15 Best Things To Do In Bilbao

Bilbao, the capital of Spain's Basque Country, is a city renowned for its culture and beauty. With plenty of attractions and activities to explore, this charming city is a great destination for all travelers. From sightseeing to shopping and dining, there are so many things to do in Bilbao that you won't be able to fit them all into one visit. In this article, we have compiled a list of the best things to do in Bilbao.

1. Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum is a breathtaking architectural masterpiece, and one of the best places to visit in Bilbao. Opened in 1997, the museum was designed by Frank Gehry and stands as an iconic symbol of modern architecture. The building has a curved composition with titanium cladding which gives it its unique shape and appearance.

Inside, visitors are dazzled by the grand lobby, exhibition galleries and spectacular atrium filled with natural light from the glass ceiling. In addition to its remarkable architecture, the museum holds a captivating collection of 20th-century art from around the world.

It features works from famous artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Chagall among others. What makes this museum so special is how it seamlessly combines modern art and design with old world culture; creating an atmosphere that stimulates creative thought for all those who enter.

Contact:

Address: Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

Phone: +34 944 35 90 80

Accommodation: Best Hotels In Bilbao

2. Fine Arts Museum

Bilbao fine Arts museum

The Bilbao Fine Arts museum is an exquisite showcase of both modern and traditional art. Its collection spans centuries, with works by masters such as Goya, Zurbaran, and Velazquez to Picasso, Miró and other contemporary artists. The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao building itself is a work of art as well - its undulating curves are made from glass and titanium sheets designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry.

The Museum of Fine Arts offers more than just exhibitions for visual appreciation; it is also home to seminars on the history of art, lectures on current topics like globalization or sustainability in the arts and classes on how to appreciate different types of artwork. It also serves as a place for conferences and presentations about new projects related to artistic expression. All these activities make this museum one of the most diverse cultural institutions in Spain.

Contact:

Address: Museo Plaza, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

Phone: +34 944 39 60 60

Recommended reading: Best Places To Visit In Spain

3. Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo (Old Town) in Bilbao

The Casco Viejo (Old Town) in Bilbao is a vibrant and lively district that has something for every visitor to see. It’s a place you can come to understand the city’s diverse culture, enjoy its energetic nightlife, or simply take in the beauty of its architecture. This centuries-old neighborhood is located on the left bank of the Estuary of Bilbao and has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

One of Casco Viejo's major attractions is its historical monuments and plazas; among them are Mercado de la Ribera, the Santiago Cathedral, Plaza Nueva, Plaza Miguel de Unamuno, San Antón Bridge, Plaza Circular and San Nicolás Church. Most of these have been renovated over time to preserve their architecture for future generations to appreciate.

4. Plaza Nueva

Plaza Nueva bilbao

Plaza Nueva, located in the old town of Bilbao, is a beautiful and historical square that serves as a gathering place for locals and visitors. Steeped in more than six centuries of history, the plaza has gone through numerous transformations throughout its lifespan. Its most recent incarnation took shape at the end of the 19th century when local architect Francisco de Cubas redesigned it to reflect new neoclassical trends popular at the time.

Today, Plaza Nueva is home to some of Bilbao its best restaurants and bars, making it an ideal spot for sampling some traditional Basque cuisine or enjoying a leisurely evening with friends. It is also an important cultural center hosting events such as concerts by local musicians and art exhibitions from around Spain.

5. Basilica of Begoña

Basilica of Begoña

The Basilica of Begoña is a stunning example of Baroque architecture. Built in 1776, the basilica is one of the most important religious monuments in all of Spain. It stands on top of a small hill and can be seen from anywhere in the city.

The façade consists of two towers which are connected by a single archway – an impressive sight for visitors looking up at it for the first time. Inside, you will find beautiful frescoes painted on both walls and ceilings depicting scenes from Christianity. The interior also includes intricate sculptures and artwork that adorn each column and archway within this awe-inspiring building.

Contact:

Address: Begoñako Andra Maria Kalea, 38, 48006 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

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6. El Ensanche

El Ensanche

El Ensanche is a vibrant district of Bilbao that plays an important role in the city’s culture and history. Established in 1880, the district is located on the left bank of Bilbao’s river, Nervion. El Ensanche has always been a center for economic and cultural activities throughout its existence. It consists of many plazas, parks, churches, squares and distinctive palaces which make it unique compared to other districts in Bilbao.

The most notable plaza is Plaza de Moyua which features some well-known buildings in Bilbao including the Palace of Miraconcha which was built in 1876 by Italian architect Antonio Palacios.

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7. Azkuna Zentroa

Azkuna Zentroa

Azkuna Zentroa is an architectural and cultural landmark in Bilbao. Opened in 2010 after extensive renovation, it was the former headquarters of the Banco de Bilbao before its repurposing as a cultural center.

The design of the Azkuna Zentroa is remarkable for its aesthetic blend of modern and traditional styles. Its brick façade features intricate mosaics and arches while Hôtel du Petit Moulin-esque iron windows gracefully tie together the building's different components. Inside, you are treated to a stunning interior that includes several exhibition spaces, auditoriums and a rooftop terrace.

Contact:

Address: Arriquíbar Plaza, 4, 48010 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

Phone: +34 944 01 40 14

8. Catedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago bilbao

The Catedral de Santiago is the best place to see in Bilbao. This majestic cathedral was built in the 15th century and is considered a National Monument of Historical and Artistic Interest. The main entrance of the Bilbao Cathedral has three gates made out of stone pillars, giving visitors an impressive view from the outside.

Inside, visitors will find an array of artwork with Gothic and Baroque styles that are truly breathtaking. The interior also features wooden choir stalls and polychrome stained glass windows that tell stories about religious events from ancient mythology. Furthermore, the cathedral has many chapels dedicated to different religious figures as well as a museum filled with relics from past centuries.

The Cathedral de Bilbao is known for its striking architecture which features columns, spires and multiple towers including the bell tower which soars over the skyline of Bilbao.

Contact:

Address: Done Jakue Plazatxoa, 1, 48005 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

Phone: +34 944 15 36 27

9. Palacio de la Diputacion

Palacio de la Diputacion

Palacio de la Diputacion is one of the most popular Bilbao attractions. Located in the heart of downtown, this stunning palace was built in 1753 and is a testament to Bilbao its rich culture and history. The exterior features a combination of Neoclassical and Baroque architectural styles that are typical of the period.

Inside, tourists can explore numerous galleries displaying art from both local and international artists. Additionally, visitors can tour several rooms full of beautiful furniture and antiques from past centuries.

The building also houses many important governmental offices including those for the Department of Tourism and Culture as well as those responsible for Bilbao's finances. Guests can take part in guided tours around the palace to learn more about its history or simply admire its beauty on their own time.

Contact:

Address: Calle, Gran Vía de Don Diego López de Haro, 25, 48009 Bilbao, Spain

10. Zubizuri Bridge

Zubizuri Bridge

Zubizuri Bridge is a remarkable place in the city of Bilbao. Built by architect Santiago Calatrava, this incredible bridge has become an integral part of the city's skyline and one of its most photographed sites.

Although it looks like a simple arch bridge from afar, a closer inspection reveals that its unique design is quite complex, comprised of a curved concrete structure suspended by steel cables. The white surface of the bridge stands in stark contrast to the lush green park below it and nearby buildings, making for quite an awe-inspiring sight.

The name 'Zubizuri' comes from two Basque words meaning “white” and “bridge” respectively, which accurately describes its appearance as well as its purpose - acting as a pedestrian walkway between two sides of town separated by the Nervión River.

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11. Monte Artxanda

Views from Mount Artxanda in Bilbao

Visiting Monte Artxanda is one of the best things to do in Bilbao. Located on the north side of the city and overlooking the estuary, it is a great spot for taking in incredible views over Bilbao. The top of Mount Artxanda has plenty to offer visitors, including walking trails and picnic spots along with beautiful gardens.

For those wanting some exercise, there is a 13 kilometer trail that runs along the ridge of Mount Artxanda or if you're feeling adventurous you can take a 10 meter zipline ride over the top. There are also stunning views from nearby Mirador de Amaika which overlooks both sides of Bilbao's estuary and provides stunning scenes at sunset.

On sunny days there are free concerts held at various points around Monte Artxanda making it an incredibly popular destination for locals and tourists.

12. Aste Nagusia

Aste Nagusia in Bilbao

Aste Nagusia is a week-long celebration held every year in Bilbao. It's one of the top tourist attractions in the city and a must-see for anyone who visits Bilbao during this time of year. The event takes place annually between the 15th and 22nd of August and features parades, concerts, bullfights, fireworks displays and many other activities that showcase the vibrant culture of Bilbao.

The most important part of Aste Nagusia is the Basque festival known as "Txupinazo", which marks the beginning of Aste Nagusia. During Txupinazo a large crowd gathers in front Plaza Moyua to witness an official firework display which signals the start of the festivities.

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13. Pintxos

Pintxos

Pintxos offer a unique culinary adventure that is not to be missed during your stay in Bilbao. A traditional pintxo is typically made from a slice of bread topped with various ingredients including meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The beauty of these delicious delicacies lies in the variety of flavors they offer – from spicy to swee.

These small bites come alive during the evening when bars throughout the city open up their kitchens to serve fresh pintxos. Locals often gather at these bars for drinks and snacks as friends catch up with each other about their day. Being able to share such a unique culinary experience with others creates an unforgettable atmosphere that can only be found in Bilbao.

14. Playa de Azkorri

Playa de Azkorri

Playa de Azkorri is the perfect place for a peaceful getaway during your trip to Bilbao. Situated on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, it has beautiful views and is easily accessible from the city center. The beach itself is made up of fine golden sand and stretches for over two kilometers, making it ideal for swimming or sunbathing.

The area also has many other attractions such as a lighthouse, various monuments and plenty of restaurants serving local seafood dishes. For those wanting to explore further, there are plenty of opportunities to do so with nearby hiking trails providing breathtaking views of both land and sea.

During summer months Playa de Azkorri can become quite crowded but one can escape this by heading towards its more secluded areas where you can take in some incredible sunsets while enjoying a picnic dinner with friends or family.

15. Vizcaya Bridge

Vizcaya Bridge

The Vizcaya Bridge in Bilbao is one of the most iconic structures in the city, and definitely worth a visit. It is a bridge that stands out from all other bridges due to its unique design. Constructed from 1926-1932, this incredible feat of engineering was designed by Alberto Palacio with help from the engineer Ricardo Bellido de Luna.

It is commonly said that Palacio drew inspiration for the bridge’s shape from images of ancient cathedrals and his two daughters’ hair ribbons. The bridge connects Portugalete on one bank to Las Arenas on the opposite bank and it spans an impressive 615 meters across the Nervión River estuary.

Best Flights To Bilbao

Quickly search the best flights from the widest selection of airlines flying to Bilbao. Regardless of what airline you go with, you can save money by comparing. Skyscanner is the best airline price comparison service specifically for Bilbao.

FAQ

Q: Is Bilbao worth going?

A: Bilbao has gained international recognition in recent years for its remarkable transformation and modern architectural wonders. From the iconic Guggenheim Museum to the stunning Puente de La Salve bridge, Bilbao boasts an impressive array of architectural masterpieces that are worth exploring. The city's rich cultural heritage is also evident in its historic old town, known as Casco Viejo, where narrow streets are lined with charming shops and traditional Basque pintxos bars.

One of the main attractions that draws visitors to Bilbao is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this titanium-clad masterpiece houses an extensive collection of contemporary art that will captivate any art enthusiast. Moreover, just a short walk from the museum lies Gran Vía, a bustling street filled with high-end boutiques and trendy cafés where one can find some of the best shopping opportunities in Bilbao.

Q: Does Bilbao have a beach?

A: While Bilbao itself is situated along the banks of the Nervión River and does not have a direct access to the sea, there are several beautiful beaches just a short drive away.

One such beach is called Playa de Ereaga, which is located in Getxo, a municipality neighboring Bilbao. This sandy stretch offers pristine waters and stunning views of the Bay of Biscay. With its golden sands and clear blue waters, it attracts both locals and tourists alike looking to relax or engage in various water activities such as swimming or surfing.

Another nearby option is Playa de Plentzia, which lies about 20 kilometers from Bilbao. This long sandy beach boasts calm waters perfect for families with young children. Its picturesque setting amidst cliffs adds to its charm and makes it an excellent spot for sunbathing or taking leisurely walks along the shore.

Q: Is Bilbao a party city?

A: While Bilbao may not be synonymous with wild nightlife like Ibiza or Barcelona, it still offers plenty of opportunities for revelers to have an unforgettable time.

One factor that contributes to Bilbao's party scene is its thriving bar culture. The city is filled with numerous bars that range from cozy taverns serving traditional Basque pintxos (tapas) to trendy cocktail lounges offering innovative concoctions.

Moreover, Bilbao boasts several nightclubs where visitors can dance until dawn. The city has seen an emergence of clubs catering to different musical tastes over the years, including techno, hip-hop, and pop music venues. Clubs like Fever and Moma attract a younger crowd seeking pulsating beats and energetic atmospheres. These establishments often host live performances by renowned DJs and artists from around the world.

Q: How do I get from Bilbao airport to the city?

A: Bilbao Airport, also known as Bilbao International Airport or Loiu Airport, is located approximately 12 kilometers north of the city center. There are several convenient transportation options available to get from the airport to the city. One popular choice is taking a taxi, which can be found just outside the arrivals area. The fare from the airport to the city center typically ranges between 20-25 euros and takes around 15-20 minutes depending on traffic conditions.

Another option for getting from Bilbao Airport to the city is by using public transportation. The Bizkaibus A3247 bus offers regular service between the airport and Bilbao's central bus station, Termibus. The bus departs approximately every 30 minutes and takes around 25 minutes to reach its destination. This economical option costs around 1.45 euros per person.

Q: What food is Bilbao known for?

A: One dish that Bilbao is famous for is pintxos, which are small bites served on skewers or toothpicks. Pintxos can vary from simple combinations like olives and anchovies to more elaborate creations such as miniature grilled steaks topped with caramelized onions and peppers.

Another staple of Bilbao's cuisine is bacalao a la vizcaína, or salt cod in Bizkaia-style sauce. This hearty dish showcases the region's love for seafood combined with their unique flavors. The salt cod is first soaked to remove excess salt before being cooked in a flavorful sauce made from tomatoes, garlic, red peppers, onions, and olive oil. The result is a tender fish that perfectly balances tangy and savory flavors. Served with crusty bread or rice pilaf, bacalao a la vizcaína embodies the essence of Bilbao's gastronomic heritage.

Lastly, no mention of Bilbao's food would be complete without highlighting their delicious cheesecake known as tarta de queso. This iconic dessert has gained worldwide recognition for its creamy texture and slightly burnt caramelized top layer.

Q: Is Bilbao tourist friendly?

A: When it comes to being tourist-friendly, Bilbao does not disappoint. With its efficient public transportation system, comprehensive tourist information centers, and friendly locals, navigating through the city becomes an enjoyable experience. Moreover, many signs are available in both Spanish and English, making it easier for non-Spanish speakers to find their way around.

Bilbao is also known for its warm hospitality. Locals are often eager to help tourists navigate the city or offer recommendations on must-visit spots or local cuisine. Whether it's asking for directions or engaging in conversation at a local café or bar, visitors will likely find themselves welcomed with open arms by the friendly people of Bilbao who take pride in sharing their vibrant culture with others.

PLAN YOUR TRIP TO BILBAO

Book Your Hotel In Bilbao

You can book your hotel in Bilbao with Booking.com as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hotel, they also return the cheapest rates for accommodations like guesthouses and apartments.

Book Your Flight To Bilbao

Use Skyscanner to find cheap flights to Bilbao. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know you get the best rates.

Need a Rental Car In Bilbao?

Here is a budget-friendly car rental resource. No matter where you’re traveling, you’ll be able to find the best — and cheapest car rentals in Bilbao here.

Looking for an Airport Transfer Service In Bilbao?

If you are looking for a convenient and affordable option to get to and from the airport in Bilbao, here you will find all the answers to book your next airport transfer in Bilbao.

Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance

Travel insurance will protect you against illnesses, an injury, luggage theft, and even trip cancellations. It’s a comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong during your trip. I never travel to Bilbao without it as I’ve had to use it several times in the past. My favorite travel insurance companies that offer the best service and value are:

Looking for the Best Travel Companies to Save Money With?

Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you go to Bilbao. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m taking a trip. They will save you money when you travel too.

Want More Information on Spain:

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