When is the best time to fly to Bilbao?
Whether you’re looking to enjoy a leisurely summertime stroll through Casco Viejo or a scenic winter holiday in the Basque countryside, there’s no wrong time to book your flight to Bilbao.
Flights to Bilbao tend to fill up for the summer season, when the Spain seashore provides a brief retreat from the heavy humidity. Semana Grande (or Aste Nagusia in Basque), the week in which Bilbao hosts a colourful festival celebrating Basque culture, draws hundreds of thousands of visitors each August. If you’re hoping to be one of the many coming to the city for the festivities, be sure to book your Bilbao flights and hotels well in advance so you don’t miss out on the lively parades and memorable concerts.
Cheap flights to Bilbao are plentiful in the winter months after the holidays, when visitors shy away from checking out the Basque capital in the rain and snow. Try booking your flight to Bilbao for the month of April: Holy Week festivities draw hefty crowds to all major cities in Spain, but the following weeks are usually quiet after the bulk of the tourists leave town.
Bilbao is the capital city of Spain’s Basque province, home to some of the most unique artistic traditions in the world. Located in Northern Spain along the Nervión River, Bilbao played an important part in the industrial revolution in Spain, particularly in the production of steel, and is an essential contributor to the Spanish economy.
Bilbao’s close proximity to the beach resorts of Santander and San Sebastián attracts visitors to Bilbao in droves, as the city is a major transportation hub for northern Spain and a popular jumping-off point for travel within the province. Though the cold, industrial quality of this bustling centre of commerce is apparent, the streets of Bilbao offer up ample opportunities for visits to the city’s famed museums, palaces, architectural wonders and cultural events.
As home to the illustrious, luminous glass walls of the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum and the celebrated Museum of Basque Archaeology, history buffs, art addicts and architectural enthusiasts are snapping up flights to Bilbao to see the manmade wonders of this city whose streets are as innovative and industrious as its history.
Courtesy of the winds wafting off the Bay of Biscay, Bilbao experiences an oceanic climate that doesn’t suffer from extreme heat or cold. The humidity in Bilbao can be tough to deal with during the summer when temperatures can rise as high as 27 degrees C. Winters in Bilbao are rainy with little snow and temperatures huddling close to 5 degrees C, on average. The transitional seasons of spring and fall are ideal times to visit due to the comfortable weather and infrequent precipitation.
Getting around Bilbao
Bilbao has a very efficient public transportation system. The bus system, Bilbobus, has night buses on Fridays until 2:30am and all night Saturday. The tramway, Euskotran, stops running around 11pm each night. If you’re just passing through, continue your Spanish adventure to Madrid, Barcelona or Burgos by hopping aboard Renfe, Spain’s national rail line, or any number of buses.
Getting from the Airport to the City
Shuttle buses outside the arrivals terminal at Bilbao Airport (BIO) can take you to Termibús, the main bus terminal in the city centre. From there you can take a bus, tram or train to anywhere you want to go.
Bilbao insider information
Though Castilian Spanish is the official language of Spain, Basque, or Euskara, is prominently spoken in Bilbao, especially in the more remote regions. The language has been a mystery to linguistic scholars for hundreds of years, as it shares no common characteristics with other modern spoken languages. Unless you’re a language wiz, don’t expect to become proficient in Basque before your trip. If you’re feeling adventurous and want to try out the local language, here are a few stock phrases that’ll help you out in a pinch:
Thank you: Eserrik asko
Excuse me: Barkatu
Do you speak English?: Inork ba al daki ingelesez?
The savings don’t have to stop once you’ve booked your cheap flight to Bilbao: The BilbaoCard, which is available at all Bilbao Tourism Bureaus throughout the city, offers discounted fares for public transportation, the best museums in town and even performances and other cultural events.
Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s medieval neighbourhood, is a great first stop to hit after you land. Stretch your legs and mosey through the narrow cobblestone streets to scope out the Ribera Market, or take a breather and feed the pigeons gathering in Plaza Nueva.
The curvaceous, reflective exterior of the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao may be the city’s most recognisable landmark, but the educational programs and activities for children taking place at the museum are often overlooked by families hoping to keep the kids entertained. Several artists, authors and performance groups pass through the museum during the year, and hands-on workshops are open to children throughout the week so that they can cultivate their budding creativity after walking through the museum’s imaginative exhibits.
Looking to head outside the city for a few days before you return home? Plan a trip to Guernica, a monumental city for Basques and a melancholy reminder of the persecution they endured throughout Francisco Franco’s regime. Guernica was bombed in 1937 and Picasso’s iconic mural of the same name is an angry, painful work of protest that has received international attention for its violent imagery depicting the city’s destruction. Today, Guernica is still the cultural capital city of the Basque people and is where the parliament for the region is seated.