The port city of Bilbao has been one of the best places worth visiting among avid travelers.
Flourishing gastronomy anchored by Basque specialties, an eclectic cityscape made up of a modern city and preserved old town, lush mountainous suburbs are all amongst the reasons that will excite you to plan your trip to northern Spain!
Efficient transport networks, including the Bilbobus and Metro Bilbao, ensure that travel remains hassle-free even in the expansive city.
They also widen your choice of neighborhoods to base yourself in during your stay.
Here, we have listed some of the best neighborhoods of Bilbao and what they might have in store for you.
For all the talk about bustling nightlife and the ultramodern riverside entertainment districts, Bilbao is, after all, a historic port city.
And the western neighborhood of Casco Viejo offers the best experience possible for travelers looking to delve into the yesteryear.
Part of the fortifications from the old walled city, the quarters of Casco Viejo are quintessential European Medieval-era towns.
A labyrinth of narrow streets and alleyways all leading up to small plazas and public squares, stone wall buildings all saddled next to each other, and picturesque church towers and town hall buildings, Casco Viejo has it all!
Casco Viejo is also one of the best places to try out some of the most popular Basque gourmet delights.
The La Ribera market is one of the most popular venues in the city, known for housing several vendors selling fresh produce, various cheeses, and takeout food.
Homegrown bakeries, taverns, and roadside vendors offer cheesecakes and pintxo tapas; the bar-hopping tradition with large groups of friends - known locally as txikiteo - tells you everything that you need to know about the population's long-standing love for food and merrymaking.
Some of the city major historic landmarks, including the Plaza Nueva, the iconic arcade-bound plaza; the Euskaltzaindia, the Royal Academy for the Basque language; the Bilbao Cathedral, the city's own gothic revival landmark; and the eclectic riverside Church of San Antón, should all be in the top of your to-do lists.
Casco Viejo has a dedicated station on the Metro Bilbao, which lies fairly close to central Nueva.
You can also reach the neighborhood through the road, and given the pedestrian-friendly appeal, you would want to choose walking for all travel within Casco Viejo.
The central neighborhood of Abando is the go-to choice for most first-time travelers flying to Bilbao, and there's good reason for the same!
Home to a majority of the city's most renowned landmarks, Abando is a whirlwind of an experience altogether.
Start your city tours with a lot of sightseeing; most of the city's must-visit landmarks are centered around immaculate plazas and are all at a stone's throw from each other.
Surrounding Plaza Moyua is the opulent 19th-century palace Txabarri Jauregui and the cathedral Iglesia de San José.
Plaza Moyua also sits right in the heart of Bilbao's main shopping district.
All boulevards and roads in the vicinity are lined with a range of shopping options, including high-end boutiques, from international brands to a few other more affordable homegrown businesses.
Also evident in the city are the fine dining restaurants and cafes, so be on the lookout always!
The 21 acre-vast Casilda Iturrizar park as the city's oasis; the original construction dating back to 1907, known for its walking trails that lead to a stunning pergola in the eastern end of the park; its botanical gardens and lush lawns—all of which are centered around a small pond.
Other significant landmarks that you don't want to miss out on in Abando are the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, known for their art collection and unique building respectively; the Campos Elíseos Theater, a popular performance venue; the San Mames stadium, home to the Athletic Bilbao; and the "Puppy" the city's beloved permanent floral sculpture.
Abando is the central business district of Bilbao, so accessibility is fairly straightforward.
Bilbao-Abando railway station is the major transportation hub, but the neighborhood also has Metro Bilbao stations in lines 1 and 2.
Hotels and accommodation options are plenty and among some of the finest that the city has to offer!
While technically still a part of the bigger Abando district, the smaller quarter of Indautxu definitely warrants a separate mention.
Situated in the riverside, this compact neighborhood is easily one of the liveliest in this city.
You can start your day with a stroll around the lush Casilda Iturrizar Park, an expansive green space right in the heart of the city center.
The park is known for its vast lawns centered around smaller ponds and/or fountain centerpieces.
Moss-covered pergolas also uplift the meandering walking trails that run through Casilda Iturriz The Estuary of Bilbao borders Indautxulbao in the north, and it is the neighborhood's lively riverside that draws in the biggest crowds.
Walking trails and boardwalks rum along the neighborhood's scenic waterfront, dotted with terraced cafes that are perfect for both evening servings or a romantic dinner.
The compact neighborhood is also known for its 24/7 lifestyle as several neighborhood bars and other drinking holes stay open till late into the night.
Younger crowds throng such establishments as much as the live music venues, including the massive Palacio Euskalduna; rest assured, you're unlikely to run out of things to do around Indautxu.
The eponymously named Indautxu station on Metro Bilbao ensures that you are always a short train ride away from Abando and other parts of the city.
The northern part of Indautxu is also serviceable through the tram network with a stop at Euskalduna.
Hotels can be slightly pricey but offer unparalleled luxury experiences.
Across the Estuary of Bilbao from Indautxu lies the expansive northern neighborhood of Deusto.
The University of Deusto is one of the city's major educational centers.
The campus is itself located in the western corner of the neighborhood and is open for travelers.
You would want to wander about the larger complex as it sits in a pristine setting, sandwiched between the riverside and lush mountainous terrain.
The facade of the main building, a 19th-century mansion designed by Francisco de Cubas, is a sight to behold.
The university's city streets are lined with casual eateries, take-out joints, cafes, and pubs that cater to the college-going crowds.
The area comes alive in the evening as hoards of students and locals step out for evening drinks or a quick bite at the local pizza place.
Deusto is also known for its spectacular bridges.
Spare some time in the evenings to drop by the riverside promenades and catch a glimpse of the iconic red gate Puente La Salve or other modern marvels, such as the Euskalduna Bridge and the Pedro Arrupe walkway, with the vast city center glittering in the background.
Deusto is connected to the Abando through some of the iconic city bridges, and you should not have any trouble commuting between the two neighborhoods.
Deusto's student appeal also translates into hospitality, and it is one of the more affordable options to choose from.
You'll have the luxury to stay in a relatively inexpensive hostel or in a bed-and-breakfast located just outside of the city center.
Bilbao La Vieja
Located slightly northwest of the city center, the hip neighborhood of Bilbao La Vieja is next on the list.
Referred as "Bilbi" within the local circles, it borrows the lively vibe from its somewhat better-known neighbor, Indautxu, only to add a unique boho spin to it.
Bilbao La Viejha's several street murals and graffiti-laden walls make it one of the most walkable of all city neighborhoods.
Indie boutiques, galleries, and studios showcasing local talents dot the colorful quarters, furthering the artsy appeal.
Between your neighborhood tours, make sure you keep an eye out for the several brewpubs and trendy bars.
Bilbao La Vieja has become the go-to choice for the latest entrants in the gastronomy business; the neighborhood boasts an endless list of modern dining options to choose from, be it your craving Basques delicacies or international favorites, they have you covered!
Also popular with travelers and locals is the massive Miribilla Park, which doubles up as the venue for live music concerts and festivals, and makeshift outdoor markets.
Surrounding the green space are sporting fields, such as the Bilbao Arena and the Polideportivo Miribilla.
Bilbao La Vieja is sandwiched between the bigger neighborhoods of Abando and Ibaiondo and remains easily accessible from both ends.
For the last neighborhood on the list, we bring you the outdoorsy Ibaiondo.
If you're looking to ditch city crowds during your vacation in favor of exploring the vast mountainous landscape surrounding Bilbao in true getaway fashion, Ibaiondo might just be the perfect place for you!
While in Ibaiondo, you're bound to come across one scenic trail after, ones that cut across meandering rivulets, waterfalls, and nature reserves.
You can undertake guided tours or plan your own outing, gather picnic supplies, pack a lunch, and set off to tread your own path along some of the designated trails.
Challenge yourself to some of the more challenging hikes - including the likes of Pista del Camino Viejo al Pagasarri and Monte Pagasarri - and you shall be treated with unparalleled views of the city.
The Montefuerte Parkea, located at a stone's throw from the La Pena sub-district, has a few terrific hikes in the offing as well, ones that are far easier to access.
Some parts of Ibaiondo may feel slightly farther out than most centrally located neighborhoods, but as many as three stations - Zabalvuru, Miribilla, and La Pena - of Bilbao Metro make access largely hassle-free.
You should not have too much trouble finding a nice hotel or homestay in this part of the city either.
And that's our complete list from Bilbao.
Take a look and have a great time planning your next vacation; a Spanish haven awaits!