Bilbao in late August - early September

After a while of considering where to go, we seem to have decided to go to Bilbao for our summer holiday. There’s not much I know about the town beer-wise except that Laugar is close, and I’d appreciate any tips for spots that might not have made it to our places database right now, as well as tips for vegetarian food options and general.

Places I’ve already put on the map:



Since the regular way to go there doesn’t work, here’s the link to our places for Bilbao with a nod to @LazyPyro for providing this workaround:

As always, thanks a lot for all your help, you guys!

Sidra! (or Sagardoa, as it’s called in Basque)

I take it Bilbao is not as crazy on Sidra as Donostia-San Sebastian, but I’m sure they have a Sagardotegi there.

Also, I have the impression that you’re going to have to rely on a LOOOOT of goat cheese when you eat vegetarian.

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Hey! Nice place for summer holidays. Bizakia it´s very beautiful.

Beer tips for Bilbao: Add Morrocotuda (Heros Kalea, 14). Seven taps (Three Belgium classics + 4 Locals). Also a fridge with a nice spanish selection.

And, the Basque Country is well-known for cider (Sagardoa). The problem is that the cideries are usually at “rural” areas.

If you hire a car, there´s such a beautiful trip from Bilbao to Donostia (Mutriku - Zumaia - Guetaria - Zarautz - Orio…). Obviously you must go to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe too…

So, my recommendation. Hire a car. It´s a must for the Basque Country.

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I only went for a couple of days, but these were some highlights.

New-age pintxos with good beer selection:

  • Zazpi Bide (of the dozens of pintxos spots we tucked into over the course of three days, we went here three times)
  • Baster

Old-school pinxtos joints:

  • Víctor Montes (or anywhere else on Pl. Nueva, to be honest)
  • Cafe Iruña
  • Gatz

Other places with notable beer offerings:

  • Bihotz Café
  • La Catedral de la Cerveza (this store name is fairly self-explanatory)

Good luck eating vegetarian in Bilbao; it’s not particularly easy, especially considering the best way to have dinner in Bilbao is to just have a quick visit to a bunch of pintxos bars until you’re full. Zazpi Bide and Baster seemed to have a lot more options than the more old-school places, though you’ll probably be eating a looooot of tortilla de patatas (this alone is a good reason to visit Baster).

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Thanks a lot you guys! We’re actually more flexi- than vegetarian (is that what they call it these days?), since we both eat fish, so we’ll be fine. But tortilla de patatas and goat cheese do actually sound like something I could eat all the, every day. Might even try some meatier pintxos just to have tried them, but we’re both not big on meat anymore.

Alex @taboada, that drive sounds good! We’re actually think if we should stay one or two nights in San Sebastian-Donostia as well, probably depending on how many days we want to spend lazing around on beaches.

Thanks for the tips on eateries, @adamnowek. We’ll make sure to go and visit a few of them.

Stefan @SinH4, I’ll make sure to enjoy plenty of sidra!

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In my opinion, Donostia-San Sebastian is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain. And if you plan go to beaches this zone is, obviously, better than Bilbao. Besides, in terms of cider the zone around San Sebastian is also better than Bilbao.

Bilbao is a top city with a vibrant ambiance, nice museums and a beautiful old city center but i think that a couple of days is enough to explore it all. Anyways, you can reach the beaches of Gipuzkoa/San Sebastian in one hour car drive from Bilbao. Aaaaand Bilbao it´s cheaper :slight_smile:

How many days do you have in Bilbao and surroundings?

If you eat fish then you definitly should be fine :wink:
I guess depending where you are staying in Bilbao different food options might be more interesting. We stayed in old town. We prefered Mercado de la Ribera for breakfast. Its a market, but they also have a food section with like 10-15 pintxos places. Its a bit like a food court, you can pick food from any one of these places and then there is central sitting. Its also quite nice because they have a small outside patio where you can sit over the river. The market definitly kept us busy for a couple days food wise. You should be fine there if you dont want meat. But in general there is lots and lots of nice restaurants in Bilbao so you shouldnt have a problem.

On the other side from the market are quite a few nice little bars. Bihotz is definitly not the only one with some craft beers. So its a good area to check out. We only had a quick look at Bihotz because pressed for time, but I was not that impressed. I quite liked the Penguin bar though.
La Catedral de la cerveza is obviously recommended. If you have the time, which it seems you have. I would definitly also recommend taking the metro to Getxo. Its really easy to go there, but just takes a while. Close to one of the metro stops is Mundo de Cervezas. Its a very nice bottle shop. It least on the same level as La Catetral. I found that most of the more interesting spanish locals were sold out at La Catedral (obviously because of its very central location), but still available at Mundo de Cervezas. Like some of the Laugar Imp Stouts. They also had a rather nice selection of Lambic, and for half the price that you would pay in Barcelona.
If you take the metro a couple more stops, there are some decent beaches you can get to. I think we went to Playa de Ereaga. We didnt do swimming but there were some nice enough cafes to enjoy the views of the sea. At the end of the beach is some sort of elevator that takes you up to town. From there you have a nice view of the bay and harbor.
Or you could take the metro all the way to the end, to some rather rural fishing village. they also are supposed to have some nice beaches…

We didnt do much cider in Bilbao. I guess if you want a Sidreria you would need to go outside the city. But some / most restaurants should offer at least one kind of sidra.

If you need some suggestions for San Sebastian let me know.
Overall I quite liked Bilbao, its a nice city, low key and relaxed and not so many tourists. While San Sebastian is loaded with tourists. Still a very nice place though :wink:

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sorry for getting back to your that late - thanks for your tips! Really appreciate the tips about food etc as well. Already looked them up on my map. Stuff like this is always so much better than any travel guide or websites like Tripadvisor (which has proven to be horrible time and time again).

We’ll see how San Sebastian goes. We’re lazy people and would much rather spend time walking around or having coffee and a treat than going back and forth a lot. So maybe it’ll just be a day. I don’t really see us switching cities and thus apartments, packing all our stuff up, moving around a lot. We’d probably much rather just do a daytrip with a rental. :relieved:

Going next week. Any more tips about what we shouldn’t miss? Thanks friends!

Are you finally going to Donostia or just Bilbao?

Going to Donostia on a day trip with a rental, so will mostly visit shops and coffee places as I’m driving.

It´s such a beautiful coastal route from Bilbao to Donostia (San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Mutriku, Zumuia, Getaria, Zarautz…).

Mmmm If this changes your mind…“Sagardo Eguna” is “Basque cider day”. It could be funny even if you are not drinking. Takes place September 1st (next saturday).

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That’s definitely on the To Do-List. Seen some pictures, looks stunning. I hope the weather will hold up.