Bilbao is a city built around finance and culture, dating from the 12th century. Located in the Basque Country; it is the capital of the province of Gascogne. Bilbao is also an active seaport due to its position in the estuary of Bilbao and next to the Bay of Biscay.
Bilbao was built around the old town or the seven-street district which is now protected as a historic monument. Nevertheless, it is a lively part of the city, with many bars and restaurants that attract locals and tourists to the area. The Gothic Cathedral of Santiago is the oldest structure in Bilbao and a landmark of the city, worth studying for its beautiful interiors in the neoclassical style.
Bilbao’s reputation as a city of culture is well deserved because there are many museums and galleries to visit, including the famous Guggenheim Museum. This museum has a permanent exhibition of modern art and a program of temporary exhibitions in constant evolution. To see Spanish art through history, visit the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. The Museum of History and Archeology of Vizcaya offers a history of the Basque people.
Bilbao has its symphony orchestra which often performs in the city in places such as the Teatro Arriaga and the Palacio Euskalduna. During the opera season, there are even more musical performances to attend. Live music is an important part of the city’s social scene and clubs such as Kafe Antzokia and Bilborock are popular clubs with the alternative music scene.
Semana Grande, which means “big week” is a 9-day festival that falls at the end of August in Bilbao. It is a huge gathering of people with more than 10,000 visitors arriving in the city to join the festivities, including international tourists. Some of the events held annually at the festival include bullfights, a strongman competition, free music concerts, street parties and entertainment and fireworks every night of this lively festival. New events are also held every year, and attendees can check out the festival program available for free from many locations across the city for more details on the exact events and their location.
Parklife in Bilbao
The Dona Casilda Iturrizar Park is large in Bilbao, and for those who wish to discover a slice of England in Spain, it is worth the detour, its landscaping and design deliberately recall the English style. Arenal Park hosts a representation of the municipal band every Sunday morning. The Arriaga theater can also be found here; a place for operas, Zarzuela and other concerts.
Bilbao is enjoying a morning of pintxopote with your crew, taking in the unforgettable view from the city’s highest mountain or etching in your memory a sunset in good company at a cliff that could easily be mistaken with Norway or Ireland. Bilbao is its estuary and hillside, experiencing the atmosphere of an Athletic football match and enjoying every minute in its streets and squares.
Whatever it is, Bilbao is one of those cities that you must visit more than once because it leaves you wanting more. Food, art, different plans and special moments await in one of Northern Spain’s least known cities.
Excursions in Bilbao, the city from heights: visit Mount Arxanda, Vizcaya Bridge or the terrace at the Guggenheim
El botxo (the name given to the city by its residents) is surrounded by mountains, making it the perfect destination for different, and very high, perspectives. If you are adventurous and not afraid of heights, then take note of these three options.
Mount Artxanda: Enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramic views of the city from here. Accessible by foot, car or cable car, you will come across an area where sports, food and nature are the main focus. This is the perfect plan for gazing at Bilbao from above and enjoying the views of the entire city from the overlook with friends, family or your other half.
Vizcaya Bridge: Only for the most daring, a 61-metre height is what stands between you and one of the best views of the city. Vizcaya Bridge, which separates the municipalities of Portugalete and Getxo, is a must-see on a trip to Bilbao because of the perspective and also the sensation of feeling like the king of the world above the Nervión River.
The terrace at the Guggenheim: After visiting one of the most famous museums in the world, we suggest checking out the Bilbao city centre from the terrace at the Guggenheim. In addition to the breathtaking views, you can also enjoy the local cuisine whilst filling up before continuing your trek to every corner of the city.
Part of exploring a city is discovering its food and flavours, which is why it is practically a requirement to taste the local dishes and specialities that you will love and want to try over and over again. If you want to know what to do in Bilbao, start off by conquering the palate. How about a pintxopote to whet your appetite?
Pintxopote: You can’t visit Bilbao without doing a pintxos tour through the city’s bars. The perfect combination is to try one or two at each bar in order to try them all like a local. We suggest a pintxopote through the historic quarter. From Plaza Nueva and the surrounding streets, you can look forward to two or three hours of non-stop food and drinks. If you prefer something quieter, Bilbao’s hotels serve an extensive array of irresistible pintxos. As a bonus, one of these could be your perfect accommodation for resting after a “tough” day through the city’s streets.
Sweet moment: Although pintxos are the highlight of local cuisine, there is always room for dessert. Carolinas, butter rolls and rice pastries are the most popular, but we suggest giving in to the many sweet alternatives the city has to offer.
Visit San Mamés stadium and feel like a local
There are certain things that a Bilbao resident must do at least once in a lifetime, and what better way is there to feel like a local than to experience them for yourself? We help you step into the Bilbao lifestyle for one or several days, from beginning to end.
Go to an Athletic football match: If there is one thing that defines Bilbao, it’s the Athletic de Bilbao, the city’s football team and an example of the values that represent the city and its people. When in Bilbao, San Mamés Stadium (known internationally as the cathedral of football) is a required stop because of the great atmosphere it has to offer. And even if you are not a football fan, you can always explore the area around the stadium or the Pozas district to enjoy the vibe on game day.
Climb Pagasarri: One of Bilbao’s most famous mountains is Pagasarri and any self-respecting local must make their way to the top (on foot) at least once in their life. If you are adventurous and determined, then this is definitely the perfect plan for you. In addition, the effort has a reward because from the top you can enjoy some of the most beautiful and unforgettable views of the city.