Photo of Bilbao

About Bilbao

Bilbao has often been described as an 'urban phoenix', a colourful phrase reflecting the city's rise, in blazing colour, from a decaying industrial city in the nineties to the cultural powerhouse it is today. The arrival of the magnificent Museo Guggenheim helped, but this city's appreciation of food, football, and festivals are what's kept the culture fresh while it's been beavering away industriously. The selection of the best places to stay in Bilbao also reflect this renaissance and some are as hip as the city's art installations.

The largest Basque city, Bilbao is a busy port just inland from the coast, spreading out around the estuary, with the Old Town on the right bank and the newer areas on the left. The centre is a good size to explore on foot, but if you want to spread your wings further there's an excellent, easy to use, public transport system.

What Not To Miss

  • If there's a must-see sight in Bilbao it's the Guggenheim, but that's partly because you can't avoid seeing it! Depending on the angle you're viewing Frank Gehry's creation from, it might resemble a boat, a fish or a chimney. Sunlight bounces off glass and titanium lighting the graceful curves and cutting angles like a beacon.
  • At the other end of the architectural scale is the Basilica de Begona, which sits like Sacre Coeur on a hill, the Catedral de Santiago and the neatness of the Parque de Dona Casilda.
  • Bilbao is a great destination for foodies. In the Basque Country, tapas is called pintxos and is a slightly more gastronomic affair. Friday and Saturday are the big pintxos nights. If you're here for the food you'll also want to visit the Mercado de La Ribera, which is open in the mornings and evenings but closed in the afternoons. There has been a food market on this spot since the 14th Century, so the deliciousness has been well honed. This is also a great spot for soaking up local colour.
  • Philippe Starck's converted wine warehouse exhibition centre - with everything from a glass bottomed swimming pool to an extravagant garden - provides plenty of activities for visitors of all interests.
  • Soak up the local atmosphere with a spot of people-watching at Plaza Nueva. The majestic square also provides ample opportunity to sample the basque wine or enjoy some local food.

Our pick of the best places to stay in Bilbao are mainly located in the centre of the city (one right beside the Guggenheim), but we've also selected a charming hotel in Getxo which enjoys a sea front location whilst also allowing easy access to all that Bilbao has to offer.

The Best Places to Stay in Bilbao

For visiting the Guggenheim

  • If you're here to see the Guggenheim, one of the best places to stay is the Miro Hotel, situated just opposite and right by the river. Sleek and modern with plenty of glass, this hotel is more than just a cookie-cutter modern hotel. It has its own feel to it - as well as having all the mod. cons. you can imagine and fantastic views. It is also great value.
  • The Gran Hotel Domine is also close to the Guggenheim and it has some of the museum's cache of cool by having different areas designed according to different artistic eras. So you have the Bauhaus bit, the Sixties section and the 90s minimalist area. Quirky and cool for a modern five star hotel.

For traditional grandeur

  • If you're looking for a grand old dame of a hotel, the Hotel Carlton is one of the best. The decor is elegant and quite traditional, but they've also kept abreast of the times and offer everything a modern business traveller may need.

For the beach

  • Hotel Embarcadero is located in Getxo, a short underground ride from the centre of Bilbao and boasts lovely views over the port. It's also a good pick for foodies, as there's plenty of eateries in the surrounding area, many specialising in local seafood. Plus it's just a short walk from Ereaga Beach.

For a villa or apartment

  • If you're travelling with family or in a group, then you might prefer a self catering apartment or villa. You'll find a wide range on offer if you visit our online partner Booking.com

Travel information

  • Bilbao Airport is located just 9km (5.5 miles) north of the city, and is served by a wide range of International carriers.
  • Best time to visit? Bilbao is a great city to visit at any time of year, however if you want to enjoy the northern Spanish beaches as well as the culture, then come in the summer months (June to September) when the average highs are around the mid twenties celsius.
  • For car hire we recommend our online partner Rentalcars.

Still not sure?


Monthly Weather in Bilbao

Best Hotels in Bilbao

  • Hotel Carlton Bilbao 142 rooms from £86

    Value chic  -  For a five star hotel it offers great value. Doubles can be had for as little as €99 per night.
    Local exploring  -  A luxurious base from which to explore both Bilbao and the surrounding area.
    City Style  -  A luxury five star stay in the centre of Bilbao.
    Restaurant  -  Fine dining in the Carlton Restaurant featuring both Basque and International cuisine
    Air conditioningRestaurantPet friendlyParking
    Recommended by  -  CN Traveller

    A grand hotel in central Bilbao. Contemporary classic rooms and suites have seamless furnishings and all the mod cons. Traditional elegant living areas and restaurant. Meeting rooms and a gym. A stylish spot for tourists and business visitors. See More

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  • Miro Hotel Bilbao 50 rooms from £104

    Sights nearby  -  5 minutes walk from the historic city centre and literally across the road from the Guggenheim
    City Style  -  A supremely stylish stay in the heart of buzzing Bilbao
    Views  -  Great views over Frank Gehry's masterpiece
    Designer  -  Uniquely designed interiors.
    Air conditioningSpaViews
    Recommended by  -  I Escape, CN Traveller, Tablet

    A fabulous contemporary designer hotel opposite the Guggenheim and close to the river. Sleek modern rooms and enormous suites have all the mod cons and fantastic views. Excellent tapas restaurant, spa, gym, and meeting rooms. A super stylish choice. See More

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  • Hotel Embarcadero Getxo, Basque Country, Spain 27 rooms from £123

    Local exploring  -  A great base for exploring both Bilbao and the wider Basque Region.
    Riverside  -  Beautiful views over the river and towards the sea from the suites
    Sights nearby  -  Just a quick trip on the metro and you're in the centre of Bilbao
    Restaurant  -  Serves an array of traditional Basque cuisine
    Air conditioningRestaurantPet friendlyParking

    In the heart of the port-town Getxo, this hotel has wondrous views over the bay from many room as its terrace, where you can while away days with traditional Basque food & drink. Only a short underground journey from Bilbao, and short walk from a World Heritage Site: Puente Colgante. See More

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  • Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao 145 rooms from £130

    City Style  -  A smart contemporary luxurious hotel, ideal for those with an eye for design.
    Restaurant  -  Le Café offers artfully crafted “pintxos”, a daily set menu and an a la carte service
    Sights nearby  -  Situated opposite the Guggenheim Museum, right in the heart of Bilbao's Arts Quarter.
    Outstanding location  -  The only five star property located across the road from the Guggenheim
    Air conditioningRestaurantPet friendlyViewsParking
    Recommended by  -  Tablet, CN Traveller

    A quirky Five Star hotel close to the Guggenheim and the river. Each area of the hotel is designed according to era, Bauhaus, the sixties, 90s minimalism. Rooms and suites are contemporary with balconies and all the mod cons. Fabulous Basque cuisine. A trendy choice. See More

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