Spain Guide


Bilbao Car Hire

After you've spent two or three days exploring Bilbao's main sights and attractions you may decide to hire a car for some day excursions or longer trips to explore the Basque region and beyond.

With a rental car you'll be able to discover the rugged Cantabrian coastline to the north, the Rioja wine region to the south, the ritzy seaside resorts of San Sebastian and Biarritz and the city of Pamplona, famous for its bull running, to the south east.

The beautiful mountainous area around Bilbao has rolling meadows, deep valleys and unspoilt villages where life hardly seems to have changed for centuries. The coastline is made up of spectacular cliffs, charming fishing ports, fine beaches and secluded coves.

Drive north to the coast and half way between the towns of Bakio and Bermeo you'll find the Island of San Juan Gaztelugatxe. The island is joined to the coast by a stone bridge. If you climb the 231 steps to the hermitage at the summit you'll be rewarded with one of the most spectacular views of the Cantabrian Sea and coastline.

South of Bermeo there's the lovely village of Guernica (or Gernika as it's known locally) which holds a special place in the hearts of all Basques. The village was immortalised in Picasso's painting of the same name after it was subjected to saturation bombing in the Spanish Civil War. The famous oak tree, beneath which the province's Basque leaders debated policy for centuries, still stands although civic business is now conducted in the nearby Assembly Hall.

East along the coast from Bermeo, the prehistoric caves of Santimamiñe, with drawings from 11,000 BC, and the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve are both worth a visit.

The popular Spanish resort of San Sebastian has some fine city beaches and an old world charm with its narrow streets packed with shops, bars and restaurants.

The historic city of Pamplona lies about 80 kilometres south of San Sebastian the famous bull running takes place in July but there's plenty of interest here at other times of the year including an impressive fortress, 11th century cathedral and some excellent museums.

If you plan to venture further afield, you'll find Bilbao gives you easy access to a network of major roads linking you to Madrid, Barcelona, Santander and Biarritz, just beyond the French border.

Before you choose your car hire company these are some of the questions you should be asking:

  • If you've booked a car to be waiting for you on arrival, will the company have a representative inside the airport where you can collect your keys and sort out the necessary paperwork and any problems? There's nothing worse than arriving in the middle of the night to find no car.and no one to complain to!
  • Does the company give a commitment on the quality of its cars are they, for example, all under a certain age?
  • Are items such as roof racks and child seats available and included in the price?
  • Will you have to pay the local IVA tax (Spanish VAT) of 16% or is it included in the price?
  • Does the company offer "no quibble" insurance to cover such things as collision damage and theft? Is unlimited third party insurance and basic personal accident damage for the driver and occupants included?
  • Will you have to pay an "excess" charge in the event of an accident?