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Unveiling the Best of Bilbao: Essential Spain Travel Tips

By Ralph Velasco

Nestled in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country, Bilbao beckons travelers with its rich culture, stunning architecture, and delectable cuisine. Whether you’re a history buff, an art aficionado, or a foodie at heart, this vibrant city offers a plethora of experiences to delight every traveler. Join me as we explore the best things to do in Bilbao, from iconic landmarks to hidden gems.

  1. Gaze Upon the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: Begin your Bilbao adventure with a visit to the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Designed by renowned Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, this avant-garde masterpiece boasts striking curves and shimmering titanium panels. Marvel at contemporary art installations both inside and outside the museum, including works by artists like Jeff Koons and Yayoi Kusama.


  2. Stroll Through the Casco Viejo: Lose yourself in the charming streets of Bilbao’s historic Old Town, known as the Casco Viejo. Wander past colorful buildings, bustling plazas, and centuries-old landmarks. Don’t miss the Mercado de la Ribera, one of Europe’s largest indoor markets, where you can sample local delicacies and mingle with friendly vendors.

  3. Wander Along the Ría de Bilbao: Take a leisurely stroll along the banks of the Ría de Bilbao, the river that winds its way through the heart of the city. Admire the architectural marvels that line the waterfront, including the Zubizuri footbridge and the Isozaki Atea towers. Stop for a coffee or a glass of wine at one of the trendy cafes dotting the riverbank.


  4. Ascend Mount Artxanda: For panoramic views of Bilbao and its surrounding landscapes, take a ride on the funicular to the summit of Mount Artxanda. From the top, you’ll be treated to breathtaking vistas of the city skyline, the Nervion River, and the lush greenery of the Basque countryside. Pack a picnic and savor the scenery from one of the mountaintop viewpoints.

  5. Indulge in Basque Cuisine: No visit to Bilbao is complete without savoring the region’s delectable cuisine. Treat your taste buds to pintxos, the Basque Country’s answer to tapas, at one of the city’s many bustling taverns. Sample mouthwatering specialties like bacalao al pil pil (cod in garlic-infused olive oil) and txangurro (spider crab stew) paired with crisp local txakoli wine.

  6. Explore the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum: Art enthusiasts won’t want to miss the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, home to an impressive collection spanning from the Middle Ages to the present day. Admire works by Spanish masters like Goya and El Greco, as well as international artists such as Van Dyck and Gauguin. Be sure to check out the museum’s rotating exhibitions for a glimpse of contemporary art trends.

  7. Immerse Yourself in Basque Culture: Dive into the rich cultural heritage of the Basque Country at the Euskal Museoa, Bilbao’s Basque Museum. Learn about Basque traditions, language, and folklore through immersive exhibits and interactive displays. Don’t miss the chance to catch a traditional Basque dance performance or attend a lively festival celebrating local customs.


  8. Day Trip to the Gernika Peace Museum: Pay a visit to the nearby town of Gernika and explore its poignant Peace Museum. Learn about the town’s tragic history during the Spanish Civil War and the bombing of Gernika (Spanish: Guernica) in 1937, immortalized by Picasso’s famous painting. Gain insight into the enduring quest for peace and reconciliation in the Basque Country.Picasso's Guernica (Guernika) at Reina Sofia in Madrid, Spain
  9. Unwind in Parque de Doña Casilda: Escape the hustle and bustle of the city with a leisurely stroll through Parque de Doña Casilda, Bilbao’s verdant urban oasis. Admire the park’s lush gardens, tranquil ponds, and shaded pathways, perfect for a peaceful afternoon retreat. Pack a picnic or simply relax and soak up the serene atmosphere.
  10. Experience Basque Nightlife: As the sun sets, experience Bilbao’s vibrant nightlife scene come to life. Head to the trendy Indautxu and Bilbao La Vieja neighborhoods, where you’ll find a plethora of bars, clubs, and live music venues. Sip on craft cocktails, mingle with locals, and dance the night away to the infectious rhythms of Basque music.

 

From world-class art and architecture to mouthwatering cuisine and cultural treasures, Bilbao captivates travelers with its myriad attractions. Whether you’re exploring its historic streets, savoring pintxos in lively taverns, or immersing yourself in Basque culture, this dynamic city offers something for everyone. Follow these Spain travel tips to make the most of your Bilbao adventure and create unforgettable memories in this enchanting corner of the Basque Country.

GRAB MY BOOKS AND DOWNLOAD A LIST OF MY TOURS

Be sure to get your copy of 60 AFFIRMATIONS for Travel as well as my most recent book in my new The Mindful & Intentional Travelers seriesTravel Activity Book for Adults: GRATITUDES Edition.

Ready to join me as a traveler? check out the upcoming Northern SPAIN’s Basque Country & La Rioja experience.

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