Hoofin’ it is fun and Bilboa isn’t a huge city. If you are there for a short period, you may want to be efficient with your time. Liz Pitt, our guest expert from Bilboa gives you The Scoop on transportation in this city of friendly people and great musuems.
By Liz Pitt
Public transportation in Europe is fantastic. Anyone who has ever traveled for even a short time knows that one usually has several different options for transportation when visiting any country throughout Europe. The same holds true in Spain, more specifically in Bilbao.
While Bilbao isn’t the largest city in Spain (around 1 million in the greater Bilbao area), I think it has some of the best transportation options in the country. Let me break them down for you. Almost all of these transportation options use Creditrans, a ticket that you can buy in 5, 10, or 15 euro denominations, at most kiosks, tabaco shops, or in the metro stations. Make sure you get the Creditrans, because it is almost double for a single-ride ticket.
Bilbao has one of the most efficient metros in Spain. It has won awards for it’s stylish design, and is one of the few metros in Spain that runs 24 hours on Saturday nights. At the moment, there are two lines that go from the south of the city (Basauri) to the coast (Plentzia and Santurtzi). There are 3 zones, with zone 1 costing .77 euro, zone 2 .92 euros, and zone 3 1.03 euros. It is the fastest and easiest way to get around the city.
Within Bilbao, there are two buses you can take. Bilbobus runs through the city on very regular intervals. With the Creditrans, it cost only 59 cents to stay ride around the city.
If you need to get to a town outside of Bilbao within the province of Bizkia, such as Gernika or Loiu, where the airport is located, you can take Bizkaibus. Prices depend on which zone you are in, but to the furthest zone, Zone 5, it costs 2.40 euros with Creditrans.
Alsa and Pesa are the buses that will take you directly to San Sebastian from the San Mamés bus terminal. The tickets cost 6 euros and 10.10 euros (one-way), respectively. Alsa runs less frequently than Pesa, usually 4 times a day. Pesa runs one bus every hour.
If you catch Bilbao on a rainy day (which is pretty likely), the tram is a great way to see the city while staying dry. The tram runs from the Casco Viejo (Old Town) along the river, past the Guggenheim Museum, and to Calle Autonomia. Tickets with Creditrans cost .70 euro. Make sure you validate at the stop, the police will come onboard from time to time and check tickets!
The Euskotrain is a slower alternative to getting outside the city. It goes throughout País Vasco, Basque Country (including many daily trips to and from San Sebastian), so it is convenient and sometimes cheaper than taking a bus. The ticket price varies depending on where you are traveling to.
If you’re looking to get to other areas in Spain, the Feve and the Renfe, both national companies, can help you there. There are daily trains to Madrid, and both the Feve and Renfe stations are beautiful architecturally.
More information on specific ticket costs with the Creditrans is available here: http://www.creditrans.com/castellano /madre_tarifas_c.htm
Related Spain Scoop: Liz has many informative posts on Bilbao including beaches, museums and shopping.
Liz Pitt is a Wisconsinite who transplanted to Bilbao, Spain almost 2 years ago. She currently teaches English at a local high school. While she doesn’t speak Basque, she loves everything about Bilbao, from the pintxos to the beaches, and will talk your ear off about it if she has the chance. When she’s not exploring Basque Country, she travels to other European destinations. You can check out her stories and photos on her blog, http://www.lizenespana.com/p/who-is-liz.html