Bilbao is the biggest city of the Basque Country, and you can find here the Basque culture at its most: delicious food, worldwide-recognised wine, incredible natural surrounding with a breath-taking coastline and green landscapes.
Nominated European City of the Year in 2018 by the Academy of Urbanism, Bilbao has totally changed its image in the last 20 years. Since the opening of its most famous building – the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry – the city has mainly invested in culture and architecture. Here, it is possible to visit important works of some of the most known contemporary architects: the underground designed by Norman Foster, the airport and the bridge designed by Santiago Caltrava, the towers designed by Arata Isozaki and César Pelli.
These and many others are the selling points of a beautiful alternative destination in Spain.
MUST SEE ATTRACTIONS
- Guggenheim Museum – It is the symbol and the centre of the cultural life in Bilbao and the Basque Country. The titanium panels wrapping the building are designed to capture the light and create different effects with day or night lights. The texture of the panels also reminds fish scales, as a tribute to the river which was once the economic centre of the city. In front of the Museum it is possible to admire the artwork of Jeff Koons, a huge dog made with flowers which is today considered the mascot of Bilbao.
- Old Town – a walking tour in the Old Town (Casco Viejo in Spanish) is one of the must activities for visitors in Bilbao. It was first built with the city itself, 700 years ago, and today it is a shopping centre with hundreds of shops, restaurants and cafes. Perfect to do some shopping while enjoying the city vibes.
- Azkuna Centre – A former wine storage warehouse, it re-opened in 2010 as cultural centre totally refurbished by the famous French architect Philippe Starck. The most interesting aspect of the Azkuna is the 43 pillars sustaining the 3 buildings that symbolise the different cultures, architectures and religions which have characterised humanity through history.
- Mount Artxanda – It is located just outside Bilbao and it is very popular for the beautiful view that it offers of the city, including the Old town and the Guggenheim Museum. The lookout point is easily reachable by funicular, from the city centre.
- Bizkaia Bridge – Declared UNESCO World Heritage site in 20016, it is also known as “Hanging Bridge” and it was the first transporter bridge in the world. It has been in service since its inauguration in 1893, so today it is still possible to cross the estuary of the Ibaizabal River through its gondola. Perfect solution to visit the little towns of Portugalete and Getxo, we can make the experience more memorable thanks to a guided tour on the bridge walkway, 45 m high.
FOOD & DRINKS
Food is a defining part of the Basque culture: you cannot visit Bilbao without tasting the Pintxos! A Pitxo (or Pincho) is a small slice of bread with some ingredients on it – mostly fish, stuffed peppers, Spanish tortillas – usually served in bars for the aperitif. It is the Basque equivalent of the Tapas, and they are an institution in the region.
Wine is undoubtedly the king of the Basque Country. In Bilbao, like in the rest of the region, it is a must to drink the Txakoli, a prized young white wine usually drunk to accompany the Pintxos. Every weekend, the residents would go on “Txikiteo”, a social custom which consist in going from bar to bar drinking a few sips of wine while engaging conversation with friends.
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