum is located Arandia de Julien, a typical Basque cuisine restaurant offering traditional and genuine dishes. The fixed menu costs around € 35,00 and the portions are generous.
After dinner we recommend a leisurely stroll along the river.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 2,9 km / 38 min
  • Places visited: Casco Viejo (Free), Arriaga Theater (depending on the type of show), Santiago Cathedral (€ 5,00), Mercado de La Ribera (Free), Vasco Museum (€ 3,00), Museum of Sacred Arts (€ 3,00)
  • Bilbao: Guided Txacoli Wine Tasting and Basque Lunch Tour
  • Breakfast at Café Bar Bilbao (Get directions), Lunch at La Ribera Restaurant (Get directions), Dinner at Arandia de Julien (Get directions)

3 day

1 - Morning: Breakfast at Laidatxu Bar and excursion to Mount Artxanda

Bilbao is a city that will surely inspire you so why not try the thrill of climbing to the top of the Mount Artxanda and admire the river estuary and the most representative buildings of the city from above? Before taking the funicular to reach the Mirador, the highest point in the city, we recommend a good breakfast in the small Laidatxu Bar, located right in Funicular Square. The menu and prices are displayed at the entrance so there are no bad surprises. You can have breakfast for € 3,50 / € 4,00 and not have to escape to take the cable car… It's right at the end of the road!
There are trips every quarter of an hour from 07:15 to 22:00 and in just 3 minutes you will arrive at your destination. The return ticket costs € 3,60.
Mount Artxanda is the ideal refuge for lovers of green spaces, outdoor sports but also for photography enthusiasts ... The view from above is nothing short of spectacular.

2 - Afternoon: Lunch at Restaurante Txakoli, Plaza de Moraza and Ponte Zubizuri

It is said that the typical and tasty dishes of Bilbao can be found above all here, at high altitude, so to take advantage of the enchanting view of Bilbao from above, we stop at a characteristic refreshment point: the Restaurante Txakoli. Fresh fish specialties, à la carte menus and group menus are offered starting from € 45,00. A tip: don't forget to try the calamari, the fillet stuffed with foie with port sauce and the Jamón Ibérico… They won't disappoint you.
After a morning of well-being and relaxation, we arrive in the city by cable car and descend to the Plaza del Funicular. Passing through Plaza de Moraza we head towards the Zubizuri Bridge which in Basque language means the white bridge, better known as the Calatrava bridge. It is not a traditional architectural work but rather a very unique construction that resembles a fan and symbolizes the innovation and modernity of the Basque town. Continuing towards Plaza Moyúa, we head to the west side of the city for the last attraction of the day.

3 - Evening: San Mamés Stadium and Dinner at Casilda Jatetxea

If the intensive tour of these days has tired you but despite everything you still want to see an attraction, we recommend taking the metro and getting off at the San Mamés stop where you will find the namesake San Mamés Stadium in front of your eyes. Obviously if football is not your passion, you can decide to relax in the last hours of the day in the Abando district and slowly head to dinner.
With the characteristic aperitifs based on tapas and typical wine, the restaurant Casilda Jatetxea it is a landmark of the neighborhood. Despite being in a very central tourist area, opposite the Museum of Arts, the prices of this restaurant are quite cheap and you can dine for scarce € 7,00. Don't forget to try the pinxtos ... Here they cost only € 1,00.

In summary:

  • Distance traveled: 6,5 km / 1 h 27 min
  • Places visited: Monte Artxanda (€ 3,60), Plaza de Moraza (Free), Zubizuri Bridge (Free), Plaza Moyúa (Free) and San Mamés Stadium.
  • From Bilbao: Sea and Mountains Full-Day Tour
  • Breakfast at Bar Laidatxu (Get directions), Lunch at Restaurante Txakoli (Get directions), Dinner at Casilda Jatetxea (Get directions)

How much does a weekend in Bilbao cost

The budget for 3 days in Bilbao depends on the high and low season, the type of accommodation, the attractions you want to visit and so on. Suppose we quantify the trip we have planned by taking an average:

  • Costs to eat: about € 55,00 per day per person (including breakfast, lunch, dinner)
  • Costs for museums and attractions: Guggenheim Museum € 20,00 - Museum of Fine Arts free after 18:00 - Church of Santiago € 5,00 - Vasco Museum € 3,00 - Museum of Sacred Arts € 3,00 - Cable car € 3,60
  • Transportation: Airport-city transfer € 22,00 - Day ticket € 5,00 - Metro ticket € 1,60
  • Hotels, accommodation and b & b: Hotel and b & b starting from € 31,00 per room -
  • Fun: from € 15,00 per person (including aperitifs, drinks, local entrance, ...)
  • Total cost of a weekend in Bilbao: about € 450,00 per person

Before leaving: useful tips

  • When to visit Bilbao: the climate is mild oceanic, rather humid and rainy. The best time is between May and September as rainfall is light and temperatures are quite pleasant. Obviously, an umbrella in a bag is always handy. Find out the best time to go to Bilbao, the weather and the tips for each month. If you are planning your trip in August, do not miss the Semana Grande celebrations: a folk festival with traditional songs and dances that begins on the first Saturday after August th and lasts nine days.
  • By plane, the nearest airport is in Loiu. It is located 12 km from the city center, about 15 minutes, and is connected to the city by the A3247 bus line which ends at the Termibus station with runs every half hour. The cost is € 1,45. There is a taxi service from the airport to the city center with a cost of around € 25,00-30,00. By bus, from the Termibus station, located in the center, near the San Mamés stadium, buses arrive and depart every day with regional, national and international destinations. By train, the Bilbao-Abando station (opposite the Casco Viejo) is served by long-distance Renfe trains, which offer daily services to various Spanish cities.
    Discover flights to Bilbao starting from € 66,00 -
  • Casco Viejo, the historic center with its ancient alleys and buildings of timeless charm, is certainly the favorite tourist destination. Among the main attractions are the La Ribera market, Santiago Cathedral, the Museum of Fine Arts and the shopping street. Abando, a central and modern district that hosts long avenues of elegant boutiques, restaurants and cafes. The train station is located right here, as well as being very beautiful, it allows you to easily reach every point of the city. Attractions include the Guggenheim museum and the Albia Gardens. Indautxu, a central and very vibrant district full of pintxo bars, clubs and restaurants of all kinds. The neighborhood gets even busier during Athletic Bilbao football matches… The stadium is just a few steps away. Deusto, the university area par excellence with nightclubs, cheap restaurants and low cost accommodations .. Suitable for those who want to save without too many sacrifices.
    Discover Hotels and b & b starting from € 45,00 per room -
  • Getting around: getting around Bilbao is very simple and reaching the main destinations on foot is possible. In case you don't want to get too tired (after all you came here to relax on holiday), know that it is not at all difficult to find your way around because the city is well connected. Metro, in addition to being a real tourist attraction, the metro network consists of three lines that connect the city with other neighboring municipalities. The Bilbao Bizkaia Card can be purchased at all tourist offices. A ride costs € 1,60. Bus, The urban bus network service is managed by Bilbobus with a total of 28 lines, 8 minibuses and as many vehicles that guarantee transport at night. The ticket costs € 1,30. Tram, even the tram line allows you to move around without problems. The ticket fare is € 1,50. If you are planning your trip to Bilbao and want more useful tips on how to get around, take a look at our article,

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