Portugalete, Spain

Reading Time: 9 minutes

Portugalete, Spain

Region: Basque Country

Geographic Coordinates: 43.319400, -3.019400
Climate: Climate and weather patterns in Portugalete, Spain vary throughout the year.
Population: 45285
Language: Spanish

Portugalete is a charming town located in the province of Biscay, In the Basque Country region of northern Spain. It is situated on the banks of the Nervión River, Just a few kilometers away from Bilbao, One of the most vibrant cities in Spain. With a population of around 47, 000 people, Portugalete offers a perfect blend of history, Natural beauty, And modern amenities. One of the main attractions in Portugalete is its iconic Vizcaya Bridge. This impressive iron structure was built in 1893 and is considered a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

It connects Portugalete with Las Arenas neighborhood across the river and provides breathtaking views both from its upper walkway and its gondola-style ferry system. The bridge has become an emblematic symbol for both locals and visitors alike. The Old Town area of Portugalete is another must-visit spot. Here you can wander through narrow streets lined with traditional Basque architecture while exploring charming squares like Plaza del Solar or Plaza de San Roque. The Church of Santa María de la Asunción stands proudly at the center, Showcasing Gothic and Renaissance elements.

Nature enthusiasts will find plenty to enjoy in Portugalete as well. The nearby Monte Serantes offers fantastic hiking trails that lead to panoramic viewpoints overlooking both land and sea. Additionally, Ereaga Beach is just a short distance away from town – it’s known for its golden sands and crystal-clear waters that attract sunbathers during summer months. Food lovers will be delighted by Portuguese cuisine which features fresh seafood caught daily from local waters such as codfish (bacalao) or hake (merluza).

Traditional pintxos bars can be found throughout town offering delicious bites like txangurro (spider crab) or gilda (a skewer with anchovies). Don’t forget to pair your meal with some local Txakoli wine, A refreshing white wine produced in the region. Portugalete also hosts several festivals that showcase its vibrant cultural scene. The Fiestas de la Virgen del Carmen, Celebrated in July, Is one of the most important events. During this festival, The town comes alive with music, Dance performances, And a procession where locals carry an image of Virgin Mary through the streets.

Portugalete is a hidden gem that offers visitors a unique experience filled with history, Natural beauty, And delicious gastronomy. Whether you are exploring its iconic bridge or wandering through its charming streets and squares, This town will captivate you with its rich heritage and warm Basque hospitality.

Important Landmarks

  1. Vizcaya Bridge: This iconic suspension bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the main attractions in Portugalete. It connects Portugalete with the neighboring town of Getxo and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
  2. Basilica of Santa Maria: Located in the heart of Portugalete, this beautiful basilica is known for its Gothic architecture and intricate detailing. It dates back to the 15th century and is a popular pilgrimage site.
  3. Old Town: The historic center of Portugalete is filled with charming narrow streets, traditional Basque houses, and lively squares. Exploring the Old Town allows visitors to experience the local culture, shops, cafes, and restaurants.
  4. Monumento al Marino: This monument pays tribute to sailors from Portugalete who lost their lives at sea. It features a large bronze statue overlooking the river Nervion.
  5. The Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas): These unique houses are situated on a steep hillside overlooking the river Nervion. They are built on wooden stilts that give them an appearance as if they are hanging over the edge.
  6. Playa de Ereaga: Situated in nearby Getxo but easily accessible from Portugalete, this sandy beach attracts locals and tourists alike during summer months for swimming or leisurely walks along its promenade.
  7. Museo de la Industria Armera: Located within an old armory building, this museum showcases the history of arms manufacturing in Biscay region through various exhibits including weapons collections, machinery displays, and interactive activities.
  8. Puente Bizkaia Exhibition Center: Housed within one of Vizcaya Bridge’s towers on Getxo side, this exhibition center provides insight into engineering marvels behind this iconic bridge through multimedia presentations and displays related to its construction and operation.

These landmarks and attractions make Portugalete a charming destination for tourists interested in history, architecture, and natural beauty.

Primary Industries

  1. Shipbuilding: Historically, Portugalete has been known for its shipbuilding industry. The town has several shipyards that have contributed to the development and maintenance of vessels.
  2. Port Activities: As it is situated on the banks of the Nervión River, Portugalete has a port area that engages in various activities such as cargo handling, logistics services, and maritime transportation.
  3. Manufacturing: There are manufacturing companies operating in Portugalete involved in sectors like metalworking, machinery production, and automotive components.
  4. Retail and Services: Like any other town or city, there are numerous retail shops and service-oriented businesses catering to local residents’ needs.
  5. Tourism: Due to its historical significance and architectural attractions like the Vizcaya Bridge (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), tourism plays a vital role in Portugalete’s economy. Hotels, restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops cater to tourists visiting this picturesque town.
  6. Education: There are educational institutions like schools and colleges providing education services to students from within Portugalete as well as neighboring areas.
  7. Healthcare Services: Medical facilities such as hospitals and clinics offer healthcare services to residents of Portugalete.

It is important to note that while these industries play a significant role within the municipality’s economy; many residents also commute daily for work opportunities outside of their hometown due to its proximity to larger cities like Bilbao or Barakaldo which offer more diverse employment options across various sectors.

Noteable History

Notable Historical Events and People Associated with Portugalete, Spain

Historical Events:

  1. Construction of Vizcaya Bridge: The town is famous for being home to the iconic Vizcaya Bridge, which was built between 1887 and 1893. This transporter bridge is considered a masterpiece of engineering and was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2006.
  2. Industrial Revolution: Portugalete played a crucial role during the Industrial Revolution in Spain. The town experienced rapid industrialization during the late 19th century due to its steel industry and shipbuilding activities.

Notable People:

  1. Severo Ochoa de Albornoz: Born in Luarca (Asturias) but raised in Portugalete, Severo Ochoa (1905-1993) was a renowned biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1959 for his discovery of an enzyme involved in RNA synthesis.
  2. Ramón Rubial Cavia: A prominent Spanish politician from Portugalete, Ramón Rubial (1906-1999) was one of the key figures within Basque nationalism during Franco’s dictatorship era. He later became one of the founders of Spain’s Socialist Party (PSOE).
  3. Félix Oráa Pastor: Born in Portugalete in 1860, Félix Oráa Pastor was an influential Spanish painter belonging to the Realism movement known for his landscapes and seascapes.
  4. José Antonio Aguirre y Lecube: Although not born or directly associated with Portugalete, José Antonio Aguirre (1904-1960), as President of Basque Government-in-exile during Franco’s regime (1937-1960), had strong ties to the town. He lived in Portugalete during his exile and actively sought support for the Basque cause.

These are just a few examples of the notable historical events and people associated with Portugalete, Spain. The town’s industrial heritage, architectural marvels like Vizcaya Bridge, and contributions from individuals across different fields have shaped its history and cultural significance.

Museums and Things To See

  1. Puente Colgante (Vizcaya Bridge): This iconic UNESCO World Heritage site is a transporter bridge connecting Portugalete with the town of Getxo. Visitors can take a gondola ride to enjoy panoramic views of the area.
  2. Museo de la Industria: Located in an old factory building, this museum showcases the industrial history and heritage of Portugalete and its surroundings through exhibits, machinery, and interactive displays.
  3. Basilica de Santa Maria: This beautiful Gothic-style basilica is a must-visit for architecture enthusiasts. Admire its intricate details, stained glass windows, and stunning altarpiece.
  4. Museo Rialia: Situated in an old shipyard building, this maritime-themed museum offers insights into the region’s shipbuilding industry with models, photographs, tools, and artifacts.
  5. Monumento al Sagrado Corazón de Jesús: Located on Mount Serantes overlooking Portugalete, this monument dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus provides breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
  6. Casa Torre de Salazar: This medieval tower-house now serves as a cultural center hosting art exhibitions and events throughout the year. Explore its unique architecture while enjoying contemporary art displays.
  7. Parque Cultural La Florida: A picturesque park with landscaped gardens offering peaceful walks along paths adorned with sculptures by renowned artists like Eduardo Chillida and Jorge Oteiza.
  8. Plaza del Solar: Visit this charming square located in the heart of Portugalete’s historic district featuring colorful buildings adorned with traditional Basque balconies – perfect for capturing some Instagram-worthy photos!
  9. Palacio San Joseren Etxea: Built-in neoclassical style during the 18th century as a summer residence for local nobility; today it houses various cultural activities including concerts and exhibitions.
  10. Centro Cultural Santa Clara Antzokia: Located within an old convent, this cultural center hosts theatrical performances, music concerts, and film screenings throughout the year.

Sports Teams

  1. Club Portugalete: Founded in 1909, Club Portugalete is the most famous football (soccer) team from the town. They have played several seasons in the Spanish Segunda División (Second Division) and have had occasional appearances in higher divisions. Their most successful period was during the 1920s and 1930s when they regularly competed against top-tier teams.
  2. Club Deportivo Santurtzi: Although not based directly in Portugalete, Club Deportivo Santurtzi represents both Santurtzi and Portugalete municipalities as it operates nearby. The club has a long history dating back to 1917 and has competed mostly at regional levels but has occasionally reached Tercera División (Fourth Division).
  3. Handball Teams: There are also handball teams representing different age categories from youth to senior level within local clubs such as BM Trapagaran or BM Zuazo.

It’s important to note that being a small town, many athletes from Portugalete often join more prominent clubs located nearby like Athletic Bilbao or Barakaldo CF for better opportunities at higher levels of competition.

Please keep in mind that this information may change over time due to new developments or reorganizations within local sports organizations.

Cultural Events

  1. Festival of San Roque: Celebrated in August, this festival honors the patron saint of Portugalete with religious processions, music performances, traditional dances, and fireworks.
  2. Semana Grande de Bilbao: Although not specific to Portugalete, this week-long festival takes place in nearby Bilbao and attracts visitors from all over the region. It includes concerts, street performances, sports competitions, and various cultural events.
  3. Carnival: Held in February or March depending on the lunar calendar, carnival celebrations feature colorful parades with extravagant costumes and masks. The streets come alive with music and dancing during this festive time.
  4. Corpus Christi: This religious celebration takes place 60 days after Easter Sunday (usually in May or June). Streets are adorned with flower carpets known as alfombras de flores creating a picturesque setting for processions that carry the Blessed Sacrament through town.
  5. Basque Pelota Championships: As a popular sport in the Basque Country pelota matches attract locals and tourists alike. You can watch skilled players compete at Frontón Bizkaia or other local venues throughout the year.
  6. Euskal Jaia (Basque Festival): This annual event celebrates Basque culture through traditional music performances like txistu (a type of flute), dance exhibitions such as jotas (folk dances), rural sports demonstrations like stone lifting or wood chopping contests known as herri kirolak.
  7. International Folklore Festival: Organized by local folk groups every July since 1972 this festival brings together performers from different countries to showcase their traditional music and dance forms while promoting cultural exchange.

Please note that some dates may vary from year to year it is advisable to check specific event schedules closer to your visit for accurate information on dates and locations within Portugalete itself.


  1. Bacalao a la Vizcaína: This is a traditional Basque dish made with salted codfish, peppers, onions, and tomatoes. It is often served with potatoes.
  2. Txipirones en su Tinta: This is another typical Basque dish consisting of baby squid cooked in their ink sauce. It is usually served with rice or bread.
  3. Pinchos: These are small bites typically served on top of a slice of bread and held together by a toothpick. They can have various toppings like ham, cheese, seafood, or vegetables.
  4. Restaurante Raimundo: Located near the iconic Puente Colgante (Hanging Bridge), this restaurant offers traditional Basque cuisine with dishes like grilled meats, fish stews, and pintxos.
  5. Restaurante El Puerto: Situated along the riverfront promenade, this restaurant specializes in fresh seafood dishes such as grilled sardines or hake fillets.
  6. Asador Ibaiondo Jatetxea: Known for its grilled meat specialties like chuletón (rib-eye steak) or txuleton (T-bone steak), this restaurant offers a cozy atmosphere and excellent service.
  7. Restaurante Arimendi: Popular for its extensive menu featuring both traditional Basque dishes and modern creations using local ingredients sourced from nearby markets.
  8. Bar La Plaza: A lively bar serving delicious pintxos that range from classic to creative combinations of flavors using fresh ingredients sourced locally.
  9. La Viña de Portugalete: A charming wine bar where you can enjoy an extensive selection of wines paired with tasty tapas made from regional products.
  10. Café Bar Kasko Berria: A cozy café-bar known for its friendly atmosphere offering breakfast options like churros con chocolate, and a variety of sandwiches and light meals throughout the day.

Parks and Recreation

  1. Parque de la Florida: This park is located near the Vizcaya Bridge and offers beautiful gardens, walking paths, playgrounds for children, and a small pond.
  2. Parque de Santurtzi: Located just a short distance from Portugalete in the neighboring town of Santurtzi, this park offers green spaces, sports facilities, picnic areas, and a skatepark.
  3. Paseo de la Canilla: This waterfront promenade along the Nervión River is perfect for leisurely walks or bike rides. It offers stunning views of the river and allows visitors to enjoy fresh air while taking in the surrounding scenery.
  4. Playa La Arena: Although not technically a park, Playa La Arena is a popular beach located nearby in Muskiz. Visitors can relax on its sandy shores or participate in water sports such as surfing or paddleboarding.
  5. Municipal Sports Center of La Benedicta: This sports center provides various recreational activities such as swimming pools (indoor and outdoor), tennis courts, basketball courts, football fields, gymnasiums for indoor sports like handball or volleyball.
  6. Monte Serantes Natural Park: Situated on Mount Serantes near Portugalete’s outskirts lies this natural park offering hiking trails through lush forests with panoramic views over the region.

These are just some examples of parks and recreational activities available in Portugalete and its surroundings; there may be other options depending on individual preferences and specific events happening at any given time.


Enjoy The Journey.

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