Looking back on the four weeks I spent getting to know and falling in love with Bilbao, I find it hard to compartmentalise this great city. Everything is interlinked. Food and relaxation, culture and history, shopping and culture. One thing is certain. This once industrial city has many hidden gems. With a map and my insider suggestions you’ll see what I mean.
Get lost wandering up and down these ‘siete calles’ of Casco Viejo. In the arched passage way opposite the Mercado Ribera look up. The beautifully painted ceilings will surprise you.
A visit to the Basque Museum is a must, if only to see the beautifully constructed model of the Basque province and gain some understanding of why the Basque people consider themselves different from Spain.
Unfortunately, the only way to see inside the Teatro Arriaga is to see a show.
Explore the industrial history of this town with a cruise on Bilboats. It is well worth getting an audio guide on board. The two-hour trip which takes you under Puente Colgante, a heritage listed hanging bridge is well worth the extra time and expense.
Of course, you can’t miss the the titanium lined Guggenheim Museum and should get an audio guide if only to listen to the first couple of sections describing the design of this amazing building.
Other places worth visiting are Museo de Bellas Artes and Azkuna Zentroa (Alhóndiga).
I could spend the good part of an afternoon relaxing at a table outside a bar with a café con leche (coffee with milk), txakoli (the local white wine) or cerveza (beer) and perhaps a couple of pintxos (similar to tapas).
Take the funicular up to the lookout Mirador de Artxanda for panoramic views of the city.
In the evening, nothing beats a cocktail at a rooftop bar. The one at Hotel Domine, offers great views of the Guggenheim.
The Mercado Ribero is the largest covered market in Europe. Buy the ingredients for a homemade meal from the range of fresh produce (meat, fish, veggies etc) and while you’re at it, look at the building itself and the beautiful stained-glass windows.
Perhaps you will fall in love with Bilbao as I did.
This has been a taste of the full post that I wrote for another site which you can access here.