Car Rental Bilbao
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Why rent a car in Bilbao?
Bilbao is a great place to explore by car. Developed and modern, yet with a touch of exciting history, it offers plenty to see. Its proximity to other great cities, traditional villages, stunning natural areas, and some of Europe’s best surfing spots make it a great base for exploring the rest of the Basque region as well.
Top ways to enter Bilbao
- Bilbao Airport: Located just 9km (5.4 miles) north of Bilbao city center, the largest airport in the Basque country hosts many flights to and from Southern and Western Europe, as well as some flights to the northern and eastern parts of the continent. One of the best airports in Spain according to various surveys, it served 5.5 million travelers in 2018.
- Santander Airport: Serving the capital city of the neighboring Cantabria region, Santander Seve Ballesteros Airport is much smaller than its counterpart in Bilbao, yet offers many flights by low-cost carriers. The airport is just an hour’s drive west of Bilbao along the Bay of Biscay.
- Biarritz Airport: Another small and cozy airport near Bilbao, Biarritz Airport is located in nearby France. It offers convenient connections to Paris, Lyon, Geneva, London, and other Western European destinations. Biarritz Airport is just a 90-minute drive from Bilbao, but keep in mind that you’ll be crossing an international border, so first make sure your car rental provider permits it.
- Pamplona Airport: The capital city of the neighboring Navarre region is only served by two airlines, but offers year-long flights to and from Madrid and Frankfurt, as well as seasonal flights to the Balearic Islands. Pamplona Airport is less than two hour’s drive southeast of Bilbao.
- By rail: If you arrive in Bilbao by train, you can conveniently pick up your rental car at Bilbao Train Station, Bilbao-Abando.
- By sea: If you arrive in Bilbao by ferry, you can easily pick up your rental car at the Port of Bilbao.
Useful city facts
- Bilbao enjoys an oceanic climate. Its summers are warm (but rarely extremely hot) and quite dry, while its winters are mild and wet. The average temperature is 21°C (69°F) in August, the warmest month, and 9°C (48°F) in January.
- Because of its proximity to the Bay of Biscay, the average altitude of Bilbao is only 19m (62ft). However, there are two impressive mountain ranges nearby, the Cantabrian Mountains to the west and the Pyrenees to the east. Both offer excellent hiking, skiing, and wildlife-watching opportunities.
Top destinations and activities
- Guggenheim Museum. A landmark of Bilbao, it is also one of the most famous modern art museums in the world. Paying homage to Bilbao’s many sailors and fishermen, the museum’s largest gallery was projected to resemble the fins of a fish (and was for a time, indeed, called the Fish Gallery). Works by Mark Rothko, Francesco Clemente, and many other famous artists can be found inside. A visit to Bilbao is incomplete without seeing the Guggenheim.
- La Ria Maritime Museum. Located in the former shipyard of the city, this museum is made up of both indoor and outdoor exhibitions telling the story of the proud Basque seafaring history. Even if you’re not particularly interested in the topic, seeing this unique building is an awesome experience.
- Santiago Cathedral. First built during the 12th century and heavily enlarged over later centuries, this gothic church is named after the patron saint of Bilbao. In the center of a larger architectural complex that also includes a fountain and a square, the cathedral is also an important milestone for those who walk the Way of Saint James (the Camino de Santiago).
Traffic and parking tips
- Speed limits - 50km/h (31mph) in built-up areas, 90km/h (56mph) on most standard roads, 100km/h (62mph) on standard roads that are either one-way roads, roads with more than two lanes for at least one direction of traffic and roads with shoulders more than 1.5m wide, and 120km/h (74mph) on motorways (called autovías in Spain).
- Despite being close to the sea, Bilbao is a surprisingly hilly city. Many of its streets are very steep and narrow, so be extra cautious, especially if you’ve chosen a large vehicle.
- The car’s registration and insurance documentation always have to be inside the vehicle.
- The driver and all passengers are required to wear seatbelts.
- Children up to the age of 12 and measuring less than 135cm traveling in the front seat of a car must be seated in a child restraint system adapted to their size and weight.
- Unnecessary use of audible warning devices (horns) is prohibited.
- The legal alcohol limit is 0.05% for experienced drivers and 0.02% for novice drivers.
- The emergency number is 112.
Most of the roads in Spain are toll-free. Toll roads are called ‘carretera de peaje’. On maps and road signs, all toll roads have to include a letter P after the road type. The acceptable payment methods may vary depending on the road, but most will accept cash. Regardless of the region, the average estimated price is €9.5 ($11.25) per 100km by car. See the official website for prices and more information.
Ideas for a day-trip
- San Sebastián. Located on the French border and also known by its Basque name Donostia, this city is famous not only for having the most Michelin three-star restaurants per person in Europe, but also for its long impressive promenade, history of human settlement dating back as far as 25 thousand years, and as an important center for Basque language and culture. San Sebastián is about 100km (62 miles) east of Bilbao, a distance that can be traveled by car in a little more than 1 hour.
- Vitoria. Also known as Gasteiz, the capital of the Euskadi Province gets less attention than its other two cities, Bilbao and San Sebastian. It is nevertheless a charming and relaxing place to visit thanks to its Medieval town center, modern museums, and many cultural events. Located just a 45-minute drive south of Bilbao, it’s easy to go there and see for yourself.
- Mundaka. An otherwise calm, pretty, and quiet place like many other small towns in Spain, Mundaka also offers some of the best surfing opportunities in Europe. The impressive waves coming from the Bay of Biscay have set some serious records and are an impressive sight to behold, let alone surf; however, beginners can also find plenty of opportunities in the area. Mundaka is just a 40-minute drive northeast of Bilbao.
Most popular rental types and cars
The most popular rental cars in Bilbao are the Nissan Pulsar, the Ford Fiesta, and the Opel Corsa, while the most popular rental car types are compact, economy, and intermediate.
- Cantabria. Less populated and more remote than the neighboring Basque Country, Cantabria is famous for its beautiful natural areas, from its long, pristine beaches to the green Cantabrian mountains that have wildlife like European bison, brown bears, and wolves. More than anywhere else in Spain, it feels like true wilderness. The area also has a unique culture and set of beliefs that are still alive in small villages and can be learned about in its towns. Santander, the region’s capital, is just 100km (62 miles) west of Bilbao.
- Biarritz. Located in the Basque country, but on the other side of the border, Biarritz feels both similar and different to places like Bilbao and San Sebastián. While undoubtedly Basque, its French influences are also clearly noticeable when it comes to food, buildings, and lifestyle. Traveling further up the coast, you’ll soon reach France proper, starting with the famous city of Bordeaux. Coming from Bilbao by car, Biarritz can be reached in 1 hour and 40 minutes. Keep in mind that you’ll have to cross a national border, so first, ask your rental car provider if they permit it.
- Madrid. Large and modern, Madrid is one of the very few European capitals that can also feel extremely cozy and accessible. Come here in June or July when most local inhabitants are away on their summer vacations, and you’ll have the city’s impressive boulevards, museums, and churches practically all to yourself. Madrid is exactly 400km (250 miles) southwest of Bilbao and can be reached by car in four hours.
How can I save money on my rental car?
Try these tricks to get a great car rental deal in the Basque Country:
- Compare the rates of different rental car providers
- Book your rental car well in advance
- Plan your route before you go
- Know your fuel and mileage requirements
- Visit during the month when the rental prices are the cheapest. According to our data, visiting Bilbao is the cheapest in January when renting a car is about 70% cheaper than the yearly average and an entire 85% cheaper than renting a car in April. Come visit the Basque coast in winter!
Top 20 Cities near Bilbao
Barcelona Car Rentals from $17.68 per day466.8 km / 290.1 miles away
Madrid Car Rentals from $15.32 per day318.0 km / 197.6 miles away
Malaga Car Rentals from $6.47 per day749.1 km / 465.5 miles away
Alicante Car Rentals from $10.19 per day591.8 km / 367.7 miles away
Seville Car Rentals from $16.95 per day701.2 km / 435.7 miles away
Valencia Car Rentals from $12.33 per day469.7 km / 291.9 miles away
Girona Car Rentals from $19.35 per day489.5 km / 304.1 miles away
Granada Car Rentals from $26.36 per day683.7 km / 424.9 miles away
Santiago de Compostela Car Rentals from $21.72 per day449.1 km / 279.1 miles away
A Coruña Car Rentals from $22.35 per day442.3 km / 274.8 miles away
Santander Car Rentals from $26.92 per day74.8 km / 46.5 miles away
Jerez Car Rentals from $13.02 per day776.6 km / 482.6 miles away
Asturias Car Rentals from $18.71 per day253.9 km / 157.8 miles away
Vigo Car Rentals from $39.19 per day481.4 km / 299.1 miles away
Almeria Car Rentals from $48.41 per day719.4 km / 447.0 miles away
Reus Car Rentals from $33.78 per day412.3 km / 256.2 miles away
Valladolid Car Rentals from $35.62 per day238.3 km / 148.1 miles away
Murcia Car Rentals from $11.35 per day629.4 km / 391.1 miles away
Cadiz Car Rentals from $35.20 per day806.1 km / 500.9 miles away
Zaragoza Car Rentals from $23.06 per day245.4 km / 152.5 miles away
Top 20 Locations near Bilbao
Bilbao, Downtown Car Rentals from $33.50 per day
Bilbao Railway Station Car Rentals from $38.94 per day
Bilbao Airport Car Rentals from $26.65 per day4.8 km / 3.0 miles away
Santander Airport Car Rentals from $26.92 per day74.5 km / 46.3 miles away
Santander Railway Station Car Rentals from $28.24 per day74.7 km / 46.4 miles away
Burgos Railway Station Car Rentals from $40.90 per day115.7 km / 71.9 miles away
Pamplona Airport Car Rentals from $47.20 per day117.6 km / 73.1 miles away
Valladolid Railway Station Car Rentals from $32.22 per day232.7 km / 144.6 miles away
Valladolid Airport Car Rentals from $35.62 per day234.0 km / 145.4 miles away
Zaragoza Railway Station Car Rentals from $23.06 per day243.1 km / 151.0 miles away
Asturias Airport Car Rentals from $18.71 per day253.2 km / 157.3 miles away
Ponferrada Railway Station Car Rentals from $32.22 per day309.6 km / 192.4 miles away
Madrid Airport Car Rentals from $15.32 per day313.2 km / 194.6 miles away
Madrid Chamartin Railway Station Car Rentals from $27.86 per day316.2 km / 196.5 miles away
Reus Airport Car Rentals from $33.78 per day411.0 km / 255.4 miles away
Tarragona Railway Station Car Rentals from $37.74 per day419.2 km / 260.5 miles away
A Coruña Airport Car Rentals from $22.35 per day441.0 km / 274.1 miles away
A Coruña Railway Station Car Rentals from $32.22 per day443.6 km / 275.6 miles away
Santiago de Compostela Airport Car Rentals from $21.72 per day447.4 km / 278.0 miles away
Barcelona Airport Car Rentals from $17.68 per day466.1 km / 289.6 miles away
Which is the cheapest month to rent a car in Bilbao?
What’s the usual rental length in Bilbao?
What's the most popular month to rent a car in Bilbao?
Top 15 Suppliers for Bilbao in 2019
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