The Best Things To Do In Bilbao

For a large part of the 20th century, Bilbao was an industrial powerhouse but after a significant decline, the city made the decision to go in a new direction and seek out a new image in the 1990s. Architects and designers all played their part in redesigning the city and that saw the skyline of Bilbao change drastically. Today, it is a famous city filled with modern landmarks and museums where culture is at the centre of everything it does.

Guggenheim Museum

The sheer design of this building will have you in awe but this is the perfect place to begin your trip. It was designed by Frank Gehry and finished in 1997 where it formed part of the regeneration scheme. Inside, you will find 19 galleries including temporary exhibitions and contemporary art prioritising Basque artist but also a wide range of themed exhibitions from around the world.

Fine Arts Museum

Another museum but a more traditional offering that is considered to be one of the finest art galleries in the whole of Spain. The collection is vast and covers a wide time frame with some of the work dating back to the 1100s and moving right through to the present day. You will find work from Baroque and Renaissance master such as El Greco and Murillo along with van Dyck and Francis Bacon. There are many masterpieces located here and so, this makes this museum a rewarding trip.

Casco Viejo

On the right bank of the Nervion, the heart of the city was once encompassed by the impressive city walls. During the late 1800s, the walls were removed and now the streets have been pedestrianised, turning it into a bustling place where you can explore the plazas and the many bars, restaurants and boutiques. Take a simple sightseeing tour here and view the cathedral and many churches that are located in the area.

Bilbao Cathedral

Bilbao Cathedral or the Cathedral of St. James as it is known, dates back to the 14th and 15th century and is the oldest monument in Bilbao but it is also the most significant Gothic building in the whole of the province. To get inside, the best option is to head to the portal on the north side known as the Puerta del Angel. You can see a beautiful relief that is carved above the doorway that dates back to the 1500s and the design includes the Basque lauburu which is a traditional swastika.

Beyond the door, you will come across the Gothic cloister which is only one of the two located in the province but you can also view the burial stone of many noblemen who once had a link with the city.

Athletic Bilbao

For any football fan, Athletic Bilbao is known to be one of the biggest clubs in Spain. It has a history that dates back to the turn of the 20th century making it one of the oldest when a group of Eglish expat workers linked with a team created by Basque student who had come back from England. The team plays in the Spanish La Liga and they have a stunning new 53,000 seater stadium known as the San Mames, which was built to replace the 100-year-old ground that stood before it. What makes the club so unique is the fact that is has a Basque-only recruitment policy, which is almost unheard of at a time when big money is spent in football.

Artxanda Lookout

The Funicular Square is where you can hop on board the train and climb the 224 metres to the top of this amazing viewpoint that is located on the north side of the city. The funicular is over 100 years old and once you arrive at the summit, you will see a large part of the original train’s machinery which has now been kept as a sculpture. There are restaurants to choose from but the main reason for making the trip is to experience the amazing view of the city from above.

Pintxos

For decades, the Basque Cuisine has been recognised as being exceptional and that is why there are so many Michelin-starred restaurants in the area. If you prefer casual dining then you need to try Txikiteo in the Old Town. You will be treated to some stunning pintxos which are small dishes that are often put together on top of rustic bread and held together with a toothpick. Choose from prawns, squid, fried egg, grilled mushrooms and much more.

Bilbao Tours & Attractions

Map of Bilbao

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