Bilbao is a lively port city in the Basque Country of Northern Spain renowned for its vibrant blend of art, food, and culture. So, if you’re looking to make your way there soon, here’s where to stay in Bilbao.
Most of Bilboa’s main attractions can be found in the city center, so that’s one ideal place to book your accommodation. But there are fantastic places to stay in the surrounding neighborhoods too.
Whether you’re visiting for a weekend or part of a 7-day Spain itinerary, this guide has all the info you need.
Now, back to finding you the best hotel for your Bilbao vacation. We all know how hard and daunting finding the right area can be. Lucky for you, we’ll provide you with a wide variety of options, from affordable hostels to Bilbao’s boutique hotels with spa services and breathtaking views.
Where to Stay in Bilbao City at a Glance
If you’re in a hurry, here’s a quick run-down of where to stay in Bilbao:
- Casco Viejo – best for first-timers
- Matiko – best for foodies
- Indautxu – best for the nightlife
- Bilbao La Vieja – best for art lovers
- Duesto – best for budget travelers
- Santutxu – best for families
- San Francisco – best for culture lovers
- Uribarri – best for those wanting to escape the city center
Best Neighborhoods in Bilbao
Casco Viejo: Where to Stay for First-Timers
The Old Town, or Casco Viejo, is located in the center of Bilbao. This area is perfect if you’re visiting Bilbao for the first time and want to be in close proximity to the excitement. Whether you’re visiting for the nightlife, the culinary scene, or to experience the Spanish culture, there’s something for you here.
We saw dozens, if not hundreds, of taverns, eateries, hotels, and hostels to choose from. The famous Plaza Nueva, with its stunning Neoclassical construction from 1821, is located in the heart of Old Town.
If you enjoy people-watching as much as we do, then a visit to a sidewalk cafe in Central Square is a must. For all your shopping needs, we suggest a visit to the biggest indoor market in Europe, Mercado de la Ribera, Bilbao’s most famous market.
Whether you’re looking for high-end hotels or budget hostels, Casco Viejo has plenty of options. We noticed that hotels in Bilbao Old Town are a bit pricey compared to other neighborhoods, but it’s worth it if you want to be in the heart of the city.
Best Hotels in Casco Viejo
- Hotel Bilbao Jardines – Best for budget travelers
- La Puerte Verda – Best for families
- NYX Hotel Bilbao by Leonardo Hotels – Best for luxury travelers
Matiko: Where to Stay for Foodies
offers the best of both worlds to tourists and foodies. A suburb known for its amazing cuisine and rich culture, Matiko Bilbao is in the heart of Basque Country.
As food lovers, we weren’t at all disappointed as Matiko has something tasty for everyone, no matter their palate. There are many Michelin-star restaurants in Bilbao’s riverside neighborhood, where you can enjoy the cuisine while taking in the breathtaking views of the river.
For accommodation, we were spoiled for choice — the options range from luxurious to budget-friendly hostels.
If you like the finer things in life and have the money to match, there are quite a few hotels on the banks of the Nervión River. For a more affordable option, there are several hostels located near the Plaza del Gas.
Pro tip: Take a stroll down Plaza del Gas to try unique and eclectic Basque food or Chimenea Parque Etxebarria for some tapas. We promise you won’t be disappointed.
Best Hotels in Matiko
- Hotel Bilbao Plaza – Best for budget travelers
- Hesperia Bilbao – Best for luxury travelers
- Hotel Conde Duque Bilbao– Best for families
Indautxu: Where to Stay for the Nightlife
When the sun sets, Indautxu comes alive. This area is well known for its lively nightlife, which consists of both loud clubs and neighborhood pubs. If you choose this Bilbao neighborhood, you’ll see many people in the streets laughing and drinking at night.
While it’s the perfect area to explore night activities, we noticed many more things to do here during the day, too.
We spent time at the Azkuna Zentroa building, which is Indautxu’s biggest attraction, at least during the day. You’ll find many locals and visitors around here attending interesting exhibits, sporting events, or lounging at the public swimming pool.
Attractions like the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Benedikto Museum are all conveniently accessible from Indautxu.
The quickest way to get from Indautxu to Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is by taxi, which takes about four minutes. Alternatively, you can walk, take in the neighborhood, and get there in 14 minutes.
The contemporary San Mames Football Stadium is located to the east, close to the river. This is the largest stadium in the Basque Country and frequently holds significant athletic events with a seating capacity of over 50,000.
If you want to be close to renowned museums and enjoy upscale shopping and good nightlife, stay in Indautxu.
This area has a wide variety of accommodations, many of which cater to younger travelers, making it one of the best places to stay in Bilbao, in our opinion.
Best Hotels in Indautxu
- Hotel Silken Indautxu – Best for families
- Hotel Abando – Best for budget travelers
- Hotel Ilunion San Mamés – Best for luxury travelers
Bilbao La Vieja: Where to Stay for Art Lovers
Bilbao La Vieja (also known as Bilbi) is a picturesque area loved by hipsters and young couples. This neighborhood has many interesting places to discover and is conveniently situated for traveling across the rest of the city.
We couldn’t get enough of the “artsy” feel here, with many cute shops, interesting restaurants, and laid-back pubs. There are numerous cafes where you may sip your morning coffee, and there is a ton of street art all over the place just waiting to be discovered.
You’ll find numerous rooftop bars for a great date or evening out, or sip sangria on a riverbank terrace.
When it comes to where to stay, we saw many accommodations that cater to young people, couples, and families, although they were a little pricey. So, if you’re willing to splurge on lodging, this is definitely one of the best areas to stay in Bilbao.
Best Hotels in Bilbao La Vieja
- Hotel Bilbi – Best for budget travelers
- Apartamentos Líbere Bilbao La Vieja – Best for families
- Hotel Melia – Best for luxury travelers
Deusto: Where to Stay for Budget Travelers
A stay in Deusto is perfect if you want to save your euros for some pintxos. Prices in this area tend to be lower for everything from food to lodging because it is basically student-central.
Bilbao’s neighborhoods are close to each other, making navigating the city easy. Even if you stay a little farther away from the major hubs, you’ll still be walking distance from the attractions. Duesto is especially practical if you’re looking for a hotel near the Bilbao airport.
There are also quite a number of things to do here. You can picnic at a park or take a stroll along the river. We were also charmed by the antique stores, bookstores, and entertaining little shops we found here.
Another thing you’ll enjoy, especially if you’re on a budget, is that Deusto is incredibly walkable. The area has accessible entry routes and official hiking paths extending beyond the city, reaching areas near its boundaries.
The Guggenheim is a short hop across the bridge away from the center of Bilbao. One of Duesto’s most recognizable monuments is the Bidarte Jauregia, which is hidden within a tiny park.
Pro tip: If you want to visit Guggenheim during peak tourist season, we suggest buying skip-the-line tickets because it can get super crowded.
Best Hotels in Duesta
- Hotel Artetxe – Best for budget travelers
- Luxury Beachcity in Tiger Building – Best for families
- RK Apartments Bilbao– Best for luxury travelers
Santutxu: Where to Stay for Families
Santutxu is like the gateway to the scenic hills hugging Bilbao, offering a slice of family-friendly paradise in the city’s south, just below the charming Old Town.
Don’t get us wrong, though, it’s not just another family spot. The neighborhood is bursting with life and excitement. You’ll find green oases and fun-filled activities for the little ones, making it a haven for families.
It’s also perfect for hiking. We started our adventure from Santutxu and strolled through the lush hills of Parque Larreagaburu. The payoff? Jaw-dropping views of Bilbao that made us want to stay a while. Santutxu provides a true taste of the vibrant Basque region.
To get a look into Europe’s religious roots, the Museum of Sacred Art in Santutxu might interest you. This place is like a treasure trove of knowledge about how faith evolved in Europe, so we had a fascinating time.
We also enjoyed the peace and quiet here, the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the inner city.
Nearby, you’ve got the 16th-century church, Iglesia de la Encarnación, which feels like stepping back in time. The kids won’t be yawning either because there’s the indoor carnival wonderland, Tximipark.
Although we didn’t see much nightlife in Santutxu, we had a great time visiting cozy bars and restaurants to chill and unwind.
Best Hotels in Santutxu
- Hotel Gran Bilbao– Best for budget travelers
- Occidental Hotel – Best for families
- Hotel Tayko– Best for luxury travelers
San Francisco: Where to Stay for a Multicultural Experience
The red-light district of Bilbao is located in San Francisco (Las Cortes). The region may have a bad reputation, but it nevertheless has a vivid personality and a strong feeling of community.
An advantage of living here is that accommodation costs are quite low. That’s not all, though; food is inexpensive and the more well-known tourist attractions are close by, saving you on a tight budget.
Just on the other side of the Bilbao-Abando Indalecio Prieto train station is where the center part of Abando is located. If you take the train into or out of the city, Las Cortes is the perfect location to stay.
Now, what’s a trip without food? We came here for a little more variety as opposed to the typical Basque cuisine served in the rest of the city, and we weren’t disappointed. We sampled Basque-inspired pintxos, Spanish paella, Asian fusion sushi, and Mexican tacos — a delightful showcase of the city’s diverse culinary heritage.
To add to its flavor, this area has a bustling nightlife, is LGBTQ+ friendly, and boasts several shopping destinations along the main San Francisco Street.
To slow things down, we also visited the Reproductions Museum, which features replicas of well-known works of art and sculpture from all around the world.
Pro tip: While we traveled safely in San Fran, you must always observe the standard precautions. Most tourists leave the neighborhood unharmed but being extra careful can go a long way.
Best Hotels in San Francisco
- Lidar Hotel – Best for budget travelers
- Hotel Bed4U Bilbao – Best for families
- Radisson Collection– Best for luxury travelers
Uribarri: Where to Stay for a Quiet Escape
Urribari is basically the administrative center of Bilbao, where City Hall and its offices are located. It’s a primarily middle-class neighborhood in the northeast of Bilbao, which has evolved as the city expanded during the 20th century.
To be honest, there aren’t many hotels, but the ones that are available are reasonably priced, and you might get lucky and get space during the busiest times of the year in Bilbao.
There were a few activities to do, but we had a great time on the Artxandako Funicular. This funicular takes you through Bilbao’s gorgeous surroundings, reminding you that this area used to be picturesque farmland before the city expanded.
The biggest highlight is when it crosses the bridge and offers a stunning aerial view of the Guggenheim Museum.
If you want to escape the city buzz and the typical touristy spots, consider staying here. It’s a peaceful residential area, just what the doctor ordered for some relaxation.
Even though hotel choices are a bit limited, the real treat is the funicular ride over Bilbao. It’s like an exclusive ticket to tranquility with a view.
Best Hotels in Uribarri
- Barceló Bilbao Nervión– Best for budget travelers
- Bilbao City Center by Abba Suites – Best for families
- Hesperia Bilbao– Best for luxury travelers
FAQs About Where to Stay in Bilbao
How Many Days Do You Need in Bilbao?
Since Bilbao is a very small city, three nights are more than enough to see everything. The city depends heavily on tourism and there are many accommodation options available, with prices to suit all budgets. The most well-known and populated area for tourists is the Old Town’s winding lanes.
What is the Best Month to Visit Bilbao?
The best months to travel are often May, June, and September in this part of Europe. August is the busiest travel month in Europe, so if you must travel then, book your accommodations early. The Semana Grande, a very popular festival in Bilbao, also takes place in the middle of August. No matter which month you choose to visit, you must pack the right outfits. If you need a little help, you can use the Spain packing list to get started.
Is It Better to Stay in Bilbao or San Sebastian?
The answer depends on a few factors. It is much easier to travel to Bilbao because it has a large airport. Compared to San Sebastian, it has more bus and train routes, and Spain and the rest of Europe are well-connected to Bilbao.
Bilbao is also a wonderful weekend getaway from Barcelona or Madrid, which are much bigger cities. Generally speaking, no matter where you stay in Spain you’re guaranteed a good time.
Is Bilbao Worth Visiting?
Without a doubt, Bilbao is worthwhile traveling to. With its extensive history, gorgeous architecture, renowned art scene, delectable cuisine, and friendly residents, this city has a lot to offer.
Whether you’re an art fan gazing at the masterpieces in the Guggenheim Museum or a history buff wandering the historic alleyways of Casco Viejo, Bilbao will captivate your senses. And let’s not forget the breathtaking scenery that this energetic city is surrounded by.
The Best Place to Stay in Bilbao in Conclusion
That concludes our list of where to stay in Bilbao. Intriguing and diverse, Bilbao unfurls its beauty through art, culture, and tantalizing cuisine. From the historic charm of Casco Viejo to the vibrant art scene in Bilbao La Vieja, each neighborhood offers a unique flavor. Explore the nightlife in Indautxu or seek family-friendly bliss in Santutxu.
Don’t overlook the lesser-ventured Uribarri for relaxation and a funicular adventure. In a 5-day Spain itinerary, let Bilbao be the cultural centerpiece. Pair it with the grandeur of Barcelona, the elegance of Madrid, and the coastal allure of Valencia, blending the old world with the new for an unforgettable Spanish journey.