Travel Ninja

Unlock Bilbao’s Secrets [Top Activities & Spots]

Once overlooked in favor of its glamorous neighbours like Barca and Madrid, Bilbao has emerged as a buzzing and gleaming city that blends the cosmopolitan with the traditional, offering everything from the iconic Guggenheim museum to delightful pintxos (Bilbao’s version of tapas). This Spanish city is perfect for a three-day itinerary or a leisurely city break, where you can explore everything from modern museums to vibrant markets, and even catch a thrilling La Liga football match. Whether you’re tracing the historic streets of this once port town or planning to journey along the coast towards the Camino del Norte, Bilbao serves as a crucial part of any comprehensive Spain itinerary, promising a mix of culture, food, and unique viewpoints on the Basque capital’s charm.

How Many Days In Bilbao?

Deciding how many days to spend in Bilbao depends on what you hope to discover in this vibrant city. For a satisfying taste that encompasses main attractions, including visits to museums, enjoying pintxos at various bars, and exploring the quaint Casco Viejo, three days are generally sufficient. However, if you wish to immerse yourself deeper into the local culture, frequent more restaurants, and maybe revisit your favorite spots, five days in Bilbao allow for a more relaxed pace. This timeline ensures you experience the dynamic blend of traditional and modern attractions that define Bilbao, making every visit memorable.

How To Get To Bilbao

Reaching Bilbao is straightforward whether you’re flying in from within Europe or traveling overland. Bilbao Airport, though a smaller airport, offers direct flights from major cities like Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, and Valencia, as well as international hubs including Paris, London, Munich, and Frankfurt. Unfortunately, direct flights from the USA and Canada are not available, necessitating a connection through other European cities. For those coming from Madrid, you can enjoy a scenic 4.5 hours train ride directly into Bilbao; make sure to book your tickets via the Renfe official website to snag the best fares and confirm train schedules. Whether arriving by air or land, Bilbao’s connectivity ensures an easy start to your Basque adventure.

Where To Stay In Bilbao

Choosing the right hotel can make or break your visit to Bilbao, especially if you’re planning to soak in the vibrant culture and history of this dynamic city. For those looking to be at the heart of the action, staying in Casco Viejo, the old town, is ideal. This area is not only a safe and quiet haven at night but also brims with some of the best bars, restaurants, and main attractions of the city, including proximity to the iconic Guggenheim museum. For accommodation, NYX Hotel offers pristine conditions for a solo traveler, a couple, or friends, with its central location providing ease of access to explore the city by foot. Alternatively, Petit Palace Arana stands out as a midrange hotel with exceptionally clean rooms and helpful staff, making it a solid choice for those seeking value and comfort. For a more intimate experience, 7 Kale Bed and Breakfast presents beautifully decorated rooms that accommodate up to three people, ensuring a stay with a personal touch.

The Old Town

Stepping into Bilbao’s Old Town is like walking through a living museum, with its picturesque cobbled streets and the echo of history in its oldest neighbourhood, which was founded 700 years ago. This area retains its traditional charm amidst the hustle of modern life, making it a dynamic blend of the old and the new. It’s a place where you can enjoy a pintxo at Santa Maria, sip wine at Los Jardines bar, or browse through quaint trinket shops.

Bilbao's Old Town

Known locally as siete calles or seven streets, the Old Town is the cultural heartbeat of Bilbao, constantly evolving with new spots popping up, yet it always remains deeply rooted in its rich past. Whether you’re looking to explore historical sites, dine, or shop, this vibrant district offers an array of activities nestled within its traditional Basque architecture.

Guggenheim Museum

No visit to Bilbao is complete without experiencing the Guggenheim Museum, a pinnacle of contemporary art museums not just in Spain but globally. As much a sculpture as a space for art, the museum’s shimmering metal-looking façade and whimsical statues like Puppy and Mamá the spider enchant visitors before they even step inside. Positioned along the Nervion River, the museum acts as a magnet for travellers, locals, and art lovers, offering a mix of permanent and temporary exhibitions that showcase the cutting-edge of contemporary art.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbo

For the best approach, stroll from the Old Town across the river to view the full grandeur of its architecture and the iconic sculptures, including Puppy, a gigantic dog covered in garden flowers, and Maman, a towering spider structure. Pre-booking tickets via the Guggenheim website or joining a guided tour can enhance your visit, ensuring immediate entry and insightful commentary, transforming a simple museum trip into a profound cultural immersion.

Bilbao’s Bridges

Bilbao’s bridges are not just functional; they are a showcase of the city’s historical evolution and architectural grandeur. Spanning the Nirvión estuary, these structures are essential veins connecting the vibrant life of the Basque capital. From the San Antón bridge, a relic of medieval times, to the modern marvels like the Frank Gehry bridge and the Calatrava-designed Zubizuri, each bridge has a story to tell.

Bilbao's Bridges spain

The Puente de Deusto, a drawbridge that opens to allow vessel traffic, highlights the dynamic blend of tradition and modernity that characterizes Bilbao. Walking these bridges offers a unique perspective on the city’s development and is a must for anyone looking to understand Bilbao beyond its surface.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Even before the Guggenheim reshaped the cultural landscape, the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao stood as a cornerstone among art museums in the city. Established in the early twentieth century, this museum houses a rich collection that spans several eras, showcasing works from revered Spanish artists like Goya, El Greco, Murillo, and Gauguin, along with prominent Basque artists.

Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao

Not just a sibling in prestige to the modernist marvels of the Guggenheim, the Bellas Artes Museum offers a deep dive into the classical and contemporary realms that have shaped artistic expression in the region. It’s a pivotal stop for anyone looking to explore the depth of Bilbao’s art scene beyond the flashy modernity of newer galleries.

Hucha de los Txikiteros

In the heart of Bilbao’s old town, tucked away on Pelota Street, the Hucha de los Txikiteros offers a charming glimpse into local tradition. More than just a piggybank, this spot captures the essence of the city’s communal spirit. Traditionally, after savoring txikitos—small glasses of wine at the bustling bars—locals drop their spare coins into this well-loved piggybank. Annually on October 11, these collections are donated to charity, reflecting the community’s generosity.

Notably, this location provides a rare view of the Basílica de la Virgen de Begoña, linking it to both spiritual and social facets of Bilbao’s culture. This unique tradition offers visitors a taste of the city’s heart, where socializing aids community welfare.

Mercado de la Ribera

Nestled under a stained-glass roof, Mercado de la Ribera holds the title as Europe’s biggest covered market and stands as a vibrant center of Basque cuisine. A visit here offers more than just shopping; it’s an immersive experience where fresh regional produce gleams and the aromas of culinary delights fill the air. The market’s hospitality area allows visitors to savor local cuisine while enjoying picturesque river views.

Mercado de la Ribera

For those looking to unwind, the bar downstairs hosts jazz sessions that bring the market to life in the evenings. This iconic spot in Bilbao is a must-visit for food lovers and culture seekers alike, making it a cornerstone of the city’s gastronomic heritage.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Begoña

The Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Begoña, revered as the spiritual heart of Bizkaia, celebrates the region’s patron saint, the Virgin Begoña. This majestic basilica, funded by community donations, is a stunning example of late-Gothic style architecture. It took over a century to complete, symbolizing the enduring faith of its followers. The basilica is a pivotal site for worship, particularly bustling on August 15 and October 11, when believers gather to honor the amaxu, meaning mother in Basque. For those willing to brave the ascent, climbing the 316 steps to the basilica provides not only spiritual solace but also panoramic views of the surrounding city.

Plaza Nueva

Nestled in the heart of Bilbao, Plaza Nueva is a vibrant hub of cultural and culinary delights. By day, the square transforms into a bustling flea market where you can buy and exchange everything from vintage furniture to books, albums, and clothes. Nearby, the flower market in El Arenal dazzles with vibrant colours and enticing smells. As evening falls, this iconic plaza becomes one of the city’s most beloved spots for pintxos and socializing, especially during the warm summer nights.

Plaza Nueva Spain

Here, you can savor the best of local flavors at bars like Víctor Montes Jatetxea, known for its exquisite seafood dishes such as bacalao al pil pil, or Bertoko Berria, where grilled Iberico pork ribs and a Spanish tortilla with salted cod promise a delightful gastronomic experience. Whether you’re looking for a taste of local tradition or a lively night out, Plaza Nueva offers a slice of Bilbao’s rich tapestry of life.

Zorrotzaurre

Once an industrial area, Zorrotzaurre has transformed into a manmade island bustling with events and vibrant buzz, earning it the nickname ‘the Manhattan of the Basque country.’ Originally a peninsula, this area has been reinvented as an island that captures the cultural and artistic spirit of Bilbao. A standout feature is the Open Your Ganbara market held in the old Artiach Factory, where locals and visitors alike explore unique finds.

Nearby, Pabellón 6 regularly hosts compelling theatre shows, making it a cornerstone of the area’s lively scene. This underground neighbourhood is a testament to Bilbao’s dynamic approach to urban renewal and cultural vibrancy, symbolizing a new era for the city’s once dormant spaces.

Riverside Docks

As the sun goes down in Bilbao, the Riverside docks come alive, becoming a favorite spot for both locals and visitors looking to unwind. These docks are a prime location for anyone wanting to enjoy a drink while soaking up the beautiful riverside views. Whether you’re capping off your day with a glass of wine or kicking off a vibrant weekend night, places like Muelle Marzana and Muelle de Ripa offer atmospheric settings near the iconic Arriaga Theatre. These venues blend seamlessly into the city’s social scene, offering a perfect backdrop for relaxation and socializing under the soft glow of sunset.

Quiosco de El Arenal

Nestled among the trees of El Arenal, the Quiosco de El Arenal stands out as a unique venue for music lovers. This circular kiosk, free from pillars, features huge windows that offer an uninterrupted view of the Art-Decó stage, making every performance an intimate experience. Visitors can enjoy a range of shows here, particularly the vibrant Sunday performances by local musicians. There’s also an underground café where you can sip on a coffee or a local brew while enjoying the music. The quirky kiosk’s design ensures that whether you’re inside or out, you’re part of Bilbao’s dynamic cultural scene.

Teatro Arriaga

Teatro Arriaga stands as a majestic example of neo-baroque theatre in Bilbao, often likened to the Paris Opera. Named after the celebrated local musician, Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, dubbed the ‘Spanish Mozart’, this theatre has withstood the ravages of fire and flood to continue hosting one of the city’s most vibrant arts and culture programmes. For those keen on delving deeper into its storied past, guided tours are available that reveal Arriaga’s history and the resilience that defines this iconic institution. Whether you’re an art aficionado or a history enthusiast, a visit here offers a rich tapestry of cultural heritage woven through dramatic architecture and compelling storytelling.

Teatro Arriaga Balbao

Rascacielos de Bailén

The Rascacielos de Bailén, standing as Bilbao’s first skyscraper, was a beacon of modernity in the 1940s, soaring over 40 meters high. This architectural marvel reflects a distinctive nineteenth-century Chicago-style design, making it a unique landmark in the city. A visit to its rooftop offers unrivaled views of the old town, encapsulating the urban evolution of Bilbao. Today, it remains a testament to the ambitious urban planning of the past, inviting visitors to gaze out from one of the city’s most historic vantage points.

Parque Casilda Iturrizar

Nestled in the heart of Bilbao, Parque Casilda Iturrizar is a serene city-centre park that offers a peaceful escape with its lush sports areas, a captivating fountain featuring regular water shows, and a charming music pergola. Locally known as ‘el Parque de Los Patos’ or duck’s park, its tranquil pond is home to various bird species, creating a picturesque setting for a picnic under the shaded groves. Whether you’re looking to engage in active sports or simply relax by the water’s edge, this park provides a refreshing blend of nature and recreation right in the bustling city.

Parque Casilda Iturrizar bilbao

Mirador de Artxanda

For breathtaking views of the city, the Mirador de Artxanda is a must-visit. Perched atop Monte Artxanda, this mirador offers a panoramic bird’s eye view that captivates both locals and tourists. Accessible via a cable car—an experience in itself that dates back to the early twentieth century—the journey to the hill is as enchanting as the destination. Once at the top, indulge in a glass of Txakoli con gilda at one of the quaint restaurants, and soak in the scenic beauty that sprawls beneath you. Whether it’s your first visit or your fiftieth, the sweeping vistas of Bilbao from Artxanda are truly unparalleled.

Mirador de Artxanda Bilbao

Vizcaya Bridge

A journey to Bilbao isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic Vizcaya Bridge. Recognized as the world’s first metal-structured ferry bridge, it stands as a significant engineering milestone. Originally built in 1893, the bridge is 45 meters high and 160 meters long, connecting the quaint areas of Portugalete and Getxo across the Nervión river. Today, you can experience its grandeur by taking an elevator to a 50-metre-high footbridge, offering stunning views of the Cantabrian sea and the river below.

Vizcaya Bridge Bilbao

Whether you’re crossing by foot, bike, car, or train, make sure to explore the historical buildings and enjoy a drink at the local Batzoki bar. The boardwalk along the coast of Getxo provides a picturesque conclusion to a day spent admiring this engineering marvel.

Grúa Carola

Nestled in the heart of the old Euskalduna shipyard, the Grúa Carola stands as a testament to both Bilbao’s industrial heritage and its local lore. Originally part of the bustling shipyard, this crane has an enchanting story tied to its name. Legend has it that Carola, a beautiful woman known to cross the estuary by boat, captured the hearts of the shipyard workers daily. In an effort to keep distractions at bay, a foreman bought her a car, ending her scenic commutes and inadvertently giving this iconic crane its name.

Grúa Carola Bilbao

Today, Grúa Carola is more than just a piece of machinery; it’s a symbol of the city’s rich history and vibrant culture, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Bilbao.

Mural Soñar

In the vibrant Olabeaga neighbourhood, the Mural Soñar captivates visitors with its grandeur and profound simplicity. This enormous mural, painted on a building, serves as a canvas that echoes the dream (or ‘soñar’ in Spanish) of a community immersed in renewal and artistic expression. Created by the artist collective SpY, the mural quickly became one of Bilbao’s most iconic landmarks. Its size and characteristic font invite onlookers to ponder the power of dreaming in transforming spaces and spirits. This striking piece of street art not only beautifies the Olabeaga area but also stimulates a deeper reflection on urban identity and memory.

Mural Soñar bilbao

Estadio de San Mamés

Estadio de San Mamés, home of one of the most iconic football teams—Athletic Bilbao—is more than just a stadium; it’s a shrine where fans gather to witness team win after win. The structure melds modern facilities with traditional passion, offering a unique atmosphere that can electrify even the most casual visitor. Whether you’re there to catch a game or simply to explore, don’t miss the stadium’s museum, which chronicles the club’s history and its many successes. This venue isn’t just a place to watch football; it’s a portal into the heart of Bilbao’s sporting heritage, making it a must-visit for anyone wanting to grasp the city’s deep love for its team.

Estadio de San Mamés bilbao

Parque Etxebarria

Parque Etxebarria stands as Bilbao’s biggest park, an expansive green retreat sprawled across the surrounding hillsides. Accessible by elevator, drive, or a challenging climb of 300 steps from Plaza Unamuno, this park offers more than just a simple escape from urban bustle. The original factory chimney stands as a monument to the industrial past, while vast patches of grass and well-appointed picnic areas invite visitors to relax and rejuvenate.

Parque Etxebarria bilbao

As the sun sets, the sounds of the city fade, replaced by the tranquil atmosphere of this expansive park, making it the perfect place to unwind and enjoy a break from the city noise. Whether you’re looking for a vigorous hike or a serene spot to watch the day end, Parque Etxebarria is an ideal choice.

Gran Via

Strolling down Gran Via, Bilbao’s bustling main street, is like walking through a gallery of urban charm and architectural grandeur, easily ranking it among the most beautiful boulevards in Spain. Lined with magnificent buildings, chic shops, leafy trees, and lively bars, where the local specialty, pintxos, is always on the menu, this thoroughfare is a vibrant artery at the heart of city life. The section between Plaza Elíptica and Plaza Circular is particularly delightful, as it restricts vehicle traffic, granting pedestrian access for a leisurely and safe exploration.

Gran Via bilbao

Don’t miss the statue of Don Diego López, Bilbao’s founder, near the eastern end, which celebrates the historical ‘Carta Constitucional. This boulevard is not just a road but a symbol of Bilbao’s rich history and vibrant present.

Azkuna Zentroa

Azkuna Zentroa stands as a testament to Bilbao’s innovative spirit, transforming the historical La Alhóndiga, a modernist building, into a vibrant cultural and leisure space. Reimagined by visionary architect Philippe Stark, this locale has morphed into one of the city’s most eclectic cultural hotspots. Inside, visitors can explore an array of 43 uniquely designed pillars, each narrating a different story about the interplay between art, culture, and everyday life.

Azkuna Zentroa bilbao

It’s not just a place to pass through but a dynamic environment where every corner offers a new perspective, making it a must-visit for those looking to immerse themselves in the cultural fabric of Bilbao.

England In Bilbao

Tucked away in the Irala neighbourhood, England in Bilbao presents a charming English-style street where facades painted in lively colours capture the essence of its namesake. Zubeola Avenue is a picturesque snapshot of architectural diversity, where houses built in both French style and English style stand side by side. Originally developed to enhance working-class living conditions, these vibrant homes now serve as a vivid reminder of Bilbao’s cosmopolitan embrace of European countries’ architectural styles. This unique area offers a delightful contrast to the traditional Spanish urban landscape, making it a must-visit for those who appreciate the quaint and colorful aspects of city exploration.

Puerto Viejo de Algorta

Puerto Viejo de Algorta is a quaint traditional fisherman’s neighbourhood in Getxo, just a short drive from Bilbao. This charming village embodies the spirit of the Basque Country with its narrow streets, white houses, and idyllic small squares filled with secret corners. Once a bustling fishing village, it has transformed into a vibrant leisure hotspot where locals and tourists alike can enjoy quisquillas and caracolinos while overlooking the picturesque Ereaga beach.

Puerto Viejo de Algorta

This area is not only a testament to the rich maritime heritage of Bizkaia but also a perfect spot to experience the tranquil yet lively atmosphere of the sea side of life.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, an iconic island connected by a narrow stone bridge to the Basque Country’s rugged cliffs, is a sight to behold. Known to many as Dragonstone from Game of Thrones, where Daenerys Targaryen once walked, this mystical location captivates with its ancient chapel perched atop a craggy hill, accessible via 241 stairs. Legend says that if you ring the bell at the top three times and make a wish, it will come true, adding an enchanting layer of mystique to your visit.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

A must-see for its breathtaking views and storied past, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe stands out as a true crown jewel of the Basque Country.

Athletic Club Bilbao Stadium Tour

For both football enthusiasts and cultural explorers, the Athletic Club Bilbao Stadium tour offers a deep dive into the rich history and passion that encapsulates both the city of Bilbao and the Basque Country. This immersive experience is not just about the football team; it’s a celebration of local fervor and pride. With your tour ticket, you gain access to the inner sanctum of the stadium, including the changing rooms, press room, VIP box areas, and even a walk along the pitch’s edges—a rare privilege.

The tour isn’t complete without exploring the accompanying museum, which narrates the club’s storied past through engaging exhibits, all available with an audioguide in multiple languages, including English. If your visit aligns with the football season, spanning September to June, seize the opportunity to experience a live match; game tickets can be effortlessly purchased through their website. This tour is not just a sports outing but a gateway to understanding local identity, accessible without needing to pre-book, ensuring that every visitor can walk in and experience the heart of Bilbao’s football legacy.

ITSAS Museum

The ITSAS Museum, also known as the Maritime Museum of Bilbao, is a captivating destination that offers a unique blend of historical and maritime exhibits, both inside and outside. This museum allows visitors to literally climb aboard various boats and ships, showcasing Bilbao’s rich naval history. With your ticket, you can explore not just the vessels but also detailed recreations of historical ships that illustrate the evolution of sea rescue operations before the advent of modern technology.

For those intrigued by a broader historical context, a visit here might complement a trip to the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao, noted for its extensive fine arts collection spanning from the Middle Ages to the contemporary period, including masterpieces by El Greco, Goya, and Gauguin.

Tickets to both museums can be arranged via their respective websites, and remember, visiting on a Tuesday offers free entry to the Museum of Fine Arts, though booking in advance is recommended to secure your spot. This museum provides a thorough depiction of Bilbao’s artistic and maritime heritage, making it a must-visit for both art lovers and maritime enthusiasts.

Bilbao Abando Train Station

While not as flashy as some other city attractions, the Bilbao Abando Train Station is a fascinating attraction in its own right, especially for those interested in the interplay of art and architecture. Visitors are often captivated by the elaborate stained glass windows that illuminate the station, showcasing vibrant scenes that depict life in Bilbao. These windows serve as a colorful narrative on the city’s history, featuring iconic images such as the Basilica of Begoña, the bridge of San Antón, and various Basque farmhouses, as well as scenes from the steel and fishing industries that fueled the city’s growth.

Bilbao Abando Train Station

Originally opened on March 1, 1863, and rebuilt over the foundations of the old town of Abando, this station is more than just a transit point—it’s a portal to the rich cultural tapestry of Bilbao. Whether you’re passing through or specifically here to gaze at the artistic windows, Abando provides a unique glimpse into the historical and industrial evolution of this dynamic city.

Walk Along Nervion River

A stroll or bike ride along the Nervion River is one of the quintessential Bilbao experiences, offering a walking path that traces the river from the old town of Casco Viejo to the modern marvel of the Guggenheim Museum. This pathway is perfect for those who enjoy jogging or a leisurely walk, featuring frequent bridges that connect to vibrant neighborhoods and significant landmarks. As you move from the historical Casco Viejo, you can explore the contrasting architectural styles leading up to the Abando Train Station and beyond. For art lovers, the path provides an easy access to the Guggenheim, while foodies might detour to La Ribera Market for local flavors.

Nervion River

Alternatively, a more serene walk towards the Las Cortes neighborhood reveals quieter, less traveled parts of the city, making this riverside walk a personalized journey through the heart of Bilbao.

Explore The Casco Viejo

Immerse yourself in the charm of Bilbao’s Casco Viejo, the historic center of the city, where narrow cobbled streets echo stories from the 13th century. Originally a fishing village along the Nervion River, this area now invites visitors to wander and discover its hidden gems. Enjoy a coffee or pintxo at a cozy bar under the Arcos de la Ribera, or explore the vibrant Plaza Nueva, a hub for local life and culinary delights.

Casco Viejo

Don’t miss the Santiago Cathedral, a testament to the area’s rich history and a landmark that has witnessed the transformation of Casco Viejo over the centuries. Whether you’re soaking in the atmosphere or indulging in the local cuisine, Casco Viejo offers a perfect blend of past and present, making it a must-visit for anyone exploring Bilbao.

Arcos de la Ribera

Stroll along the Arcos de la Ribera, a picturesque covered walkway by the Nervion River near La Ribera Market. This unique stretch features porticos adorned with murals that encapsulate the spirit of Bilbao. Initiated in the late 1980s, the project aimed to breathe new life into the city through the arts. Local artists were given free rein to decorate these arched walkways, creating a vibrant tapestry that pays homage to the old town’s rich history and cultural evolution.

Notable contributors like Justo San Felices, Roberto Zalbidea, Ángel Cañada, Alejandro Quincoces, and Ambrosio Ortega each added their unique touch, transforming the area into a living gallery. By the end of the 1990s, these murals had become emblematic of Bilbao’s commitment to revitalization and city representation through public art.

La Ribera Market

Immerse yourself in the culinary heart of Bilbao at La Ribera Market, a vibrant hub nestled in the charming old town. Established in 1929 and sprawling over 10,000 square meters, it stands as one of the largest covered markets in Europe. Whether you’re staying in an apartment and wish to self-cater, or you’re eager to dive into the local gastronomy, this market offers a plethora of choices. The gourmet market section is particularly enticing, with stalls featuring bar tops laden with bread slices topped with delicacies like Goats cheese with tomato jam, jamon Iberico with manchego, and pickled chilies with anchovies.

La Ribera Market Bilbao

Don’t miss the sandwiches and hot croquetas, perfect for pairing with a beer or a glass of rioja. This expansive market area provides ample tables, allowing you to sample a variety of pintxos from different stands without ever having to change your seat. La Ribera Market is open daily from 8 am to midnight, ideal for any meal from lunch to late-night drinks; note that on Sundays, doors open at 11 am, yet you can still revel in the bustling atmosphere until midnight.

Lampposts Museum

Tucked away near the Museum of Fine Arts, the Museo Farolas, or Lampposts Museum, offers a unique glimpse into the urban aesthetic of Bilbao through the ages. This outdoor collection showcases lampposts from various generations, presenting a free, accessible exhibit that might be easily overlooked but is a delightful find for history and architecture buffs. Each piece in the collection reflects the technological and artistic evolution of street lighting, capturing the essence of Bilbao’s public spaces over the decades.

This quirky display, while modest, is an excellent example of how everyday objects can be elevated to the status of art, providing a tongue-in-cheek exploration of urban development and design.

Ruta de los Murales

Bilbao bursts with vibrant street art, and the Ruta de los Murales offers an immersive way to explore this aspect of the city’s culture. Starting from Arcos de La Ribera, this route winds through La Vieja neighborhood, just a short walk south of Casco Viejo. Here, the walls are canvases displaying bold murals that tell tales of urban life and creativity. Each piece along the route reveals unique stories and styles, reflecting the dynamic spirit of Bilbao.

For those eager to dive deeper, a comprehensive map available online pinpoints each artwork, guiding visitors through a labyrinth of La Vieja’s colorful streets. This journey not only decorates the walk but also connects walkers visually and culturally to the heart of Bilbao’s artistic community.

Visit The Beaches

While Bilbao is famed for its urban culture, a trip to the Basque coastline reveals a different kind of allure—its stunning beaches. Just a short drive from the city, you can swap your walking shoes for a bathing suit and towel and soak up the sun on the sandy stretches. Arrigunaga Beach offers a rugged, natural setting, while Ereaga Beach is perfect for those looking to enjoy seaside cafes and vibrant scenes.

Bilbao beach/sea

Further along the coast, Gorrondatxe Hondartza (also known as Azkorri Beach) presents a more serene escape with its dramatic cliffs and sweeping views. Whether you’re extending a trip to San Sebastian or exploring the Basque coastline directly from Bilbao, these beach days provide a refreshing contrast to city sightseeing.

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