My unexpected Basque Country adventure was surprising, spontaneous and satisfying. A country often forgotten by backpackers, many succumbing to the fact that it’s been swallowed by the Kingdom of Spain. After my previous 5 trips to Spain, it was the political and cultural differences of flambouyant Barcelona (Catalonia), dreamy Donostia and inspiring Valencia that gave me a new sense of wonder. After a brace of nights in Donostia (San Sebastian) I headed to Bilbao.
Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque and it punches out more than it sucks in. One thing though – Bilbao will reel you in. It’s a remarkably beautiful city. Collapsing into valleys, crossing rivers, a classic old town meets a clean new city.
Locals are friendly to the core. Everyone will speak to you here in Bilbao. It’s a truly relaxing city where the high paced lifestyle in places like Madrid and Barcelona slows down a notch.
I met three Spanish ladies in Donostia and they had a car so we shared a lift to Bilbao and I found the cosy Akelarre Hostel online so I booked in here. This is the place you should aim to stay when backpacking Bilbao in the Basque Country. Here are five reasons why I loved this hostel.
1. Pristine Dorms
Dorm rooms here are cosy and pristine. I was in room 3 and the decor and colours were red and black, just like AFC Bournemouth my football team. Homely.
2. Fast WiFi
You might have read that I was in Tunisia and Algeria struggling to get online and get my work done. It was quiet and peaceful for me here at Akelarre Hostel. I could get online and the WiFi even worked in my dorm!
3. Free Breakfast
OK so South America was cool because every hostel provides breakfast as standard. Here in Europe however, not so. This was a mega bonus to learn that Akelarre Hostel includes breakfast. Even better there was tea and coffee free all day.
4. Clean Bathrooms
Ok so I wont bore you with the entire story but when I arrived in Bilbao I hadn’t showered with soap for three days, I’d been wearing the same clothes for a week and I felt rough. None of it was my fault of course and the blame lay in the hands of four useless companies.
Between them Tunis Air, Air Algerie, Vueling and Swissport had treated me like sh*t. Four horrendous companies and all blacklisted to become shit airlines. I may go into that story in more detail sometime but without a backpack or knowledge of its whereabouts or even a phone call from any of those companies I was the smelliest backpacker in The Basque. Think of my delight when I saw the box in the bathroom of Akelarre Hostel – a “help yourself” box. Items for shower left by fellow travellers! Thanks guys. I was able to grab a shower gel and shampoo, get clean and feel fresher for my bus to Madrid.
5. Great Staff and Information
The staff here are very welcoming and I was greeted by Ainara the manager. A full map of the city is given on arrival with an explanation of where to check out. The information boards in the lounge even have bus timetables on them.
I loved my stay at Akelarre Hostel and hope you can all visit too. Bilbao is a rockingly trendy city. You might just fall in love with it. Here are the details:
Bilbao Akelarre Hostel
Calle Morgan 4-6, 48014, Deusto, Bilbao, Basque Country.
Here is a video from my dorm room: