Bilbao is a great foodie city, so it’s not surprising that it’s home to some great food markets. You can find everything in the markets here, including local Basque cheeses and wines, to preserves, ripe fresh fruit and plenty of seafood. From Europe’s largest indoor market – La Ribera – to organic farmers’ markets and hipster street food markets, here’s our pick of the best.
La Ribera is Bilbao’s most important food market, because it’s the largest indoor food market in Europe. Built in 1929 by the architect Pedro Ispizua, it comprises 10,000m² (110,000 sq ft) of space and market stalls. There are three floors here, each one dedicated to different produce – the ground floor is seafood, the first floor sells meats, cheeses and deli products, while the top floor is where you’ll find all the fruits and vegetables. The market also has its own restaurant, bar and live jazz bands. It is open Monday-Thursday 8am-2pm and 4.30pm-7pm, while on Fridays it stays open until 7.30pm. On Saturdays it is only open in the morning.
If you’re staying in the centre of the city and need to get something from the market, instead of going all the way to La Ribera, you can pop in here. Built in the 19th century, Mercado del Ensanche is Bilbao’s second-most important market after La Ribera, and was fully renovated and modernised in 2005. Today, it features ten different stalls, selling a range of fruits, vegetables, meats and fish. It is open on weekdays from 8am-2pm and from 4.30-7pm. On Saturdays it is only open in the mornings.
The newly-renovated Mercado de Abando is located just south of the Indautxu district, near the bullring and its museum. It has 16 stalls and is packed with gourmet offerings, from various types of olives and cheeses to cured meats and fresh seafood. It also has a specialised Italian stall called Al Dente, which sells fresh homemade pastas, pestos and sauces, and even has its own kitchen. The market is open Monday to Friday 8am-2pm and 5-8pm, and on Saturdays in the morning only.
The Sunday Market is Bilbao’s trendiest hipster market, which is held on certain weekends in the year (visit the Facebook page to find out dates). As well as vintage clothing, jewellery and design products, there are many food and drink stands, from beer and cava to homemade cakes and nibbles. It’s also home to a range of food trucks – the first ones in the city, and still one of the few places you can find them. The Mexican ones are particularly popular. With DJs, live music and lots of events going on, you can make a whole day of it here.
Bilbao’s Market of the Earth is a SlowFood, ‘0 km’ market, selling only locally grown and produced food, organic products and vegetables directly from the farmers. Held every Saturday in the Tinglados del Arenal de Bilbao, it runs from 10am-3pm. The stalls here sell fresh seasonal produce, not only limited to fruit and vegetables, but also artisan bread, cheeses, honeys and jams. There are also stalls selling local Basque cider and txakoli wine.
OK, so this one is not exactly a food market – however, it still involves fresh, fresh produce. Instead of fruit and vegetables, this market sells flowers. The Flower Market is held every Sunday in the Arenal Park, close to the Town Hall, and is filled with an array of beautiful colours, natural fragrances and perfumes. In addition to flowers, they also sell house plants, seeds and fresh herbs.