Where to stay in Bilbao for first time: 5 Safe areas

Finding where to stay in Bilbao as a first-time visitor can be overwhelming. That’s why, in today’s article, I will help you to find the safe places to stay in Bilbao for first-time visitors.

I will share with you what I believe are the best and safest areas to stay in Bilbao for first-timers and tourists, along with a helpful map. I’ll also share where I stayed in Bilbao and recommend some of the best hotels for various budgets.

Bilbao is a popular tourist destination in the northern part of Spain. It is the largest city in the province of Biscay and a major economic and cultural hub in the region. 

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by architect Frank Gehry. The museum is renowned for its unique and contemporary architecture, as well as its impressive collection of modern and contemporary art.

Apart from the Guggenheim, Bilbao has a rich cultural scene with numerous art galleries, theaters, and music venues. The city hosts various cultural events and festivals throughout the year.

Bilbao offers a wide range of restaurants serving traditional Basque dishes. Pintxos, which are small snacks similar to tapas, are a popular culinary tradition in the Basque region. 

The Nervión River runs through the city, and its estuary has been a focal point for urban development. The riverside area is home to landmarks such as the Zubizuri footbridge and the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall.

Bilbao is well-connected by public transportation, including a metro system, buses, and trams. The city is also served by an international airport, making it accessible to visitors from various parts of the world.

Is Bilbao safe to visit?

Bilbao is generally safe for tourists. But, it is always important to exercise normal safety precautions, such as taking care of your belongings, staying aware of your surroundings, being cautious of pickpockets, and avoiding walking alone in poorly lit areas at night regardless of the destination.

Where to stay in Bilbao for the first time?

The best and safest areas to stay in Bilbao for first-timers and tourists are Old Town (Casco Viejo), Abando, Indautxu, Castaños, and Deusto. These areas provide plenty of accommodation options for all budgets and needs.

In general, Old Town (Casco Viejo) is a great option for those who want to stay in the historic area heart of Bilbal. This area is known for its narrow streets, charming squares, and historic architecture. It is home to many pintxos bars, and cultural attractions such as the Church of St. Nicholas and Erribera merkatua.

Abando and Indautxu are great locations if you want a modern atmosphere and close proximity to the famous Guggenheim Museum. These are the commercial and business districts of Bilbao where you can have lots of shopping opportunities and easy access to transportation.

Deusto is located on the other side of the river from Abando and is home to the University of Deusto. While it’s a bit farther from the city center, it provides a quieter, more local atmosphere and easy access to the Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao is a small town, you can easily explore attractions on foot, taxi, and metro, so don’t worry too much about which district to book your accommodations, just choose one in one of those areas that suits your budget and you’ll be good to go.

During my trip to Bilbao, I stayed at the Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao. It was a beautiful hotel located right next to the iconic Guggenheim Museum and only 5 mins walk from Zubiarte Shopping Center. My room was spacious and overlooking the Guggenheim. Breakfast was delicious and was served on the roof terrace with fantastic views of the city. 

Below is a map of the popular areas in Bilbao for first-time travelers. You can scroll down to view the live map.

Map of the safe areas to stay in Bilbao first time
Map of the safe areas to stay in Bilbao first time

Let’s get into the details of the recommended areas to stay in Bilbao, especially for first-time visitors. I’ll provide you with some suggestions for the best places to stay in each area, catering to every budget. 

All hotels in Bilbao have been carefully selected by me from well-known and secure booking sites such as booking.com, with guest review scores of at least 8.0 or higher at the time I chose them. 

If you don’t like my suggestions (perhaps they don’t suit your budget or preferences), you can click the “MORE HOTEL DEALS” button where you can choose your own hotel.

5 Safe areas to stay in Bilbao for first-timers and tourists

1. Old Town (Casco Viejo)

Choosing to stay in the Old Town (Casco Viejo) is a fantastic option, especially for first-time visitors. It is the historic heart of Bilbao, featuring narrow medieval streets, historic buildings, and charming squares. Staying here provides an authentic and atmospheric experience.

Many of Bilbao’s main attractions are located in or near the Old Town. The Guggenheim Museum, Mercado de la Ribera (one of Europe’s largest covered markets), and the Santiago Cathedral are all within walking distance.

Casco Viejo is rich in cultural experiences. You’ll find traditional Basque pintxos bars, local shops, and street performers. It’s a lively area both during the day and at night.

The Old Town is renowned for its excellent Basque cuisine. You can explore the pintxos bars, where you can sample small, flavorful dishes, or dine in traditional restaurants offering a variety of local specialties.

Best places to stay in Bilbao in Old Town for first-timers:

Mid-range ($$): Hotel Tayko Bilbao, great 4-star hotel conveniently located in the old town, close to everything, within 20 mins walk to the Guggenheim along the Nervion River, 5-10 mins walk to the old town’s best pintxos bars and basque restaurants. Easy access to public transport links. It has a good restaurant/bar in the lobby floor, a fitness center, and private parking.

Mid-range ($$): NYX Hotel Bilbao by Leonardo Hotels, 4-star hotel located in central Bilbao, at the entrance to old town, next to Arenal Park, easy walk from Arriaga Theatre and Zazpi Kaleak train station. If you have a car, there are parking spots nearby within walking distance from the hotel.

Budget ($): Sercotel Arenal Bilbao, great 3-star hotel situated in the Bilbao City Center, short distance from Arriaga Theater,Catedral de Santiago and Casco Viejo Metro Station. It has air-conditioned rooms, a 24-hour front desk, laundry services, and very good breakfast.


2. Abando

Abando is one of the best areas to stay in Bilbao who want to stay close to the famous Guggenheim. This is the modern part of the city, home to the Guggenheim and Fine Arts Museum. It is also the location of the city’s main train station, Bilbao-Abando Station, and Gran Vía, one of Bilbao’s main shopping streets.

Bilbao-Abando Station, also known as Estación de Bilbao-Abando in Spanish, is an important transportation hub for traveling to and from Bilbao. It is a central point for various train services, including commuter trains, long-distance trains, and high-speed trains (such as the Renfe AVE services).

Abando is a cultural, entertainment, and business hub of the city. If you’re in Bilbao for business reasons or conferences, staying in Abando can offer proximity to corporate offices and conference facilities.

Abando is located just west of the Old Town across the Nervion River, so you’ll have easy access to historical attractions in Old town on foot and by metro.

Best places to stay in Bilbao in Abando for first-timers:

Luxury ($$$): Hotel Carlton, 5-star hotel located in a strategic location on Plaza de Federico Moyúa, very close to all amenities and attractions. You’ll be next to Gran Vía, 10 mins walk from the Guggenheim Museum. Close to Moyua Metro Station and airport bus stops. Rooms are spacious and comfortable.

Mid-range ($$): Vincci Consulado de Bilbao, 4-star hotel, centrally located near the bank of the Nervion River, very close to the famous Guggenheim Museum, Museum of Fine Arts, Puppy Sculpture. Good base to visit Guggenheim in the early morning  to avoid traffic. The hotel has a tour desk, onsite parking, luggage storage space, and delicious breakfast.

Budget ($): BYPILLOW Amari, great 2-star hotel located close to the Gugenheim museum and the airport bus stop line 3248. You can find many local restaurants, bars, and shops in its surroundings. Old Town is a 30 mins scenic walk/ short taxi ride away across the bridge.


3. Indautxu

Similar to Abando, Indautxu offers a modern atmosphere, easy access to the famous Guggenheim Museums, and is very well-connected to public transportation. This area has many accommodations for all budgets and preferences.

This area is also home to the Indautxu Square (Plaza Indautxu), which serves as a central gathering place and features various shops and cafes. 

Best places to stay in Bilbao in Indautxu for tourists:

Luxury ($$$): Hotel Meliá Bilbao, popular 5-star modern hotel located right next to the Bilbao Estuary and a short stroll from the famous Guggenheim and Euskalduna Palace. It has an Outdoor swimming pool, excellent breakfast, and an onsite restaurant serving classic Basque cuisine.

Mid-range ($$): Catalonia Gran Vía Bilbao, 4-star hotel, in a great location to explore major attractions of Bilbao like the Guggenheim and Fine Arts Museum. 5-10 mins walk to San Mamés Metro Station and  San Mamés Stadium. It has an outdoor swimming pool, fitness center, a garden, and a terrace.

Budget ($): Hotel Ilunion Bilbao, 3-star hotel, set in Bilbao’s commercial heart, next to Iturriza Casilda Park, a short walk from San Mamés Bus and Metro Stations. Easy access to the Fine Arts Museum, Euskalduna Conference Center, and the Guggenheim. Quiet at night so you can have a good rest.


4. Castaños

Castaños is a convenient base in Bilbao. It is located along the Nervion River, just north of the historic Old Town and east of the modern Abando districts. It is a departure point to the Artxanda Cable Car. Great base for local atmosphere and easy access to major landmarks.

Best places to stay in Bilbao in Castaños for visitors:

Mid-range ($$): Hesperia Bilbao, 4-star hotel situated in a quiet and beautiful location just across the River Nervión from the iconic Guggenheim Museum, 10 mins walk from the old town and Concordia Train Station. 5 mins walk from main shopping streets and tapas bars. It has a lovely terrace bar with views of the Bilbao estuary.  

Mid-range ($$): Bilbao City Center by abba Suites, good 4-star apartment hotel located close to Calatrava Bridge and Funicular de Artxanda. Easy to walk to Guggenheim and Casco Viejo. They have comfortable family rooms with a kitchen and 24-hour front desk.

Budget ($): Hotel Conde Duque Bilbao, 3-star modern  hotel located  close to the old city and the new city center. It is just across the street from the pedestrian bridge. Also easy access to the Matiko L3 – metro station and the Funicular up to the top of the hill.  


5. Deusto

Deusto is a residential neighborhood located north of the modern Abando district, and is home to the University of Deusto. The University of Deusto is one of the most prestigious educational institutions in the country and is known for its academic excellence.

The neighborhood is well-connected by public transportation, including metro and bus services, making it easy to access from other parts of Bilbao.

Best places to stay in Bilbao in Deusto:

Budget ($): NH Bilbao Deusto, 3-star hotel in the quiet residential area of Deusto, close to Guggenheim, Iberdrola Tower and Euskalduna Palace. You can find bus/tram stops and Deusto Metro Station nearby for further exploration.

Budget ($): Livensa Living Studios Bilbao, 3-star accommodation that provides units with a fully equipped kitchen and a private bathroom. Close to the subway station for services to the old town, if you walk, it is 1 hour away. You can park the car at the hotel for 15€ per day

Budget ($): Hotel Artetxe, 2-star beautiful Basque farmhouse, located on a hilltop offering expansive views of Bilbao. It has free parking, and a wonderful Breakfast. Only a short drive to the Funicular, the airport, and a half hour walk down the hill into town. 


In conclusion, Old Town (Casco Viejo), Abando, Indautxu, Castaños, and Deusto are the best places to stay in Bilbao for first-timers and tourists. While Bilbao is generally safe, it’s essential to stay vigilant and take precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience during your visit.

You can continue reading about other destinations in Spain in these articles:

There you have it, my recommendations for the most popular and safest neighborhoods that you can stay during your first trip to Bilbao. I hope you enjoyed my article and find it both informative and helpful.

If you have any questions or would like to share your thoughts, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below. Your feedback is invaluable and helps me continue to create more quality content.

About Author: Ocean Cameron

I'm Ocean, founder and main editor of travelhotelexpert.com. I’m a passionate traveler who specializes in uncovering the best hotels and locations in every city, especially for first-timers, all without the need for a car.

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