Bilbao Gay Travel Guide & Map 2021

Upcoming Events in Bilbao

|  7 – 9 July 2022
Bilbao BBK Live 2022: big annual Rock and Pop music festival and one of the best of its kind in Spain. Among others with the Pet Shop Boys.
@ Kobeta Mendi (Monte Cobetas)
|  20 – 28 August 2022
Aste Nagusia 2022: the Great Week of Bilbao with nine days of concerts, performances, fireworks, contests and many other activities in the Old Town (Casco Viejo) and other quarters of Bilbao.

Accommodation Tip

Hotel. ****, from 65 €
Uber-modern design hotel in the Old Town of Bilbao.
English, German, Spanish and Basque speaking staff at the front desk.
Raving guest reviews.
@ Erribera Kalea 13 (Calle de la Ribera)
Bilbao 48005
Metro: Zazpikaleak/Casco Viejo

About Bilbao and its gay life

Bilbao (also known as Bilbo in Basque) is located in the far north of Spain and, with almost one million inhabitants (including the periphery), is the fifth largest metropolitan area in Spain (after Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and Seville).

Bilbao is also the largest and most important city in the Basque Autonomous Community. Many Basques today attach great importance to their autonomy and identity, not least because of the suppression of Basque culture, language and traditions during the decades of Franco's right-wing dictatorship. Especially in the vicinity of Bilbao, many inhabitants speak explicit Basque, a language that bears no resemblance to Spanish or other Romance languages. In Bilbao itself, however, Spanish is spoken a lot, and street names appear on maps and in the streetscape sometimes in Basque and sometimes in Spanish. (On our website, we use the Basque street names, with the Spanish version in parentheses after them).

For centuries, iron and the nearby sea have shaped the development of Bilbao and the Basque Country. Iron, which was already mined here by the Romans, was the basis for the industrial boom of the region since the end of the 19th century, making it one of the most developed regions in Spain. The houses and stores of the wealthy bourgeois upper class of that time (for example, in the right section of Gran Vía in Bilbao) still bear witness to this today.

Many jobs here are still directly or indirectly linked to the iron industry, but Bilbao also couldn't avoid crises and structural change. However, Bilbao has managed to turn this change to its advantage in a very positive way. What was once a largely charmless industrial and port city has become a city that is making a name for itself with its extraordinary architecture. Despite initially great skepticism among the population, the now world-famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao by star architect Frank Gehry was built in the 1990s on a former port site, attracting a million art and architecture enthusiasts to Bilbao every year. Together with other projects such as Norman Foster's new metro stations or Santiago Calatrava's Zubizuri Bridge, the Guggenheim Museum has led to an upvaluation of Bilbao, which in turn has had a lasting impact on the city's overall dynamism, creativity and atmosphere. (Internationally, such a development is now even referred to as the ›Guggenheim effect‹).

Bilbao also has an active gay and lesbian scene. The options for going out may be limited, but the bars and clubs are quite busy on weekends, when Bilbao becomes the gay epicenter for the entire northwest of Spain.

Most gay bars, clubs and cáfes are located in the Old Town of Bilbao and in the so-called San Francisco quarter (above the street San Frantzisko Kalea).

As is very common in Spain, most people do not stay long in one and the same bar, but move on to the next one after 1-2 hours. For example, a Saturday night could start in a restaurant or in one of the many pintxos bars (similar to Spanish tapas bars) in the Old Town, then it's off to a bar and later to a club for dancing.

Annual highlights and queer events in Bilbao are the LGBTQ film festival Zinegoak in March, the Bilbao Gay Pride (Bilbao Bizkaia HARRO) in June and the city festival Aste Nagusia in August.