Bilbao

Basque Country, Spain

Sitting on the coast in northern Spain, Bilbaro is a scintillating modern city of culture filled with superb art, design, architecture, and food. On Ferryhopper, you can take a look at available ferry routes from the port of Bilbao and our travel tips for your vacation. 

Find useful information about the port of Bilbao and read our suggestions for your dreamy holidays there:

Colorful buildings on a street in Bilbao, Spain

Traditional colorful buildings in Bilbao’s old town

Bilbao ferry port

With more than 700 years of history, Bilbao ferry port is one of the most important transport and logistics centers in the European Atlantic Arc and offers frequent connections to England and Ireland.

In the port area, you can find a snack bar, an information desk, a departure lounge, and a port car park available for short and long-stay parking including parking overnight. There are also disabled parking spaces and spaces for caravans and motorhomes.

Ferries from Bilbao port: schedules and tickets

Brittany Ferries transport people and vehicles 2 times per week on both the Bilbao to Portsmouth and Bilbao to Rosslare route. 

These ferries dock 20 minutes from the center of Bilbao on the Zierbena Dock (pier A3).

  • Ferry from Bilbao to Portsmouth (England)

There is a ferry route connecting Bilbao to Portsmouth in England from April to October. The ferry crossing from Bilbao to Portsmouth usually includes 2 weekly connections (Tuesdays and Saturdays) with a duration of around 28.5 hours.

  • Ferry from Bilbao to Rosslare (Ireland)

The Bilbao - Rosslare connection is served with up to 2 crossings a week departing on Thursdays and Sundays all year round. The ferry ride lasts around 27 hours.

Where is the ferry port in Bilbao?

The port of Bilbao is situated at Zierbena in the Pais Vasco region, 21 km from Bilbao city.

How to get to Bilbao port?

The port of Bilbao is easily accessible by car and metro.

If you’re traveling by car, the Bilbao ferry terminal is accessible from both the west (Santander) and the east (Madrid and Barcelona) of Spain via the A8. Take the N644 turn off and follow the yellow 'ferry' signs on this road to Bilbao ferry port.

If you’d rather travel by metro, the nearest station to the port is Santurtzi, approximately 3 km from the terminal.

Cargo vessel docked at the port of Bilbao

Cranes next to a cargo vessel at the port of Bilbao

Vacation in Bilbao

The Basque city of Bilbao in Spain has developed significantly over the past 20 years as a major hub for art, architecture and design. It is home to numerous museums, galleries and awe-inspiring architectural wonders.

Bilbao is a great weekend getaway destination thanks to its gleaming Guggenheim museum, top-notch cuisine and vibrant nightlife. Whether you’re fascinated by baroque-style design or cutting-edge contemporary architecture, Bilbao is an ideal place for design lovers. 

You can visit the city as a couple, but it can also be a great place to go with friends, thanks to its exciting nightlife, or with family because of all the kid-friendly attractions. And if you’re wondering what is the best time to visit Bilbao, we would recommend the spring season, since it’s not too warm and there is less rain than in the fall.

How to get to Bilbao

You can travel to Bilbao by plane, car, train, bus or ferry. The Bilbao International Airport offers more than 600 flights weekly and it is located 12 km north of the city (approximately 20 minutes).

Bilbao is 4 hours from Madrid and 8 hours from Paris by car. If you prefer to reach Bilbaro by train, the High Speed Train will connect Bilbao to Madrid in 2 hours and to Paris in less than 6.

What to do in Bilbao

In Bilbao, art and culture have come to the fore. And if there’s one thing you’ve been aching to see when planning your trip to Bilbao, this is probably the Frank Gehry–designed Guggenheim Museum. We would, therefore, recommend starting a visit to this city here. You can then move on to the Museum of Fine Arts and the Doña Casilda park, which are connected with the Guggenheim, thanks to the Plaza de Euskadi

Wander around the narrow winding streets of Casco Viejo (the old town), visit the Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao and then cross the Nervión River to discover Ensanche’s (the new town) 19th-century streets and buildings. 

To get acquainted with Bilbao's famous food scene, eat your way through the city’s pintxos bars or head to the famous La Ribera market, the biggest indoor covered market in Europe. Make sure to also indulge in wine from La Rioja, one of the world’s top wine regions. 

Keep in mind that one of the best ways to explore the city of Bilbao is by boat, down the Nervión River, since many of the city's top attractions are situated along its banks.

The Ribera Market beside the river estuary in Bilbao

View to the La Ribera market on the banks of the Nervión river

Beaches in Bilbao

Undeniably, one of the great attractions in the Basque Country are its beaches, which are unspoiled, surrounded by cliffs and ideal for surfing. You have a wide range of options at your disposal that will enable you to combine sightseeing with lounging by the Atlantic Ocean.

Some of our favorite beaches in Bilbao are: 

  • Sopelana: Sopelana is one of the most famous surf spots in Spain and is made up of 3 beaches, Arrietara, Atxabiribil and La Salvaje. The first 2 are the most popular due to their surf schools and bar area. The beach of La Salvaje is located in the westernmost part and is nude-friendly.
  • Muriola: if you’re looking for a wild sandy haven of peace about 15 minutes from Bilbao, then Muriola is perfect for you. Surrounded by huge and beautiful cliffs and with incredible views to the bay of Plentzia, Muriola was, in fact, one of the settings for the famous Game of Thrones series. 
  • Bakio: located in the heart of Bakio, this long beach is one of the closest points to the famous islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. With many visitor amenities close by, Bakio is perfect for families. 
  • Plentzia: with fine golden sand, turquoise blue and calm waters, Plentzia is perfect for a family day out. You’ll find a wide range of services nearby, including restaurants, toilets and showers, and sports and leisure facilities. 
  • Ereaga: about 20 minutes from the center of Bilbao, this beach is famous for soccer and beach volleyball. Take a nice walk along the boulevard, admire the impressive palaces and wrap up your visit in the old port with some pintxos
  • Arrigunaga: located at the foot of the incredible cliffs of Punta Galea, this is an ideal beach to go to rest or to practice numerous sports activities. Above the cliffs is a beautiful promenade that passes through emblematic buildings.

Waves crushing on Sopelana beach in Bilbao

The beautiful Sopelana beach in Bilbao

Sightseeing in Bilbao

The Basque city of Bilbao offers a variety of attractions for visitors, including top-notch art museums, food markets and an abundance of avant-garde contemporary architecture. So, when it comes to historical and cultural attractions in Bilbao, we suggest that you visit the following:

  • The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum
  • The Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao (Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao)
  • The Bilbao Maritime Museum
  • The Euskal Museoa Bilbao Basque Museum
  • The Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao, built during the 14th and 15th centuries and protected by UNESCO
  • The Church of San Antón, dating from 1433
  • The Azkuna Zentroa
  • The Plaza de Euskadi
  • The Zubizuri bridge

Tip: for a breathtaking view over the city, take a trip on the funicular railway to Mount Artxanda. At the top you'll find stunning walkways, a variety of top-notch restaurants and jaw-dropping vistas.

Giant spider next to the Guggenheim museum, Bilbao

Maman, the monumental steel spider across the Guggenheim in Bilbao

Nightlife in Bilbao

Nightlife in Bilbao is lively and vibrant. The city’s nightlife starts at cocktail hour and doesn't end till dawn. 

Visit the traditional pintxos for an aperitif and to try some delicious local tapas. There are numerous options throughout the city, but if you want to go to a destination that’s packed with them, visit Plaza Nueva in Casco Viejo. Parallel to the city's main shopping street (Gran Vía), Calle Ledesma also boasts many bars and places to listen to BRR, the Radical Basque Rock

The Mazarredo neighborhood of Bilbao is where you'll find the city's top nightclubs. When all other bars and clubs in the city close, every young person comes here to party. 

However, the city’s nightlife isn’t just limited to nightclubs and bars. The historic Arriaga Theater is open to those who enjoy classical music concerts, ballets and zarzuelas (comic operas).

Food in Bilbao

The city of Bilbao in the Basque Country is known for its unique and delicious cuisine. Besides pintxos, Bilbao is most famous for its seafood. Think plenty of cod fish and baked spider crabs. 

Some of Bilbao's local delicacies that you must try are:

  • pintxos (small pieces of bread, topped with ham, peppers and cheese)
  • bacalao pil-pil (fried cod with olive oil and garlic)
  • kokotxas (fleshy cheeks of cod or hake fish)
  • merluza en salsa verde (hake in green sauce made from parsley and olive oil)
  • txangurro (stuffed crab)
  • txipirones (baby squid cooked in their own ink)
  • marmitako (tuna, potato and vegetable stew)
  • tortilla de patata (potato omelet with aioli sauce)
  • pastel vasco (a spongy type of pastry wrapped around vanilla or almond-flavored cream)

Tip: for the best pastel vasco, head to Pasteleria Arrese, and pair it with a cup of café con leche.

Pintxos on display at a bar in Bilbao

Pintxos with different toppings served at a bar in Bilbao

Tips

Here are some useful tips that we hope will be useful to you during your stay in Gothenburg:

  • People in Bilbao speak Basque as well as Spanish
  • Bilbao’s old town is mostly pedestrian-only.
  • Do not miss Semana Grande, a festival in honor of the Lady of Begoña, which takes place during the last week of August. The festivities last for 9 days and enliven the city. This is also a great opportunity to sample the local gastronomy.
  • If you have 1 or 2 days to spare, we would suggest going on a day trip from Bilbao. A few popular options include San Sebastián and the islet of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.

Useful information about Bilbao

Bilbao offers its visitors various things to do and see. If you’re wondering where to stay in Bilbao, you can find many options depending on your style and budget.

The most popular options are the trendy Bilbao la Vieja, the Casco Viejo or centrally located Abando and Indautxu districts. If you want to go sightseeing, show preference to Abando and Casco Viejo. Keep in mind that at the heart of the Casco are Bilbao’s original 7 streets, Las Siete Calles, which date from the 1400s.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a cool young vibe, the best area to stay is the studenty district of Deusto.

As for medical services, Bilbao has an extensive healthcare network that covers the needs of both citizens and visitors.

Important phone numbers for your stay in Bilbao

Here are some contacts that could prove useful during your stay in Bilbao:

  • Port Authority of Bilbao: +34944871200
  • Police department in Bilbao: +34944709151
  • Hospital Cruz Roja de Bilbao: +34944434792
  • Tourist Information Center: +34944795760
  • Bilbao city hall: +34944010010
  • European emergency number: 112

Transportation in Bilbao

Bilbao’s center is small and all attractions are reachable on foot or by bike

If you aren’t in the mood to exercise, using the metro is definitely the fastest way of moving around the city. It is made up of 3 lines and operates from 06:00 to 23:00. The metro is not only convenient but also worth checking out, since it was designed by a famous architect. 

The tram, which connects Bolueta with La Casilla, is another sustainable and punctual travel option. Alternatively, you can take the bus. Bilbobus, the urban bus network in the city, passes through all neighborhoods with its 35 lines

Moreover, we recommend using one of the numerous parking lots in the city center if you're traveling to Bilbao by car for a handy, quick and affordable way for parking your vehicle.

Tip: purchase the Barik or Bilbao Bizkaia Card, which includes unlimited use of the public transport not only in Bilbao but in all of Biscay, some free guided tours and skip-the-line benefits at the major museums.

Entrance to the Subway in Bilbao

A distinctive glass entrance to a metro station in Bilbao

Where to book ferry tickets to Bilbao online

At the moment, it is not possible to book tickets from the port of Bilbao on Ferryhopper. For now, you can check out our Map of ferries and discover all the available connections.

Frequent ferry connections

Bilbao has direct ferry connections with 1 ports :

Book your ferry tickets