Bucket List: 20 things you must do in Bilbao! (Part 1)

Are you wondering how to make the most of your time in Bilbao? If you don’t want to miss anything of this beautiful city, make sure to check out this list!

Take the metro

You are not truly in Bilbao until you take the metro. Since 1995, these trains have been linking every part of Bilbao with the surrounding villages. Thanks to that, you can go from the city center to the seashore in less that half an hour. Some of the stations were designed by Foster, and they are still today a landmark for architecture lovers. Did you know that line 1, from San Inazio to Plentzia, follows the trace of the ancient railway? That is why most of the stations are outside. Check it yourself! Then, in Plentzia, you can always go to the beach.

Cross the Vizcaya Bridge

Whether it is by walking or in the “gondola” crossing this bridge is one of the most typical things you will do in Bilbao. Since 1893, it has united both banks of the river, still allowing maritime transport to go through. Vizcaya Bridge is located between the towns of of Getxo and Portugalete, a 20 minute metro ride away. Get off at Areeta station, then walk 10 minutes to the bridge. 

Watch a football match at San Mamés

If you really want to feel the spirit of Bilbao’s people, go to an Athletic football match at San Mamés stadium. The inhabitants of Bilbao are really attached to their local team, Athletic Club, and the match days the surroundings of the stadium become a great place to party, have a drink, eat pintxos, scream (and sometimes cry!). If you don’t want to pay the (often) expensive price of the tickets, simply go to a bar nearby and have a drink while you watch the match. You will feel the energy either way!

Eat a sandwich at bar “El Eme”

This is one of the most local things you can do in Bilbao. Eme’s sandwiches have become famous because of their sauce, that has a secret recipe nobody has discovered yet. Will you be the one to do so? You can arrive by metro from Moyua station, 6 minute walk.

Go to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and feel just like Daenerys and Jon Snow

This little island has become popular in recent years because of the world-famous series Game of Thrones. But soon you’ll discover it’s much more than that! After climbing the 241 steps, on top of the island you will not find Dragonstone, but rather a cute and small hermitage dedicated to John the Baptist that dates from the 10th century. We promise you, the incredible views of the Basque coastside and the sea will be worth the climb!

Learn how to cook a typical Basque dish

Knowing how to cook is one basic skill for every international student. You need to show your new friends your country’s favorite traditional dish! Once you’ve mastered that, it’s time to try new recipies, and why not a Basque one? You can find a list of the most typical Basque dishes in our last post, here. Choose one and try to do it your way! You can find all the recipies online.

Enter the Guggenheim museum

The museum is one of the most famous modern buldings worldwide. Its construction meant a full renovation of the river bank, that used to be full of factories, and of the whole city, that was a grey and ugly industrial city. Nothing to do with how it looks now! The entrance is 6€, but if you plan on going a lot, you can become friend, pay 40€ (for the whole year) and then enter for free as many times as you want! Either way, we recommend going at least once. Keep an eye open for the temporal exhibitions (you can read about them online). At any time, you can get lost in between Richard Serra’s sculptures, take a photo with Puppy and of course, always beware of the gigant spider!

Explore the old town (Casco Viejo)

The old part of the city has many secrets to uncover. You can get lost in its stone-paved colored streets, have a pintxo at one of its many bars and cafeterias, and if you are lucky, find a true bargain in a traditional or second hand shop. The best way to get there is walking from Abando, or directly if you get off at Casco Viejo, you will find yourself in the middle of Plaza de Unamuno. It is one of the best plans to do in Bilbao, if it doesn’t rain!

Go to Plaza Nueva on a Sunday morning

This plaza is right in the middle of Casco Viejo. It is full of traditional bars and always full of people eating and having a good time! On Sunday mornings there is a street market where you can find antiques, paintings, old magazines, comics, stamps, coins, minerals, and especially books. Second-hand books, old and new books. Go there and see it for yourself, you may find a true treasure!

Go to Artxanda and admire Bilbao from above

As you might have noticed, Bilbao is surrounded by mountains. Because of that, locals sometimes call it Botxo, which means hole in Basque. You can climb to the top of some of these mountains and enjoy the city from above! To get to the top of Artxanda you don’t need to go trekking, though. It’s as simple as taking the funicular from Plaza del Funicular, near Zubizuri bridge, and in 3 minutes you’ll be at the top of the mount! You can enjoy the views and take a lot of photos to show your friends your amazing new city.