Top 5 Locations For Your Gastro-Bar Crawl In Bilbao

Bilbao is known for its bustling bar and pintxo scene, so here is the route you should take around the city on a night out.

The Guggenheim
The Guggenheim. Picture: Numan Torres

Bilbao, the largest Spanish city in the Basque country, has not only historical significance as a port city but also elaborate architectural wonders and, most of all, a lively nightlife and bar scene. The Guggenheim is what traditionally brings visitors to the unofficial capital of the Basque country. This state-of-the-art building is awed worldwide by designers and architects alike as it is one of Frank Gehry’s most famous works.

The Guggenheim may draw you to the city, but the nightlife scene, pintxos bars, and energy of the Old Town will make you extend your hotel reservations! Now, this is no typical bar crawl; this is a pintxos bar crawl! With every drink, you will have an accompanying small snack that may just as well be the best bite of food you’ve had in your life. So get your walking shoes ready and come with an empty stomach because these are the 5 best pintxos bars in Bilbao for your gastro-bar crawl.

Gure-Toki

Pl. Nueva, 12, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

bilbao gastro bar
PHOTO Guri Toki

If you stand in the center of the Plaza Nueva or New Plaza — which isn’t new at all as it was built in the 1820s — you will hear an extravagance of joyful noise coming from Gure-Toki. This pintxos bar is shoulder to shoulder every night, no matter what. It boasts more modern pintxos and, of course, Bilbao’s signature traditional txakoli wine. The uniqueness of this bar arises from how close it stays to the traditional roots of Basque cooking while also modernizing elements of Spanish food one would have never thought of. Plus, it is now in the Michelin Guide, making it an even more sought out stop in your bar crawl.

Café Iruña

Colón de Larreátegui Kalea, 13, 48001 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

CAFE IRUÑA
FACEBOOK CAFE IRUÑA

Yearning to learn more about the Muslim occupation of Spain while in the Basque country? Then you must step into this marvelously decorated café. The architect was so inspired by the Islamic palaces of the Andalusian region of Spain that he created the bar’s interior after them. Café Iruña is located in the heart of the city in the Jardines de Albia and can be visited for breakfast, lunch, pintxos, or even a sit-down dinner. When visiting, you must say yes to their rioja crianza — a type of red wine native to this region of Spain.

Bar El Globo

Diputazio Kalea, 8, 48008 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

Bilbao Gastro-Bar Crawl
PHOTO El Globo Bar

Another popular bar, El Globo, may have the widest variety of fresh pintxos you will ever find. Whether it is meat on bread, fish croquettes, or any other random uniquely-Basque creation, you have to stop by for a pintxo and drink. It is recommended to order the txangurro gratinado, also known as spider crab au gratin. If the smell of food isn’t enough to drag you inside, the ambiance of a comforting but lively crowd should do the trick.

Iturriza Taberna

Plaza Nueva, 5, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

Pintxo
Pintxos. Picture: Iñigo De la Maza

Iturriza Taberna is another convenient New Plaza bar with a solid array of more traditional Spanish treats. You simply cannot leave the Basque country without trying tortilla, a fluffy egg and potato dish, or even a simple slice of Iberian ham on perfectly crusty bread. Iturriza is the perfect place to go for a relaxing snack accompanied by another glass of rioja wine while you sit outside to watch the plaza-goers.

Café Bar Bilbao

Plaza Nueva, 6, 48005 Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

Cafe Bar Bilbao
Cafe Bar Bilbao. Photo: Cafe Bar Bilbao

While you’re at it, you might as well visit one of the most iconic bars in the Casco Viejo. The New plaza, which is the center of the Casco Viejo, wouldn’t be the same without Bar Bilbao. Since 1911, this busy bar has been serving every pintxo imaginable, along with any drink you desire, as seen with the impressive array of alcohol in the center of the bar. The tile work along the bar walls is almost as fascinating as that first bite of fried quail egg you will be compelled to order as soon as you get to the counter.

There is simply no shortage of bars in Bilbao, even if you leave the food and drink sanctuary that is the New Plaza. The only way to bar crawl the Bilbao way is by wandering the Casco Viejo with a drink in hand and a pintxo in the other.

Paloma Vigil

A Miami native, Paloma is an avid traveler eager to put pen to paper and describe all of her adventures. Her favorite way to experience new places is with a fork in hand. Whether it is a tapas snack in Spanish bars or freshly caught raw fish delicacies in Japan, she is always ready for the next bite. Her dual Cuban-American identity drives her to explore how cultural differences can bring people across the world together in unexpected ways. She is always seeking to find innovative ways on approaching global interconnectedness through travel.

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