Bilbao, the capital of Spain’s Basque Country, is an increasingly popular tourist destination. One of the best ways to explore the city and the region is to buy a Bilbao Card (also known as a Bilbao Bizkaia Card or BBCard). This includes lots of benefits, from transport to tours and more. If you take advantage of everything the card offers it can save you time as well as money. (Read more about all the things to see and do in Bilbao.)
Transport in Bilbao with a BBCard
The Bilbao Card gives you unlimited trips on most forms of transport around the city, including buses, trams and metro trains. Although single journeys are inexpensive, the card will save you money if you take a few trips each day. It is also much more convenient, eliminating the need to find change each time you board a bus or a tram.
Within the city you can also use the card to take the funicular railway to the top of Mount Artxanda to enjoy the views of the city.
The Bilbao Card doesn’t just cover transport within the city. You can use it for trains, buses and coaches to get around the region (including the airport bus). It also includes the funicular railway at La Reineta. The only place I found where I couldn’t use it was the Bizkaia Transporter Bridge (but at 45c a time, that wasn’t really a problem).
Walking Tours of Bilbao
A substantial benefit of buying a Bilbao Card is that it entitles you to a number of free walking tours. I took two tours: one of the old town and one exploring the new town and some of the city’s magnificent modern buildings. If I had had more time I could also have taken some out of town tours, of the Bizkaia Bridge or the Old Port at Getxo.
Depending on the time of year that you visit, tours may not be available every day. Check for details at the Tourist Office; they will also give you tickets for the tours.
Discounts and FastPass
But there’s more… The Bilbao Card gives you access to a whole range of discounts on goods and services. These include museums, restaurants, activities and shops – you can see the full list here. I only had time for a couple of museum discounts but you could save a lot of money if you took full advantage of the shops and restaurants as well.
Then there is FastPass. This allows you to get into the Guggenheim Museum and the Fine Arts Museum without queuing. Although you still have to pay full price, you can buy your tickets at the Information Desk without joining the main queue. This saved me a bit of time at the Guggenheim, but I can imagine that it would be a major advantage in high season when the queues are long.
How to Buy and Use Your Bilbao Card
Cards are available for 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours. You can purchase them at the Tourist Information Offices on Plaza Circular or Alameda Mazarredo. Alternatively, you can order online and pick up your card at Tourist Information.
The card needs to be validated each time you make a journey. On the metro and regional buses you have to tap in at the beginning and end of each trip. On the city buses, trams and funicular validation is done before boarding (look out for the machines on the platforms at tram stops).
Thanks to Bilbao Turismo for providing me with Bilbao Cards during my recent visit.