Bilbao has so much to offer as a tourist destination that you could never get bored: culture, museums, architecture, gastronomy…but what makes it a great Erasmus destination?
If you come to do your Erasmus in Bilbao as an exchange student, there is a partner organization of ours that we recommend you get to know; find it here. They can help you out with everything you need in terms of your exchange in the city.
It might seem strange to you, but the Basque county is a great place to live despite its weather and any rumours of danger. Many students choose Bilbao as their destination for Erasmus, and these are the reasons:
A City of High Architecture
When living in Bilbao, one of the “must-sees” of the city, and its principal attraction, is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum. Its presence in the city makes it an ideal destination for architecture students. Designed by the famous architect Frank Gehry, the museum opened its doors to the public in 1997 and since then has been acclaimed by the public and critics; becoming one of the most important contemporary architectural structures in the world.
Living in Bilbao
- The Old Town of Bilbao is commonly known as the “7 streets” or in Euskera “Zazpi Kaleak”, after the 7 streets that formed the original Medieval town. Today, it is still the busiest and most picturesque zone in the city. The narrow pedestrian streets are full of bars that offer delicious pinchos and Basque cuisine. This area is ideal for students, since it is found close to the most essential parts of the city.
- The Ensanche district comprises the area on the other side of the Casco Viejo river. It was annexed to the city in 1870, and until this point had been the independent town of Abando. Today, Ensanche is the centre of business and the most cosmopolitan area of Bilbao; there are heaps of shops, bars, and restaurants. It is home to Bilbao’s bourgeoisie, that is to say, it is a highly regarded area with a lot of money.
- With its student environment, it offers a close location to University centres, encompassing the Universidad de Deusto campus, comfortable accommodation and entertainment for those who live there. The price of rent in this area is on average above 10 euros per square.
- The Barrio de San Ignacio is very close to Deusto, and is an ideal place to live if you like to move around the city as it is fairly central and boasts great public transport links. Many students choose to live here for its closeness to the University. The price of renting here is more than 10 euros per square metre.
- The Indautxu area is characterised as being the most commercial neighbourhood, and in which you can find most of the hotels in Bilbao. It’s a tourist area and so rent prices are some of the most expensive in the city.
Where to go out in Bilbao
The 7 streets of Bilbao are situated next to the “Old Bilbao”, one of the more traditional areas to go out partying in the city. These are the busiest places during the day and it isn’t a surprise, since they are some of the best to practise the traditional pintxo-pote of Bilbao
- If you prefer the alternative, Muelle de Ripa is a more modern zone of Bilbao, the fashion space. An alternative space where you can enjoy the party in Bilbao next to the river estuary. Ripa is an eternal space, of every walk of life, that has been rejuvenated thanks to the appearance of many establishments, becoming on of the most highly-demanded spaces in the city. On your Erasmus in Bilbao you will be able to discover the nightlife to the maxium!
- The major night clubs in Bilbao are found away from the city centre, such is the case of Sonora, in Astrabudua, and Fever in Bolueta. In the centre, along the Gran Via, we find the Rock Star, one of few clubs found in this area.
One of the treasures of Basque gastronomy, particularly San Sebastian, are the famous pintxos – you HAVE to try them on your Erasmus in Bilbao.
However in Bilbao much meat is also eaten, combined with other typical Basque products, for example Idiazabal cheese, which is exclusive to the Basque Country. Due to the cold climate, and like in many northern cities, it is very common to serve “spoon dishes”, such as red beans with black pudding, white beans with air-dried peppers, rice with baby squid, cabbages with potatoes, and black potatoes.
- If you are one to look for the best price for your meals, Bar EME may be a great choice for you. Its sandwiches are unique and highly valued amongst locals. The price of a sandwich is 2,80€.
- The local Boys offers hamburger or sandwich menus as well as large combined dishes. It can be found very close to the station.
- If you are looking for somewhere to have a proper meal, The Bite can be found right in the centre Bilbao next to the circular plaza, and is a favourite location in the zone for two reasons: first, it has cheap menus (5,99 on weekdays for a two-course meal and a drink), and secondly the food is very good. Furthermore, a glass of beer costs 1€ and a jar 2€.
Now you know! If you want to come to do your Erasmus Bilbao, the night life, the walks and the food aren’t to be missed!! You’ll love it!
Translated by Zoe Burns, University of Leeds student, 2017