angle-left The Puente Colgante, Bizkaia’s triumphal arch

Back in the days of Maria Christina, Queen of Spain and regent until her son Alfonso XIII was crowned, Portugalete and Getxo needed to be connected without blocking boat traffic . Before the Bizkaia Bridge was built, more than 500,000 people used to cross the river Ibaizabal by boat.

In response to the people’s demands, the Puente Colgante was built following the design by architect Alberto Palacios. It was the first wrought-iron suspension bridge in the world. The giant structure connecting Getxo to Portugalete opened on 28 July 1893.

The idea of building a transporter bridge was brilliant. Travellers would not need to worry about cargo or boat traffic. Furthermore, the construction costs were reasonable and the users would be able to cross at any time of the day all year round. The structure consists of four wrought-iron pillars connected by a 160m-long crossbeam with a clearance of 45m. Vehicles are ferried back and forth on a 25m-long hanging gondola that runs on 36 wheels.

In the late nineteenth century, the Ría de Bilbao river estuary witnessed a golden age of economic expansion. The 25km iron ore vein in Bizkaia was a source of wealth. The mineral extracted from the left bank was sold abroad as shipbuilders, steel mills and banks flourished. The Bizkaia Bridge became an iron symbol of the nineteenth-century Industrial Revolution.

Routes

Your scenic route by car goes from Pobeña, in Muskiz, to Getxo. Start at La Arena beach, which adds a touch of magic to the coastal landscape in Zierbena. Follow the Itsaslur Green Way, running by the sea. You will complete the walk in two hours. In Zierbena, the salty whiff of the port will take you to the bars. Take a short stroll along the seashore and take a look at the Port of Bilbao.

Follow the Fire and Salt Route by car from Pobeña to the Old Port in Getxo

Road N-630 will lead you to Santurtzi, a busy town, especially at weekends. Continue on this road toward Portugalete, following the mighty river Ibaizabal.

Across the Puente Colgante, you and your car will be on the other bank of the river in one minute.

Once in Getxo, park your car and walk from the wharf of Txurruka to the streets of the Old Port, or Puerto Viejo. It will take you two hours to go from the Neguri quay to the marina in Getxo, Ereaga beach and, finally, the picturesque Puerto Viejo in Algorta. The whole walk is a delight.

How To Get There

There is more than one way to get to the Bizkaia Bridge. Parking in the streets is possible at a fare, except on Saturday afternoon, Sunday and public holidays, when it will cost you nothing. There is an underground station close by, but the bus stop is even closer to the bridge.

  • Metro underground

    Areeta Station on line 1 (L1) is close to the Bizkaia Bridge. The bridge structure is so big you cannot fail to see it. To get to Portugalete, on the other bank, get off at Peñota.

  • Bus

    Bizkaibus has numerous lines that run along Uribe Kosta: A-2151, A-3422, A-3451, A-2161, A-3338 and A-3472. The buses to Portugalete are A-3321, A-3323 and A-3135.

  • Car

    From Bilbao, take road N-637 and continue on BI-637 toward Getxo. On the coast, make a left on Avenida Zugatzarte, with the coastline to your right-hand side. Continue along the avenue toward your destination, right at the foot of the bridge.

Gastronomy

Where to eat

Both on the left and the right banks of the river you will find lots of places to eat. Getxo has a high concentration of bars under the canopied walkway you will find on your way to the bridge, as well as in the vicinity of the bridge itself. Ask for a couple of the tempting pintxos displayed on trays on the bar counters.

Accommodation

Where to sleep

In Portugalete and Getxo there are numerous accommodation facilities. On the left bank you will find hotels, hostels and B&Bs, while on the right bank stand luxury hotels, as it is one of Bizkaia’s most affluent areas.

  • You can cross the bridge along the walkway or enjoy a unique experience in the form of a gondola ride. Plus, you can go on a guided tour telling the history of the world’s older transporter bridge. Since December 2017, the Puente Colgante has been dog-friendly.
    In addition, you can do bungee jumping, an adventure sport that involves jumping from a tall structure – an adrenaline-fuelled dive, indeed. The Puente Colgante has a gift shop next to the ticket box office.

    Bizkaia Bridge
    Phone number: +34 944 801 012
    Email address: promocion@puente-colgante.com
    Website: http://puente-colgante.com/en/

    • Timetable

      From 1 June to 31 October, continuous service
      From 2 November to 31 May, night service on weekdays
      From Getxo: 12:00 midnight, 12:30am, 1:30am, 2:30am, 3:30am, 4:10am, 4:30am, 5:00am
      From Portugalete: 12:15am, 12:45am, 1:45am, 2:45am, 3:45am, 4:20am, 4:45am
      Lifts: 10:00am-7:00pm

    • Price

      Gondola: Fares range from €0.40 for passengers on foot to €7 for large vehicles
      Footbridge: Standard admission (€6 to €10). Guided tour €45

    • Location

      Getxo and Portugalete

  • If you are planning to cross the bridge on foot, remember you will be 61m high and the wind up there can make it feel much colder. Bring warm clothes, especially in winter. The floor on the upper walkway is safe and reliable; however, you should wear comfortable footwear.