The San Mamés Stadium in Bilbao is one of the most iconic buildings in the city.
With a maximum capacity of 53,000 spectators, it’s the 7th largest stadium in Spain and one of the top sporting venues in the whole of Europe.
Opening in 2013, its home to Athletic Bilbao and also where the Basque Country National Team play their football.
It’s a must see on a trip to Bilbao. Below we run through the reasons why, and how you can visit the stadium for yourself.
Things to know about the San Mamés Stadium
If you don’t know much about the San Mamés stadium, then read on to understand the main things that make this stadium special.
1. Voted as one of the best stadiums in the world
The completion of the San Mamés placed Athletic with a stadium amongst the best in the world. It is ranked as a UEFA category 4 stadium, which is the highest UEFA ranking.
The complex lighting system that surrounds the outside of the stadium is reminiscent of that of the Allianz arena (Bayern Munich’s stadium) in Munich. Its thousands of panels can be illuminated in different colours to show moving graphics.
The design and quality of the San Mamés has also received prestigious awards. It won the best sports building award at the “World Architecture Festival” in Singapore.
2. It was selected to host the 2020/21 Euros
Thanks to the stadium’s category 4 ranking, the San Mamés qualifies to be selected to host Euro games and UEFA cup finals.
And that’s exactly what happened when the venue was selected as one of the 13 stadiums to host matches as the 2020 Euros.
However, the privilege was later transferred to the La Cartuja Stadium in Seville due to restrictions in the Basque Country from the pandemic.
3. It replace the old San Mamés
Today’s San Mamés isn’t actually the original San Mamés. No, the new stadium replaced the old stadium under the same name which stood close by.
The old San Mamés was the home of Athletic Bilbao for 100 years (1913 – 2013) before it was deemed inappropriate for modern day football.
The new stadium officially opened on the 16th September 2013 with Athletic Bilbao securing a 3-2 win against Celta Vigo in La Liga.
How to visit the San Mamés Stadium
OK, so now you know a little bit about the stadium, how do you actually go about visiting it? Well, below we run through your options.
1. Go to a game
Without a doubt, the best way to get the full San Mamés experience is to go to a game.
General sale tickets for Athletic Bilbao games can be bought online or at the ticket office at the stadium up to two days before the match.
Tickets for most matches will be available on the day, but to avoid disappointment, it’s worth booking earlier. Games against the likes of Real Madrid, Barcelona and Real Soceidad (local derby) will sell out.
Prices start from around €30.00 going up to €110.00 or more some of the better seats in the house.
2. Do the San Mamés Tour
Unfortunately, it’s not always going to be the case that there’s a Athletic Bilbao home game on when you visit Bilbao. But don’t worry, you can still get a sense for the San Mamés stadium.
The club offers a comprehensive tour package of the San Mamés stadium via. The Athletic Club Museum. The experience makes it one of the best museums in Bilbao.
On non match days, you’ll get the chance to visit the first team dressing room, dugout, pitch side, the museum, press room and even the president’s box.
Prices start from €14 for a non-guided (audio guide only) tour of the San Mamés or from €20 for a guided tour of the stadium. You can find out more, check availability and book online through the clubs website.
How to get to the San Mamés Stadium
The San Mamés is one of those rare modern stadiums that is actually situated in the centre of the city. That makes it really easy to get to on foot or by public transport.
1. By foot
The San Mamés is typically no more than a 30 minute walk from most areas of Bilbao.
It’s located 2 km east of the Old Quarter of Bilbao and about a 15 minute walk from the Guggenheim museum.
2. By metro and train
Both metro lines in Bilbao pass by the stadium (San Mamés stop), making it easy to reach the stadium comfortably from anywhere in the city or nearby towns.
The stadium is reachable from the two train stations in Bilbao, which are near to the Casco Viejo. By foot it’s a 25 minute walk, or you can hop on the metro a couple of stops up to the San Mamés.
3. By bus
The main bus station in Bilbao is just a couple of minutes walk away from the stadium which makes it an easy journey to reach from places nearby.
If you’re getting to Bilbao from San Sebastian, the bus is probably the easiest option.
FAQs about the San Mames Stadium
Below we’ve answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the San Mamés stadium.
If you have a question that’s not been answered in this article, feel free to drop it down in the comments below and we’ll get back to you.
Athletic Bilbao’s old stadium was also called the San Mamés stadium. It was used by Athletic Club from 1913 to 2013 and was located close by to the new San Mamés.
Planning for the San Mamés began back as early as 2004, but the stadium officially opened on the 16th September 2013.
On its inauguration however, the stadium was only three quarters complete. The old San Mamés stadium had to be demolished before the final stand could be built.
The first game under full capacity with the stadium fully complete was in August 2014.