As part of our Around Spain series, InSpain.News takes a look at Bilbao. One of the Basque Country’s most interesting cities, we’ve created a quick guide to tempt you to visit.
Bilbao has many interesting sites to visit. Enjoy contemporary art at the Guggenheim or for the more traditional head to the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Old Town is the perfect place to wander map-less; who cares if you lose your bearings for a moment? Pop into a pinxto bar for a bite to eat. The river running through the city passes sculptures and impressive modern architecture, including the stunning Zubi Zuri Footbridge which links the Guggenheim to the Town Hall.
Or why not take a trip to the beautiful old fishing port of Algorta or the seaside town of Plentzia? If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be happy to take the 45-minute drive to Gaztelugatxe, which was Dragonstone in the series.
Read our Quick Guide to Bilbao, below.
Quick Guide to Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao opened in 1997. Since then, it has become one of the most celebrated buildings in the world. Designed by architect Frank Gehry, the building’s shape allows “letting the randomness of the curves catch the light”.
The museum’s collection focuses primarily on 20th-century American and European art.
Take a river walk
The river Nervión is the backbone of the city. A natural boundary that divides Greater Bilbao into two historically very different districts. On the left bank, the historically working class area, inhabitants relied on port, mining and industrial activities. The right bank is more residential.
Take a walk along the river, crossing the ten bridges, including Santiago Calatrava’s stunning Zubi Zuri Footbridge, which spans the Nervión between the Guggenheim and the Town Hall.
Museum of Fine Arts
The Museo de Bellas Artes has an exceptional collection of traditional works by well-known masters such as El Greco, Goya, Gauguin, Francis Bacon, Picasso and Velazquez. The era of the collection begins in the Middle Ages all down to the contemporary art of today.
Plaza Nueva – Plaza Barria
The oldest surviving square in the city, it is home to 64 arches. Built in 1849, it’s the perfect place for people watching as you sip coffee and snack on delicious pintxos. The plaza is home to some of the best pintxo (Basque equivalent of tapas) cafés in the city. One of the cafés that you can try is the famous Café Bar Bilbao.
Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park
For some greenery in the city centre, head to Doña Casilda Park, next to the Museum of Fine Arts. Built in 1907, it has a water fountain and pavilion for live performances. The locals affectionately call it el parque de los patos – park of the ducks.
St. James’ Cathedral
St. James is the patron of Bilbao. The cathedral dedicated to him is a trinity of architectural styles. The Gothic architecture dates back to the 15th century, which makes it the oldest church of Bilbao. There is also a Renaissance portico, and a neo-Gothic spire.
Campos Elíseos Theatre
For Art Nouveau architecture, this theatre is worth a visit. Established in 1901, it reopened in 2010 after renovation. Guided tours around the building are free. Campos Eliseos theatre hosts national and international artists.
Outside the city
Gaztelugatxe is famous as a filming location for “Game of Thrones” where it depicted the castle of Dragonstone. The rugged coastline is shaped with tunnels, rocky outcrops and caves. On top of the rock, there is a small 10th century church, which can be reached via a narrow path. It’s only a 45-minute drive from the city.
Plentzia is a popular resort just outside Bilbao, in the province of Bizkaia. On top of a hill, its streets lead down to sandy beaches. There are lots of bars serving locally caught fresh seafood. It takes only 30 minutes to get there on the overground metro service from the centre of Bilbao.
Pagasarri is a small mountain outside the city. There are buses from the city centre, with a few different routes starting from the area of Zabalburu or from Peñascal, in the outskirts of the city.