Read about the city

Bilbao in northern Spain is a city that really became a tourist destination after the opening of the Guggenheim Museum, but here is also so much more to see. You can look forward to interesting sights, beautiful surroundings and local gastronomy such as the delicious pintxos of the Basque Country, the small pieces of bread with mixed cold cuts.

On a trip to Bilbao, the old town, Casco Viejo, is the place to start. It is a neighborhood with narrow streets, cozy squares and colorful buildings. There are of course many cafes that you can enjoy between sights with the city cathedral, other churches and the Archaeological Museum as some of them.

Bilbao's landmark is Frank Gehry's famous museum building with the exciting outer curves where the Guggenheim Art Museum is located. A visit here is almost a must in the city, where you can also visit other museums. It can be, for example, the Museo Euskal about the culture of the Basque Country.

The Basque Country is also an area worth exploring from Bilbao. Here are breathtaking coastlines, beautiful national parks and many interesting cities. The most famous is San Sebastián, also known as Donostia. This is where you will find the iconic beach, Playa de la Concha.

Other attractions

Arriaga Theater, Bilbao

  • Arriaga Theater/Teatro Arriaga: The Arriaga Theater is Bilbao's opera house. The beautiful theater building was constructed in 1890 in neo - baroque style according to architect Joaquin Rucoba's design. The theater is named after the composer Juan Crísóstomo Arriaga, who has been nicknamed the Spanish Mozart.
  • Akzuna Zentroa: This is Bilbao's former wine exchange, which has been developed into a culture and event building. The redesign was done by the artist Philippe Starck. Behind the beautiful, old façade, a modern space opens up, and special attention should be paid to the individually decorated columns.

Plaza Nueva, Bilbao

  • New Square/Plaza Nueva: This square is one of the central ones in Bilbao's old town, Casco Viejo. The square was completed in 1851 with the elegant, neoclassical arcades that can be seen around the square.
  • Maritime Museum/Museo Marítimo: Bilbao's Maritime Museum is an interesting museum where you get through the area's maritime history and traditions in an exciting way. Here there are depictions, model ships and much more to explore.

Archaeological Museum, Bilbao

  • Archaeological Museum/Museo Arqueológico: At the city's Archaeological Museum you can learn about Bilbao's long history through various finds and themes from the first settlements in the area to today. It is a good introduction to a visit to the city.
  • Doña Casilda Iturrízar Park/Parque de Doña Casilda Iturrízar: This park is Bilbao's largest and it is a nice place for some walks. In the park there are fine facilities, ponds, fountains and other things that attract many of the city's citizens.

Church of St Anthony the Great, Bilbao

  • Church of St Anthony/Iglesia de San Antón: This Gothic church was consecrated in 1510 and stands beautifully on the site where the Puente de San Antón bridge crosses Nervión river named the Estuary of Bilbao, which forms a river here. The church bell tower dates from the 1770s.
  • Bilbao Cathedral/Catedral de Santiago: Bilbao Cathedral was originally built as a parish church in the 14th and 15th centuries. The church achieved the status of a cathedral in 1950, when Bilbao's Catholic diocese was established.

Abando Railway Station, Bilbao

  • Abando Railway Station/Estación de Abando: This is a railway station building that you should visit if you want to see the station's impressive glass mosaic, which shows both the sights of the city and scenes from Bilbao's daily life.
  • Artxanda Funicular/Funicular de Artxanda: This cable car takes locals and tourists from Bilbao's street level up to the Artxanda ridge. The current course was opened in 1915. At the top you have an excellent view of the city.

La Salve Bridge, Bilbao

  • La Salve Bridge/Puente de la Salve: In 1972, this bridge opened as the first cable-stayed bridge in Spain. Since then, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao was built at the bridge. On the occasion of the museum's 10th anniversary, Daniel Buren's red arch was set up on the bridge.
  • The White Bridge/Puente Zubizuri: Zubizuri means the white bridge and it is the name of this work by the architect Santiago Calatrava. The bridge opened in 1997 and spans the Nervión River in central Bilbao.
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Bilbao, Biscay, Spain

Top attractions

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao: This is Bilbao's landmark and at the same time a museum of contemporary art and modern art. Frank Gehry designed the intriguing building, which with its almost random exterior curves is a work of art in itself. The museum is dominated by 20th century art, and you can see interesting exhibitions here.
  • The Museum of Fine Arts/Museo Bellas Artes: Bilbao's old and fine art museum opened in 1914, and here you will find one of Northern Spain's most distinguished collections from the 12th century to the present day. You can see works by i.a. Goya, El Greco and Paul Gauguin.

Bilbao City Hall

  • Bilbao City Hall/Casa Consistorial de Bilbao: This is Bilbao's town hall, which was built in beautiful neo-baroque architecture in 1892, and it was Joaquin Rucoba who designed the building. There are some very beautiful halls in the town hall; you can see neo-Moorish style and other decoration here.
  • La Ribera Market/Mercado La Ribera: The market La Ribera is a nice market building where you can both buy food such as fruit and vegetables and sit down in cozy cafes and restaurants and enjoy the atmosphere.

Museo Vasco, Bilbao

  • The Basque Museum/Museo Vasco: At this museum you can learn more about the Basque culture that naturally characterizes the Basque Country in the border area between France and Spain. At the museum there are countless interesting items and different themes to explore.
Trips in the area

Vizcaya Bridge, Bilbao

  • Vizcaya Bridge/Puente de Vizcaya: This is a bridge that connects the towns of Potugalete and Las Arenas at the mouth of the river Nervión. The bridge was built in 1893 as the first transporter bridge in the world, and it is still in operation with the possibility of carrying cars and passengers across the river on the bridge's transportable deck. The Puente de Vizcaya is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Santander, Spain

  • Santander: The well-visited town of Santander is located along the Spanish north coast, and here you can look forward to lovely beaches and fine sights. In the city you can e.g. see Santander Cathedral, and at the entrance to the city stands the lighthouse Faro de Cabo Mayor. A little south of this you will find the popular beach, Sardinero.
  • Mundaka: Mundaka is a small coastal town famous for its surfing. The nature of the coastline means that coveted, hollow waves are formed for surfers, which you can watch from the city's wharves.

Gaztelugatxe, Spain

  • Gaztelugatxe: This is a dramatically situated island for which a rock bridge has been built from the Spanish mainland. You can visit it along a narrow path that leads over 200 steps up to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, which is a refuge on top of the small island.
  • San Sebastián: In the Spanish Basque Country lies the beautiful city of San Sebastián, also known as Donostia. The city offers countless sights and a scenic location with the bay and La Concha beach in the center. San Sebastián is in itself a great destination for a longer stay than just a daytrip.

Biarritz, France

  • Biarritz: Biarritz is a fine and well-visited seaside resort located in France close to the border with Spain. Here is the famous Hôtel du Palais, which opened in 1855 for the Empress Eugénie. Biarritz is also known for its surfing, and the city was the first place in Europe where surfing took place.
  • Gorbea Natural Park/Parque Natural de Gorbea: Gorbea is the name of the largest natural park in the Basque Country. It is located inland and contains a beautiful and varied nature with i.a. waterfalls and mountains that reach 1,482 meters/4,862 feet in height.
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Shopping
  • El Corte Inglés, Gran Vía D. Diego López de Haro 7-9, elcorteingles.es
  • Megapark Barakaldo, Avenida de la Ribera, megaparkbarakaldo.com
  • Zubiarte, Lehendakari Leizaola, zubiarte.com
  • Shopping streets: Casco Viejo, Gran Vía
  • Market: La Ribera
With kids
  • Boat ride: Bilboats, Pio Baroja Plaza 1, bilboats.com
  • Maritime museum: Museo Marítimo, Ramón de la Sota Kaia 1, itsasmuseum.eus
  • Playgrounds: Parque de Doña Casilda
  • Aquarium: Getxo Aquarium, Muelle de Arriluze, Getxo, getxoaquarium.com
  • Beach: Playa de Sopelana and others
Practical info