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About the Bilbao / Getxo, Spain Program

The Bilbao/Getxo program is a USAC specialty program. Learn more about on-site program elements and the city itself below.

About Bilbao/Getxo


A view of the buildings and bike path along the river in Bilbao, Spain. Students under a giant Salvador Dali spider sculpture outside the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain.

  • Distance from Madrid: 250 miles
  • Distance from Paris: 500 miles

Bilbao, where most students live, is a welcoming medium-sized city praised for being a very lively, yet safe place to live. Bilbao is located in northern Spain near the French border and has an international airport with direct flights to most large cities in Europe. Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, yet is an extremely walkable city with a great world-class metro system that is efficient and safe.

The city includes many pedestrian areas, including the old quarter with shops, restaurants, and coffee houses. There is also a bike path along the riverfront and through the main street of town. Bilbao has a strong business community and is also a reference for research, trade and innovation. Bilbao is the poster city for successful urban renewal and the spectacular Guggenheim Museum of Art has ushered in an era of international tourism to the area. (In urban renewal circles, the use of a revitalized cultural sector to kick start the renewal of a city’s economy is known as the “Bilbao effect.”)


A rooftop view of the city and sea in Getxo, Spain.

  • Distance from Madrid: 257 miles
  • Distance from Paris: 507 miles

Getxo is a charming, coastal community popular for its beaches, lively nightlife, and diverse cultural activities. It is well connected to downtown Bilbao by subway (20-25 minutes away). Getxo is a relatively young town—80% of the population is below the age of 60—and it is not touristy, maximizing the opportunity for students to meet local peers. Getxo is known for its numerous outdoor activities and cultural events including: surfing, canoeing, hiking, rollerblading, paragliding, music festivals, a medieval market, and much more.