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Shopping in Bilbao

Bilbao has all the typical high street shops you'd expect, mainly dotted along Gran Via and in the modern Zubiarte shopping centre. But it also has many high-end stores around Plaza Moyúa with interesting little boutiques and arty shops found in the old town.

As you'd expect from a city that has the world's biggest covered market, food is an obsession. Meanwhile, souvenir stores in the old town are determined to proclaim every aspect of Basque culture. You'll find football shirts proclaiming another local passion, the famous Athletic Bilbao, along with Basque wine glasses (heavy chunks of glass with just a small hollow for the actual drink) and the ubiquitous local flag.

Key areas

The Ensanche and Old Town is where you’ll find shops selling the best wares from national and international fashion designers. The Old Town also offers a combination of pedestrianised streets, historical monuments, cultural institutions and over 800 shops pushing everything from handicrafts to designer clothes. Basque craft items, from pottery and crystal to leather products and traditional furniture, are available from many shops in the city.


The Old Town’s Mercado de la Ribera (Riverside Market) is possibly the biggest indoor market in Europe. Originally designed in 1930 to be clean and functional, this handsome building of stone and glass has become a secular temple to the Basque worship of food. The ground floor is mainly devoted to fish, the first level to meat and the second storey to fruit, vegetables, flowers and other products.

Shopping centres

Central Bilbao offers high street shopping and big department stores such as the ubiquitous Spanish favourite Corte Ingles. Zubiarte (2 Calle Lehendakari Leizaola) is a shopping centre in which exclusive design and avant-garde architecture blend to great effect. It has 70 shops on four different levels and is great for clothes and footwear.

Opening hours

Shops in Bilbao are open from 1000 to 1330 and from 1700 to 2000. Many shops are open on Saturdays. Shopping centres are open from 1000 to 2100.


Although any Basque look is incomplete without the traditional Txapela (flat-topped cap) that many of the older locals will carry off with great style, most visitors will just want to take home the refreshing local wine, Txakoli, or the spicy cheese, Ideazabal.

Tax information

Visitors from outside the EU are entitled to tax refunds on purchases of over €90. Look for the signs that say 'Global Refund TAX FREE SHOPPING' and ask for your 'GLOBAL REFUND CHEQUE' after you have paid. Validate your cheque at customs when you leave the EU and exchange your validated cheque at any International Cash Refund Office in the world.

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Featured Hotels



This budget offering is clean and comfortable and offers a good buffet breakfast. Situated in a fairly central location, in downtown Bilbao, there are a slew of funky rooms to choose from, all of which have been decorated to represent a different building in the city. Most points of interest are within walking distance and the hotel itself runs a photography tour of Bilbao. Other extras include bicycle rental, ironing and laundry services, TVs in rooms, free Wi-Fi and a 24-hour bar. It also has a secure garage for those travelling with vehicles.

Iturrienea Ostatua

Iturrienea Ostatua is a pension in Bilbao's Old Town that's chock-a-block with colour and character. It has restored antique furniture throughout and great attention to detail has been paid to the decoration of the 21 bedrooms. The lovely exposed stone walls and oak beams give this place its charm and all in all, it represents very good value. In decent weather, breakfast can be served in the garden.

Miró Hotel Bilbao

Devised by famous fashion couturier, Antonio Miró, this modern boutique hotel combines functional design and personalised service to great effect. It's a tasteful establishment with great views of Bilbao, and it offers guests access to its spas and gym on a complimentary basis. There are 50 minimalistic rooms to pick from and many come with views of the Guggenheim. All, though, have large TVs, colossal beds and chic marble bathrooms.

Hotel Bilbao Jardines

This pleasant, comfortable and reasonably priced 2-star hotel is located in the heart of the historical centre of Bilbao, next to the cathedral and the Arriaga Theatre. It offers good service, spectacularly clean rooms and a very relaxed ambience, so the dated quilts and covers can be easily overlooked. What's more, most rooms come with a bath and shower and have decent sized TVs. Free Wi-Fi is available throughout.

Hotel Lopez de Haro

A favourite with celebrities, up to and including the Dalai Lama, this is one of the best top-class hotels in Bilbao. You’ll find free Wi-Fi, a complimentary gym-spa, a champagne bar and an opulent selection of rooms and suites. The location, too, is handy for the city centre and the Guggenheim Museum. The staff are incredibly helpful, the breakfast is excellent and the soft drinks and chocolates in the mini-bar are included in the price.

Hotel Carlton

A favourite of Ernest Hemingway, Ava Gardner and many a bullfighter, Hotel Carlton is a Bilbao institution. It is set in a grand neoclassical building with a restaurant and a 1930s-style bar. Drenched in history (it was the Euskadi government's headquarters during the Civil War), it's a splendid and very elegant hotel. Discount prices are available online if you book well in advance.