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Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain


  • Where is Bilbao situated?

Bilbao is located in the north of Spain, in the province of Bizkaia, and is the most important city in the Basque Country. Bilbao is home to close to 400, 000 inhabitants. However, given its proximity to several satellite cities surrounding it, you could say that in the so-called Greater Bilbao, there are a million people living there. Until the 20th century, its iron and coal mining activity was the most important in Spain. Currently, after the oil crisis of 1973, it's mainly a service-based city.

In addition to this, Bilbao is the financial capital of the Basque Country. This year (2016), San Sebastián/Donostia is considered to be the European Capital of Culture, and Vitoria/Gasteiz is the political capital, all of which are located very close to one another - practically one hour by car.

  • Student life

The atmosphere and lifestyle in Bilbao, especially during the afternoon-evenings from Thursday onwards, is the best in northern Spain.

I recommend starting on the afternoon on Calle Pozas, where many bars are spread along the street, and you can have a couple of drinks with typical tapas of the region for reasonable prices.

On Thursdays, there are usually promotions for food and drink ("pintxo pote"), as well as other discounts in certain bars. It's one of the best places for going out for a drink in Bilbao, and if it's a match day, the atmosphere on this street is simply indescribable. The reason it's so electric is because it's situated very close to the football ground and Athletic fans are considered some of the best in the world.

On the other hand, if you want to go to a nightclub, you have a variety of different options in Bilbao city centre, including Back & Stage, The Loft, New Holiday, and Budda, amongst an infinite number of others.

Anyway, if you want to go out in another area away from the centre, it won't take long to get to Fever, Sonora, or Moon by metro (the latter is ideal if you are located further from the city centre).

But, in general, if you want to enjoy student life, you will. Bilbao is full of places where you can go and enjoy yourself.

  • Accommodation

For the students at the University of Deusto, the most convenient option, without a doubt, is to stay in the student residence next to the university (a 2 minute walk away, called "Colegio Mayor Deusto"), The 'problem' that you could have with it is that it's expensive compared to other residences and rented flats in the area. However, it does include food in the price, which is something you will really appreciate, especially during those days where you are really busy or when you simply don't fancy time cooking in the kitchen.

There are also other residences located very close to Bilbao city centre, for example:

  • Residencia Universitaria Blas de Otero
  • Colegio Mayor Bidealde
  • Colegio Mayor Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo
  • What is the best thing that the city has to offer?

Bilbao is one of the jewels of northern Spain. Located on two banks of the Nervión river (Estuary of Bilbao) between the mountains, the city boasts a beautiful landscape with extraordinary views of both the mountains as well as the sea. Its modernisation has turned it into an example of remodelling. Its metro was designed by Norman Foster, the Guggenheim Museum at the hand of Frank Gehry, the modern constructions of Arata Isozaki, or Santiago Calatrava's airport design magnify the 'traditional' Bilbao with 'las siete calles' and the 'Ensanche de la villa'. Its two universities (the UPV, public) and the famed University of Deusto, its theatres (Arriaga and Campos, amongst others), its walkways by the river, its parks, and its cuisine make Bilbao a lively, cultured and attractive city.

Also, after the recent changes that it has suffered, the city has gained many green spaces and walkways, like the ones found next to the new, emblematic Iberdrola Tower:

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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It's perhaps one of the most expensive cities in the northern part of Spain, but, at the same time, it could be called the most "complete" in every sense of the word. Therefore, having all the facilities that a large city has to offer close within your grasp, it perhaps ends up being a little more expensive in terms of accommodation, but, at the same time, you are compensated with the diverse range of activities that you can do.

Public transport here is not the most expensive in Spain, and you can get yourself a monthly travel card, or one valid for "x" number of journeys, which always ends up being much cheaper than paying for single tickets every time you travel.

It also depends on the specific area of Bilbao that you live in - it's not the same thing to be in most central area and close to the Guggenheim, for example, as it is to be in the outskirts of the city.

Of course I would recommend that you come to Bilbao: it's a beautiful city full of open and happy people, who love their traditions and music. It has a great atmosphere during the weekend for going out, be it for tapas, to the cinema or theatre, or to listen to music...

Without a doubt, the star attraction is the world-famous Guggenheim Museum, with Frank Gehry breaking down architectural barriers with its creation and construction. The following photo shows the main entrance of the building:

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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And another from the banks of the river:

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is, without a doubt, the best of its kind in the Basque Country, and, arguably, the best in Spain, thanks to its collection of both Spanish and Basque 19th century paintings.

Walking along the river is one of the outdoor pleasures in Bilbao, along with spending time in its parks (Doña Casilda, Parque de Europa, de Echevarría, etc. ).

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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Keep yourself entertained in the bars and clothes stores on 'Las 7 calles', walk around, visit the beautiful Plaza Mayor or the cathedral, which transports you back to now revolutionised medieval Bilbao. Or, walk along Gran Vía, which is a compulsory visit for shopping in the city.

The modern and impressive Palacio Euskaldana, the Teatro Arriaga, a neoclassical structure located in the Arenal, and the nineteenth-century style Teatro Campos Elíseos is home to the city's innovations in opera, theatre, and musical works.

Photo of Teatro Arriaga:

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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La Alhóndiga - the city's old market which was converted into a leisure area - it could be said to be another of the most archetypal buildings in Bilbao. You can see it for yourself in the following image:

Experience in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

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But, Bilbao also has many areas that you can go out to both during the afternoon and in the evening for tapas or high quality restaurant meals alike, where you can spend a nice evening. Finally, it's a city where its festivals (for patron saint celebrations, music, etc. ) attract a lot of people from a variety of nearby cities and provinces.

  • How do you get to Bilbao?

You can get to Bilbao by plane, by ferry, by train, by bus, and, of course, by car, all depending on your departure point. It's a city that's really well connected with the rest of Spain, as well as several cities in Europe.


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Share your Erasmus Experience in Bilbao!

If you know Bilbao as native, traveler or as exchange student... share your opinion on Bilbao! Rate different characteristics and share your experience.

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