Bilbao: The Complete Guide

Bilbao is a large city in northern Spain, in the province of Biscay and in the Basque Country. Featuring a striking mix of Gothic and contemporary architecture the city was transformed in 1997 when the glittering Guggenheim was opened making it the Basque Country’s artistic center

The city is located 16 kilometres south of the Bay of Biscay on the backs of a estuary.

It was founded in the early 14th century by  the head of the powerful Haro family.  Bilbao quickly became the commercial hub of the area. Throughout the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialization.



Visiting Bilbao for the first time and wondering what are the top places to see in the city? In this complete guide, I share the best things to do in Bilbao on the first visit. Top help you plan your trip, I have also included an interactive map and practical tips for visiting!

This website uses affiliate links which earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.

15 Best places to See in Bilbao

This complete guide to Bilbao not only tells you about the very best sights and tourist attractions for first-time visitors to the city but also provide insights into a few of our personal favorite things to do.

This is a practical guide to visiting the best places to see in Bilbao and is filled with tips and info that should answer all your questions!

Mercado de la Ribera

Erriberako Merkatua, Bilbo
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Galder Segurola
The Mercado de la Ribera or Ribera Market is Europe’s largest covered market square, and is located in Bilbao, Spain. It is on the right bank of the Nervion River, next to Casco Viejo. There are fish markets, butchers and green grocers. There is also a part of the market for the local farmers’ products.
Location: Mercado De La Ribera 48005 Bilbao BI Spain | Hours: 8am-2.30pm Mon & Sat, 8am-2.30pm & 5-8pm Tue-Fri | Website | Distance: 0.80km
Visiting Mercado de la Ribera

Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao

Iglesia Catedral De Santiago Bilbao
CC BY-SA 23.0 / Mikemod
The Catedral de Santiago or the Santiago Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in the city of Bilbao. It towers above all in the Casco Viejo. Originally built in the 14th-15th centuries the temple was Bilbao’s main church.  It has a vaulted cloister and Gothic Revival facade. It was only declared cathedral in 1950 when […]
Location: Plaza de Santiago, 1 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain | Hours: 10am-9pm Jul & Aug, to 8pm Sep-Jun | Price: adult/child €5/free | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao

Catedral de Bilbao

Iglesia Catedral De Santiago Bilbao
CC BY-SA 3.0 / Mikemod
The Cathedral-Church of Bilbao is dedicated to St James the Apostle, the patron saint of Bilbao since 1643. Built in the fifteenth century, in a Gothic style, although its tower and façade are neo-Gothic. It has been renovated several times, the last time in 2000. Of particular interest are the small Gothic cloister, the Door […]
Location: Bilboko Donejakue katedrala Done Jakue Plazatxoa, 1 48005 Bilbo Bizkaia Spain | Hours: 10am-9pm Jul & Aug, to 8pm Sep-Jun | Price: adult/child €5/free | Website | Distance: 0.90km
Visiting Catedral de Bilbao

Bilbao Casco Viejo

Bilbao Casco Viejo
CC BY-SA 1.0 / Zarateman
Casco Viejo or Old Town is the medieval area of Bilbao, which used to be the fortified part of the city protected by walls until the 19th century. It is located on the right bank of the Nervión river. It is largely made up of Las Siete Calles, or The Seven Streets. The old quarter is […]
Location: Casco Viejo Bilbao Biscay Spain | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Bilbao Casco Viejo

Teatro Arriaga

Arriaga Antzokia Bilbao
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Fred Romero
The baroque Teatro Arriaga, on the edge of the Casco Viejo, which was built in 1890 is one of the most important buildings in the city of Bilbao. Modelled on the Paris Opera House it was opened in 1890. It is the work of architects Joaquín Rucoba and Octavio de Toledo. Named after the Bilbao-born […]
Location: Arriaga Plaza, 1, 48005 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Basque Country, Spain | Website | Distance: 1.10km
Visiting Teatro Arriaga

Plaza Nueva de Bilbao

Plaza Nueva, Bilbao
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Fred Romero
The Plaza Nueva or New Square of Bilbao is a large square of Neoclassical style at the heart of the Casco Viejo. The square is enclosed by arcaded buildings and accessed by arches known as cuevas or caves. It was built in 1821 to replace the Plaza Vieja or Old Square at the Ribera Market. […]
Location: Plaza Barria 6, Bilbao, 14 48005 Spain | Hours: Mon-Fri 7am-11pm, Sat 8.30am-10.30pm, Sun 8.30am-3pm | Distance: 1.20km
Visiting Plaza Nueva de Bilbao

Gran Vía

Bilbao Gran Via 2
Public Domain / Etxeorratz
The Gran Vía de Don Diego López de Haro is the main avenue of the city of Bilbao, Basque Country (Spain). It is the  the commercial and financial centre of Bilbao, with the buildings of the banks BBVA, BBK and Caja Laboral, the El Corte Inglés department store, the Headquarters of the Regional Government of […]
Location: Federico Moyua enparantza Federico Moyúa Plaza, 5 48009 Bilbo Bizkaia Spain | Distance: 1.50km
Visiting Gran Vía

Bilbao Ayuntamiento

Bilbao Ayuntamiento
CC BY-SA 4.0 / Zarateman
The Bilbao City Council occupies the site of the old convent of San Agustín, destroyed during the First Carlist War. It was built in 1892 by the municipal architect Joaquín Rucoba, who also designed the Arriaga Theater. Carried out in the French Second Empire style, the building stands out for the resounding, elegant and markedly […]
Location: Ayuntamiento de Bilbao - Bilboko Udaletxea, Ernesto Erkoreka Plaza, Bilbao, Spain | Distance: 1.70km
Visiting Bilbao Ayuntamiento

River Nervion & Zubizuri Bridge

Bilbao Zubizuri Bridge
Pixabay / Finn-b
The River Nervion is the backbone of this region. It acts as a natural boundary dividing Greater Bilbao into two historically very different districts: the left bank, the historically working class and more proletarian area, whose inhabitants depended on the port, mining and industrial activity and the right bank, historically the capitalist area, which is more residential. […]
Location: Zubizuri 48001 Bilbo Bizkaia Spain | Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Distance: 1.80km
Visiting River Nervion & Zubizuri Bridge

Museo Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Imagen De Archivo Fotogr‡fico
CC BY-SA 3.0 / MuseumBBAABilbao
The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao or  Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a fine art museum located in Bilbao, Spain. After the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is the second largest and most visited museum in the Basque Country. The museum has been opened since 1914 and is located entirely inside the city’s Doña Casilda Iturrizar […]
Location: Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao Museo Plaza, 2 48009 Bilbo Bizkaia Spain | Hours: 10am-8pm Wed-Mon | Price: adult/child €10/free, free 6-8pm | Website | Distance: 1.90km
Visiting Museo Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum

Bilbao Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was opened in 1997  and is a museum of modern and contemporary art located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. The iconic building was designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, alongside the Nervion River. The museum is one of several museums belonging to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and features permanent and […]
| Hours: 10am-8pm, closed Mon Sep-Jun | Price: adult/child €13/free | Website | Distance: 2.10km
Visiting Guggenheim Museum

Artxanda´s Funicular

Funicular De Artxanda
CC BY-SA 2.0 / Marco Almbauer
The Funicular de Artxanda or Artxanda Funicular is a funicular railway in the city of Bilbao in Spain’s Basque Country. The current funicular was opened in 1915. The railway links downtown Bilbao with the summit of the nearby Artxanda Mountain. There is a recreational areawhich includes a park, several restaurants, a hotel, a sports complex, […]
Location: Funicular de Artxanda Ko Funikularra, Funikularreko Plaza, S/N, 48007 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain | Hours: Every 15min 7.15am-10pm Mon-Thu, to 11pm Fri & Sat, 8.15am-10pm Sun Jun-Sep, 7.15am-10pm Oct-May | Price: adult/child one-way €2/0.31 | Website | Distance: 2.10km
Visiting Artxanda´s Funicular

Bilbao Art District

Puppy Cat Sculpture Bilbao Art District
Pixabay / oscar platero
Surrounding the Guggenheim between the Maritime Museum, Jardines de Albia, Colón de Larreátegui and Paseo Abandiobarra lies the Art District. The area encompasses not only the but also the and the Sala Rekalde, important art galleries as well as restoration workshops and old book-shops. The area is filled with large-scale sculptures by famous artists. Look […]
| Hours: 24 Hours | Price: Free | Website | Distance: 2.10km
Visiting Bilbao Art District

Puente de Vizcaya

Bizkaia Bridge
CC BY-SA 1.2 / Fernando Pascullo
The Puente de Vizcaya or Vizcaya Bridge is a transporter bridge that links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas, in the mouth of the Ibaizabal estuary, west of Bilbao. More popularly known as the Hanging Bridge it has been a World Heritage Site since 2006. It was designed by the Basque architect Alberto de […]
| Hours: Pedestrian walkway - 10:00-14:00 / 16:00-20:00 Audioguide: €2 - Spanish / Basque / English / FrenchGondola - 24 Hours €0.45/Person / €1.60 Vehicle | Distance: 10.80km
Visiting Puente de Vizcaya

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Gaztelugatxe From The Coast
CC BY-SA 4.0 /
The small rocky isle of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is located on the coast of Biscay, 35km east of Bilbao. It is connected to the mainland by a man-made footbridge with 241 steps. On top of the island stands a 10th century hermitage, built by the Knights Templar which is dedicated to John the Baptist, […]
Location: 48130 Gaztelugatxeko Doniene, Biscay, Spain | Hours: Island year-round, hermitage 11am-6pm Tue-Sat, to 3pm Sun Jul & Aug | Price: £Island free, hermitage €1 | Website | Distance: 24.80km
Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Tours and Activities from Bilbao