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Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Bilbao to Portugalete

Sanman

Walking for Nature
Time of past OR future Camino
Le Puy, Francis, Portugal, Norte, West Highland W,
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
 
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I've never stopped at the Guggenheim so can't help you there, but I have walked the "river route" three times on that section... that route is as described, walking mostly on a river bike/walking path next to the river on one side and apartment buildings, auto repair shops, etc. on the other... it's not bad, it's flat and pretty short. It's not great either... BUT personally I do rather enjoy the giant red ferry thing that takes you across the river again at

Portugalete.​

 
Last edited:
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?


Hi! I actually live along the river route to Portugalete and have walked that way many times. It's nothing special, as you've read, but it's not long. When I did the Norte, I spent the morning in Bilbao showing a fellow walker around, had lunch and then walked to Portugalete via the river, and took the Puente Colgante (hanging bridge) across - it's a pretty cool bridge! We arrived on the evening and it was a pleasant day.

I've done the other route as well but don't have many memories of it, so that might tell you something!

If you decide not to walk, I would suggest taking the metro from Bilbao. Quick, efficient and award winning metro service! There are 2 lines - one for either side of the river. If you took one on the opposite side from Portugalete, you could visit one of the beaches, explore the neighborhood called Las Arenas (this is where I live, so I'm a bit biased!) , then take the bridge across.

Or take the metro line straight to Portugalete - 15-20 minutes and you're there!

With respect to the Guggenheim, I'd give yourself some time to walk around the outside as that's quite a lovely area and the building itself is the highlight for most. In terms of paying to go in, I'd have a look at what exhibitions will be on when you're here and then decide of it's worth the money. It's a modern art museum so it depends on your taste. I've been 3 times - hated it once when the exhibitions were basketballs and vacuum cleaners, but loved it the other 2 times when different artists were displayed.

I hesitate to estimate how long you'd need - the first time I was in there less than an hour but another time I was there almost 3. Depends on the exhibition and how you like to explore museums, I suppose.

Happy planning!!
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
Give yourself a minimum of 2 hours for the Guggenheim. It's not particularly large in terms of exhibits but you may want to spend some time with some pieces without people standing in front of you. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Archaeological Museum are also worth a visit!

I haven't walked the Norte yet so I can offer no opinions on it.

 
I've never stopped at the Guggenheim so can't help you there, but I have walked the "river route" three times on that section... that route is as described, walking mostly on a river bike/walking path next to the river on one side and apartment buildings, auto repair shops, etc. on the other... it's not bad, it's flat and pretty short. It's not great either... BUT personally I do rather enjoy the giant red ferry thing that takes you across the river again at Portuaguete.
Thx Damien - really appreciate the feedback, buen camino!
 
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Hi! I actually live along the river route to Portugalete and have walked that way many times. It's nothing special, as you've read, but it's not long. When I did the Norte, I spent the morning in Bilbao showing a fellow walker around, had lunch and then walked to Portugalete via the river, and took the Puente Colgante (hanging bridge) across - it's a pretty cool bridge! We arrived on the evening and it was a pleasant day.

I've done the other route as well but don't have many memories of it, so that might tell you something!

If you decide not to walk, I would suggest taking the metro from Bilbao. Quick, efficient and award winning metro service! There are 2 lines - one for either side of the river. If you took one on the opposite side from Portugalete, you could visit one of the beaches, explore the neighborhood called Las Arenas (this is where I live, so I'm a bit biased!) , then take the bridge across.

Or take the metro line straight to Portugalete - 15-20 minutes and you're there!

With respect to the Guggenheim, I'd give yourself some time to walk around the outside as that's quite a lovely area and the building itself is the highlight for most. In terms of paying to go in, I'd have a look at what exhibitions will be on when you're here and then decide of it's worth the money. It's a modern art museum so it depends on your taste. I've been 3 times - hated it once when the exhibitions were basketballs and vacuum cleaners, but loved it the other 2 times when different artists were displayed.

I hesitate to estimate how long you'd need - the first time I was in there less than an hour but another time I was there almost 3. Depends on the exhibition and how you like to explore museums, I suppose.

Happy planning!!
Thank you for such a detailed answer, much appreciated. I think i will look into the "award winning" metro and start early, planning a 30km walk Castro Urdiales. And i will take you advice on the Guggenheim as you're right it all depends on your interests. Thx again - very very helpful.
 
Give yourself a minimum of 2 hours for the Guggenheim. It's not particularly large in terms of exhibits but you may want to spend some time with some pieces without people standing in front of you. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Archaeological Museum are also worth a visit!

I haven't walked the Norte yet so I can offer no opinions on it.

Thx K-Lynn and thank-you for the added suggestions, i will add them to my to do list. Really appreciate you answering and the feedback!
 
While Guggenheim is cool structurally and visually from the outside, we did not find it really great on the inside. There was a cool car show kind of exhibit this summer inside, but compared to the Sophia Reina museum in Madrid, the modern art exhibits are very limited. Glad we went once, but would skip it in the future other than maybe pictures outside.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Enjoy the Norte! I've never walked it but have my heart set on it for the next Camino with my husband. We have, however, spent some time in Bilbao after being waylaid from a stage of the Camino Frances by injuries in 2012. I very much concur with the Guggenheim advice from WestKirsty, K_Lynn, and J Willhaus.

The architecture is a delight. The exhibits can be hit and miss, so your time there can vary greatly. The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao? An absolute gem. We spent longer there than at the Guggenheim, surprisingly. It has classics from El Greco juxtaposed with modern Basque paintings, all housed in a lovely building. I found it a very enjoyable window into the region and would highly recommend it for some museum time, if you end up having enough to split or spare.
 
The architecture is a delight. The exhibits can be hit and miss, so your time there can vary greatly. The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao? An absolute gem. We spent longer there than at the Guggenheim, surprisingly. It has classics from El Greco juxtaposed with modern Basque paintings, all housed in a lovely building. I found it a very enjoyable window into the region and would highly recommend it for some museum time, if you end up having enough to split or spare.
I agree about the Museo de Belles Artes! It's a good one! Just a heads up though that they are just starting an expansion project on the building. I don't know how long construction will last but they will move everything to the old part of the buidling so it can still be visited. The good news is admission will be free for as long as the renovation project takes. Again, not sure how long that will be but perhaps until well into next year? You can check the website for updates.
 
While Guggenheim is cool structurally and visually from the outside, we did not find it really great on the inside. There was a cool car show kind of exhibit this summer inside, but compared to the Sophia Reina museum in Madrid, the modern art exhibits are very limited. Glad we went once, but would skip it in the future other than maybe pictures outside.
While Guggenheim is cool structurally and visually from the outside, we did not find it really great on the inside. There was a cool car show kind of exhibit this summer inside, but compared to the Sophia Reina museum in Madrid, the modern art exhibits are very limited. Glad we went once, but would skip it in the future other than maybe pictures outside.
Well the good news is we're flying in and out of Madrid and it's on the list.
Thx for the feedback, much appreciated J.
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
Enjoy the Norte! I've never walked it but have my heart set on it for the next Camino with my husband. We have, however, spent some time in Bilbao after being waylaid from a stage of the Camino Frances by injuries in 2012. I very much concur with the Guggenheim advice from WestKirsty, K_Lynn, and J Willhaus.

The architecture is a delight. The exhibits can be hit and miss, so your time there can vary greatly. The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao? An absolute gem. We spent longer there than at the Guggenheim, surprisingly. It has classics from El Greco juxtaposed with modern Basque paintings, all housed in a lovely building. I found it a very enjoyable window into the region and would highly recommend it for some museum time, if you end up having enough to split or spare.
Sounds like our "cup of tea"; thx so much we will check it out Ialaone!
 
This Spring, we walked from Zamudio through Bilbao to Portugalete and enjoyed the walk. We stopped for an early lunch in Bilbao and had our hands down best tortilla ever (some sort of savory chicken style), so we were in a great mood as we walked along the river. The transporter across the river was unique and fun. We stayed in Portugalete that night and enjoyed it.
We came back to Bilbao after our time was done and spent a half-day in the Guggenheim. I agree with most of the comments here - if modern art isn't your thing, the outside is much better than what's inside. But I'm glad to say I've done it - I probably won't do the inside again if I find myself back in Bilbao.
 
This Spring, we walked from Zamudio through Bilbao to Portugalete and enjoyed the walk. We stopped for an early lunch in Bilbao and had our hands down best tortilla ever (some sort of savory chicken style), so we were in a great mood as we walked along the river. The transporter across the river was unique and fun. We stayed in Portugalete that night and enjoyed it.
We came back to Bilbao after our time was done and spent a half-day in the Guggenheim. I agree with most of the comments here - if modern art isn't your thing, the outside is much better than what's inside. But I'm glad to say I've done it - I probably won't do the inside again if I find myself back in Bilbao.
Thx tjz really appreciate that perspective!
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
Depends on your tastes. The river walk is really interesting, if you like industrial archaeology. No, seriously, it tells a tale of Bilbao's period as an industrial power house. It's not very long and you get to actually ride on the Puente Colgante, which is cool. If you do decide to skip it, the Metro is the way to go. If you stay in the albergue in Portugalete (in the polideportivo) and there is a frail but dignified elderly gentleman called Carlos there, ask him if ever met Pablo Neruda. The queues for the Guggenheim can be long, it is mainly a gallery space for exhibitions rather than a museum. We just admired it from the outside.
 
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
The first time through Bilbao I got lost several times. I didn’t have a GPX track. The second time I decided to walk around it and it was a straight shot. Here’s what I did. https://www.mapmywalk.com/workout/3544247302
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
It wasn't a memorable walk to say the least. I walked the shorter route along the estuary. I was excited to go to the museum and spend a day checking out the sites. I arrived late on Sunday and was tired and was staying an extra day. Next morning museum and just about everything was closed ugggggg. I would say check to see what special exhibits the museum has when you are there that may interest you. When I went there was an special Impressionist exhibit which I was psyched to see but of course couldn't.
 
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
I spent 2 days at the Guggenheim ❤️
 
It wasn't a memorable walk to say the least. I walked the shorter route along the estuary. I was excited to go to the museum and spend a day checking out the sites. I arrived late on Sunday and was tired and was staying an extra day. Next morning museum and just about everything was closed ugggggg. I would say check to see what special exhibits the museum has when you are there that may interest you. When I went there was an special Impressionist exhibit which I was psyched to see but of course couldn't.
Museums typically are closed Monday - check to see if the Guggenheim follows this
 
Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
I agree with most of what’s said here, especially @WestKirsty was spot on. When I was on the Norte in early May, I was on the fence about walking to Portugalete. What clinched my decision not to walk was learning in Bilbao that San Juan de Gaztelugatxe had just re-opened a couple of days earlier. I had seen photos in my research but decided not to go because it was closed and you could only view from a distance. Hearing that it had re-opened, I then decided to stay an extra night in Bilbao and take a bus to Bakio to see it. One of the highlights of my Camino! I then had time in the afternoon to enjoy more of Bilbao, including (outside only) of Guggenheim and several of the other beautiful historical buildings and fabulous food there. Having used an extra day for that, it seemed smart to take the Metro the following day. I went to Getxo on the east side of the river and then took the Puente Colgante to Portugalete - and that was very cool as well. I will say that the next several kms after that weren’t great walking either, until La Arena.
 
I've seen both the Bellas Artes and the Guggenheim. The Guggenheim is one of the best modern buildings of its period and a walk around it is well worth the trip to Bilbao. But if I had to choose, it would be hands down for the Bellas Artes, which has a collection which will tell you a lot about Spain, and the Basque country.

As far as Portugalete goes, take the metro, and go on the mobile bridge. If you have a half day for lounging about, the beaches at Arenas and Gorrrondatxe are worth the excursion.

 
Self-guided 4-7 day Walking Packages, Reading Abbey to Southampton, 110 kms
It wasn't a memorable walk to say the least. I walked the shorter route along the estuary. I was excited to go to the museum and spend a day checking out the sites. I arrived late on Sunday and was tired and was staying an extra day. Next morning museum and just about everything was closed ugggggg. I would say check to see what special exhibits the museum has when you are there that may interest you. When I went there was an special Impressionist exhibit which I was psyched to see but of course couldn't.
Thx very much for your info and the link , much appreciated!
 
One more pilgrim opinion on this: I was in Bilbao this June on a del Norte/Primitivo camino. My plan was to get close to Bilbao the previous day, have most of the next day and the morning of the following one to put my tourist hat on, with special focus on the Guggenheim. I stayed at Lezama, one of the close options, and was in the Bilbao old town by 10 the following morning. Spent 4 hours at the G and that was barely enough. There is so much to see on the outside, and I also loved the wildly sinuous internal architecture. Each to her/his own of course. The dizzying experience of walking through the Richard Serra installation was weird and fun. But there’s so much more to Bilbao and it felt I’d done a regular Camino day’s walking when I finally called time on my wandering late in the afternoon. The food was good too.
The next morning the combination of a little light misty rain and itchy feet was irresistable and I started back on the trail. Went down the east side of the river and quite enjoyed it. Almost all paved, nicely integrated with the river in some places, but it’s not that long, and evidence of earlier maritime ativity is interesting if you’re that way inclined.
I too recommend the colgante hanging bridge at Portugalete. From there took the more coastal alternative (got a bit lost on that leg but would still recommend it) to beautiful La Arena, and with a queue at the Pobena albergue, walked on to Onton, which we didn’t regret.
Bilbao didn’t disappoint. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Buen camino!
 
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I have walked the route twice...both times fund it fairly easy. But whatever you do (bus or walk) I would strongly suggest making sure you cross the river using the Transporter Bridge at Portugalete. Its very different, a bit of fun and quite cheap. You can, if you wish, actually climb up to the top and walk across the top of the whole bridge. I have done both and enjoyed both.
 
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
I walked the Norte this last April and to be honest, this stretch was the worst for me. Having had several days amongst the hills and the countryside, the city came as a shock to me. I was also the only pilgrim in the hostel, which didn't help.
I couldn't wait to leave the next morning and walked the longer, more 'picturesque' route to Portulagete.
Once out of the city, I was back amongst the hills and eucalyptus trees for about 8kms but then the route entered the longest stretch of never ending concrete I've ever walked along.
Next time I'm back there I'll take the route along the river and the bridge. Whether you take the Metro or walk,I can't recommend taking the longer route!
I had planned to explore the city, or even take a rest day there but there had been so few people on the Camino up to then that I found the busy streets were too much for me. But I'm not a city person.
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
It's nice walking along the river. The best part is that about half way to Portugalete, on the right side of the road, there is a small Chinese restaurant that has delicious food. I walked in 2021 when there were only 2 or 3 pilgrims per day on the Norte. The largest number I saw in one day was 6. The restaurant was desperate for customers. A Chinese lady, the owner, was outside the restaurant inviting anyone she saw. At that point, I was craving for any vegetables other than tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, and onions. I pointed mushroom photos on the menu and wanted only that. After some loud discussion in the kitchen, she brought me a plateful of delicious cloud mushroom and pork dish. I enjoyed it so much, I plan to walk that route again just so I can order the same dish.

Guggenheim is one of my favorite museums. The whole building and surroundings are art pieces.

1664661910791.jpeg
 
Hi, we're walking Norte in April (2023) to Muxia.
Based on some of what i have read and seen it seems that the walk from Bilbao to Portugalete (along the water or thru the town) is residential and industrial.
We will be walking 5-6 weeks so i have no issue skipping this and hopping on a bus...but i'm interested in what others on this Forum feel about this "day" - boring? dull? or worth the walk?
I'm not looking for "walk every day, never skip a town" sort of feedback, I'm an experienced walker... rather, is it worth walking in your opinion or not...and if the latter where did you catch a bus or train or taxi
Thx so much
...one more thing, how many hours to visit the Guggenheim?
I walked this section with my sister in 2019 - precovid. We actually started from a small place outside and walked through Bilbao. So we actually had a long day. Some were catching the bus into the city. Next time I'd stay in the city. Yes, the river walk isn't the most attractive, but the bridge/ferry crossing at the end is utterly unique. The walk itself is flay and easy. The Norte has other sections in and out of the larger cities that aren't the best, industrial/suburban, but to me, that's what it is walking Caminos. In the end it's your choice.
 
Since other people seem to like the "bridge/ferry" thingy too, I looked it up!

It's a historical site (I had no clue!) It was partially destroyed during the Spanish Civil War, and as another poster noted, you can walk across the top! Now this last part is intriguing but gives me anxiety! I mean sometimes I get a little freaked out by escalators in shopping malls and walking info Ribadeo is always "head down", but now I have to do it! Yay, another excuse to walk the Norte!

 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
Be sure to get the larger 700 stamp at the shop by the bridge - Portugalete is celebrating its 700th anniversary. https://tourism.euskadi.eus/en/tour...lebrates-its-700th-anniversary/aa30-12375/en/. Also we stayed an extra day to explore the area and rode the little green boat across too -- just walk a bit past the bridge and you'll see it going back and forth -- it's what the locals take across for 5 cents less than the hanging bridge thing.

1664800661303.jpeg
 
I shall be walking this stage on Saturday. I had been thinking about taking the longer route via Cruces because it has a couple of climbs but it sounds like it's even more urban later on. The bridge sounds fun though!
 

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