Tourist Attractions and Best Things to do in Bilbao Spain

Bilbao is not always in the mind of many travelers and is not among glamorous cities of the world nevertheless, what makes Bilbao a traveler’s gem is the haute cuisine and fine arts. Bilbao started out as an industrial port town and then put on a tourist map by the Museum of Guggenheim.  This contemporary art museum attracted visitors from across Europe, which dazzles many with its extensive collection as well as innovative modern architecture.

Bilbao Railway Station
Bilbao Railway Station

Additionally, the city also has another art museum that rivals the Guggenheim and is known as Bilbao’s Museum of Fine Arts. This museum has an excellent collection of art paintings by some of Europe’s best art masters. Many museums in Bilbao are devoted to preserving the Basque culture as well as the region’s seafaring. The city also has five Michelin-starred hotels that offers one of the Spanish finest cuisines. Furthermore, two of the restaurants are also located near major tourist spots.


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With this little information about Bilbao, below are exciting things to do in this Basque city.

15 Things To Do In Bilbao

Visit the Guggenheim Museum

Guggenheim Museum
Guggenheim Museum

The must-see spot in the city, Guggenheim Museum is what attracts many visitors to Bilbao. The building itself is remarkable work of art, considered as an example of the innovative 20th-century architecture. This spectacular structure was designed by Frank Gehry, one of Spanish fine architect, using aerospace software. The building features a 24,000 square meters space for just exhibition, and it has inspiring works of art on display. Huge windows of the museum let in natural light, making it hassle-free to enjoy the showings.

Inside Guggenheim Museum, you will find a world-class collection of arts ranging from modern to contemporary, dating back to 1950s. If you are art lover you can visit this museum and marvel on, among many others, the work of Mark Rothko; the colorful Villa Borghese, Willem de Kooning; Only with wind, Time, as well as Anselm Kiefer; Sound and Sunflowers.

Make a trip to Old Town alias Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo Bilbao
Casco Viejo Bilbao

Get dazzled by old world charms of Casco Viejo, which is located on the river bank that extends between the Church of San Nicolas and San Anton Bridge.  Casco Viejo is linked with New Town (Ensanche) by five bridges. Take a walk on the Siete Calles or as it is translated in Spanish, Seven Streets. These Seven Streets features shops you can buy mementos as well as restaurants to enjoy exotic Spanish dishes. On the northern side of Casco Viejo, you will find Teatro Arriaga, a stylish Neo-Baroque theatre inspired by Paris Palais Garnier Opera House. Teatra Arriaga will entertain you with some of the best staged performances including opera, music concerts, and other cultural events.

Go to Parque de Dona Casilda de Iturrizar

Parque de Dona Casilda de Iturrizar via Wikipedia CC
Parque de Dona Casilda de Iturrizar via Wikipedia CC

This extensive leafy space will offer you an escape from the bustle of the city. The park is beautifully landscaped in a romantic style. You will be enticed to take a leisure walk by the winding pathways, after which you can sit and just take in the beautiful scenery on the park benches. The park is filled with remarkable leafy palm trees as well as impressive arrays of trees and intriguing flowers.

Visit the Basilica de Begona

Basilica of Begoña
Basilica of Begoña

The basilica is located in the district of Begona, a picturesque alpine region. The basilica was built back in the 16th century and it features an image of the city’s patroness- Virgin of Begona. The church can be easily be reached by walking up the hill, or alternatively, you can take a lift from Church of San Nicolas which is just nearby. Besides serving as a significant pilgrimage church, the area will also provide a unique view of the city of Bilbao.

Visit the Cathedral de Santiago

Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao by Zarateman via Wikipedia CC
Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao by Zarateman via Wikipedia CC

This 19th-century church is located in the Casco Viejo and was built on a 14th-century pilgrimage shrine site.  The church has magnificent interior featuring three naves as well as rib-vaulted ceilings. The striking choir stalls and cloister with whimsical Gothic details will make your trip here worthwhile. Additionally, you will find tour guides ready to take you around the cathedral, which opens daily to the public.

Palacio Euskalduna

Palacio Euskalduna by Jean-Pierre Dalbera via Flickr CC
Palacio Euskalduna by Jean-Pierre Dalbera via Flickr CC

Visit the Palacio Euskalduna especially if you love contemporary architectures. The building was ingeniously designed to resemble a ship, which also signifies the last built vessel at Euskalduna shipyard. You will enjoy some opera performances and some symphony ballet at the hall’s auditorium which is the largest in entire Spain and the second largest in Europe.

Go to Mercado de la Ribera

Mercado de la Ribera photo by Galder Segurola via Flickr CC
Mercado de la Ribera photo by Galder Segurola via Flickr CC

You can shop for souvenirs at this 1920s marketplace as well as experiencing the day to day life of the people of Bilbao. The market is also the largest indoor marketplace in Europe, sitting on a 10,000 square meter space.  You will find quality Basque culinary equipment, seafood, fresh fruits, and vegetables as well as other gourmet foodstuffs used to prepare the Basque cuisine.

Visit Funicular Artxanda and Mount Artxanda

Funicular Artxanda by Cyril5555 via Wikipedia CC
Funicular Artxanda By photographer and original uploader was Cyril5555 at fr.wikipedia – Transferred from fr.wikipedia to Commons., Public Domain

This cableway will provide a fun way to enjoy the Bilbao scenery. The ride takes three minutes from the hills of Arangoiti district to the peak of Mount Artxanda. From the summit of Artxanda, you will be impressed by the extraordinary panoramas of the city of Bilbao landscape. You can take walks on the summit of mount Artxanda while admiring the views.

Take a boat ride at Ria de Bilbao

Ria de Bilbao
Ria de Bilbao

The boat ride will provide you with another way of exploring the city of Bilbao. Besides, there are numerous major attractions along the Ria del Nervion banks (also called Ria de Bilbao). Some of the sightseeing include the Ayuntamiento (the Town Hall), the Ribera Market, the hotel Arenal Bilbao, and the Guggenheim Museum.

Explore the Azkuna Zentroa designs

Azkuna Zentroa designs photo by Tomas Fano via Wikipedia CC
Azkuna Zentroa designs photo by Tomas Fano via Wikipedia CC

The building is a spectacular art of work in its own right. This cultural and leisure center is located in the old wine exchange and was re-designed by Philippe Starck, a French designer. The structure sits upon 43 distinctive pillars – each showcasing a splendid piece of artwork.

Drink on the Plaza Nueva

Plaza Nueva of Bilbao photo by Martin253 via Wikipedia CC
Plaza Nueva of Bilbao photo by Martin253 via Wikipedia CC

The Plaza Nueva is situated at the center of Casco Viejo and it houses numerous cafes, restaurants, and bars. You can also purchase collectibles from the locals here every Sundays.

Bite your way through Bilbao’s pintxos bars.

Filled eggs with salmon pintxos
Filled eggs with salmon pintxos

Enjoy the famous pintxos bites which are synonymous to the Basque region. The pintxos are simply small bits of bread topped with all sorts of local ingredients ranging from vegetables and cheese to meat and seafood.

Check out Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum photo via Wikipedia CC
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum photo via Wikipedia CC

The collections in this museum are so vast that it is housed in two buildings. You will find fine works by Europe art masters from the 14th to 17th centuries.

Learn Bilbao history at Archaeology Museum

Get to understand how far the city has come and the struggles she has gone through. The Archaeological Museum was opened to the public in 2008 and it perfectly illustrates the steady evolution of Basque culture.

Learn about Bilbao Estuary at Museo Maritimo Ria de Bilbao

Museo Maritimo Ria de Bilbao photo by Zarateman via Wikipedia CC
Museo Maritimo Ria de Bilbao photo by Zarateman via Wikipedia CC

The museum is located close to the Bilbao Estuary on the site of formerly Euskalduna shipyard outbuildings. The museum features numerous exhibitions including the restored vessels as well as the docks. You will learn about the history of Bilbao maritime and traditions of Basque people who made their living out of the estuary.

Bilbao Spain Travel and Tour PackagesBilbao Travel and Tour Packages

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