Spain Guide


Bilbao Nightlife

Bilbao has the lively nightlife that you'd expect of one of Spain's leading cities. The Spanish love to party and the Basque people (call them Spanish at your peril) do it in style in Bilbao where you'll find everything from world class opera and ballet to gay clubs and trendy late night music bars.

Basque cuisine is regarded as being amongst the finest in Spain so you'll probably want to start your evening off with a meal in one of the city's many excellent restaurants.

Thanks to the city's proximity to the sea there's a strong emphasis on fish, particularly the ubiquitous "bacalao" codfish which you'll see on most local menus (try the common "pil pil" variety with olive oil and garlic). Wholesome, rustic pork dishes are also common and vegetables are generally served beautifully fresh.

Touring the tapas bars by night is a favourite local past time. These tasty morsels are known here as "pintxos" and can be anything from a plate of local cheese and the delicious cured ham ("jamon serrano") to olives wrapped in fresh anchovies. The best places for tapas bars, cafes and bodegas include Calle Licenciado Poza, Calle Pozas and Calle Barrencalle.

Besides tapas bar hopping (known as "ir de tapeo"), there's the equally popular "poteo" which involves drinking small glasses of wines called "potes". The Casco Viejo old quarter and the Licenciado Pozas areas are among the best spots for this kind of evening excursion. Try the legendary Iruña, a Moorish style bar dating back to 1903.

The city's premier cultural venue is the Teatro Arriaga on the banks of the Nervión River. Here you can see world class opera, classical music concerts, ballet and "zarzuelas" (comic operas). Check forthcoming events at the local tourist information office in Paseo del Arenal.

The tourist office will also be able to provide details of any local fiestas and bullfights taking place during your visit.

The two most important festivals are the feast of Santa Aqueda in February, involving a colourful street parade and much merrymaking in the Casco Viejo, and the major Aste Nagusia Semana Grande celebration in August. The latter is the city's biggest celebration with free concerts, dances, theatre performances, fireworks and bull fighting.

There are numerous music bars and clubs which stay open till 4am and sometimes much later. The Indautxu area is one of the hottest spots in town after dark this is where you'll find the popular Cotton Club (Paul Carrack and Antonio Flores are among the many big name performers to have appeared here).

At Oker, also in the Indautxu neighbourhood, you can dance to the latest acid, garage and house music until the small hours.

Other popular clubs include Disco Rock Star in Gran Via, Disco Pub Crystal in Calle Buenos Aires and El Palladium in Calle Iparraguirre.

Lively Calle Barrencalle is peppered with gay bars. The High Club in Calle Naja is one of the most high profile gay haunts with Spanish dance music, porn films and a very busy "dark room" at the back!