Known for its historical sites and magical atmosphere, Bilbao’s old town Casco Viejo has a vibrant nightlife, with its many bars and taverns to explore. The most popular bars are concentrated around Plaza Nueva, but other interesting drinking spots can be found around the Siete Calles, the seven streets that compose this area. Read on for our list of the 10 best bars in the neighborhood.
Café Bar Bilbao is one of the most iconic bars in all Bilbao, located in Plaza Nueva in the heart of Casco Viejo. The traditional interior decor sets a warm tone for the atmosphere here, which is only made more welcoming by the friendliness of the staff. The first thing you’ll notice when entering this bar is the wide selection of pintxos, which completely cover the bar in a tempting spread. Many locals meet here for a drink while nibbling on these assorted little snacks, the Basque equivalent of Spanish tapas.
The Pub K2 is one of Casco Viejo’s most popular bars. Though it’s open all day, it becomes especially festive after nightfall. It offers a great selection of pinxtos and it is renowned for its great sandwiches. Don’t worry if you see a large crowd standing in front of the entrance: the locals just love to drink outside, so you might still find seating inside.
Film buffs and especially Stanley Kubrick fans cannot leave Bilbao without a trip to the Kubrick Bar. As the name suggests, this bar is lovingly dedicated to the famous film director: the interior is completely covered with posters of his films, and makes you feel like you’re spending a night in a cross between a movie theater and one of Kubrick’s own striking sets. The bar is also open for breakfast and lunch for full meals and pintxos, but it really comes alive after dark. Be sure to check their website for a heads-up on upcoming open-air parties and concerts.
A Teterìa is a tea room of Arabic influence that typically serves aromatic tea with Arabic sweets. Baobab Bar Teterìa is not only the best place in Bilbao to enjoy tea leaves from all over the world, but also a great place to enjoy a range of tasty natural juices and a fantastic selection of local and international beers. The cool vintage interior decor makes this a relaxing spot to catch up with friends, and it’s also popular among locals for grabbing a hot drink and getting cozy on a cold night out.
Kukusoak Taberna is known for two things: killer sandwiches and an amazing happy hour. This bar-restaurant regularly offers great deals on local specialty drinks and pintxos, including an exclusive selection of unique gin & tonic drinks. Be sure to drop in for one of their many events, which include DJ sets, live concerts and karaoke nights.
Located at the entrance of the Casco Viejo on the other side of the Nervion river, Nervion Café Bar combines the chill atmosphere of a café with the exciting anything-goes atmosphere of a bar. This dynamic dual styling is also visible in the design, as the interior deftly mixes vintage furniture with hip modern elements and decoration. A hit among students and young locals, so it’s always buzzing by the end of the day.
Umore Ona is the perfect place to go to to listen to some great Basque rock music. Although the façade of this bar doesn’t stand out from the crowd, it sets itself apart with its strong reputation for great rock sets. It was one of the most famous bars of Bilbao in the ’80s, and the first bar to offer a much-needed meeting point for rock lovers across the city. Umore Una has been renovated recently, but it still retains its rock ‘n’ roll soul.
Another temple of rock music in Bilbao’s Casco Viejo is Gure-Txoko, a small beer bar (or cerveria) where rock lovers can meet and share their passion for music in a great atmosphere. The lineup goes from classic rock to more modern hits of grunge and alternative rock, so there’s something to appeal to every taste in this musical spectrum. Gure-Txoko’s menu specializes in beer, and offers a great selection of local and international labels.
Lamiak Bar originally opened in the 1980s to be a meeting point for Bilbao’s feminists and LGBTQ community, so it’s served its share of the city’s key political and cultural personalities over the decades. The bar has happily maintained its relaxed and inclusive atmosphere, and remains one of the city’s most important cultural meeting points, hosting a wide range of events including art exhibitions and local concerts.
This is a prime example of a traditional Spanish bar, with a great mixed menu of tapas and pinxtos, a stellar wine selection, live music, and a wonderful ambience. You’ll find every side of Bilbao at Irrintzi, from tourists to students and families to lone locals, all drawn here for the friendly service, tasty food and drink options, and relaxed atmosphere. Though this bar is located along Santa Maria, one of the busiest streets in Casco Viejo, Irrintzi is the discerning traveler’s best alternative to the many tourist traps in this historic area.