Welcome to the second post in our series, Exploring. In this travel guide, we will be highlighting the best things to do in Bilbao. Whether it be for a weekend away, or a more permanent move, Bilbao is full of activity. In our last post we explored how to get around, so no matter where you are in the country, Bilbao is easily accessible.
Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country, is a captivating destination in northern Spain that seamlessly blends modernity with tradition. Known for its stunning architecture, rich culture, and delectable cuisine, Bilbao offers a multitude of activities to cater to a wide range of interests. In this travel guide article, we’ll explore some of the top things to do in this vibrant city, ensuring you have an unforgettable experience when visiting Bilbao.
Guggenheim Museum: A Modern Marvel
One cannot talk about Bilbao without mentioning the iconic Guggenheim Museum. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. Even if you’re not an art enthusiast, a visit to the Guggenheim is a must. Explore the striking exterior, featuring curved titanium sheets that catch the light beautifully. Inside, you’ll discover a collection of modern and contemporary art that’s both thought-provoking and visually stunning.
Casco Viejo: A Historic Journey
Bilbao’s Casco Viejo, or Old Town, is a charming neighborhood that takes you on a historical journey. Stroll through narrow, winding streets, lined with colorful buildings and bustling with local life. Visit the Santiago Cathedral, Mercado de la Ribera, and Plaza Nueva. This area is also a great place to sample pintxos, the Basque Country’s answer to tapas. Each bar offers a unique selection of these delicious small dishes.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum: Art Lovers’ Paradise
Art aficionados should not miss the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. This institution houses a vast collection of European and Spanish art, spanning from the Middle Ages to contemporary works. Highlights include pieces by Goya, El Greco, and other masters, as well as an impressive collection of Basque art. The museum’s neoclassical building is a work of art in itself and provides an exquisite backdrop for the treasures it holds.
Athletic Bilbao’s San Mamés Stadium: Feel the Passion
For sports enthusiasts, a visit to San Mamés Stadium, home to Athletic Bilbao, is a unique experience. The passionate fans of this historic football club create an electric atmosphere during matches. If you can’t catch a game, take a stadium tour to learn about the club’s rich history, explore the facilities, and visit the museum, which celebrates Athletic Bilbao’s legacy.
Euskal Museoa – Basque Museum: Cultural Insight
Discover the rich cultural heritage of the Basque Country at the Euskal Museoa – Basque Museum. This museum offers an in-depth look at the region’s history, traditions, and customs. From traditional Basque clothing to exhibits on Basque music and dance, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the unique Basque identity. Don’t forget to explore the lovely garden and enjoy a coffee at the museum’s café.
Zubizuri Bridge: A Work of Art
Stroll across the Zubizuri Bridge, also known as the White Bridge, designed by Santiago Calatrava. The stunning, modern footbridge spans the Nervión River and provides an opportunity for great photos. Whether you’re admiring the bridge from a distance or walking across it, it’s a visual treat that adds to the city’s distinctive character.
Basque Cuisine: Savour the Flavours
Bilbao is a food lover’s paradise, and indulging in Basque cuisine is a top activity. Local specialties like bacalao a la vizcaína (codfish in Basque sauce) and chuletón (rib-eye steak) are not to be missed. The city’s pintxos bars offer a delightful culinary experience, where you can try a variety of small, delectable bites. Pair these with Basque cider, known as sidra, for a truly authentic taste of the region.
Bilbao is a city of contrasts, where historic charm harmonises with contemporary innovation. Whether you’re a fan of art, culture, or gastronomy, Bilbao offers a diverse array of experiences to suit your preferences. Exploring this city will reveal its unique character, ensuring that your visit or move to Bilbao is a memorable journey filled with art, history, and culinary delights.
We always recommend traveling around the country and renting before you make a final decision on where you want to move. Always seek independent legal advice.
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