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Bilbao in five steps: the best of the city and its surroundings

5 July 2024

Bilbao, nestled in the heart of the Basque Country in northern Spain, offers a captivating blend of traditional charm and modern attractions.

In this post, we present our top recommendations for exploring this dynamic city and its picturesque surroundings. From the iconic Guggenheim Museum to the charming streets of the Casco Viejo (Old Town), prepare to uncover the many facets of Bilbao.

1. Explore the city’s museums

      The Guggenheim Museum has undoubtedly become the emblem of Bilbao and a must-visit destination. Designed by the renowned architect Frank Gehry, this museum is a masterpiece of modern architecture. Its titanium exterior and curved forms are truly impressive.

      Entering the museum is as essential as admiring the sculptures that surround it, such as Jeff Koons’ Puppy and Louise Bourgeois’ giant spider, Maman. From the museum, you can enjoy a pleasant walk that will take you to the Arenal Bridge, where you’ll find the well-known Arriaga Theater, leading to the Casco Viejo (Old Town).

      If you’re a museum enthusiast, also visit the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, located near the Guggenheim Museum. It is a small gem that often goes unnoticed. There is a combined ticket for both museums that is well worth it.

      2. Discover the Casco Viejo

      The Old Town, also known as the Siete Calles (Seven Streets), is the soul of Bilbao. The neighborhood is full of narrow cobblestone streets, lively squares, and historic buildings. Here you should visit the Santiago Cathedral, explore the Ribera Market, and enjoy pintxos in the Plaza Nueva. Beneath its arcades, there are numerous bars and restaurants offering excellent cuisine and the typical pitxos that you can not miss.

      3. Explore Getxo and the Puente Colgante

      Getxo, located just a few kilometers from Bilbao, is a charming coastal town that offers a mix of culture, history, and the natural beauty of its beaches. One of the main attractions is the Puente Colgante, a transporter bridge declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This bridge, inaugurated in 1893, is an industrial engineering marvel and allows you to cross the Bilbao estuary in a suspended gondola to Portugalete. In addition to visiting the bridge, you can stroll from the bridge to the Puerto Viejo and enjoy Getxo’s beaches, elegant mansions, and gardens. In the Puerto Viejo, be sure to relax and watch the sunset while savoring a glass of txakoli, the typical local wine.

      To visit Getxo from Bilbao, the most convenient option is to take the metro and stop at Areeta/Las Arenas.

      4. Sail along the estuary (Ría)

      Sailing along the Bilbao estuary is a unique experience. As you navigate its waters, you can appreciate the urban and architectural transformation the city has undergone in recent decades, from the iconic Guggenheim Museum with its avant-garde design to the old shipyards and factories that recall its industrial past.

      5. Visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

      40 kilometers from Bilbao lies San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a rocky islet on the Basque coast that houses a chapel dedicated to Saint John the Baptist. Reaching the chapel requires climbing 241 steps, but the views make the effort worthwhile. This place, famous for appearing in the series Game of Thrones, is ideal for a day trip. Additionally, it allows you to visit the nearby towns of Bermeo and Mundaka.

      In summary, we present 5must-see attractions for your visit to Bilbao, although your experience would not be complete without trying its exquisite cuisine. From pintxos, small delicacies found in almost every bar, to the most sophisticated dishes of Basque cuisine. And if your trip coincides with an Athletic match, be sure to attend. The atmosphere is unbeatable, and the new San Mamés is considered another jewel of the city and a living museum of football.

      Find accommodation and cheap flights to Bilbao

      Feeling an irresistible urge to visit Bilbao? Easily find cheap flights to Bilbao on Trabber.

      Need accommodation? Search for best hotel deals in our search engine. You’re sure to find the option that best suits your needs.

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