After tumultuous years and many challenges, the city of Bilbao developed into what it is today – a dynamic city that started to draw in tourists from all over the world. From world-class art museums, including the impressive Guggenheim Museum, to hip districts, avant-garde architecture, and fine dining restaurants, the Basque city of Bilbao has many attractions for visitors who love to explore eclectic cities.
If you have a visit to Spain planed, add the Basque city of Bilbao of your list of places to visit. There are plenty of attractions to see and things to do there and where’s here to talk about all of them with you.
Let’s start with the most obvious option of them all – Guggenheim Museum. The museum is Bilbao’s most visited attraction and it’s the one that draws the most tourists to the Basque city. Artworks by renowned artists such as Eduardo Chillida, Richard Serra, Andy Warhol, and Mark Rothko are house in the metal ship-design building, a project of the American architect, Frank Gehry.
The Guggenheim Museum is surrounded by Bilbao’s Art District. Walk around to discover large sculptures by famous artists. Then continue your art exploration at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao
Locally known as Museo Bellas Artes Bilbao, the Museum of Fine Arts features the most important art collection in the entire Basque Country. Opened in 1914, the museum is home to international and Spanish art. Some art pieces are from the 19th century while others date back to the Middle Ages. If you’re curious about the names of the artists featured here, the list includes Gauguin, El Greco, Murillo, and Goya.
Euskal Museo Bilbao
If you want to learn more about Basque culture and to see a collection of over 20,000 artifacts including sculptural pieces, fishing equipment, shields, and sarcophagi, a visit to the Euskal Museo Bilbao is mandatory.
Bilbao, Museo Marítimo
To expand your knowledge of the Basque Country, after finishing your visit at Euskal Museo Bilbao, stop at Bilbao Maritime Museum where you can learn about the region’s special relationship with the sea. As for collections, at this museum you can see model boats and you can learn how ships are built in the shipyards of Bilbao, see displays of fishermen tools and ship buildings, and participate in various workshops and family activities organized by the museum.
After you explored in-depth the history of Basque Country, it is time to deepen your knowledge about the city of Bilbao by visiting the Bilbao Archaeological Museum. The museum educates visitors about Bilbao from its beginning to modern times using archeological remains and restored objects.
Museum of Artistic Reproductions
The last museum on the list, the Museum of Artistic Reproductions deserves a visit too. Here are housed reproductions of famous artwork from ancient Rome and Greece including a reproduction of Venus de Milo.
Bilbao’s Old Town, also known as Casco Viejo, consists of seven pedestrian streets ad many side alleys that are filled with architectural gems. Casco Viejo is also the place where you can find Bilbao’s most visited sights like Bilbao Cathedral, Plaza Nueva, and Ribera Market.
Speaking of Bilbao Cathedral, this architectural masterpiece shouldn’t miss from your Bilbao itinerary. Built in the 15th century, the cathedral features a mic of Gothic and neo-Gothic styles with ornate towers and alter.
La Ribera Market Bilbao
Ribera Market, the other sight situated in the Old Town, is Europe’s largest indoor market. Don’t worry, it’s impossible to miss it! The market has over 110,000 square feet and it has a wonderful art deco style. You can come here to witness its majestic presence but you can also shop fresh fruits and veggies or stop at one of the restaurants or bars for a good meal or a drink.
Bilbao La Vieja
Often times confused with Casco Viejo, Bilbao La Vieja is one of the trendiest districts in Bilbao. Also known as Bilbi, this hip neighborhood is a place where funky bars, cafes, and small boutiques are hidden. It’s also the place with unique street art and small galleries.
While you’re exploring Casco Viejo or other parts of the city, you have to stop at a bar to enjoy delicious pintxos. Basque Country is renowned for its delicious pintxos and you have to try them while you’re here. Pintxos are small pieces of bread served with classic toppings including meat and vegetables or seafood, held together with a cocktail stick.
Azkuna Zentroa is the city’s culture and leisure center. Formerly, the place was a storage house and Bilbao’s wine exchange. But it was redesigned by artist Philippe Starck and turned into what it is today. A beautiful place for events, workshops, and exhibitions. Whether you want to take part in an event or not, you have to visit this place for the 43 individually designed columns that feature so many different styles – from columns covered in dragons inspired by the Chinese culture to art deco columns and everything in between.
Euskalduna Palace is home of the concert hall and a conference center. The conference center of Euskalduna Palace is considered one of the best conference centers in the world. Euskalduna Palace symbolizes the last ship built in the city’s old shipyards. The building was designed by Dolores Palacios and Federico Soriano in 1999 and currently hosts concerts, dance, theater, and opera shows in the concert hall.
Rio Nervión is the river that crosses Bilbao. There are many attractions on each side of the river and you can explore them by boat. Or you can embark on a river tour around the city.
Bilbao Estacion de Abando
Believe it or not, the train station in Bilbao is actually a very popular touristic attraction. Abando Train Station features a huge stained glass that showcases all the major attractions in the city plus different aspect of Basque culture.
If you want to go up and down Artxanda Mountain, you can do it using the old mountain railway built in the 19th century that, to this day, transports visitors up and down the mountain. The views are great and the surrounding area is perfect for a walk.
Doña Casilda Park
If you get tired after working around the city center or visiting the wonderful museums of Bilbao, you can stop at Doña Casilda Park. Bilbao’s biggest park, Doña Casilda Park is in the middle of all the touristic attractions and it’s a great spot for a break.