If you have a cruise booked that is stopping in Bilbao cruise port, don’t assume as we did this is a region with noting to do. Its quite the opposite, with so much to do an see. We are going to take you through our guide of cool things to do in Bilbao when you stop on a port day.
When coming into port in Bilbao Cruise Port ships will dock in a pretty port town called Getxo. Nestled on the northern coast of Spain, Bilbao Cruise Port is a gateway to an enchanting world of Basque traditions, avant-garde architecture, and delectable cuisine. This vibrant city, known for its dynamic energy and cosmopolitan charm, offers a truly unforgettable experience for cruise travellers.
Bilbao is a destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or an art lover, Bilbao is sure to captivate you with its unique blend of old-world charm and contemporary flair.
Guide To Things To Do In Bilbao Cruise Port
Can You Get Into Town On Foot From Bilbao Cruise Port?
You can get in Getxo or the beach close by from the cruise port. However Bilbao is a shuttle bus ride away, which many cruise lines offer. Although the bus can take roughly between 20 and 45 minutes depending on the time of day. Top tip, coordinate your trip to avoid rush hour for a much quicker journey.
Where is Bilbao Spain?
Bilbao is a city located in the Basque Country region of northern Spain, on the banks of the Nervion River. It is the largest city in the province of Biscay and the tenth largest city in Spain. Bilbao is situated approximately 14 kilometers (8.7 miles) inland from the Bay of Biscay, and is surrounded by a range of hills and mountains. Including the iconic Mount Artxanda, which offers panoramic views of the city and its surroundings.
What Is Bilbao Best Known For?
Bilbao is best known for its world-renowned Guggenheim Museum, which is one of the most famous and visited art museums in the world. The museum, designed by the architect Frank Gehry and opened in 1997, is located on the banks of the Nervion River in the city centre. Thus has become a symbol of Bilbao’s transformation into a modern, dynamic, and cultural city.
Bilbao is also famous for its unique cuisine. Which is based on traditional Basque recipes and ingredients, and its pintxos, which are small dishes similar to tapas. The city is home to numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as more traditional taverns and bars that serve delicious and affordable pintxos.
Additionally, Bilbao is known for its lively and friendly atmosphere. With locals known as Bilbainos being welcoming and proud of their city. The city has a rich cultural heritage, with historic landmarks such as the Gothic-style Santiago Cathedral, the historic Old Town (Casco Viejo), and the iconic Zubizuri footbridge. Designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
Finally, Bilbao is also a gateway to the beautiful Basque Country, which is known for its stunning coastal scenery, picturesque fishing villages. Plus outdoor activities such as hiking and surfing.
What Is The Best Time To Visit Bilbao On A Cruise?
The best time to visit Bilbao depends on your preferences and what you want to experience during your trip. It has a mild, climate with relatively stable temperatures throughout the year, However there are some differences in weather and tourist crowds between the seasons.
The summer months, from June to September, are the peak tourist season in Bilbao. The weather is usually warm and sunny, with temperatures ranging from 20-30°C (68-86°F), making it an ideal time for outdoor activities and beach visits. However, this is also the busiest and most expensive time to visit, with larger crowds at tourist attractions, especially in July and August.
The spring and fall, from March to May and from September to November, are good times to visit Bilbao if you want to avoid the peak tourist crowds and enjoy milder weather. The temperatures during these seasons range from 10-20°C (50-68°F), plus there are fewer tourists. This making it easier to explore the city’s landmarks and enjoy the local cuisine.
The winter months, from December to February, are the coldest and rainiest time of the year in Bilbao. However, the city has a unique charm during the winter season. With festive decorations, Christmas markets, and cultural events such as the Bilbao BBK Live music festival. The temperatures during these months range from 5-15°C (41-59°F), and there are fewer tourists, making it an affordable and peaceful time to visit.
Weather In Bilbao
Click here for an up to date weather report for Bilbao
Or check out the monthly average weather for Bilbao here.
How To Get To Bilbao From The Cruise Port?
Bilbao has a modern cruise port, called Getxo Cruise Port. This is located about 13 kilometres (8 miles) from the city centre. Many cruise lines offer a shuttle bus. However if there are several transportation options available to get from the cruise port to Bilbao:
Taxis are available at the cruise port and can take you directly to Bilbao. The journey takes about 20-25 minutes, depending on traffic, and costs around 25-35 euros.
There is a public bus service, called Bizkaibus, that runs from the cruise port to Bilbao. The A3247 bus line connects the cruise port with the city center and stops at several locations along the way, including the Guggenheim Museum. The journey takes about 45-60 minutes, depending on traffic, and the ticket costs around 1.75 euros.
If you prefer a more comfortable and personalised option? You can book a private transfer from the cruise port to Bilbao. There are several companies that offer this service, and the prices vary depending on the type of vehicle and the number of passengers.
What To Do In Bilbao
At a glance here are our top choices of things to do in Bilbao Cruise Port. However read on for more details.
- Guggenheim Museum
- Casco Viejo
- Enjoy The Local Cuisine
- Museum of Fine Arts
- Arriaga Theatre
- El Ensanche Neighbourhood
- San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
- Euskal Museoa
- Market La Ribera
- Zubizuri Bridge
- Take A Funicular Up To Mount Artxanda
- Alhondiga Bilbao
Visit the Guggenheim Museum Near Bilbao Cruise Port Guide
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a contemporary art museum. In which the museum’s design is a work of art in itself. Featuring curved and twisted titanium and glass structures that reflect the surrounding cityscape and river. The building’s unusual shape has become a symbol of Bilbao’s cultural and economic renaissance and has contributed to the city’s revitalisation.
Inside, the museum hosts a collection of contemporary art from the mid-20th century to the present day. Including works by artists such as Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, Andy Warhol, and Jeff Koons. The permanent collection is complemented by temporary exhibitions that showcase a variety of contemporary art forms. Including painting, sculpture, photography, video, and installation art.
Besides the art exhibitions. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao offers a variety of cultural and educational programs, including workshops, talks, and guided tours. The museum also has a shop and a restaurant that serves traditional Basque cuisine and offers a stunning view of the river and the city.
Explore the Casco Viejo
Casco Viejo, or the Old Town of Bilbao, is the historic heart of the city and one of its most charming and picturesque neighbourhoods. Located on the east bank of the Nervion River, its easily accessible from the city centre.
The Old Town of Bilbao is known for its narrow streets, traditional architecture, and lively atmosphere. It is a pedestrian-friendly area that offers visitors a chance to explore the city’s past and present. Some of the highlights of the Casco Viejo include:
A beautiful square is the heart of the Old Town and a popular meeting place for locals and tourists alike. It features a Neoclassical arcaded structure that houses bars, restaurants, and shops.
This Gothic cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Bilbao and dates back to the 14th century. It’s located in the heart of the Old Town and features stunning stained glass windows and a beautiful cloister.
Mercado de la Ribera
This covered market is one of the largest in Europe and offers a wide variety of fresh produce and seafood, and local specialties. It is a great place to sample traditional Basque cuisine and to soak up the lively atmosphere of the Old Town.
San Anton Bridge
San Anton Bridge is a stunning bridge connects the Old Town with the modern district of Bilbao La Vieja. Thus offers stunning views of the Nervion River and the city skyline.
A lively street that is lined with bars, restaurants, and shops. Thus a popular spot for locals and visitors alike. It offers a great opportunity to experience the local culture and to try some of the famous pintxos, Basque-style tapas.
Take A Walk Along The Ria De Bilbao
The estuary that runs through the city is a beautiful spot for a leisurely stroll. You can enjoy the views of the city’s landmarks like the Guggenheim Museum, the Zubizuri Bridge, and the Palacio de Euskalduna.
The Ria de Bilbao has played a significant role in the history and development of the city of Bilbao. It has provided a natural harbour and transportation route for goods and people. In the past, the river was heavily used for industrial activities, including shipping, steel production, and shipbuilding. However, in recent years, the city has undergone significant revitalisation efforts, with the riverfront area transformed into a cultural and recreational hub.
Enjoy The Local Cuisine And Try Txikiteo & Pintxos
Bilbao is famous for its pintxos, small tapas-style dishes served in bars all over the city. Be sure to try the local specialty, bacalao (salt cod), and wash it down with a glass of txakoli, the local white wine.
Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
The Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao, also known as the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao, is a renowned art museum. The museum is one of the most important cultural institutions in Spain and has a collection of over 10,000 works of art. These span from the 13th century to the present day.
The Museum of Fine Arts in Bilbao is housed in a beautiful Neo-Classical building that was built in the early 20th century. The museum’s collection includes paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. With a focus on Basque and Spanish art from the medieval period to the present day.
The museum’s collection includes works by some of the most important artists in history! Including El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya. The museum also has an impressive collection of contemporary art, with works by artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Antoni Tàpies, and Jorge Oteiza.
Check Out The Arriaga Theatre
The Arriaga Theatre, also known as the Teatro Arriaga Antzokia, is a historic theatre that was built in the late 19th century. It’s named after Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, a famous Basque composer who was born in Bilbao.
The Arriaga Theatre is one of the most important cultural institutions in Bilbao. As such, is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful theatres in Spain. The building is designed in a Neo-Baroque style and features a stunning façade with intricate sculptures and ornate details.
Hosting a variety of cultural events throughout the year, including plays, operas, ballets, and concerts. The Arriaga Theatre is also home to the Bilbao Symphony Orchestra. Plus a popular venue for visiting musicians and theatre companies. Visitors can take guided tours of the theatre. This offer’s a behind-the-scenes look at the history and architecture of the building.
Explore the El Ensanche Neighbourhood
El Ensanche, also known as the Eixample in Spanish! Is a neighbourhood located in the city of Bilbao, in the Basque Country of northern Spain. The neighbourhood is situated just west of the Old Town (Casco Viejo) and is known for its elegant architecture, wide boulevards, and upscale shops and restaurants.
El Ensanche was designed in the late 19th century by the Basque architect Ricardo Bastida. Who was inspired by the urban planning of Barcelona’s Eixample district. The neighbourhood features a grid-like street layout, with wide avenues and large public squares.
One of the most notable landmarks in El Ensanche is the Plaza Moyua, a large public square that serves as the centre of the neighbourhood. The square, surrounded by elegant buildings and is home to several high-end shops and restaurants.
Take a day trip to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a small islet located off the coast of Biscay in the Basque Country of northern Spain. It’s known for its rugged cliffs, stunning views, and a 10th-century hermitage dedicated to Saint John the Baptist.
The hermitage, located at the top of a winding staircase of 241 steps, is one of the main attractions of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Legend has it that visitors who ring the bell three times and make a wish at the hermitage, will have their wishes granted.
Visitors to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe can explore the surrounding natural beauty. Hiking along the scenic cliffside trail that leads to the hermitage. Along the way, there are several viewpoints that offer panoramic views of the surrounding coastline and the Atlantic Ocean.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has also gained recent popularity as a filming location for the hit TV series Game of Thrones. The island and its hermitage were used as a filming location for the fictional Dragonstone island in the show’s seventh season.
Visit the Euskal Museoa
The Euskal Museoa, dedicated to preserving and promoting the history, culture, and traditions of the Basque people. Has a collection including a wide range of artefacts and exhibits that showcase the Basque Country’s history and culture from prehistoric times to the present day.
Notably, the collection include ancient Basque tools and weapons. Plus traditional Basque clothing and textiles, and examples of Basque art and music.
One of the most notable exhibits at the Euskal Museoa is the replica of a Basque farmhouse. Or “etxekoandre,” which showcases traditional Basque architecture and daily life in the region. Visitors can explore the various rooms and learn about the customs, traditions, and ways of life of the Basque people.
Shop In The Market La Ribera
La Ribera Market, also known as Mercado de la Ribera in Spanish. Is a large indoor market located in the historic Casco Viejo neighbourhood of Bilbao, in the Basque Country of northern Spain. The market is one of the largest covered markets in Europe and is a must-visit destination for foodies and travellers looking to experience local cuisine and culture.
The market offers a wide range of fresh produce. Including seafood, meat, cheese, and other local products. All sourced from the surrounding Basque Country region. Visitors can sample traditional Basque dishes, including pintxos (small bites of food served on a skewer or toothpick), fresh seafood, and various cured meats and cheeses.
In addition to food, La Ribera Market also features a variety of artisan products. Including handmade ceramics, textiles, and crafts made by local artists. Plus several bars and restaurants located within the market. Making it an ideal place to stop for a meal or a snack while exploring the neighbourhood.
Walk Across The Zubizuri Bridge
This futuristic white pedestrian bridge is one of Bilbao’s most iconic landmarks. Thus offers great views of the river and city skyline.
At night, the bridge is illuminated by a series of lights that create a striking visual effect. Therefore, making it a popular spot for evening walks and photos. The bridge also offers panoramic views of the city skyline, including the nearby Guggenheim Museum and the surrounding hills.
Take A Funicular Up To Mount Artxanda
Taking the funicular up to Mount Artxanda is a popular activity for visitors to Bilbao. Mount Artxanda is a small hill located on the outskirts of the city. Which offers panoramic views of Bilbao and the surrounding area.
The funicular, known as the Artxanda Funicular, departs from the city centre and takes visitors up the hillside to the top of Mount Artxanda. The journey takes around 3 minutes and is a fun and unique way to explore the city and enjoy some amazing views.
At the top of Mount Artxanda, visitors will find a variety of attractions and activities. These include a park, a restaurant, a viewpoint, and a playground. The park is a great place to relax and enjoy the views, while the restaurant serves delicious Basque cuisine and offers panoramic views of the city.
The viewpoint, known as the Mirador de Bilbao, is one of the highlights of Mount Artxanda. As such offers spectacular views of the city and the surrounding countryside. Visitors can see landmarks such as the Guggenheim Museum, the San Mames Stadium, and the Bilbao Estuary from the viewpoint. Thus it’s a great place to take photos and soak up the atmosphere.
Explore the Alhondiga Bilbao
Alhondiga Bilbao is a cultural and leisure centre. Originally a wine warehouse built in 1909. But converted into a modern multipurpose space by the renowned designer Philippe Starck in 2010.
The Alhondiga Bilbao features a wide range of facilities, including a cinema, a library, a gym, a swimming pool, a rooftop terrace, and several bars and restaurants. It also hosts a variety of cultural and artistic events, such as concerts, exhibitions, and workshops.
One of the most striking features of the Alhondiga Bilbao is its central atrium, surrounded by a series of balconies and features a giant sculpture by artist Anish Kapoor. The atrium is a popular meeting place for locals and visitors alike and is a great spot to enjoy a coffee or a drink.