Bilbao is along a river about 20 minutes upstream from the coastal towns of Portugalete and Getxo. Conveniently for us, the metro runs from downtown Bilbao out to both towns, so on a beautiful Friday morning we purchased a 24-hour subway pass and started exploring Portugalete. From the metro station we wandered through the side streets to the Basílica Santa María de Portugalete, which offers a beautiful view of the famous Vizcaya Bridge.
The bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features a gondola that holds 6 cars and up to 200 people, hanging by cables from a steel structure. It’s a clever way to get from one side of the river to the other without blocking passage for ships, and at 45 cents one way on foot, it makes a fun 3 minute ride!
Now on the Getxo side, we made our way to Camino de las Grandes Villas. I peeked inside a large church and found quite a modern interior.
Parroquia Nuestra Señora de las Mercedes
For the next two hours we strolled along the beach boardwalk enjoying the beautiful historical mansions built in the early twentieth century. There were many people out and about, rollerblading, biking and strolling like us.
Our feet were getting a bit tired, so we headed uphill to San Nicolas Plaza to grab a snack.
We found outdoor seating at Nikkou (a sushi bar) just up from the main square where I got salmon balls and a crisp white wine. Not long afterwards we heard bagpipes…
A Galician band! :) They played for about 10 minutes and then marched on. What a wonderful surprise!
The afternoon sun was quite strong, so after lunch we went back to Bilbao to find some shade.
Later that day we returned to Getxo for a quick stop at a beer shop that would be closed the following day, followed by a lovely sunset along the boardwalk.
We definitely got our value from the 24-hour subway pass, and would happily return to Getxo in the future.