Going out for drinks and pintxos is one of the chief forms of evening entertainment here. There is a good concentration of tapas bars on Calle Licenciado Poza, between Alameda del Doctor Areilza and Calle Iparraguirre, in the Ensanche neighborhood. Plaza Nueva in the Old Quarter is another good choice for bar-hopping. Café Bar Bilbao, Plaza Nueva, 6 (tel. 94-415-16-71; www.bilbao-cafebar.com), has a classic look and serves two very traditional pintxos that are perfectly executed: fresh anchovies wrapped around green olives, and bacalao al pil-pil.
If you’d rather dance and mingle than eat, one of the most popular spots is Cotton Club, Calle Gregorio de la Revilla, 25 (tel. 94-410-49-51; www.cottonclubbilbao.es), which bears little resemblance to its Harlem namesake. A DJ spins the latest tunes for a crowd in their 20s and 30s. The club is at its most frenzied on Friday and Saturday when it is open from 6:30pm to 6:30am. There is no cover; beer begins at 3€, whiskey at 6€.
The major cultural venue in Bilbao is the Teatro Arriaga Antzoika, Plaza Arriaga, 1 (tel. 94-479-20-36; www.teatroarriaga.com), on the banks of the Río Nervión. This is the setting for world-class opera, classical music concerts, ballet, and even zarzuelas (comic operas). Announcements of cultural events are available at the tourist office. The Gran Casino Bilbao, Alameda Urquijo, 13, (tel. 94-424-00-07; www.casinobilbao.es), combines slot machine parlors and table games (roulette, poker, black jack) with dining. The slot machine parlors are open Sunday to Wednesday 10am to 5am, Thursday to Saturday 10am to 6pm. The gaming room is open Sunday to Wednesday from 4pm to 5am, Thursday to Saturday from 4pm to 6am.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.