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Located within the Basque Country (País Vasco) in northern Spain, Bilbao is an outstanding study abroad destination, recognized for its business excellence, culture, and cosmopolitan activities. Bilbao offers a wide range of opportunities to learn, socialize, and enjoy a great study experience abroad. With its art and history museums, outdoor activities (like hiking, biking, surfing, or kayaking), one can simply never get bored!

International students can find two excellent universities in Bilbao, the Universidad del País Vasco and the Universidad de Deusto, where students can choose from numerous study areas. Studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain, is a splendid experience because Bilbao provides the educational quality that Spain is renowned for, the comfort and quiet of Spain’s smaller cities, and the liveliness and explore-worthy opportunities all international students long for. 

Here’s what you should know about studying abroad in Bilbao, Spain:

Reasons to Study in Bilbao

A variety of reasons to study in Bilbao come to mind when trying to list just a few. Located in northern Spain, Bilbao is unique in its own special way. Like the rest of Spain, it provides a warm and welcoming environment, although less dynamic than the larger student cities like Madrid or Barcelona. Reasons to study in Bilbao are plentiful, and for someone who does not particularly adore the hubbub of larger cities, Bilbao is an ideal destination.

The top 3 reasons to study in Bilbao, Spain are: 

Unique Cultural Identity

Bilbao organizes a wide range of cultural events, including concerts, opera, movie festivals, or theater plays. Its cultural life is outstanding; in fact, Bilbao is among the largest cultural and economic centers in northern Spain. The Guggenheim Bilbao Museum and the Fine Arts Museum, two blocks away from the former, have become cultural hotspots. From Jazz Festivals to theater plays, Bilbao does not lack in cultural activity. 

Great Outdoor Experience

There is no denying that Bilbao is a beautiful location to explore. Whether you want to take a boat ride on the Nervión River or take a stroll through the Doña Casilda Park, there is plenty to see and do. If you want to have a full view of Bilbao, the Artxanda Funicular will take you to the top of Mount Artxanda in less than 5 minutes. If all else fails, why not go and see some contemporary art at the Guggenheim Museum (which, itself, is a sight for sore eyes).

Reasonable Cost 

The cost of living in Bilbao is reasonable and quite affordable. If you compare Bilbao, with larger cities, like Barcelona, for example, the cost of living is approximately 4.6% lower in Bilbao. As an international student, you will find the cost of living in Bilbao quite in line with many European countries. Compared to cities in the US, the cost of living in Bilbao is around 36% lower. Many international students like to work part-time to earn an extra income and work experience. 

Cost of Living in Bilbao

The cost of studying in Bilbao is relatively budget-friendly for international students. Spain is among the most affordable study abroad destinations in the world. Within Spain, Bilbao is an affordable destination to pursue studies. Although not among the cheapest cities to study in Spain, Bilbao makes a remarkable destination for a great study experience. 

Some of the everyday costs in Bilbao include: 

Food and Groceries 
Meal (Low-Cost Restaurant)12.00 €
A Loaf of White Bread (500g)1.12 €
A Dozen Eggs 2.03 €
Chicken Fillets (1kg)6.84 €
Apples (1kg)1.86 €
Tomato (1kg)2.20 €
Water (1.5-liter bottle)0.75 €
Domestic Beer (0.5-liter bottle)0.89 €
Cappuccino1.54 €
Coke/Pepsi (0.33-liter bottle)2.01 €
Other Costs
Local Transport Ticket1.20 €
Cinema Ticket8.00 €
Fitness Club (Monthly Fee)48.50 €

Average Cost of Rent in Bilbao (Compared to Spain’s capital, Madrid):

BilbaoMadrid
1-Bedroom Apartment (Center)829 €903 €
1-Bedroom Apartment (Outside of Center)654 €669 €
3-Bedroom Apartment (Center)1,254 €1,616 €
3-Bedroom Apartment (Outside of Center)928 €1,108 €

The cost of rent in Bilbao is cheaper than in Spain’s capital and international student hub, Madrid. Considering rent is one of the most prominent expenses for international students in Spain, living and studying abroad in Bilbao would prove to be quite cost-friendly.

Student Accommodation in Bilbao

Student accommodation in Bilbao mainly comes in the form of shared housing. National and international students pursuing their studies in Bilbao have various student accommodation options at an affordable price. Usually, students in Bilbao prefer to rent a room in a shared apartment with other fellow students and share the cost of rent and utilities. Generally, the average cost of a single bedroom in a four-bedroom apartment in Bilbao is approximately 350€ per month. 

Studying Abroad in Bilbao FAQs

What Can I Study in Bilbao?

Universities in Bilbao offer numerous study fields you can choose from. However, some of the most popular study choices include business, engineering, international relations, and Spanish. You are likely to find anything you prefer in Bilbao, whether it is one of the aforementioned or something completely different.

Do I Need a Student Visa to Study in Bilbao? 

As an international student from non-EU/EEA member countries, you will need a visa to study in Bilbao. Visas range from the Schengen Student Visa (less than three months), Short-Term Student Visa (3-6 months), and Long-Term Student Visa (Over 6 Months). As a US citizen, you will only need a visa to study in Spain if your program is longer than 90 days. You can apply for a student visa to Spain by visiting the Spanish embassy/consulate in your home country. 

Learn more about student visas to Spain in this article.

Can I Work Part-Time During My Studies in Bilbao? 

Yes, you can work part-time during your studies in Bilbao. In fact, many students do work part-time. International students from non-EU/EEA countries are only allowed to work 20 hours per week. Many students work at local businesses as waiters or bartenders or find part-time employment as caretakers for children. Aside from these, there are also numerous other employment options (and even volunteer work). What is essential is that the working hours do not interfere with your university schedule and assignments. 

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