Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country, in northern Spain. It’s also a doorway between Spain and France, so the region holds a lot of history and character and is surrounded by a lot of natural beauty being so close to the sea and mountain ranges (the Basque Mountains).
So, once you’ve taken in the impressive landscapes that Bilbao has to offer; here’s what else you can do…
Museo de Bellas Artes
This museum hosts a variety of art based on different styles, genres and times. It has a bit of everything, from Gothic sculptures to 20th-century pop art. There is a lot of classical art, with works by the popular artists: Murillo, Zurbarán, El Greco, Goya and Van Dyck, as well as contemporary art and sculptures by renown artists and sculptors. It is based in Plaza del Museo 2 in Bilbao, and opened from Wed-Mon from 10am-8pm.
Museo Guggenheim Bilbao
The most popular aspect of this museum is said to be its exterior. The site used to be an industrial wasteland, which inspired the Canadian architect, Frank Gehry, and he created this interesting structure based on materials that would have originally been there, as well as being inspired by the historical industries of the city: Shipbuilding and fishing.
The Museo Guggenheim is now one of Bilbao’s most iconic buildings, with its shimmering titanium architecture, it has brought a more modern appearance to the city.
As for the interior, it is mostly popular for its temporary exhibitions; from the life work of Yoko Ono to the extraordinary sculptures of Brazilian Ernesto Neto. It’s based in Avenida Abandoibarra 2, and is open every day (closed Mondays from Sep-Jun), from 10am-8pm.
Food, drink and dining:
Despite the city being full of interesting choices for dining, this one really stands out. It is an old-fashioned place to eat, and serves traditional Basque food.
The house special is steak cooked over hot coals, as well as other traditional dishes, as well as a good-variety of wines to go with it. The restaurant also doubles as a “deli” and a lot of the products lined up on the shelves are for sale.
Try to book in advanced to avoid disappointment. It is located in Hurtado de Amézaga 5, Mon-Sat from 1:30-4pm and 8:30-11pm.
Food critics are naming this the number one spot for fine-dining in Bilbao, and no wondering with its riverside location. It has exquisite meals to offer made creatively by the chefs. Some examples of their dishes are: Spider crab with passion fruit or frozen seawater with seaweed and lemon sorbet.
If you are looking for luxurious dining in Bilbao, you can find them in Muelle Marzana. Their tasting menu is from 60-100 euros, and opens 2-3:30pm from Tues-Sun, and also 9-10:30pm from Wed-Sat.
Basilica de Begoña
This is a 16th-century basilica in the area of Casco Viejo, located on top of a nearby hill. It’s mainly Gothic in its look, although with Renaissance touches, such as the arched main entrance.
To get to Basilica de Begoña, you can either take the lift from Casco Viejo metro station, or climb the stairs from Plaza Unamuno. It is open every day from 8:30am-1:30pm & 5pm-8:30pm, and on Sundays 9am-2pm and 5pm-9pm.
Catedral de Santiago
Based in Casco Viejo as well, is the impressive Cathedral of Santiago (although strangely hard to see in the narrow streets). This building dates back to 1581, and the towering cathedral has a Renaissance portico and well-designed cloister.
What else is around…
This is one of Bilbao’s oldest areas, called the “Old Quarter.” It is full of charming streets, bars and plenty of quirky, independent shops. In the heart of Casco, are Bilbao’s original seven streets “Las Siete Calles” which date from the 1400s.
Since completion in 1997, this bridge has become an iconic feature for Bilbao. It was designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, and has a curved walkway under its flowing white arch. It is located in the city centre over the Nervión river.
With Bilbao having some of the greatest architectural and infrastructure projects in the country, along with its mountainous landscapes, sandy beaches, buzzing city centre and plenty of history to absorb, there will always be plenty of options on your “to-do” list.