Visit Bilbao. The enjoyable way.
[photo: Jeff Koons’ “Tulipanes” at the Guggenheim – www.guggenheim-bilbao.eus/en/]
When you visit Bilbao, it is probably for one reason:
The shimmering titanium building that is the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum, which almost singlehandedly dragged Bilbao into the 21st Century.
But it’s not the only attraction in Bilbao.
An evening spent in the Casco Vieja (Old Town) district though, will show you that Bilbao is no one-trick pony. That it will blind you with modernity, and then caress you with its ageless beauty.
As all of the main tourist areas are fairly close together, Bilbao is perfect for strolling around on foot. However, if you need to travel quite far, or quite quickly, Bilbao also has a full range of public transport services (buses, trams, metro and taxis) linking all the different areas.
The two lines of Bilbao’s metro cover the main points of the city, and run from about 6 am every day (although the time of the last train varies: from Monday to Friday the Metro closes around 11 pm, but at weekends it is open non-stop until 11 pm on Sunday. Travellers can also use the metro to get to the beaches and villages within the metropolitan area.
“Bilbobus” is the local bus network in Bilbao, and runs from approximately 6 am to 11 pm. To get about at night at weekends there are also night buses, known as Gautxoris, which run until 2 am on Fridays and all night on Saturdays.
White taxis, with a red stripe on the side, are everywhere. There are taxi ranks in all of the most-popular areas of Bilbao, and you can also flag them down in the street when they have their green light on (or order them by telephone – Radio Taxi Bilbao +34 944448888). Tariffs are displayed inside the cars (so that there are no nasty surprises at your destination).
Public Transport Accessibility.
All buses, 100 of which are electric, are wheelchair accessible. And right from its very inception, accessibility has been key to the development of the Bilbao Metro, which was built with the intention of eliminating physical barriers. You can read Bilbao Metro’s accessibility statement at:
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao.
The number one attraction in Bilbao is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum. An architectural work of art. And an accessibility masterpiece.
As they proudly say “One of the priorities of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is to make sure that everyone has access to all Museum services and activities”.
Their top-class accessibility features include:
[C&P from their reply]
Their accessibility page is at:
And their full Accessibility Guide (printable PDF):
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.
“100 Years of History, 10 Centuries of Art”.
The original Fine Arts Museum combined its collection with the Modern Art Museum in 1945, which was when the first, original building was built.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has been constantly modernised from the 1990s onwards to improve accessibility. A map showing accessible features, is available on their website at:
A multi-language printable map can be found at:
There is free entry to the general collection between 18:00 and 20:00 each day. If you take advantage of this, expect it to be rather busy. Instead, see the following:
NOTE: If you are planning to visit both the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum when you are in Bilbao, the Bono Artean pass gives you a decent discount when visiting both. The pass is only available from the box offices at EITHER museum.
Casco Viejo (Old Town). The original seven streets of Bilbao.
Bilbao is not just about museums though.
You should definitely take your time to get lost in narrow streets of the Casco Viejo (Old Town) of Bilbao. Including a visit to St. James Cathedral and the Plaza Nueva where you can eat some of the best pintxos in Bilbao.
Every Sunday, the Plaza Nueva hosts a traditional flea market where ancient books, stamps, coins and flowers are sold.
Accessibility: Please note that there are steps in some areas of Casco Vieja, and the ramps/roads that negotiate these, are rather steep in places.
Ilunion Hotels* have one hotel (3 stars) in Bilbao: Ilunion Bilbao
Check availability at: Booking.com
* Ilunion Hotels have an amazing accessibility policy, and over 40% of people employed at Ilunion Hotels have some form of disability. So when it comes to accessibility, these guys know what they are doing.
If you require accessible accommodation, both have options for selecting only accessible hotels.
This guide, although predominately aimed at visitors who require to know about the accessibility of these attractions, is aimed at making a visit to Bilboa as enjoyable as possible. For everyone.
This guide has been produced as a result of my latest ataxia awareness-raising/fundraising tour of Europe. So if any of this information is useful to you, please consider making a donation to Ataxia UK: