Things To Do In Bilbao
Bilbao is a city that hails from the Basque Region of Spain. The curious travelers visit this famed city in Spain because of the Guggenheim Museum. But the city is all that and more for it has flourished with the help of the architectural and engineering industry, and modern infrastructure projects. It is in fact one of the most industrialized cities in Spain that is dotted with creatively designed buildings, parks, and bridges.
Bilbao prides itself as being a city that has this amazing blend of modernity and historical heritage. One of the best examples is the White Bridge (Zubi Zuri) a footbridge with a non slip mat that is accessible for people with reduced mobility. It is right next to Bilbao Guggenheim Museum and overlooks the serene Nervion River. It provides good views and a nice walk along the estuary of Bilbao.
When To Go:
The atmosphere all year round is truly pleasant in Bilbao, Spain. Normal temperatures range from the low 40s amid the winter months (December - January) to the upper 70s amid the summer season (July- August). The average rainfall remains generally consistent as the year progressed. However, the fall and early winter have a tendency to be the times that get the high amount of rain. In the event that you need to keep away from the long lines and big crowds, then don’t go to Bilbao during July -August, when visitors explore over the mainland. To stay away from the traveler surge, consider setting out to the city amid the spring (April- May) or early fall (September- October), when the huge tourist influx are at their lightest rate.
Visit the following main attractions and delight in these popular things to do in the city of Bilbao, Spain…
Bilbao Guggenheim Museum
Here in Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, Frank O. Gehry has designed an architectural work of great impact and all are stunned by the structure of titanium that turns to gold when the sun hits it, with unusual shapes and fascinating impressions. In addition there are nice sculptures outside such as the big dog (and Puppy) or the Spider (the Ragna or Mom). Guggenheim Museum is so great to know and it will literally leave you speechless. The building is the best known work of Spanish contemporary art and its history is emblematic of how luck and fortune can be built in a city that is looking for an opportunity to shine. Upon arrival at the waterfront, there are three works, the pedestrian bridge (Zubi Zuri) by Santiago Calatrava and recognizable among millions, the bridge for vehicle traffic, and the Guggenheim. The exterior features a covering of scales while the interior is a dense tangle of beams and suspended floors, glass, stone rose, and a spectacle of natural light from the skylights that open up.
Inside you can observe and follow through with the theme of modern and innovative impacts in both art and technology in various forms and sizes. It's worth knowing it by your own but a museum guide would help you understand more. Bilbao and the Basque Country surroundings offer a pleasant nature with the sea not far behind the mountains above the town. Listen well to the audio guide and you will uncover many little details. The paintings of Georges Braque have raised the bar of excellence especially for art lovers who are fond of cubism, it is not only remarkable but it also portrays the best view of art. After a tour and if you feel famished, enjoy local cuisine from the restaurants outside, they have the best tapas in this lively downtown area!
White Bridge (Zubi Zuri)
Opened in 1997, the unusual design of the White Bridge (Zubi Zuri) consists of a curved track, which is supported by steel suspension cables. The bridge is painted white and the floor is composed of translucent glass bricks (though it is covered with a rubber mat to prevent pedestrians from slipping in case of rain). On both sides of its ramps is where the stairs are located. The bridge provides a convenient route for pedestrians from the row of hotels to the nearby Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
The White Bridge and all other works by Santiago Calatrava makes an indelible impression; a combination of simplicity and elegance with the exact calculation which makes it really unique. Also known as the Calatrava Bridge, it looks rather unusual from afar but photogenic and truly convenient for pedestrians. Discover this bridge and the adjacent promenade park called the Paseo Campo de Volantin. Keep in mind that if you go to the Guggenheim from the old town, it is necessary to pass on Zubi Zuri on the left bank of the River Nervion. From a distance, this bridge looks like a light cloud over the river. When you walk on it, it shakes slightly and gives an unusual feeling, but not scary! It is indeed one of the most beautiful and interesting bridges that you will see in Bilbao.
Bilbao Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes)
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum (Museo de Bellas Artes) is the second most visited museum in Bilbao. The Museum of Fine Arts is mainly focused on the lovers of classical painting, although there are also exhibitions devoted to contemporary art. The greatest impression on fabric of famous Spanish artists such as Goya, El Greco, Velazquez and others, as well as paintings of the old Dutch masters are proudly displayed on its halls. Most of its exhibits can be considered a unique collection of works by Basque artists because it gives an idea of the high level of painting in the region in different years.
The museum has a wonderful cafe. Visiting the museum is well compatible with taking a walk in the adjacent park, which begins right at the museum where you can admire the flowers and small architectural forms that are still part of the museum’s collection.
The museum has a large collection with art works from various periods, plus some temporary exhibitions. Everything is well explained in Spanish, English, and Basque. There are some technological features like the table that allows you to see details and zoom into some of the art work and make comparisons. It is interesting for those who know and appreciate the history of art and painting techniques of the masters. The exposure here is not very big but the museum is impressive!
Estadio San Mames
The new Estadio San Mames is a beautiful sports stadium that has a fantastic atmosphere and cozy interior. It is a completely new stadium with excellent working conditions. On the outside it is completely inserted and complements the charm of the town and its sports loving people. At night it has very nice lighting effects. The stadium of San Mames in Bilbao is a favorite meeting point for all football fans. In addition to the virtually unique history of the club, the structure is particularly excellent and you can also visit the small museum that is located within its premises.
The municipality of Bilbao has spared no effort to achieve an impressive football temple. The architecture is overwhelming and a living proof that a football stadium can be more than just an ordinary concrete tank. It is now more spacious and modern. It also now comes with a shop that has a large selection of athletic merchandise and souvenirs about Bilbao.
The Casco Viejo is a good opportunity to appreciate the architecture and features of an ancient village. It is composed of an intricate web of alleys that is highly pedestrianized. The Old Town of Bilbao keeps the ancient charm of a place that is not yet dominated by mass tourism. The row of peculiar houses made up the closure of the narrow streets, alternating houses and local businesses. The city administration has made small interventions in improving some of the buildings and area attractions. Some of them such as Plaza Nueva is still awaiting the planned improvements; already the Ribera Market is beautifully restored and running. Bilbao City is also preparing to welcome the burst of tourism that focuses mainly on the Guggenheim and its immediate surroundings. The best time to know this center is just now when it is still possible to enter a small local market that is not yet affected by the horde of tourists.
Here in Casco Viejo you will find the best bars of Bilbao and the hottest spots for late afternoon and early evening promenade before the local night clubs open. The bars serve "pintxos" and / or "tapas" as most locals prefer to call it. The Old Town also has beer pubs, taverns and great restaurants along with a beautiful and nice architecture from the structures that surround it. This part of Bilbao is full of life and animation, easy to reach on foot, metro, tram or bus. It is also equipped with a pleasant looking bridge area with fantastic views over the lagoon and the architectural ensemble! Casco Viejo is an old town with 7 typical alleys, with fairly traditional trade and flourishing shops. The New Square is part of this area and it is a typical Spanish square with terraces surrounded by small taverns and cozy bars.
The Plaza Nueva is spotlessly clean and organized with tables of bars that are always filled with locals and tourists who enjoy the fine cuisine of Bilbao. It is like a magical place where it is nice l to walk or stay for breakfast, coffee or lunch. In short, it is a must see attraction of Bilbao City. Plaza Nueva stands in the middle of the historic center of the city and built for the citizens of Bilbao and foreigners who are interested to discover its amusing features. It is one of the landmark places where people meet, drink good wine, and eat pinchos in the countless bistros which are located under the arcades of the perimeter of the square.
In general, it is a maze of narrow streets leading to this beautiful square, with the classic arcade along all sides and besieged by tourists and citizens. Every Sunday morning there is a nice flea market where the local traders sell even small pets (birds, rodents, in the classic wooden cages). There are plenty of bars and clubs with outdoor seating where you can take a cerveza (beer) and enjoy the local deli of meat or fish (Basque tapas). The prices are a bit higher than other areas in Bilbao but it is definitely worth hunting out for a drink and fine dining experience.
Alhondiga Bilbao Cultural Center
The Alhondiga Bilbao Cultural Center is a place reinvented by Philippe Starck from a deposit of oil and wine that is commissioned by the city hall. It includes 3 levels of media library, a gym, a restaurant with a terrace, a swimming pool on the 3rd floor with a glass bottom, 8 cinemas in the basement and a ground floor containing 43 columns (each with its own name). The columns were designed by Lorenzo Baraldi, a renowned stage designer, manufacturer and Italian architect. This cultural center is a must see tourist site when you’re in Bilbao. Located in the city center, this building is the product of a process of "restoration" work by modernist artists who adorned it with so many columns of different types, where some are even funny.
The Alhóndiga Bilbao is the first public work of Philippe Starck in Spain and it successfully recovers, converts, and relocates a contemporary modernist building in red brick, iron, and reinforced concrete. It was built in 1909 by Ricardo Bastida and was first used as a storage warehouse of oils, spirits and wine in the center of the Basque city. It is located near the Plaza Arriquibar and centrally situated between the recent Guggenheim Museum by Frank O. Gehry and the old Plaza de Toros.
Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica Euskalduna
The Palacio de Congresos y de la Musica Euskalduna is an auditorium that is worth knowing in Bilbao City. A tour must be accompanied by the official guide of this cultural attraction. The main hall is impressive and can accommodate up to 2,700 spectators with the best arrangement of chairs that makes the stage visible from every seat. The stage is very deep in every direction (from the height, sides, back and bottom) and allows the establishment of multiple scenarios and particular stage systems that can slide silently while eh audience watches a stage performance. The structure is impressive and unmatched, and this interesting facet reflects the sun's rays on every side.
The convention center is very nice and comfortable with good acoustics. There are lots of things to do and activities for all tastes and ages. The construction is similar to that used in shipyards, bulb welded with rims on some fronts and raised like the ones used in the old Euskalduna shipyards. It has easy access and parking at a good price. The facilities are complete and comprehensive and the food service options include a quaint café and two restaurants.
Taking the Artxanda Funicular immediately after crossing the Nervion River on Calatrava Bridge is an experience to do. You must purchase the Bilbao Card where the cable car ride ticket is already included in the price. It is here where you can take the opportunity to have a panoramic view of the whole city in a clear day that is full of sun and warmth while the funicular passes under the deep blue sky.
It is such a marvelous adventure and does not take up much time when touring Bilbao City. Thanks to this cable car and everything can be seen from above. The view is 360° and you get to see the ocean and the snowy mountains especially in winter. The trip is nice and cheap (€ 1.90). The funicular has its charm reminiscent of the beginning of 1900 and moves so fast because within a few minutes you will be able to reach the top.
The view of Mount Arxanda is fantastic! You can see the whole city and its scenic terrain (it is surrounded by hills). To get there the best option is to go through the ski lift. On weekends, the mountain is filled with hikers and climbers who are looking for the chance to see nature and a wide space to relax from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. It is well worth taking the cable car and to assault the peak of Mount Artxanda. The view up there is amazing and you will have moments of tranquility amid the lush nature of the site. The restaurants that are at the top are very expensive, but it is worth it to sit and simply watch the view down below. Take the Artxanda Funicular ride and let yourself go, the view from up there is amazing!
Bilbao is a nice surprise, a hidden gem of Spain that is prepared to amaze everyone at the wealth of its old and modern attractions that such a huge populace can provide. It offers diverse travel adventures with its characteristic architectural marvels each one varying from the other. It has a cool European ambience, loaded with a huge mix of culture seen in the old communities, prominent squares, art galleries, insightful museums, gothic churches, cobblestone streets, complemented by its smiling and pretty Spanish señoritas and good looking señoritos. Bilbao is definitely one of the best cities to see and experience in Spain.
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