After returning from my 8 Month Trip to South America, New Zealand, Australia and Japan I immediately started planning my next holiday!
For my upcoming Birthday trip I chose the Beautiful Basque Country, specifically Bilbao as my next destination.
Where is Bilbao
Bilbao is located in Northern Spain, it is a typically rainy region, and is an autonomous community, with strong cultural traditions and its own Basque Language. It is Great for Pintxos, Surfing, Skateboarding and Hiking.
How to get to Bilbao, Spain
I flew from London Stansted Airport with Easyjet to Bilbao Airport (although its always worth checking skyscanner), it is also possible to take a ferry from Portsmouth to Bilbao or to local Santander. The flight is just under 2 hours, however as Bilbao is very close to France, it is common that French Air strikes to affect this route. It is a typically cheap return flight – 2 passengers return was under £100 with a checked 15kg bag (for skateboards in our case). It is also worth mentioning that BA fly to Bilbao too.
Where to stay in Bilbao
We stayed in the wonderful Moana Surf Hostel located in Urduliz, this gorgeous Spanish Villa has several dorm and private room options, a mini ramp and a skatepark, ping pong table, breakfast included, parking, surf lessons and surf camps, Lunch and Dinner for a fee, free wifi, a comfortable lounge and some comfy hammocks, of and the wonderful staff!
Moana is well located, very reasonable priced, can accommodate large groups and is very clean, the bathrooms are plentiful and clean. The staff will go above and beyond to help you.
We payed €117 for 2 in a private room, shared bathroom.
If you are going to Bilbao especially to surf or to skate, this is the place to you. That being said there were plenty of cyclists, hikers, and families also in attendance.
TOP TIP – use this link https://booking.com/s/38_6/e84d0186 to book Moana Surf Hostel, and receive $25aud into your bank account after you have checked out!
How to get around Bilbao/Car Hire in Bilbao
For convenience we hired a car through DoYouSpain.com with GoldCar, it was great. We were picked up from the Departures in a minivan, transported to the local office (under 5 minutes) and completed relevant checks and paperwork, we received a small Hyundi car and off we went (you drive on the right side of the road in spain).
However, it is worth mentioning, that Goldcar and many other budget car rental services will ask you to take out the excess insurance policy (around €25 per day) to cover the hefty €1200 excess cost, if you do not take this out with them, they require a deposit of the €1200 plus a deposit of a full tank of fuel (both released when you return the car undamaged with a full tank of fuel) also the individual who applies online and with the same card must be present and the driver of the car. Although this is simple, we saw quite a few people getting distressed that they had to leave a large deposit, or that the person who made the booking was not present. All of these details were on the website – so TOP TIP – read everything before making a booking, know what to expect and take your credit card to avoid paying the expensive excess cover!
TOP TIP – You can easily and much much more cheaper pay for the excess from a third party company, for example on this trip I paid £6.00 for the four days excess cover, saving over £80.00 had I purchased from Goldcar. Check out Money Saving Expert – and comparison sites before you book.
Also always choose Full to Full regarding fuel, or you could end up paying and admin fee or overpaying in fuel costs.
If you are not a driver, or do not want to drive in Bilbao, you can easily use public transport, a great priced metro card is available (Creditrans barik) and up to 10 people can travel using this providing there is enough credit, there are plenty of metro stops around the city.
Skateparks in Bilbao
First stop – La Kantera Skatepark aka Algorta
Address – Bajada de Arrigunaga Kalea, 25, 48993 Getxo, Bizkaia, Spain
Adress – 48940 Leioa, Biscay, Spain
Address – Calle las Mercedes Kalea, 42, 48930 Getxo, Bizkaia, Spain
Address – 48600 Sopelana, Biscay, Spain
There are many many skateparks in Bilbao, more than we sadly had time to visit, a new undercover park, and also an indoor park for rainy days. I would highly recommend Sondika – the bowl near the airport!! its Rad.
Surfing in Bilbao
We were desperate to hit the waves after the stunning view of Sopelana Bay whilst skating Sopelana bowl, so on Friday Morning we arranged to go surfing through Moana with La Salbaje Surf Eskola, Cost – 2 hours with transport €30 per person.
Richard picked us up from Moana with Mendi – the surfing Labrador (no really, he is a surfing dog!) we changed into Bilabong wetsuits and were given soft boards, we warmed up on the beach with some nice stretches, it was only a group of 4 which was really nice, and two instructors and Mendi. We were shown the basics for the beginners of the group and then hit the waves, it was a really relaxed and chilled out environment, many locals were in the water too and at the end Mendi showed off his skills too!
We got changed and headed back to Moana – exhausted and happy after catching a few waves! I’d Highly recommend this surf school – they were fantastic!
Arriatera, 83 Bajo – Sopela,
Playa Barinatxe (La Salvaje)
Mobile: +34 675 650 713
San Juan De Gaztelugatxe – aka Dragonstone from Game of Thrones
Wether you are a fan of Game of Thrones or not, this wonderful island and bridge cannot be missed on any trip to Bilabo. It is a free Hike, you just need to drive or take the bus to the top and walk the path to the entrance of the bridge. The water and flora are absolutely stunning, the waves create amazing blue water! I would suggest going on a sunny day if possible.
Game of Thrones
Dragonstone is the castle that stands upon the eponymous island located in Blackwater Bay. It is the ancestral seat of House Targaryen and was the stronghold of a cadet branch of House Baratheon.
“But the Targaryens managed to raise a castle here. Simpletons claim they used ancient Valyrian sorcery, forgetting that the Targaryens brought a small army with them from Essos; there’s no magic in strong backs. Though admittedly the castle is unlike any in Westeros, foreign and… strange.”―Stannis Baratheon
The walk is about 5/6 miles round trip from the car park up to the church, do not wear flip flops as there are some gravelly parts of the path that are a little slippery, remember to take water with you, and don’t forget your camera!
The best views are from the church side of the bridge looking back towards the coast in my opinion, however if you want a good viewpoint, when leaving the car park, instead of heading right toward the path, if you go left there is a very nice viewpoint over the bay and a short detour.
Theres a cute restaurant offering delicious Pinxtos or chips, and beer with a nice garden overlooking the sea in front of the car park.
Parking was free when we were there in May, however always check, and don’t park in the staff section. There was a lot of parking available but I guess it gets very crowded on the weekend, TOP TIP – to avoid the crowds head over in the early morning or the weekdays.
How to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
We used Google Maps to get us to the area but were a little confused as to where the path started, as the navigation tried to take us all of the way down to the steps! which is not allowed. Here is a map to assist you, show you the walking route, where to park and also the restaurant. The circle is the viewpoint I mention above.
Address – 8130 Gaztelugatxeko Doniene, Biscay, Spain
No Trip to Bilbao is complete with out a trip to the Guggenheim. Adult – €13
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a museum of modern and contemporary art designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, and located in Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain. The museum was inaugurated on 18 October 1997 by King Juan Carlos I of Spain.
So that sums up our four days in Bilbao, we had fantastic weather, lived off lays, pepsi, and baguettes! Skated, surfed and hiked! It was pretty Rad!
Love B x