When you visit Bilbao in Spain, you’ll probably want to explore the city and see the Guggenheim Museum. What would you say if I’ll tell you that booking a Pintxos Food Tour in Bilbao is an absolute must? I’ll explain to you why joining a Bilbao Food Tour is so important and what benefits you’ll get (besides yummy Basque food of course).
It doesn’t matter if you’ll visit Bilbao for a short weekend break as I did, or you’ll have more time to explore the Basque Country in Spain. You do have to eat and in this region, pintxos is the name of the game! But what is it? And where can you get it? What is the proper etiquette and where to find the very best places, where all the locals flock? I’ll explain in this post, my quick answer to all these questions and my review of the Bilbao food tour I joined! Are you hungry? Let’s go.
I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All opinions are my own and based on my own experiences.
Probe around the Globe does use affiliate links. If you decide to follow one of my links and make a purchase, I’ll earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you.
A weekend break to Bilbao Spain
Recently, I hopped on a flight for a quick weekend city break. I was hoping for some nice sunny weather, culture and good food. As you know by now, I’m a big fan of Spain. But Bilbao was a corner of the country I had not discovered before. So off I went.
I arrived in Bilbao and headed straight to the Guggenheim museum. After that was ticked off, I wanted to explore more of the city and grab a bite to eat.
My hotel was located in the old part of town and walking around there, I stumbled across many bars, restaurants and pintxos bars. Each one looked equally appealing so I had no idea where to start.
What to eat in Bilbao Spain?
Bilbao is the largest city in the Biscay region and the Basque country. Therefore, all food in Bilbao is heavily influenced by the Basque kitchen.
But as a tourist, visiting the city for a couple of days, you’ll probably want to eat some pintxos and experience the culture of eating pintxos. Obviously, other food is also available. You can find plenty of restaurants for a sit-down, full-plate meal. But you can have those anywhere and now you’re in Bilbao. So Pintxos it is!
What are Pintxos?
Pintxos are the Bilbao answer to tapas. Some people also write is as “Pinchos”. These small dishes are usually ordered with a drink. The most famous pintxos are served on a piece of bread with a cocktail stick inside them.
Hence the name, as Pintxos means: to pinch (together).
Pintxos can be hot or cold dishes. Ranging from a stick of olives with sardines and peppers to elaborate haute-cuisine meat, fish, and cheese, pinched together on a slice of bread.
Similar to tapas, you can order plates to share, like olives, potatoes, and a platter of sliced cold cuts. Or you’ll order a delicious little dish to devour on your own. The options are endless!
Luckily, the price of these small dishes is not that high. Ranging from 2 to 6 euros per pintxos, depending on the size of the meal and the ingredients. But, hopping from one bar to another, ordering a drink and pintxos in each bar, does add up quickly so be aware!
Why you should join a Food Tour in Bilbao
Now, to tell you the truth, the whole process of eating pintxos does sound quite straightforward. Doesn’t it?
Well… yes and no.
Of course, you can squeeze yourself into any pintxos bar, order a beer and point at any of the pintxos displayed on the counter and read them off the board. You’ll probably have a good bite and nothing goes wrong.
But where do you find the best pintxos bars in Bilbao? And how do you know what their famous dish is? And how to order it all?
I didn’t have to worry about all that, as I joined a Bilbao food tour!
Because as it turns out, there are certain bars in Bilbao, that serve the best cod fish pintxos. You wouldn’t want to miss that one if you like cod. And what about that specific Pintxos bar with the very best chorizo sausage hotdogs? I had to try them.
Pintxos Bilbao Food Tours
The answer to all this secret, insider information lies in the knowledgeable hands of the local guides that run the food tours in Bilbao. They have years of experience trying all the different Pintxos bars, their best dishes and drinks, and they know their way around the city.
Together with all that knowledge, a Pintxos tour in Bilbao takes your travel group to the old part of town in Bilbao, into the most popular pintxos bars, and makes choosing your food and drinks, and ordering it, a whole lot easier.
My review of the Bilbao Food Tour
I have done many food tours in Spain and other parts of the world. Each food tour is an amazing way to explore the city on foot and talk with like-minded travelers and locals about food.
It is the perfect way to get a taste of the best food and drinks their city has to offer.
And you don’t have to worry about finding it yourself, ordering it, and paying for it. You could say, I’m a huge fan of food tours.
But I have never been so happy to have booked a food tour, as I was with my food tour in Bilbao.
As I was walking around Bilbao by myself, I wondered what would be a good pintxos bar to eat at? And what should I order.
Luckily, by joining the Bilbao pinchos and wine-tasting tour of Tourné Bilbao, I didn’t have to guess!
Choosing a Pinchos Food Tour in Bilbao
I booked my Pintxos food tour online with GetYourGuide. As it so happened to be, there were limited options for my first night in Bilbao. But the tour I picked, had the highest rating of 4.9 out of 5 and I fully concur with that.
The tour operator Tourné Bilbao is actually a bicycle shop that rents bikes and runs bike tours around Bilbao. But one of their tours is a food tour I picked.
The meeting point was conveniently located close to the old town and I had no trouble at all finding it.
Do you wish to book the same pintxos food tour? Click here for dates, prices and to make your booking.
Of course, I only joined one food tour while I was in Bilbao, so I cannot comment on the quality of other food tour companies. But I would recommend choosing a tour that takes you to the old town of Bilbao.
What to eat on a Pintxos tour in Bilbao
Obviously, each tour is unique and with that many pintxos bars in Bilbao, it would be difficult to replicate the exact same tour each night. And why would you?
But to give you a bit of an impression of the foods and drinks we had on our food tour, I’ll share you my plates and dishes.
What to drink in Bilbao?
When you hop from one bar to the next, it is customary to order a new drink, and a pintxo each time!
Now, normally, I don’t drink more than 2, maybe 3 drinks a night. But on this tour, I wanted to try it all!
Most surprising was probably how much I liked the Kalimotxo. A mix of red wine (not the finest) and regular coke. It was easy to digest, not too sweet, and surprisingly refreshing!
One could argue that it is a waste of red wine, but I can see the appeal to drinking a mix on a hot summer’s eve and it matches well with any pintxos.
Do you prefer beers over mixed drinks or wine? Then Bilbao got you covered with their locally brewed home beer: Oro Bilbao. The beer has a bit of a red color and a hint of a bitter taste which tastes excellent with the savory pintxos dishes.
Another thing to try is the Basque cider, poured from a height into your glass for maximum bubbles and flavor!
I also wanted to try some wine in Bilbao and the food tour was great to accommodate that. We had a glass of Txakoli (or chacolí), a dry white wine with a minor sparkling to it. Luckily, the alcohol content of this wine was very low as I was starting to feel a bit tipsy by now.
What Pintxos to order?
We were with a very small group and the guide of our food tour was very accommodating to our wishes. I prefer meat over fish and someone in the group was allergic to shellfish also. But this was no problem.
The guide gave us several options for what we could eat next. Depending on our choice, he would find the right bar that serves the best of this dish. He also helped us navigate the board with all the different options.
Just a selection of the foods: fried baby squids and patatas bravas con aioli as sharing platters.
We also visited a shack in the wall that served amazing half-baguettes (so not just a slice of bread but really half a baguette). The best options were tuna or chorizo. I picked the chorizo but then there was a whole range of more options to choose from. It was really delicious!
From there we continued to a new bar for more traditional pintxos: the slice of white bread with delicious food on top pinched together with a toothpick. Options were vegan, fish, pork belly, and bbq pork in many variations. It was finger-lickin’ good!
At the end of the night, we had one final round of pintxos. The selection was the famous Spanish tortilla (a slice of savory egg and potato pie – not the Mexican tortilla) and some delicious vegetarian pintxos like goat cheese on sauteed onions. Or mushrooms with prawns and spicy oil.
As you can see, it was quite a variety of food. Both in portion size, sharing options, and vegan, vegetarian, and meat and fish options. At the end of the night, I was stuffed and had quite a buzz from all the food, and drinks!
…And that is why you should book a Bilba Pintxos Tour
Besides the interesting stories about Bilbao and the Basque country, and the small tour of the old city center, the tour proved to be a must-do experience for me.
Not only did I get some insider tips and information on going out for pintxos and how it all works in Bilbao, but I also had a great night out. Everything I learned on the first night, I could easily apply to my other food stops in the city.
I’m pretty confident to say I would not have been able to figure it all out on my own. Sometimes, all you need is a little help from a local food guide!
Are you hungry for some pintxos too? And are you craving to book the same pinchos and wine tour as I did? Look no further, just click this link, and book the same amazing tour as I did and fill your belly with pintxos!
Are you thinking of booking a trip to Bilbao? And wonder where to eat at night? Please consider a food tour as you’ll not regret it! Enjoy your pintxos!