Up early, showered & out of my hotel by 9am & walked 5 minutes from Puente Arenal (bridge) to the ultra modern, spotlessly clean La Ribera Market,. the Guiness book of records say it is the biggest indoor market in Europe.
I can't resist tracking this food market down even tho I am staying in a hotel. It is a good indicator of the quality and type of regional food available. I bought a bag of the biggest cherries I had ever seen in my life!
What to buy: it is noisy inside with lovely friendly traders, calling out greetings to everyone. one shouts to me in Spanish "hey guapa come & buy my apples" it is Stacked with luscious beautiful fruit, glossy divine vegetables, deli counters, cheeses of the region, fresh meat, catch of the day fish n shellfish of every hue n shape.
What to pay: good buys compared with supermarkets
The Corte Inglese department store has a large grocery store on the 6th floor, and they are cheaper than the small groceries around town. On one side of the floor, they have a large selection of gourmet foods imported from other European countries; the other side is a well-stocked regular Spanish grocery store.
A shopping trip to El Corte Inglés is part of every typical trip to Spain. There is not much difference between El Corte Inglés and any department store in any other developed country (except things like prices and quality of service), but it is one of those typical Spanish experiences that every visitor should have.
What to buy: You can purchase pretty much anything here. If you are looking for regional goods, though, each Corte Inglés usually has a section with those sorts of products, usually where the food is. In Barcelona it was in the basement, and I think it was the same place in Bilbao.
What to pay: Standard retail prices
It´s a shopping center located just in Deusto bridge, between Deusto neightbourhood and Doña Casilda park.
Here you will find:
* Fast Food: Mc Donalds, Burger King, Pan´s & Company, etc.
* Gift Shops.
* A lot of clothing shops.
* Sportwear shops.
... and you won´t find:
For what is a major city there's a wealth of small independent shops in the centre. As would be expected there's the upscale fashionista's but you'll also find several local fishmongers, charcuterias and bakers selling to the local residents.
There's almost a village feel to some of these and from what I noticed prices aren't particurly expensive, especially when you take the quality factor into account.
In Spain, specialty stores were once the cornerstone of every day life, but now are becoming rarer and rarer. They offer personal service and friendly advice, as well as an intriguing insight into the past.
Sombrerería Gorostiaga, one of these family-run specialty stores, is the oldest shop in Bilbao. It has been selling hats and all kinds of ornaments for the head for more than 150 years (it opened in 1857). His owner, Emilio Pirla, is the fourth generation of hat-makers and runs the business with professionalism, know-how, service quality and a great passion for the art of hat-making.
The shop is very small and cramped with piles of hats and berets. It is what Spaniards call a tienda de toda la vida, that is, a traditional business which seems to have existed forever and which has not been affected by time.
What to buy: All kinds of hats and headdresses, industrial or bespoke, but the speciality are the traditional Basque berets (txapelas), still worn by the older generations of Basques, and very fashionable lately among global trendy people. In Sombrerería Gorostiaga, you can find them in all the imaginable sizes and colours.
The market hall is on the riverside, close to old center.
What to buy: Ronkari is delicious cheese, made from the milk of lam. It's a little dry and hard, but just suitable for desserts with jamon, fruits and good wine.
What to pay: Price was 17€ per kilo (2007).
It´s a little shopping center in Deusto which consists of three floors.
Here you´ll find a sun glasses shop, a toy shop, a butcher, a surf shop, etc... but the most important is that there is bar here where you can have a coffee or a sandwhich.
Books, music, T-shirts, skateboard outlet shop, Internet, shoes, etc.
This floor is entirely dedicated to the food. You´ll find many options in a rasonable prize. Burger King, Pans and Company, Pizza, Chicken, Latin Food, etc...
It´s probablly one of the biggest shopping centers in Bizkai, if not the biggest one.
Here you can find anything, from fhasion cothing shops to restaurants.
The worst thing is far froma any Metro station, so you´ll have to go there by car. I think that there are buses too, but I don´t know where to take them.
Here you´ll find:
* Fashin clothing shops: Lacoste, Gables, Massimo Dutty...
* Music stores.
* Sport Shops: Foot Locker, Forum...
* Surf shops: Styling, Rip Curl...
* Restaurants: McDonalds, Pans&Company...
It is the last one to close in Bilbao: open until 22:00 - whereas "El Corte Ingles" closes at 21:00 and most of the shops between 19:30 and 20:00.
What to buy: International clothes shops such as Zara, Mango... some mobile telephones, gifts, cinemas and fast food.
It lacks personality: you could find these same shops in any other city.
This shopping centre contains a range of up-market shops, along with a supermarket, a cinema, and a floor of bars and food outlets.
The Cinema and Food Areas are open long hours, the shops keep standard Spanish hours.
Shops in the center of Bilbao are closed on Sundays - with the exception of some bakeries and newspapers.
But not only those small ones are closed: even big shopping centers / malls in the surroundings are closed on Sundays - all of them. In some other Spanish cities, shopping malls are open the first sunday of the month, but not in Bilbao.
During the week, (most) small shops are open:
morning: 9,30 or 10,00 to 13,00 or 13,30
afternoon: 16,30 or 17,00 to 19,30 or 20,00.
Monday to Friday, plus Saturday morning.(Sat evening only some of them in winter)
El Corte Ingles: 9.00 to 21.00 Mon-Sat
The centre of BIlbao has a number of supermarkets. The most common of which are Ecorea. These are small supermarkets with limited range, and are quite expensive.
Slightly larger but less common are Consum-Eroski, who are cheaper. There is an Eroski under Plaza Indautxu
At Plaza Zabalburu there is a big Champion (part of Carrefour) and in the large Corte Ingles on Gran Via / Urquijo there is a supermarket on the 6th floor that has high quality foods at a high price.
What to buy: Ecorea - good for bits and pieces
Consum - eroski - good for meat
Champion - broad range of everything
Corte Ingles - Often has things that you miss from home
There are shops in every district in Bilbao, but these 2 are specially "shopping-targets".
In the part of Gran Via between Plaza Moyua and Plaza Circular you will find all those big chains one after the other: Promod, Zara, Mango... as well as El Corte Ingles.
The Casco Viejo has always been a shopping area - most of its streets still carry the names of shops: Sombrerería (Hats shop), Lotería. Nowadays it still houses many "independent" traditional shops, as well as many other chains. Lots of shoe shops also.
Guggenheim, as many other museums, has a gift shop; there you can find all kind of stuff allied with the art collections.
El Guggenheim, como muchos otros museos, tiene su tienda de regalos; allí pueden encontrar todo tipo de artículos relacionados con las obras de arte expuestas.
What to buy: This gift shop let me carry "Le café, le soir" by Van Gogh on my hair!
Esta tienda de regalos me permite llevar "Le café, le soir" de Van Gogh en mi cabello!!!!