Hi everyone and welcome back. We are visting the Spain in all its aspects and today we’ll continue our journey ready for another Spanish destination. This will be the turn of Bilbao. Do you already know it? Well you never know a city in all its entirety… at least until today eheh! We are there to tell you all about Bilbao and we will start introducing it.

Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country and the capital of the province of Biscay. It is an important maritime port and a large industrial center, is an important economic city as well thanks to the present strategic sectors such as those of steel and energy. But not only that, the city is also home to two important events: the Semana Grande is a large and famous folk festival that lasts continuously for nine days! In August, the old town and the banks of the river Nevriòn (the water course that bathes the city) turn into a fantastic place for fun. This event is held in honor of the Madonna di Begoña; the other one is the Sail In festival, a unique event (which takes place in March) in the sailing world that attracts the best skippers from around the world. Apart from this sport in Bilbao of great importance is the football. In addition, Bilbao was chosen as the best European city for 2018 at the Urbanism Awards 2018 awarded by the international organization by The Academy of Urbanism. Well, we can’t wait any longer we have to start our tour immediately!

To know more ( what to eat, where to eat, where to have fun, things to visit…) continue to read.

We have not yet mentioned its history because we wanted to reserve it for later, well this moments has arrived. Let’s start!

 

PLACES TO VISIT (MUSEUMS/THEATERS..)

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

  • Catedral Basílica de Santiago: is the main place of worship in the city of Bilbao. Its architecture is in Gothic style and inside there are two important chapels: the Chapel of the Virgen del Pilar and the Chapel of Santa Lucia. In addition to the main gate, in the northern part of the cathedral we find the Angel’s Gate leading to the cloister. Two other famous places of worship in the city are: the San Nicolás church located in the Casco Viejo district and the Basilica of Begoña where events and celebrations are held regularly.
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: is a museum of contemporary art so important that it became the symbol of the city of Bilbao and attracted visitors from many countries of the world. Furthermore, in 2000 the Guggenheim won the “European Museum of the Year” award. Its architecture is amazing and studied in every detail. Depending on where you are you can assume a different aspect (a ship, a flowe…). The structure is located on the waters of the Nerviòn and on those of an artificial lake. Exhibits in the museum are constantly changing and for the most part they are works of the 20th century. The internal structure of the building is developed in three levels and nineteen galleries consisting of permanent works by artists including contemporary artists. A place to not be missed!
  • Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao: is an art museum and is located at the Doña Casilda Iturrizar park. The structure houses an extensive collection of Basque and Spanish art that goes the Middle Ages to the most recent days (Murillo, Goya, James Ensor…). Considered one of the most important and original collections in all of Spain, this offers you a long and great overview of the history of art, which is the museum’s aim to offer knowledge and constant research.
  • Palacio Chávarri: Bilbao Palace is the seat of the civil government of the Basque province of Biscay. It is located in the city center at the Moyua square. The structure is very beautiful in terms of aesthetics (it is worth going there even if you just want to take some photos) and internally consisting of several floors. Think that the building has been declared of cultural interest.
  • Museo Arqueológico, Etnográfico e Histórico Vasco: is an interesting archaeological, ethnographic and historical museum of the city located at the plaza Miguel de Unamuno. The permanent exhibitions are arranged on four floors where we can find: a space reserved for temporary exhibitions and shops, another for the domestic arts of ceramics and textiles and another one dedicated to the prehistory and archeology of Vizcaya. The museum has a small courtyard. Very suggestive!
  • Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao: is the museum entirely dedicated to the naval history of the city located near the Euskalduna bridge and the Euskalduna palace where is also located the famous “Carola” a red crane that reigns supreme on the museum and a testimony left by what a time was a construction site. Many naval models, multimedia rooms and stories to listen to that make it particularly fascinating even to those who are not interested in all this.
  • Reproductions Museum Bilbao: it is a reproduction museum that consists of replicas of classical works of art. The sculptures within it are distinguished by their accuracy as exact copies of the originals, an example are the works faithfully produced from high caliber museums such as: the Louvre, the Vatican and the British Museum. In addition, the museum organizes various educational activities related to art but also other events such as concerts. A fantastic journey into the past and into the real Art.
  • Museo de Arqueología: is a museum whose purpose is to make known the history of the city and its province by mixing the past with modern times. However it has another important role to preserve important archaeological materials. The two exhibition area shows not only the history of the city but especially that of its province Bizkaia through an interactive experience (3D images, texts, sounds…). Perfect if you want to deepen your knowledge of Bilbao more and more.
  • Punta Begoña: it is a pure gallery. Impressive and very different from the usual art galleries as the building was a protection dam. Looking like it might look a little degraded but it’s nice to keep its original state intact. Opposite the galeria there is the first lighthouse in Bilbao, known as the Estacíon de Salvamento de Náufragos visible from its large terraces.
  • Palacio Lezama Leguizamón: it is an elegant building located in the municipality of Getxo, not far from the center of Bilbao. Beyond its architecture the gardens also have their charm. The whole makes everything worthy even also just for a photo!
  • Palacio Ayuntamiento: it houses the Bilbao Town Hall. The building is quite remarkable especially in the evening when it is lit by spotlights. Inside the reception room is in neoclassical style while the other rooms show a Renaissance style, so there is this particular mix of styles. At the entrance there is a large staircase decorated with two sculptures representing justice and law.. And what better place for them!

As for theaters those that stand out among all them are: Teatro Arriaga, Teatro Campos Elíseos, Euskalduna Conference Centre and Concert Hall (concert hall),  Sala BBK.

Palacio Chávarri

 

ENTERTAINMENT (PUB/DISCO/PARKS…)

Ponte di Vizcaya

Now we will move to another part of the city to see what Bilbao offers us in terms of relax and fun.

  • Fingerprint Sculpture: it is a very interesting tourist attraction. It is a large wooden sculpture that recalls fingerprints. Located on a hill not far from the city center, you can enjoy a spectacular view of the city. Nearby there is a park and a very good restaurant. 
  • Azkuna Zentroa: it is a multifunctional location and labeled as a “cultural and recreational center”. It consists of a multiplex cinema, a fitness center, a library, showroom, an auditorium, shops, a restaurant but also a cultural area. This time from the outside it is not possible to understand what is magnificent and modern you could find on the inside. It’s really a mix of styles and a place so special that it’s a must to visit!
  • Two known bridges that you will surely meet during your exploration are: the Vizcaya Bridge that connects the cities of Portugalete and Las Arenas (which is part of Getxo) and is crossed by the Nervión river. The bridge is called by the inhabitants like “Puente Colgante” which means “suspension bridge” and there is a reason. It consists of a gondola (which may also contain some cars) and at the end two lifts that will allow you to walk along the platform of the bridge from which you can admire the Bilbao bay. The bridge has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The other is the Zubizuri, an arched pedestrian bridge of a beautiful white color. It is located on the bank of the Nervión river and connects the Campo de Volantín with Uribitarte. The bridge has become the symbol of the new Bilbao and today a great tourist attraction rather than a simple crossing. Next to these two bridges however, another great bridge is the Puente de La Salve, a beautiful bridge with a red arch, located right next to the Guggenheim museum. So if you are in proximity you can’t ignore it!
  • Mount Artxanda: it is one of the two small mountain ranges that delimit the municipality of Bilbao and is the one closest to the city center. To reach the place you need to take the funicular Artxanda from which you can enjoy a wonderful view during the journey and once you get there will be a park, restaurants, a hotel and a sports complex and… another wonderful view to welcome you. View on view, excellent!
  • Parque Etxebarria: is the municipal park of the city and is located in the district of Begoña and precisely on a hill that surrounds the city. It is the green lung of Bilbao as it is considered the largest park in the area. Various events and festivities are held here. Ah and we didn’t tell you that this place was the seat of a former steel foundry, although difficult to believe, you can see it from the high tower located in the middle of the park.
  • Ganekogorta is a mountain on the border between the provinces of Biscay and Alava. It is a place totally surrounded by nature, quiet and full of paths, which makes it perfect for excursions. If you love being in contact with nature you should not miss this place!
  • Doña Casilda Park: it is a park located near the Guggenheim museum. It is a well kept and clean place, not very big we have to say but cozy and intimate. It owns fountains, ponds and some buildings. What makes it perfect is its location in the city center and therefore easily accessible and a small oasis to isolate itself from what there is around. The park is frequented at all hours even at night.
  • El Arenal: one of the symbols of the city of Bilbao, it is the main facade of the Casco Viejo the historical center of Bilbao. Here there is everything you can do to walk, admire the Arenal bridge, go shopping so let yourself be guided by the beauty and the multitude of things to do in this pleasant place.
  • Doña Casilda Iturrizar: is a public park located in the central district of Indautxu. It is an English-style garden in which there is a pond full of ducks and it is for this reason that the park is called Parque de los Patos (duck park) by the locals. There is also a fountain that offers light shows every year and where are held concerts and events. The park remains the green lung of the city even though it is no longer the only one. So beautiful!
  • It is not over yet, among other things you can do and visit in the city we have: puente del Ayuntamiento, a small but nice bridge to visit also because from the beginning of the bridge to the Guggenheim museum there is the Uribitarte passage that runs along the river bank. Another bridge but a more futuristic and modern plant is the puente Euskalduna. Plaza Moyúa is one of the main squares of Bilbao with many buildings of interest (Aurora Building, Hotel Carlton…). The Parque Europa, located between the Begoña district and the Ocharcoaga-Churdínaga district, looks like a real residential park. Mercado de la Ribera, an indoor market in Bilbao where you can find everything and more and maybe from the appearance it doesn’t look like the entrance of a market but… Well you will see and you will understand! Abandoibarra, Gran Vía of Bilbao, San Sebastián, Casco Viejo are the main streets and neighborhoods to do shopping, have fun and walk but above all so easy to reach… Perfect, no? The beaches here are so amazing there are many of them and among these we have Getxo, Sopelana, Plentzia, Playa de Plentzia, las arenas bilbao, all so beautiful! And to finish the tour in a great way if you are a fan of football unmissable is the tour at the San Mamés Stadium (if you are interested, play in advance because the tickets always end quickly).
  • Among the city tours we find: Free Tours Bilbao (walking tour) and Urban Bike (by bike). Two other fun activities to do with family and friends are: Escape Mania or Mad Mansion and Forestal Park Bilbao, an adventure park.

Azkuna Zentroa

As in every Spanish city, the night scene of Bilbao is very lively and full of life. We can find all this in the streets such as: Ledesma, Casco Viejo, Ensanche, Urquijo Gallerias, Licenciado Poza and Calle Mazarredonis… There is something for all tastes!

Among the nightclubs in the city we can find:

  • Shake Bilbao: night club
  • Living Night Club: night club
  • Sala Marquee Bilbao | Enreding Night Club: disco
  • Abadia del Gin&Tonic: lounge bar
  • Zaka Bilbao Bar: pub
  • LA FUGA DISCOTEC: disco
  • La Lola: disco

 

TYPICAL FOODS

Bacalao a la vizcaína

Now we start another journey, the one through the great culinary traditions of Bilbao.

What predominantly reigns supreme is the fish (as you may have deduced today and if you have followed us in the others cities of Spain) but also the meat and in particular the chicken and lamb and the Iberian Jamon, or the famous and renowned raw ham from the Basque country. Ah and remember that here the “tapas” are known under the name of “pintxos”.

  • Bacalao a la vizcaína: the main ingredient of the dish is the salted cod that is accompanied by the typical vizcaína sauce. The cod is seasoned with tomatoes, peppers, garlic and onion.
  • Purrusalda: it is a dish prepared with cod, leeks and potatoes and is seasoned with fish broth, garlic, pepper and bay leaf. A dish with a nice smell and a very intense and decisive flavor but also very tasty.
  • Txangurro/Donostia: the main ingredient of this dish is the granceola (a crustacean) and is prepared with onions, garlic, tomato, and brandy.
  •  Basque cake(Pastel Vasco): it is the typical sweet of the city and the region. It consists of a mixture of flour, butter and eggs which is usually filled with custard, although there are also variations with the addition of jam or fruit. Yum!
  • Goshúa: it is another typical dessert that depending on the region in which it is made there are some varations. However it is usually made with cream, a layer of sponge cake, custard and caramel (it looks like a little like the creme brulee).
  • The wine of Bilbao is one of the best thanks to the nearby region of La Rioja is a world leader in viticulture. A typical fruity Basque wine is the Txakoli. Another very popular drink is the apple cider.

Basque cake

 

WHERE TO EAT (RESTAURANTS/CAFE’…)

The journey through the great culinary traditions doesn’t end here because also to find good restaurants where you can try them is part of all this.

  • ad hoc Cascanueces: international, Mediterranean, European, Spanish, vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
  • Nido Bilbao: European, Spanish, vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
  • Arandia de Julen: Mediterranean, European and Spanish cuisine.
  • El Puertito: Spanish cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
  • La Casita de Sabino: Mediterranean, European, Spanish cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
  • Restaurante Arima: Mediterranean, European cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
  • Restaurante Sustraiak: Mediterranean, European, Spanish, vegetarian cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
  • Restaurante Cafeteria Pentxo: cafe with European, vegetarian cuisine, gluten-free menu options.
  • Gure Toki: bar with Mediterranean, Spanish and vegetarian cuisine.
  • Pitxintxu: Mediterranean, Spanish, vegetarian, healthy cuisine, vegan options, gluten-free menu options.
  • El Globo: bar with Mediterranean, Spanish and vegetarian cuisine.
  • Baster Bilbao: café with Spanish, Mediterranean, European and vegetarian cuisine.

 

We are leaving Bilbao but not the Spain so keep following us on this wonderful trip because we still have other places to explore!

Let us know your opinions about this place. If you liked it or not, if you’ve been there or you’re going to go there? What  you liked the most or least? We’re curious to read your opinions.

A big kiss to everyone.

 

Below we will list the accommodations that you can find in Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?iata=BIO&aid=960457&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1 – accommodation next to the airport of Bilbao.

http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?city=-373608&aid=960457&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1 – accommodation in the city.

http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?district=11933&aid=960457&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1 – accommodation in the city center.

http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?landmark=10196&aid=960457&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1 – accommodation next to Bilbao station.

 

Booking.com

54 thoughts on “Bilbao

  1. wow! How amazing, I know that a lot of people in Portland, Oregon are looking into visiting, or even moving to Spain. I don’t know much about Sprain, so this blog was super helpful with educating me on all that there is to do and see while traveling to Spain. I never knew there were so many museums! I will be sure to let my friends know about this post. Thanks!

  2. I never heard about Bilbao until I read your post! There are so many wonderful places to see in Spain and I have to add this to my list! Glad to see that there are so many amazing restaurants and entertainment places to go to!

    1. The city is pretty famous in fact some scenes of James Bond movie “The World Is Not Enough” took place here!!
      We wish you to have the possibility to explore it and eat all the delicious traditional food that the city offers 🙂

  3. Deve essere un città veramente molto affascinante. Leggendo il vostro post ho scoperto che ci sono tantissime cose da vedere. Sono rimasta colpita anche dalla cucina tipica che avete descritto. Non pensavo uno dei piatti principali fosse a base di merluzzo.

  4. Bilbao è una di quelle città spagnole che era nella “wish list” e poi mi è sfuggita dalle dita. Ora è tornata assolutamente tra le mie destinazioni da vedere al più presto!

  5. Sono stata a Bilbao durante il mio inter rail. Che città incantevole ancora ricordo il guggenheim pazzesco bellissimo… peccato per il tempo.. abbiamo beccato pioggia 3 giorni di fila!!

    1. Purtroppo non sempre il meteo è nostro alleato però l’importante è mai perdersi d’animo!
      Bilbao è una città non famosa come Madrid per esempio, ma come tu puoi confermare la città ha molto da offrire (sotto vari punti di vista)!!

  6. Non sono mai stato a Bilbao! Tanti amici me l’hanno consigliata come città e dopo aver letto l’articolo mi è venuta davvero voglia di andarci!!!!

  7. Bilbao seems one of the great treasures of the Basque Country ! There is no shortage of art and architecture to admire 🙂 Beyond the cultural scene, Bilbao offers excellent shopping and an impressive choice of delicious food.

    1. We think that Bilbao is one of those kind of cities where every tourist would like to return after a first trip. If you have never been here, we suggest you to consider Bilbao like your next destination 😉

  8. Such an informative and well-written article about pretty much everything a visitor should know about Bilbao. Thanks for sharing it, and I’ll refer back to this when visiting Bilbao.

  9. So cool to know that there are a lot of entertainment areas in Bilbao! I love the sound of the Ganekogorta and the Mount Artxanda. A relaxing day with nature sounds pretty awesome. And of course the Vizcaya Bridge and the Zubizuri bridges sounds pretty interesting. A view of Bilbao Bay sounds very enticing!

    1. Some people when decide to explore Spain don’t consider a visit to Bilbao because it has not a great fame like Madrid or Sevilla but it’s pretty obvious that there are lots of attractions that tourists love. Glad you have understood why 🙂

  10. I am hoping to be able to spend a month in the Basque country on our next Spanish trip and will keep this post for reference. Great information, you must have loved it to put this much work into your blog post. Thanks for sharing!

    1. What you say is true, we really love Bilbao but when we write a travel guide we try to be neutral and show all the things is possible to do and to eat in a place without being heavy (in this way the reading is pleasant) hahaha

  11. Love the architectural design of Guggenheim! Do you know if it is at all related to the one in NYC? (Maybe designed by the same architect?) Would be cool to see it from up top I bet where I’m assuming that’s how it looks like a flower.

  12. Articolo davvero molto interessante e ricchissimo di utili informazioni e consigli! Ho sempre voluto andare a Bilbao ma non sono ancora riuscita ad organizzarmi! Devo rimediare!

    1. Ciao Valentina, grazie per le belle parole 🙂
      Ti consigliamo davvero di visitare Bilbao perchè è una città che ha il suo fascino e ti lascia a bocca aperta per le svariate attrazioni ed attività che si possono fare. E per non parlare del cibo poi…!

  13. I love Bilbao! It may not be the most beautiful city, but it’s got a great vibe and the pinxos are INCREDIBLE! Unpopular opinion, I think I preferred the pinxos in Bilbao to those in San Sebastian. This a very complete list, good tips here 🙂

  14. What a comprehensive article about Bilbao! I have yet to visit Spain and when I do this is so on my list so its definitely bookmarked for future reference. The Guggenheim is very high on my list of museums to visit around the world so one day!! Thanks for a great post:)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.