Bilbao offers visitors a mix of brand name and local stores. The main shopping areas are located near the Plaza Moyúa, the Casco Viejo and the Gran Vía. The Plaza Moyúa is a good place to find brand name stores, while the Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s old town, is packed full of small boutiques, crafts and souvenir shops.
The most historic and well-known area for shopping in Bilbao is the Casco Viejo (Old Town), also known as Las Siete Calles, or the Seven Streets, the principal streets are: Somera, Tendería, Artekale, Belostikale, Carnicería Vieja, Barrenkale and Barrenkale Barrena. They are the original seven streets that composed the old city of Bilbao. Today it is a bustling pedestrian area of cobble stone streets, closed to car traffic and filled with charming shops and boutiques. Let yourself get lost in the maze and imagine yourself shopping in these streets a hundred years ago. You will encounter clothing, accessories, shoes, baby clothes, delicatessens, wine shops and even some classic hundred year old establishments that sell the local salted cod (a delicacy in Bilbao). This is also where the largest covered market Mercado de la Ribera can be found. If you like markets this area is best visited in the morning most of the activity takes place. Shop owners in the Casco Viejo take pride in their products and are happy to answer questions about products – from the fresh produce to handmade woven baskets to local souvenirs.
The Casco area is also filled with a wide selection of bars, restaurants and bakeries, in case amidst all the shopping you want to pop in and have a bite to eat or a café con leche with a freshly baked pastry.
Take note that many stores in the Casco Viejo will typically close for siesta time from about 2 to 4:30 p.m., when the shop owners take their lunch and break. If you happen to be in the Casco Viejo during lunch time you can always take advantage of the many restaurants and bars in Plaza Nueva to grab a bite to eat, or also pass the time visiting the museums, or churches including Cathedral of Santiago, or San Antón.
Crossing the Arenal bridge directly outside the Casco Viejo you will find the Ensanche area and the Gran Via. Also known as “The Golden Mile” for the high cost of property along this wide tree-lined boulevard you will find larger shops, residences, offices and financial institutions.
The street is also home to some beautiful building facades from the nineteenth century. The smaller side streets that are found along the Gran Via house stores and luxury brands. The ever present and popular clothing stores Zara, Mango, Blanco and Massimo Dutti are complimented by restaurants and bars to cater to the busy shoppers and office workers. Here you will also find El Corte Ingles, the mammoth chain department store of Spain, this seven floor labyrinth is home to everything from clothing to perfume, accessories and shoes to home appliances, kitchenware, toys and even a fully stocked grocery on the top floor. “El Corte” has generous shopping hours and will remain open during siesta time to about 9 in the evening, while prices are a bit higher than on the main street you do get the convenience of everything in one place.
Right off Plaza Moyua, halfway down the Gran Via, another pedestrian street leads us to Indautxu and Ercilla street. This area also has a wide variety of stores from jewelry shops, clothing, accessories, shoes and home goods. Along this street you will find coffee shops and bakeries that serve bollos de mantequilla (buttered sweet bread rolls), Carolinas (a type of meringue and tart from Bilbao), rice tarts and other typical sweets.