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Bilbao Office Space Guide

[Updated Oct 2020] A guide to serviced offices and office space to rent in Bilbao as well as general information that may be useful if you are considering renting office space in the city.

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History & Geography

Bilbao, the largest city in the independent Spanish region of Catalonia, is located in northern Spain on the Iberian Peninsula. The city lies on the Nervion River, 12 miles from the Bay of Biscay, and is surrounded by dense outlying suburbs. Bilbao was founded in the 14th century by Diego Lopez V of Haro, the Lord of Biscay, a powerful ally of Ferdinand IV, then king of Spain. As the city grew, its port became one of the most important in the country. In 1602 the city had grown to such importance that it was made the capital of the province of Biscay. Bilbao continued to increase in prosperity over the ensuing centuries, with its economy bolstered by the discovery of iron in the hills surrounding the city. Trade with England and the Netherlands ensured that Bilbao continued its rapid growth through the 18th century, and soon the city was bursting at the seams. During the early to mid 19th century, a series of civil wars rocked Spain. During this time Bilbao was besieged on several occasions but never taken. After these events Bilbao continued to prosper, building its first railway station in 1857. The Bank of Bilbao and the Bilbao Stock Exchange were also established during this time. During the Spanish Civil War Bilbao was extensively bombed by the German Luftwaffe and besieged by Nationalist forces. The city fell in June 1937. After the war, Bilbao was extensively rebuilt and continued to prosper as it had before the war. After the fall of Franco, the Statute of the Autonomy of the Basque Country was approved in 1979. In the 1980s Bilbao suffered economically as its traditional industries declined. In the 1990s the city started a process of de-industrialisation and a shift to a more service-based economy. Today Bilbao is the centre of Basque culture and one of Spain’s most modern and dynamic cities.


The traditional bulwark of Bilbao’s economy has always been the Port of Bilbao. During the early 1900s, a new port was built at the mouth of Bilbao’s estuary and has had extensions added to it over the years. Today the port is one of the busiest commercial ports in Europe. The Port of Bilbao is linked with more than 500 other ports around the world and annually moves over 30 million tonnes. The port’s primary markets are the UK, Russia, the Netherlands, and several Nordic countries.  Over 10,000 jobs are generated by the activities of the port and the local economy benefits by almost 500 million Euros per year. The extraction and export of iron has also traditionally been a strength of the economy of Bilbao, however, in the late 20th century this declined heavily and is no longer a major force in the city’s economy. In the 1990s Bilbao started the process of switching to an economy based on service industries rather than mining and ironworks. The tourism industry has also increased in the last few years and Bilbao is now firmly on the map as one of Spain’s favoured tourist destinations.

Tourism & Culture

Bilbao has not traditionally had a name as one of Spain’s premier tourism destinations. In the late 19th century, however, it did benefit from a rail link to the city of Las Arenas. However, the city remained overshadowed by Barcelona and Madrid. Today that is no longer the case and Bilbao has a tourism industry that can compete with its contemporaries. A major boost was given to the Bilbao tourism industry with the inauguration of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in 1997. Numbers increased after the museum was built and today Bilbao sees over half a million tourists every year. Most of Bilbao’s tourists come from Spain itself, though the city also sees numerous visitors from the UK, Germany, and France. Of late many business conventions and trade shows have been being held in Bilbao, most at the Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall or the Bilbao Exhibition Centre. Every year almost EUR 300 million is generated for the region from tourists. Recent improvements in infrastructure such as a new airport terminal, tram line, and rapid transit system have also made Bilbao more attractive to business visitors.


Bilbao is served by the Bilbao Airport, which sees almost four million passengers every year. The airport is located approximately eight miles from Bilbao itself and serves destinations such as London, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, and Amsterdam. Metro Bilbao, opened in 1995, is the preferred method of getting around the city. The system is used by approximately 85 million passengers every day. Bilbao also has a comprehensive bus system consisting of 43 bus lines. Finally, many residents of the city use EuskoTran, the tram system which spans Bilbao. Over the next few years, city planners are intending to widen the tram network considerably.

Office rental Bilbao

Spain’s office market was left in tatters by the financial crisis, and Bilbao did not escape unscathed. Spain is still trying to come to terms with the total collapse of its once-booming real estate market and the subsequent nosedive of its economy. Spain has the weakest office market in Europe and most activity is generated by companies trying to cut costs and find better deals by moving to smaller or less expensive space. Vacancy rates in Bilbao are still much higher than before the financial crisis and recovery is slow to the point of immobile.

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