Why Bilbao is the Perfect Place to Take the CELTA

  If you’re a language nerd, there’s no better place to take the CELTA than Bilbao, Spain. This northern Spanish city is in the heart…


If you’re a language nerd, there’s no better place to take the CELTA than Bilbao, Spain. This northern Spanish city is in the heart of Basque Country where both Spanish and Basque are co-official languages. This city boasts unique experiences that will enhance your time taking the CELTA and its relationship with language is especially significant. Not only that, but the CELTA centre in Bilbao works with one of our strongest CELTA teams in San Sebastian. (Read an interview with the Director of Studies in San Sebastian.) Take in the sights and immerse yourself in language as you take the CELTA in Bilbao!


While Bilbao has a lot to offer, we think its relationship with language makes it unique in terms of places to take the CELTA. As you immerse yourself in teaching the English language, your appreciation and sensitivity will increase. What better place to help you appreciate all that language can offer than a city that has two official languages?

Even better, one of those languages, Basque, is a “language isolate.” This means that it is unrelated to any other known language used today. Where Spanish has developed from Latin and English descended from West Germanic, there is no traceable ancestor to Basque. Though Spanish is the primary language you’ll hear, Basque can be found all over the city. From the name of Mount Pagassari – Basque for “thick forest of beech” – to the relatively new Zubizuri – Basque for “white bridge” – and more.

Take the opportunity to enhance your language sensitivity. Think about how your language learners might relate with learning English by looking around at the Basque words that surround you. They don’t sound anything like English, or even Spanish. It’s a good reminder of how foreign a new language can look and sound. The experience of immersing yourself in a unique language like Basque while you’re taking the CELTA can help you to become an even better English teacher as you can appreciate where your students may be coming from. This immersion into three different languages certainly makes Bilbao a one-of-a-kind place to take the CELTA!


Of course, being in Spain, you’ll want to try the food. As part of the Basque Country, Bilbao’s cuisine is based on the sea, incorporating tomatoes and peppers. Expect a lot of codfish, with one of their most pouplar dishes being bacalao pil-pil. Bacalao is the Basque word for codfish. This dish finds it fried in garlic and olive oil until the skin is crispy.

If codfish isn’t your favourite, give txangurro a try. This dish is quite aesthetic as it features crab meat baked in the shell of a spider crab. Mixing the flavours of crab, brandy, parsley and garlic, this isn’t one to miss.

When you’re looking for something light to snack on after a long day on the course, try pintxos. Typically served as a bar snack, they are somewhat like an open-faced sandwich with a small piece of bread topped with different toppings. The snack is held together with a toothpick, which is where they get their name. The toppings can be anything and everything, though expect to find codfish (of course), peppers and Spanish omelette.

This is just a taste (pun intended) of the food Bilbao has to offer. While you’ll be busy with assignments and lesson planning, you still have four weeks that you’ll need to eat. Reward yourself after those long days by trying the unique cuisine of the Basque Country.

Even better? The CELTA centre in Bilbao will welcome you to the course with a pintxo lunch so you don’t even need to schedule trying this tasty treat around the course!


Situated on the estuary of Bilbao, the city boasts picturesque bridges and architecture. Old sits next to new as the city has seen a resurgence in recent years. In fact, the revival of Bilbao’s economy following the opening of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao has been emulated around the world and is referred to as the “Bilbao Effect.”

The museum, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, is now Bilbao’s claim to fame. Housing modern and contemporary art and part of the Guggenheim Foundation’s series of museums, it’s the museum’s architecture that has put Bilbao on the map. Completed in 1997, the design of the new building has been widely praised. Built in the deconstructivist style, the museum is made of titanium, limestone and glass. It was designed to be incorporated seamlessly with the existing landscape. Since its opening, the economic activity it has attracted resulted in Bilbao winning the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize and more recently the Best European City 2018 by The Academy of Urbanism.

In addition to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, other architectural delights abound throughout the city. Whether you enjoy old or new architecture, there’s so much for the eye to see. From the Gothic San Antòn Church to the neo-Baroque Teatro Arriaga to the newly repurposed Azkuna Zentroa Culture and Leisure Centre, those looking for an inspiring cityscape should look no further.


Perhaps you’re not one for cities and enjoy the great outdoors, instead. Not to worry, Bilbao has a lot to offer you, as well. While taking the full-time CELTA, you might find that you need to hit the refresh button, and what better way than with some fresh air and stunning views? Bilbao has you covered, being situated between two small mountain ranges. Because there are two, there’s a little something for everyone.

Why not wake up early on a weekend to climb from the city centre to the top of Mount Pagassari? Hiking boots not required! This hike is suitable even for beginners at 8 kilometres, or just under 5 miles. You’ll be able enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds Bilbao and you’ll return feeling refreshed and ready to take on your weekend assignments. The time outside will undoubtedly leave you inspired and reinvigorated as you take on the CELTA.

If hiking’s really not your thing, you can take the funicular railway up the side of the sister Mount Artxanda. The shorter of the two mountains, the railway drops you off at a popular recreational area that includes a park and restaurants. Take your lesson planning up to the top to complete with a stunning view overlooking the city. Again, the panoramic view will leave you feeling inspired, refreshed and ready to plan your best lessons yet!

Whether you’re an architecture junkie, a hiker, a foodie, or just a language nerd, Bilbao has something to offer you. The richness you’ll find in being immersed in a unique language will be unparalleled while taking the CELTA. Start your application today!