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Bilbao + Basque Country nightlife

Bars that serve pintxos (the Basque word for "tapas") are more than just great places to get an inexpensive meal—they're the center of this region's social life. Gathering with friends and hopping from one bar to another is the local nightlife tradition. Most pintxos bars have at least one house specialty or category, so you can sample one or two dishes at each location, accompanied by a caña (a glass of draft beer), a zurrito (a half-glass of beer), or a txikito (a small glass of wine). Those on a liquid diet will prefer the more intense practice known as a txikiteo—a pub crawl where the only thing ingested is alcohol. As many as 30 shots of wine can be downed in one outing (white txakoli in the afternoon, and red Rioja in the evening—there are some standards, after all).

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Altxerri Bar & Jazz, San Sebastián

The street level is an art gallery featuring the work of up-and-coming painters, sculptors, and photographers, but the lower level is one of San...more

Editors' Pick
Bar Txepetxa, San Sebastián

There's a variety of pintxos at this wonderful little Casco Viejo bar, but the real reason to come is to sample the ones made with anchovies. You may think you...more

Editors' Pick
Bataplán, San Sebastián

Locals describe Bataplán as "de toda la vida"—a classic that's been around their whole lives—and the younger ones, at least, are right....more

Editors' Pick
Bergara, San Sebastián

The almost rococo display of pintxos at this bar can be overwhelming—but luckily, you can pretty much close your eyes and point; every dish here is a...more

Editors' Pick
Corto Maltés, Bilbao

A cozy sliver of a bar, with a faintly nautical decor and a sound system piping in rock hits from the '70s and '80s, Corto Maltés packs in a diverse...more

Editors' Pick
Cotton Club, Bilbao

Harlem it ain't, but this Cotton Club is still a great place to dance. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, a clientele of twenty- and thirtysomethings comes...more

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El Eme, Bilbao

Over 50 years old, this place—currently run by the fourth generation of the same family—has a cheerful bar in its front room and an informal sit-down...more

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Kafe Antzokia, Bilbao

Housed in an old theater building, this place morphs from a restaurant and café frequented by students to one of Bilbao's best places to hear live...more

Editors' Pick
La Compañía del Ron, Bilbao

Known for its massive collection of rums from all over the world, this slim, dark bar has shelves cluttered with old bottles and walls plastered with vintage...more

Editors' Pick
La Cuchara de San Telmo, San Sebastián

Cuchara serves up the most sophisticated pintxos in town: tomatoes stuffed with ventresca (tuna belly) and bonito, crispy pig's ear with garbanzos, and creamy...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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