Bilbao, located in the Basque Country in northern Spain, is a vibrant city that is known for its rich culture, history, and stunning architecture. It is one the most popular and leading industrial and commercial cities in Spain. The city has undergone a transformation in recent years, with the opening of the Guggenheim Museum, which has become a symbol of the city’s modernization. In this Bilbao travel guide, we will explore the top sights, tours, and activities, transportation options, lodging, best times to visit, and the reasons why you should add Bilbao to your travel bucket list.
Top Facts about Bilbao
- Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, with a population of over 345,000.
- The city is located on the banks of the Nervión River, which flows into the Bay of Biscay.
- Bilbao is a major industrial and financial center, and is home to many international corporations.
- The official language is Basque and Spanish, and the currency is the euro.
- Bilbao is famous for its pintxos, a type of Basque tapas, and its delicious seafood.
- Guggenheim Museum: This iconic building, designed by Frank Gehry, is one of the most famous museums in the world. It features a collection of contemporary art and hosts many temporary exhibitions.
- Casco Viejo: The Old Town of Bilbao is a maze of narrow streets and historic buildings. It’s a great place to explore, with many shops, bars, and restaurants.
- Ribera Market: This is a covered market that sells fresh produce, meat, fish, and other local specialties. It’s a great place to try some of the city’s famous pintxos.
- Bilbao Fine Arts Museum: This museum has an impressive collection of Basque and Spanish art, with works by Goya, El Greco, and other important artists.
- Zubizuri Bridge: Designed by Santiago Calatrava, this bridge is a modern landmark that spans the Nervión River.
Guggenheim Museum is a must see place, a grand construction in titanium, stone and glass, designed by US architect Frank O. Gehry. and one of the best museums in Spain.
Bilbao is situated in the area of Bizkaia and surrounded by excellent landscape with forests, mountains, beaches and steep coasts.
Tours & Activities
The best way to really get to know and explore Bilbao is to walk leisurely up and down its streets. The Old Quarter of Bilbao is the best starting point for a city tour.
- Guggenheim Museum Tour: Take a guided tour of the museum and learn about its history and architecture.
- Pintxos Tasting Tour: This tour takes you to some of the best pintxos bars in Bilbao, and gives you a taste of the city’s famous cuisine.
- Basque Coast Tour: Explore the beautiful Basque Coast and visit the picturesque towns of Getxo and Bermeo.
- Bilbao City Tour: Discover the main attractions of the city, including the Guggenheim Museum, the Old Town, and the Ribera Market.
- Rioja Wine Tour: Take a day trip to the nearby Rioja region and taste some of the best wines in Spain.
Culture & Art
Bilbao, a city located in the Basque Country of northern Spain, is renowned for its exceptional blend of modern and traditional architecture, and is home to some of the world’s most renowned museums. Visitors to Bilbao are in for a treat, as the city has some of Spain’s most impressive cultural offerings.
The Guggenheim Museum is a must-see attraction for anyone interested in contemporary art, architecture, and culture. With its stunning titanium curves, the building itself is a work of art. The museum’s collection of modern and contemporary art includes works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Joan Miró, among others.
The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao is another must-see attraction in the city, showcasing a vast collection of Spanish art, from the 12th century to the present day. The collection includes works by renowned Spanish artists such as El Greco, Francisco de Zurbarán, and Francisco Goya, as well as contemporary Basque artists.
In addition, visitors can experience Basque culture at the Euskal Museoa Bilbao Basque Museum, which houses exhibits and artifacts related to the history and culture of the Basque people. The museum includes collections of Basque art, traditional costumes, and local handicrafts.
Visitors may also explore and learn about the history of the region at the Museo de Reproducciones Artísticas, the Archeological Museum, and the Maritime Museum.
With its vast cultural offerings and rich history, Bilbao is a must-visit destination for anyone interested in art and culture.
Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, also offers an incredible gastronomy experience for its visitors.
Gastronomy & Eating Out
Basque cuisine is considered one of the best in the world, and Bilbao has its own culinary identity with a unique fusion of flavors. Some of the most popular dishes in the city include pintxos (small tapas-style dishes), codfish, and steak.
For an authentic Basque cuisine experience, head to the historic district of Casco Viejo or the district of Abandoibarra, where you’ll find a wide variety of restaurants and pintxo bars.
Shopping in Bilbao is also a must-do activity, with its trendy fashion stores, artisanal shops, and traditional markets. The Mercado de la Ribera is a particularly popular market that offers fresh produce, meats, and cheeses, as well as a variety of bars and restaurants.
When it comes to nightlife, Bilbao has a vibrant scene that offers something for everyone. You can head to the popular bars in the Casco Viejo or the modern Abandoibarra district, or check out the numerous live music venues and clubs in the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum also hosts concerts and other cultural events throughout the year.
Bilbao has a well-connected public transportation system that includes buses, trams, and a metro system. The metro is the most convenient and efficient way to get around the city, with two lines that cover most of the city’s main attractions. Buses are also a good option, and there are many taxi stands and ride-hailing services available as well. If you’re looking to explore the surrounding areas, renting a car can be a good option.
Bilbao offers a wide range of lodging options, from budget-friendly hostels to luxury hotels. Many of the hotels are located in the city center, within walking distance of the main attractions. Some of the top-rated hotels in Bilbao include the Gran Hotel Domine, the Hotel Carlton, and the Silken Gran Hotel Domine.