All about the Artxanda Funicular in Bilbao, Spain

The Artxanda Funicular is one of the must-do activities in the wonderful city of Bilbao, located at 100 kilometres from San Sebastian. This classic cable car takes you up Mount Artxanda to a breathtaking viewpoint overlooking the city. This is a relaxing activity for the whole family and a nice start to visiting beautiful Bilbao!
 
Did you know that Bilbao is the fourth largest city in Spain, after Madrid, Barcelona, and Valencia?

What to see?

View of Bilbao from the Funicular de Artxanda lookout

From the lookout platform at about 250 metres, you can see the impressive and ever so industrial city, its river, and the lush green mountains that stand above. A truly fantastic sight! 

From the platform you can see different points such as the Guggenheim Museum, modern buildings like the Iberdrola Tower, and the airport. Look out for the spot where the river meets the sea; it is an interesting sight to see from above.

At the top of the mountain you will find a park, restaurant, hotel, and a sports complex.

How to get there?

Guggenheim museum, Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum is within walking distance from the funicular - a lovely stroll along the Nervion river and across the famous Zubizuri Bridge. During the weekend, when it is nice outside, you can see the crowds of walkers from above. 

From the Zubizuri bridge it is only a little further straight along to the funicular (Funikularreko Plaza). Both the museum and funicular are excellent starting points to a great or weekend in Bilbao!

You can also get to the funicular with the metro from the Abando and Moyua stations, which are each about a kilometre walking distance away.

A brief history of the Bilbao Funicular 

Funicular Artxanda

The history of the Bilbao Funicular is similar to that of the Igueldo cable car in San Sebastian (1912). In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, la Belle Epoque, many visited Bilbao's Artxanda mountain to relax and have fun. There was a casino and several bars and restaurants where people came with family or friends.

Connecting the city centre to Mount Artxanda is a project that began as an idea between 1901 and 1912 to 1915. It was inspired by the funicular in San Sebastian, including the remarkable speed of 8 kilometres per hour!

Funicular Bilbao

There have also been some difficult periods during the 100-year+ history of the funicular (1915-2016); it has been forced to close on multiple occasions. It was first damaged by bombings during the Spanish Civil War. In 1978, there was an accident in which a wagon fell down, interrupting the funicular's services until it was fully renovated in 1983. Then, the same year, Bilbao was hit by terrible floods, which also affected the cable car.

A bite to eat with a view of Bilbao

Zicht op Bilbao vanaf Artxanda mountain

Fortunately, these problems are behind us today and both locals and tourists can have fun enjoying the panoramic views thanks to the cable car. Local residents come here on the weekends with a picnic basket in hand

For those who would prefer to discover the Basque gastronomy wining and dining, we have a great restaurant recommendation. Once at the top of the mountain, one of the most famous restaurants in Bilbao is only a short walk away. Txakoli Simon (Camino de San Roque 89) is renowned for its excellent grilled meat (€39 menu) - a personal coal barbecue will even presented at your table

Opening hours and prices

Funicular Bilbao

The Artxanda Funicular functions just like a regular city lift on weekdays from 7:15 to 22:00.

On holidays it operates from 8:15 to 22:00, and in the summer months (June, July, August, and September) until 23:00.

There is a cable car departure every 15 minutes, and even more frequently when it is very busy in order to prevent large queues from forming. Up to 70 people can go in each cable car. The ride itself covers over 770 metres and takes three minutes, with a maximum incline of 45°. 

Funicular station, Bilbao

You can just buy your ticket from the departure station (Funikularreko Plaza). The price for a standard return ticket is €0.95. Rides are free to holders of the Bilbao Bizkaia card. Dogs may ride the funicular as long as they stay on a leash. Smoking inside is strictly prohibited.

A final tip: try to go up the cable car on a clear day if possible. The Basque Country is known for its changing weather, so a cloudy sky can clear up quickly, and vice versa! 

Looking for more to do in Bilbao? Check out our article on visiting the Mercado de la Ribera Market.

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