Practical information for visiting Bilbao

I haven’t written here on this blog for a while, but this beginning of the year has been really intense. April was a month full of new discoveries that I want to share with you, so I’m starting at the end of the month with my visit to Bilbao, a destination I’ve been dreaming of for years.

Due to some sciatica pain (I’m not as young as I used to be) I couldn’t see everything I had in mind, but I was still happy.

How to reach Bilbao

I’m splitting this article into two, or three parts, because it’s getting very long and I start my story with practical information on airports, to reach Bilbao, the main city of the Basque region.

My journey from Italy starts from Venice, and I landed on the way back to Milan Malpensa because I hadn’t found a direct return to Venice and a more convenient time. If you have never departed from Marco Polo airport, I usually always reach it from Mestre train station, where there is a private airport shuttle (9 € / 30 minutes) or the bus of the local company. I flew with Volotea. You may wonder why I didn’t take the car: I hate driving after a plane trip because I’m usually always tired.

Milano Malpensa is the northernmost airport of Milan, always at the home of the Lord, but with the shuttle, it is a moment to get to Milano Centrale (1 h). I recommend that you always validate the ticket using the yellow boxes if you buy it physically at the station. I have seen ruthless controllers and I advise you to buy it with the app which is always the most convenient solution. On the way back I flew with Vueling which has USB ports under the seat to recharge your phone in flight!

Bilbao Airport was designed by Calatrava. The architecture is very scenic, but all in all, it is small. You will find the USB columns and the fountain to refill your water bottle. I reached the airport both times by TAXI paying about 30 € each way. I gave myself this gift, I usually never take it, but the historic area of Bilbao, especially in the evening, was inconvenient to reach (metro + bus + feet).

Where to stay overnight

There are some areas that I can recommend for the hotel:

  • Near the Guggenheim Museum
  • Plaza de Don Federico Moyúa, where most of the buses leave and where the metro stop (Moyuako Geltokia) is located
  • The historic district (Casco Viejo), where I slept, is recommended for locals in addition to the beauty of the narrow streets
  • Strongly not recommended the area next to the Abando Indalecio Prieto station which runs along the river (X in the map)


Very changeable and humid. Rain like in Scotland/Ireland alternating with 20 degrees of sunshine.

The atmosphere and travel tips

I remind you that no one here speaks English, neither the barmen nor the taxi drivers, so I gestured mostly in Italian.

They are super, super nice. Apart from a few tired bartenders, all the Basques I met are super willing to help you (the ticket didn’t work for me on the metro, I was trying to buy a train ticket instead of the metro one, and the lady who undressed me because I was hot, the driver who helps me understand the line, the waiter). I hope you never lose this genuine and welcoming side!

I always walked around the city and only once I took the metro to speed things up.

I advise you to go to the Tourist Office located in Plaza Biribilia for any information. I found the online sites of the bus companies outdated and unclear.

If you are visiting the city on a Sunday, many shops, even the big clothing chains for example or the small Carrefour store, are closed. Sunday is a day of rest for everyone.

Last thing: forget about having breakfast before 9:00. Starbucks is the first coffee shop to open and they are perfectly adapted to the pace (not very fast at times) of the city. From 9:30-10:00, all other businesses start to open.

The journey comes alive with the next article! I will tell you about two destinations in particular that I reached by bus. Are you ready to go?

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