Bilbao is undoubtedly one of the most interesting cities to visit in Spain. It has the perfect balance between tradition and avant-garde, with many green spaces to walk through and also streets full of life where you can fill your stomach with pintxos. In addition, there are many interesting places to visit near Bilbao. We propose you the 10 best excursions from Bilbao to discover incredible places in the Basque Country.

Are designed to be done in a single day and return to the city, great if you stay in one of the hotels in the center of Bilbao for a few days. But you can also chain several of the excursions we share and create a nasty route through Euskadi 😉 At the end of the article you will find a map with the exact location of all the places we mentionedwe hope you find it useful in planning your trip!

❤️ Book a FREE walking tour through the most emblematic corners of Bilbao.

⭐️ We share the 15 best places to see in the Basque Country. Spoiler: many of them also appear in this same article and you can discover them on excursions from Bilbao 🙂

Don’t forget your travel insurance with a 5% discount to discover the best of the Basque Country. Not only will it provide you with medical care without having to advance a single euro in the event of an accident, but it will also protect you against theft, theft, loss of luggage, transportation delays or cancellations, and many more unforeseen events. Essential for our getaways!


1. San Sebastian

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 1h 15min

You should not miss the main coastal city of the Basque Country. San Sebastián is beautiful no matter where you look at it. Its popular La Concha beach It fills with bathers in summer and people walking during the colder months. Although it is usually the great forgotten one, the playa urbana Zurriola It is also worth it, especially for surf lovers.

Entering the historic center of the city, its cobblestone streets are charming. There they coexist luxurious shops along with traditional bars where you can eat delicious food pintxos. And if you are lucky enough to visit San Sebastián at the end of September, you may see more than one familiar face because the prestigious International Film Festival. No matter the time of year, to have a beautiful perspective of the entire city we recommend Climb Mount Igueldo to enjoy a postcard-perfect panoramic view of San Sebastián.

We tell you how to get from Bilbao to San Sebastián in detail

best excursions from Bilbao
The view of San Sebastián from Mount Igueldo

2. Hondarribia

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 1h 25min

Hondarribia is one of the most charming towns in the Basque Countryalthough it is almost in France! It is the last Spanish city before the border, located on the left bank of the Bidasoa River. Going to Hondarribia is one of the best excursions from Bilbao to enjoy Basque gastronomy. There are countless bars and restaurants where you can try exquisite dishes. There is no shortage of Michelin stars in its territory, although there are also cheap establishments where the food is great.

Beyond the component foodie, the historic center of the city is wonderful. It is the only one in the area that has managed to preserve the medieval walls, which surround its labyrinthine cobblestone streets. In them you will find many typical buildings of Basque fishing villages with characteristic colorfully painted wooden balconies. Nor is there one missing beach where you can enjoy the heat in the summer months. In short, a very complete and very picturesque place!

best excursions from Bilbao
The beautiful typical colorful houses

3. Biarritz, the European surfing mecca

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 1h 40min

We cross the border to enter France! Although it is only 18 kilometers from Spain 😉 The coastal city of Biarritz is one of the best excursions from Bilbao if you are looking for a beach atmosphere. It’s been two centuries since Napoleon III’s wife established Biarritz as her favorite place to spend summer holidays. For this reason, you will find majestic buildings and very elegant streets to walk. Since then, the popularity of the place has grown and it has become one of the main tourist destinations on the French coast.

Discover the 14 best beaches in France

Biarritz is considered the surfing mecca in europe. There are hundreds of surf schools to get you started in this sport, there is no better place! Wherever you go, you will find people in the sea on their boards.

Biarritz surf
Biarritz, an ideal place for surfers

4. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, the most popular excursion from Bilbao

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 45 minutes

Are you a fan of Game of Thrones? I’m sure this place is familiar to you 😉 San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has become super famous in recent years because the islet became Dragonstone, one of the settings of the series. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t seen Game of Thrones, This place is really beautiful and worth visiting.. Of course, you have to make an effort to enjoy a good reward in the form of beautiful views! One has to climb 241 steps to reach the top of the islet, where there is a hermitage, and have a great panoramic view of the Basque coast.

Please note that as this is a very popular place, It is necessary to reserve a free ticket online during vacation periods, holidays and weekends throughout the year.

best excursions from Bilbao
One of the most famous excursions from Bilbao

5. Towns on the Basque coast

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 40 minutes – 1 hour

Although San Juan de Gaztelugatxe usually takes center stage, it is worth getting to know the Basque coast in more detail. ¡The landscape will leave you speechless! Furthermore, you will find small beaches ideal for surfers and charming towns where you can stop for a walk. Here are some of the most outstanding places on the Basque coast perfect for doing excursions from Bilbao:

  • Lots of
  • Be sure
  • Lekeitio
  • Zumaia
  • Getaria
  • Zarautz
best excursions from Bilbao
The cliffs of the Basque coast are impressive

6. Sanctuary of Loyola, one of the most famous excursions from Bilbao

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 50 minutes

Visiting the Loyola sanctuary is a perfect complement to a route along the Basque coast. It’s about a monumental complex built in honor of the founder of the company of Jesuswho was born in that same place. It was built in the 16th and 17th centuries with a baroque style inspired by the buildings that were made in Rome at the time. Whether you visit for religious reasons or not, you will be amazed by the spectacular nature of the place.

Loyola Sanctuary
It is very worth visiting the interior, it is full of beautiful details

7. Getxo and Portugalete

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 15 minutes

¿You don’t have much time in Bilbao but do you want to know a little beyond the city? Visiting Getxo and Portugalete is one of the best half-day excursions from Bilbao. You can get there by road but it is much more beautiful to do a river cruise on the Nervión River and enjoy the good views along the way.

Once in Getxo, walk through its historic center, imagine what life was like in Puerto Viejo when it was a fishing area and enjoy the atmosphere of the marina. It is also a good idea to enjoy the coastal landscapes that surround the municipality, you will not be able to stop taking photos of its beaches and cliffs!

Thanks to the great Bizkaia suspension bridge you can reach Portugalete, Across the river. This engineering work built in 1893 has become a symbol of the Basque Country and is even recognized as World Heritage by UNESCO. It could be considered as the Golden Gate Basque for its characteristic red color 😉 The bridge itself acts as a viewpoint, you should not miss the beautiful panoramic view from its upper platform.

Portugalete also has a historic helmet with medieval originss. We recommend that you wear good shoes to explore it because there are many slopes in its narrow streets. Although those who do have to suffer are the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiagosince this famous hiking route passes through Portugalete.

best excursions from Bilbao
The Bizkaia bridge, an icon of the Basque Country

8. Vitoria-Gasteiz

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 45min

Bilbao and San Sebastián usually take center stage when it comes to cities in the Basque Country. But did you know that capital of the Basque Country Is it Vitoria-Gasteiz? 😉 It is ideal for a very varied urban getaway. You can walk through its historic center with centuries-old buildings among which stands out the impressive gothic cathedral of Santa María. He hasn’t been a part of Game of Thrones, but he did inspire Ken Follett to write A world without end!

Another thing you should do in Vitoria is pay attention to the curious names of its streets, which recall the trades that were carried out there for centuries. For this reason, you will pass through Herrería or Zapatería Street. Finally, You can’t miss the Green Ring. This is the name of the six parks that surround the city center. They are perfect for taking a leisurely walk or playing sports.

The streets of the center of Vitoria are super pleasant to walk

9. La Rioja Alavesa, one of the best excursions from Bilbao for wine lovers

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 1h 30min

Spain is the second country that exports the most wine, only behind Italy. And most of these wines are produced in the north. If you visit Bilbao and you are a lover of this drink, you should not miss Rioja Alavesa. It is a region full of vineyards, wineries and charming towns with an idyllic atmosphere.

The capital of this region is Laguardia, a beautiful medieval town to discover by taking a walk. It was founded in the 10th century and still preserves remains of its wallsas well as many medieval, renaissance, baroque and neoclassical buildings. Of course, there are a lot of wineries in the surrounding area that offer tastings and guided tours of their facilities. Some even have accommodation with views of the vineyards, ideal for a romantic getaway!

best excursions from Bilbao
This is the landscape of the Rioja Alavesa, one of the best excursions from Bilbao

10. Elorrio, Oñate and sanctuary of Arantzazu

⏱️ Travel time from Bilbao: 30 minutes to Elorrio | 50 minutes to Oñate | 1 hour to the sanctuary

To finish our list of excursions from Bilbao, we propose a rural getaway to towns in the interior of the Basque Country. Both Elorrio and Oñate have imposing carved stone constructions that have stood the test of time. There are also many details from the past, such as shields engraved on the facades of buildings or monuments commemorating famous people of the time. Super interesting for history lovers!

Near these charming towns you can also visit the historical Necropolis of Argiñetawith tombs from the 7th to the 10th centuries, the Gothic church of San Agustín de Etxebarría built in the 11th century and the most important sanctuary in Gipuzkoa. We refer to the Monastery of Our Lady of Arantzazuwhich venerates the patron saint of the province.

Santuario Arantzazu
The Arantzazu sanctuary is an impressive construction



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