What You Need To Know

Bilbao is a municipality and city in Spain, a major city in the province of Biscay in the autonomous community of the Basque Country. It is the largest municipality of the Basque Country and the tenth largest in Spain, The Bilbao metropolitan area has roughly 1 million inhabitants, making it one of the most populous metropolitan areas in northern Spain, Bilbao is also the main urban area in what is defined as the Greater Basque region.

Bilbao is situated in the north-central part of Spain, some 16 kilometres (10 mi) south of the Bay of Biscay, where the economic social development is located, where the estuary of Bilbao is formed. Its main urban core is surrounded by two small mountain ranges with an average elevation of 400 metres (1,300 ft).

After its foundation in the early 14th century by Diego López V de Haro, head of the powerful Haro family, Bilbao was a commercial hub of the Basque Country that enjoyed significant importance in Green Spain. This was due to its port activity based on the export of iron extracted from the Biscayan quarries. Throughout the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth, Bilbao experienced heavy industrialisation, making it the centre of the second-most industrialised region of Spain, behind Barcelona. At the same time an extraordinary population explosion prompted the annexation of several adjacent municipalities. Nowadays, Bilbao is a vigorous service city that is experiencing an ongoing social, economic, and aesthetic revitalisation process, started by the iconic Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, and continued by infrastructure investments, such as the airport terminal, the rapid transit system, the tram line, the Alhóndiga, and the currently under development Abandoibarra and Zorrozaurre renewal projects.

Area: 41.5 km²
Population:346,574 (2014)


  • Euro is the official currency of Spain, The Euro is the official currency of Spain, and of most European Union member states, excluding the UK and the Czech Republic, among others. The Euro, symbolized by a “€,” has been in public circulation since January, 2002. The peseta, the former official currency of Spain, is no longer accepted, however, you may see that some price tags in Spain give the price both in Euro and in pesetas, to help those who still think in terms of pesetas.There are 8 different Euro coin denominations and 7 different Euro bill denominations in circulation. Coins are denominated in 2 and 1 Euro, then 50, 20, 10, 5, 2 and 1 cents. Each member state decorated their own coins, but all coins are interchangeable within the countries. Bills are denominated in 500, 200, 100, 50, 20, 10 and 5 and they vary in color and size.
  • In Spain all banks use the same daily-established rate for currency exchange. However, as commission rates vary considerably between banks (typically between €3 and €6), the ICS recommends that students exchange their money at those banks with lower commission rates. Regardless of where one exchanges money, a valid passport (not a photocopy of it) must be presented as identification.
  • The best way to dispose of money while you are in Bilbao is to own an ATM card. Major credit cards are accepted almost everywhere thoughout Spain. Of all credit cards, VISA and American Express card are the most widely recognized.


The climate of Bilbao is oceanic, rather humid and often rainy, but without extremes of temperature. Bilbao doesn’t enjoy the hot, dry and well-defined summer common to Spain, and the city has quite fluid seasons. The average temperatures in summer, between June and August, range between 55°F (13°C) and 78°F (25°C), making the city unusually cool by Spanish standards. The winters are similarly mild, with temperatures between December and February averaging between 40°F (5°C) and 56°F (13°C). The average annual rainfall is high, but is spread fairly evenly throughout the year, with the most rain being experienced during spring and autumn. November and April are usually the rainiest months. Light snow is possible in winter, but sleet is far more common.

Summer is the most popular time to visit Bilbao, partly because it is by far the most popular time to visit Spain in general. During the warm summers the beaches around the city are at their best. The most festive month of the year is August, when fireworks and parades are common as the city celebrates Semana Grande, giving tourists another reason to travel to Bilbao in summer.


Spanish is the common language in Spain but there are other languages spoken in some regional areas. In regions such as Cataluña, Galicia or the Basque Country, both Spanish and the regional language are official languages. Even though the number of bilingual speakers in Bilbao is growing, Spanish is still the most widespread, it is know by everyone and used by the vast majority of the population in everyday life.

Health and security

  • There are few health risks for visitors to Bilbao to concern themselves with. No vaccinations necessary and food hygiene is very good. Should you get ill during your stay, there are numerous pharmacies spread across the city which will be able to assist you. In the event of a more serious medical emergency, Bilbao has modern hospitals to cater to most situations. As medical care is expensive in Spain, it is important to ensure you have medical cover before leaving home, even if you are covered for discounted healthcare as an EU national.
    While descriptions of Bilbao can be less than flattering, these descriptions do not reflect a high crime rate. As with any locale you are unfamiliar with, it pays to be alert while traveling within large crowds, especially during the high season. Pickpockets can quickly pick you clean of your money or passport, quickly turning a dream vacation into a nightmare. Make use of your hotel’s safe to protect items such as any jewelry you might have brought with you (which, in reality, is best left at home), extra monies, credit cards, and passports. Keep your eyes and a hand on bags at all times, and do not leave your items unattended.


  • You will probably have read a lot about the Basque terrorist group ETA. You will even find a lot of posters in the streets supporting its activities. It is even possible that you encounter some demonstrations or even riots, but this is not very usual and is not dangerous for the visitors.
  • If You are visiting Bilbao in summer ( July, august or September) and You are looking for fun at nights, this is, party… well, You should know that most of Bars in Bilbao ( in old center city) are void or closed because all people are in the parties of the near villages. Depends of the day (the sant exactly) the party will be in one or in other village…but don’t worry because there are good public transports to go to this village’s parties during nights, just You should have good information about where is the party


  • visit Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this museum features a breathtaking chrome and metal construction. Not only is it a monumental site to view for its architectural beauty, but the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao also features a large collection of modern and contemporary art. Explore this must-see landmark during your Bilbao trip and be inspired by the many exhibits of both Spanish and international artists.
  • Visit Plaza Nueva, Built in 1821, Plaza Nueva is the town square of Bilbao, and it features a monumental neoclassical design. It’s surrounded by buildings, but can be accessed through arches, which also host many historic restaurants and shops. Formerly the site of the Biscay government, Plaza Nueva is now home to the Basque Language Royal Academy.

    Plaza Nueva is the place, where locals like to meet to have a beer with Pintxos. Pintxos are small pieces of bread covered with all kinds of wonderful things, e.g. a fish ratatouille. Take a trip to this square on Sundays, when a traditional flea market takes place, filled with antiques, flowers, produce, and more.