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7 Best things to see & do in Bilbao

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros
  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Bucket List Experience

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

This is the building that transformed a city and started an architectural revolution. Ever since Frank Gehry’s swirling, titanium-clad Guggenheim opened in 1997, it has been acclaimed as the greatest building of our time, and its construction supplied the spark for the remarkable rebirth of old industrial Bilbao.

The museum is home to part of the enormous Guggenheim collection of contemporary art, and every year its blockbuster special exhibitions draw art lovers from around the world. It may also be the only museum anywhere with a Michelin-starred restaurant, Nerua, serving haute cuisine. There is also a less formal bistro with prix fixe menus and an outdoor terrace.

Adult price: £22

Good for age: 18+

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

The Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao is a prestigious institution showcasing a remarkable collection of artworks spanning various periods and styles. Located in a beautiful neoclassical building, the museum houses an extensive array of paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts; the collection includes works by renowned artists such as El Greco, Zurburan, Goya, Francis Bacon, Van Dyck, and Gauguin.

The museum also features contemporary art exhibitions, contributing to the vibrant cultural scene of Bilbao. With its exceptional collection and stunning architecture, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and cultural aficionados.

Good for age: 18+

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

external facade of the market

Experience

Ribera Market

Foodies will love this hangout in Bilbao’s old town: one of the biggest covered markets in the world, it’s a lush, colourful extravaganza of wonderfully fresh produce.

Enormous, hanging hams, gawping fish slung on crushed ice, pungent shellfish, piles of glossy fruit – and even some sit-in wine bars, where you can order a glass and a plate of pintxos (Basque-style tapas).

Built in 1929, the design still has lots of gorgeous Art Deco touches, modernised by escalators, hip tiling and communal wooden benches to eat at.

Even if you haven’t got a kitchen, come down to get an education in Basque cuisine – or assemble some tasty local treats for a picnic in the sun.

Good for age: 18+

Basque Museum of Bilbao

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

Basque Museum of Bilbao

Experience

The Euskal Museoa is a Basque ethnographic museum celebrating the culture and history of one of Europe’s oldest peoples.  It offers a comprehensive journey through Basque history, culture, and traditions, through archaeological artefacts, traditional costumes, Basque language and literature displays, and interactive installations. Closed on Tuesdays.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 18+

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

When you need a break from the city, Bilbao offers an exceptional array of Atlantic beaches tucked in a stunning cliff-lined coast, ideal for walking, sunbathing or surfing. And nearly all easily are accessible; just drive or take the metro north to Getxo.

Here the 3-mile cliff-top La Galea Walk starts at the picturesque 18th-century Aixerrota Windmill. The path takes in truly breathtaking views as it leads past a fancy neoclassical cemetery, a Baroque church, the 18th-century La Galea Fort, and a lighthouse.

It ends at the beautiful black sandy Gorrondatxe/Azkorri beach with its unusual geological formations (the Flysch of Getxo). From there you can carry o to Sopelana, with its three beaches – a calm naturist-friendly beach in the west and two popular with surfers and paragliders further east.

Good for age: 4+

Bilbao Maritime Museum

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

external view of entrance

Experience

Located in the city’s historic port area, this interesting museum explains the region’s rich maritime heritage, and Bilbao’s seafaring and shipbuilding past. Housed in the iconic Euskalduna Palace, it features a diverse collection of exhibits, historical artefacts, ship models, and interactive displays.

Adult price: £5

Good for age: 13+

Cafe Bar Bilbao

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

external view of Cafe Bar Bilbao, a tiny cafe with blue frontage

Experience

A local foodie institution, famous for some of the best pintxos in all Spain. Perfect for after a visit to Bilbao’s Guggenheim – it’s a 15-minute walk from there.

Good for age: 18+