We undertook a day trip from Bilbao to Santander during our visit to the Basque Country/Cantabria in December 2012.
The two cities are around 90 minutes apart by road and are connected by regular buses throughout the day.
The following details were correct at the time of our visit. Obviously, certain information in this tip (particularly with regards to timetables and prices) is subject to change over time.
Bilbao – Santander
Buses leave from the Termibus bus station in Bilbao, which is located next to the San Mames metro station.
We caught a bus that was operated by ALSA at 9:30am on New Year's Eve (a Monday morning). On the morning that we travelled, buses were departing from Bilbao to Santander at 6:00am, 7:00am, 7:30am, 8:30am, 9:30am, 10:00am, 10:30am and 11:30am, then continuing at similar intervals throughout the day.
We purchased our tickets from an interactive ticket machine at the Termibus station two days in advance of our journey. The ticket machine was very easy to use, providing instructions in several languages and allowing passengers to reserve specific seats on specific buses, showing the price of each journey and the number of seats remaining on each bus. We needn't have purchased tickets in advance (at least not at this time of year) as the bus was only around one third full for the journey.
We were able to purchase tickets for the return journey from the same machine. Tickets were priced at €6.35 each way, although some of the buses were more expensive at €11 and €14. The more expensive buses showed a journey time of 75 minutes rather than 90 minutes, so I assume that, unlike our bus, they didn't stop at Laredo en-route. It certainly struck me as a big jump in price for the sake of saving 15 minutes!
Our bus (#11) left from bay number 7, right on time at 9:30am. The bus had commenced its journey in Irun and stopped at San Sebastian before arriving in Bilbao. It then included a stop at Laredo about half way between Bilbao and Santander. I got into trouble from the driver for taking a photo of the bus and the route displayed in its window. I'd seen him eyeing me suspiciously as I took a long range photo of the bus, and taking a close up photo of the front windscreen tipped him over the edge!
Having left Bilbao at 9:30am, we proceeded along some very scenic coastal roads, through green hills, with great views of the Atlantic Ocean and pretty towns such as Castro Urdiales, before winding our way down into the town of Laredo at around 10:10am. A few passengers alighted at Laredo and two further passengers boarded. We stayed at Laredo for around 10 minutes, leaving at 10:20am.
We arrived at Santander bus station at 10:58am; a total journey time of just under 90 minutes including the 10 minute stop in Laredo.
Santander's bus station is located very centrally, on Calle Navas de Tolosa, just a few minutes walk from Santander Cathedral, the seafront and the ferry terminal. The station contains cafes, souvenir shops, a book shop, toilets and luggage storage. There was a tourist information kiosk, but I'm not quite sure what purpose it served; a notice, in several languages, made it clear that the kiosk couldn't dispense city maps or help with any enquiries regarding transport timetables. We purchased a map from the souvenir shop instead.
Santander – Bilbao
We had already purchased our return tickets from the ticket machine in Bilbao's Termibus station, so we knew that we had to be back in time for the 5:00pm bus. The ticket price was again €6.35 and more expensive, slightly faster, alternatives had been available as per the outbound journey.
On the day that we travelled, New Year's Eve (a Monday), afternoon and evening buses were departing from Santander to Bilbao at 3:00pm, 3:45pm, 4:05pm, 5:00pm, 6:00pm and 7:05pm. I expect that buses run later into the evening when it's not a public holiday.
Our bus left from bay number 1 right on time at 5:00pm. The bus advertised free wi-fi; I tried in vain to get connected via my netbook, but gave up after 15-20 minutes.
We arrived in Laredo at 5:35pm, where quite a few passengers boarded. We left Laredo at 5:42pm and we were slightly ahead of schedule by my reckoning. But then chaos ensued...
We had been aware of some raised voices towards the front of the bus. A couple of passengers were exchanging words and were clearly in dispute about something. This continued for about 10 minutes or so, getting ever more heated and including more and more passengers. It looked as though they might come to blows at one point; one of the two men got up from his seat and was standing over the other man. The argument was taking place in Spanish, so I'm not entirely sure what it was about, but it seemed that one of the passengers (who was black) was accusing other passengers around him of being racist. The driver drove onto a service station forecourt, stopped the bus and appealed for calm. We were stationary for around 5 minutes, which caused much consternation amongst other passengers. When we set off again, the police had clearly been informed of the incident and were following the bus back to Bilbao bus station. Despite the delay, we still arrived back at Termibus station just before 6:30pm, at which point a couple of police officers boarded the bus and apprehended the man who, according to other passengers, had been the root cause of the fracas.
Thankfully the police weren't interested in getting witness statements from us (we were pretty bemused by the whole thing anyway!) so we were free to leave the bus.
We undertook a day trip from Bilbao to San Sebastian (Donostia) during our visit to the Basque Country in December 2012.
The two cities are a little over an hour apart by road and are connected by regular buses throughout the day.
The following details were correct at the time of our visit. Buses were operating on a timetable that ran from 1 September 2012 to 30 June 2013. Obviously, certain information in this tip (particularly with regards to timetables and prices) is subject to change over time.
Bilbao – San Sebastian (Donostia)
Buses leave from the Termibus bus station in Bilbao, which is located next to the San Mames metro station.
We caught a bus that was operated by PESA at 9am on a Sunday morning. On the day that we travelled, buses were departing every hour on the hour from 9am until 10pm (with the exception of 2pm where there was no bus departing). The timetable showed that on weekdays, buses departed roughly every 30 minutes (on the hour and at half past the hour) from 6:30am until 10pm. The timetable for Saturdays was the same as the one for Sundays, except that there was an earlier bus at 7:30am and a bus at 2pm.
We purchased our tickets from the PESA ticket counter at the Termibus station a day in advance. We needn't have purchased tickets in advance (at least not at this time of year) as the bus was only around half full for the journey. Our tickets entitled us to specific reserved seats (numbers 9, 10, 11 and 12).
Each ticket cost €10.60 for a one-way journey and we were advised that it was not possible to purchase return tickets; we'd have to purchase tickets in San Sebastian for the journey back to Bilbao.
Our bus left from bay number 3, right on time at 9am. The journey time to San Sebastian (Donostia) was around 1 hour and 10 minutes. The journey wasn't a particularly scenic one as it was mainly along a highway. I read somewhere that a more scenic route, along the coastal roads, would take about 3 hours.
When we arrived in San Sebastian we found that there was no bus terminal building; just a handful of parking bays next to Hotel Amara Plaza. We located the PESA ticket office (and a station cafe) about 50 metres away along the road into the city centre. It took us around 15-20 minutes to walk from the bus station to Playa de la Concha beach.
San Sebastian (Donostia) – Bilbao
We located the PESA ticket office a short walk from the bus station and purchased tickets for our return journey to Bilbao as soon as we arrived. We opted for the 7:30pm bus. Unlike the morning bus that we had caught, the evening bus back to Bilbao was pretty much full.
On the Sunday that we travelled, buses departed San Sebastian for Bilbao hourly (at half past the hour) from 8:30am to 8:30pm (except at 2:30pm) with a final bus at 10pm. The Saturday timetable was similar, but with an earlier bus at 7:30am and a bus at 2:30pm. The weekdays timetable was similar to the one from Bilbao to San Sebastian – with buses roughly every 30 minutes (on the hour and half past the hour) from 6:30am until 10pm.
The ticket was again priced at €10.60 for the journey back to Bilbao and the journey again took around 1 hour and 10 minutes.
As in the morning, our evening bus back to Bilbao left bang on time and got us back to Bilbao's Termibus station at around 8:40pm. There were no other stops en-route.
Not so much a transportation tip, but a where to park your car tip. The closest garage for parking your car near the Guggenheim museum is at the :
Juan de Ajuraguerra, 23,
It is situated on the main street leading to the museum and only 150 metres from it. Not cheap, as most parking lots are, but we paid 8€75 for 5 hours parking and it does save the turning round and round looking for somewhere.
This is the most important railway station in Bilbao.
I walked around the back of it and judged its size by the number of tracks I saw.
There's also an old steam train to be on the lookout for ... if your into train spotting ... which i seemed to be at the time of my visit.
The local bus system (Bilbobus) is modern and effective.
Though Bilbao is a small city, easy to walk around, it might be useful to go from one extrem of the Gran Via to the other or longer distances where Metro is not available.
If you wanna find which line is better to go where you want, take a look at:
P&O Ferries used to run a twice weekly service between Portsmouth and Bilbao. This was primarily a car and freight route which is busy in its own right and the company offers 3-day foot-passenger mini-cruises which are very reasonably priced as they use up the ship's spare capacity and boost onboard revenues.
The ship sailed from Portsmouth on Tuesday and Friday evenings, returning respectively on Fridays and Mondays. The first 36 hours are spent onboard until the ship docks at the port of Santurtzi about 8 am on day 3. Whilst the freight and cars are unloaded and the returning vehicles reloaded cruise passengers have about 5 hours ashore.
The company offers bus tours to the Guggenheim, the Old City and to the fishing village of Castro Urdiales whilst the more adventurous can get the Metro from Santurtzi into the city and do their own thing. The Metro runs roughly every 10 minutes with a journey time of about 20 and the return fare is about 3 Euros.
The ship then leaves port about 1 pm and takes about 30 hours to return to Portsmouth.
Onboard the ferry is spacious and there's plenty to do. There's three restaurants, several bars, games rooms, casino, tax-paid shopping, cinema, swimming pool and gym and when the weather allows deck chairs on the sun lounge. If you are lucky the Bay of Biscay offers opportunities for whale and dolphin spotting and the ship has a scientific officer who keeps a constant eye open for potential sightings.
Out of season cruises start from about £36 per person and even midsummer can be as little as £56. Bars and restaurants are reasonably priced (about what you'd pay back home) and for the serius drinkers there's nothing to stop you buying your booze at the tax-paid shop and just ask for a couple of glasses from one of the bars.
Unfortunately this service is scheduled to end in September 2010 but maybe one of the other ferry operators will step in to fill the gap.
UPDATE!! This route is due to be taken over by Brittany Ferries in March 2011 and knowing Brittany Ferries I'm sure it'll be a relaxing crossing - www.brittany-ferries.co.uk/routes/portsmouth-bilbao
To get to Bilbao from my home in the north of England, it was cheaper and more convenient for me to fly to Madrid from Liverpool, then from Madrid to Santander then get the bus to Bilbao! (A direct flight would have meant a long and expensive train to London then Stanstead)
My flight from Madrid cost 6 Euros! (inc taxes etc - Ryanair, hand luggage only and online check in)
The flight was less than an hour.
I picked up a map of Bilbao at the small tourist Info Office. I understood that there was a direct bus from Santander airport to Bilbao, but was told that I'd have to get a bus from the airport to Santander bus station in the city centre. (One was due in 5 minutes, and you purchased your ticket from the driver)
A bus pulled up, and a group queued to board, but the driver said you needed a ticket. One of the group was saying that the ticket office was closed, but the driver shut the doors and drove off. I wasn't sure if he just didn't like the look of this group.
I hung around for a bit longer, but then decided to get a taxi. I was quite shocked to find that the fare for the short journey was 18 Euros!!! I questioned this, but the taxi driver kept pointing to his meter 12 euro fare + 6 euros supplement (airport pick up and luggage (for my small case)
I later found out that the service bus from the airport was a couple of Euros-and the stop was a short walk from the arrivals area. The bus that had pulled up was from the ALSA company - you can pre book online, or purchase tickets when the desk is open)
(Yes, I should have done my homework!!)
I purchased a ticket for the journey to Bilbao, which cost 6.71 Euros for the 90 minute journey.
Bus 29 ALSA Bus Service.
There were a few stops before we arrived at the bus station in Bilbao, near the San Mames Stadium and RENFE train/metro station.
We left Bilbao on the FEVE railway to Santander, a marvellous three hour journey through the mountains.
Even if you're not using the railway the station is worth a look, and the cafe is a good place to eat.
Our first visit was to the funicular de artxanda, a couple of minutes ride up the steep hillside for ,great views over the city.
Head for Santo Domingo, 27, to find it.
Cost (Nov 2008) 1 Euro 72 for 2 people.
If on the other hand you mean the Ferry Terminal in Santurtzi, that will about 20-22 euros or so.
There is also a bus service by the public carrier BIZKAIBUS starting from Santurce park from 6:25 am till 22:25, every half an hour. Price for a single occasional ticket will be 1.25 euros, or 90 cents if you use a Credit Trans. You might like to buy a 5 euro Creditrans ticket which you can then use on any transport in Bilbao, including the Funicular Railway or the Hanging Bridge and prices work out cheaper. It simply keeps discounting the fare, if 2 of you get into the bus, just put it in twice.
Bus leaves from Santurce Park, out of the ferry terminal, turn first left outside, you should be in Calle de Puerto Pesquero, parallel to the railway tracks, walk along it until you come to street on the right that crosses over railway and you are in the Park. Bus will take you to the Gran Via in Bilbao, get off at the Gran Via 45 (Edificio Sota) and Guggenheim is a short walk away.
There is also a fast train service from Santurce to Bilbao centre station by RENFE, 21 minutes journey time. Train station is visible when you are walking to the park. On weekdays there is a train every 10 minutes. Once you are in Bilbao, you can take the rather touristic Tramline outsode the train station, which will not only drop you in front of the Guggenheim, but will allow you see otehr sights like the river, the Town Hall, the Calatrava Bridge, the Isosaki Towers, the Euskalduna, etc.
Being located in a valley, the city had to expand beyond the slopes of the hills that surround it. Thus, there is a system of funiculars and elevators that connect the city centre with neighbourhoods like Begoña or Artxanda.
Most of them offer great eye-bird views of the city, in particular the one from the top of the Artxanda Mount.
This is Easy, bus goes every 30 minutes from the airport to San Mames Bus Station, so plenty of time for many beers in the airport! Cost 1.10 euros... bargain! Beware on the round trip to the airport the bus does not leave from the bus station, it leave from the main round about in the centre of Bilbao (not far away, two stops via metro!)
If you are interested to visit San Sebastian from Bilbao... You can choose the train. The duration is around 2h40 mins.
You can see the Bilbao Station in the picture, it is located in Atxuri, Encarnación area. And the best way to arrive there is by tram because the first station is there.
If you are going to be traveling all around Bilbao you´ll probably have to take different transports.
If I were you I would buy a 5, 10 or 15€ Creditrans ticket depending on your needs.
The price of the travel will be dicounted from the ticket in each travel and more than one people can travel with the same ticket if you discount the credit from the Creditrans ticket.
You´ll pay less money for the same travel with the Creditrans.
It can be used with the following transports:
* Metro Bilbao
* Tranvia Bilbao
* Bilbo Bus
* Bizkai Bus
* Artxanda funicular.
* Hanging Bridge
* Lujua Buses
The Euskotren network is a predominantly commuter setup providing easy access into the centre of the town (focused on the station in the Casco Viejo with a metro interchange, but also running from Artxuri).
A word of warning, no destination maps are shown in the train carriages, so you have to pay attention to the stations!
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