I’ve dreamt the dream of hot Spanish days and vibrant Spanish nights everyday that we’ve been stuck in quarantine this spring. It sometimes seems like Barcelona, Madrid and Ibiza get all of the hype when it comes to Spanish travel but what about Bilbao? The Basque country is full of colour, culture, picturesque scenes, golden beaches and ocean views. I visited Bilbao last summer and was greeted with stunning architecture, lush green mountain views and a warm welcome into Spanish culture.
Bilbao was traditionally an industrial port city in the Basque country however it has transitioned into becoming the art and culture hub of Northern Spain. With the combination of old and new city features, Bilbao deserves more recognition.
Here are the top places to visit in Bilbao
This list wouldn’t be complete without an immediate mention of the Guggenheim museum. The museum is the most iconic, eye-catching building in the entire city. You probably even recognize the city for the museum itself! I had a chance to visit the Guggenheim and was intrigued by both the external and internal architecture as well as the wide variety of exhibits. It was designed by Frank Gehry and completed in 1997. A must see!
The great thing about Bilbao is that you can experience the unique, modern architecture the area surrounding the Guggenheim has to offer, followed by an exploration of the old medieval quarters in Casco Viejo. You could spend an entire afternoon perusing through the old city, exploring shops, cafes and even make a pit stop to Santiago Cathedral.
Translated directly to “new plaza”, this iconic square in Casco Viejo has been “new” since 1851. The nights are full of life in the taverns, restaurants, and pintxos bars that outline the square. Looking for a different vibe? Visit on a Sunday morning for a collectors market!
Located just a step away from The Guggenheim, this landmark is an easy stop along the way. Designed by Jeff Koons, the Puppy is 40 ft (12 metre) tall and carpeted with flowers. This is an Insta-worthy landmark if I’ve ever seen one!
La Ribera Market
I would say this is indubitably the most picturesque place in Bilbao. You don’t have to be a photographer to get a great shot of La Ribera Market and San Antón bridge. Fun fact: San Antón bridge is the oldest bridge in Bilbao and is even featured in the city’s coat of arms! La Ribera Market is also the largest indoor market in Europe so an empty stomach is a must.
Although this bridge is beautiful at all hours, I recommend a night time visit. In an effort to modernize the city, Puente Zubizuri was built to accompany the Guggenheim. Enjoy a unique view of the city with a trip to the bridge. You’ll experience the lights of the city reflecting on Nervion River.
Experience the city from new heights with a trip up to Mount Artxanda. Whether you choose to visit during the day or at night, the view is unmatched. The “Hello Bilbao” sign is a lesser known landmark that I recommend visiting here. If you meet a cute Spaniard, this is the place to have a romantic movie moment-trust me.