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Bilbao & Rioja 5-day Itinerary

  • Spain

Last updated: 07 June, 2024

Where to go and what to see in Bilbao & the Rioja Wine Region – a 5-day itinerary from destination expert and travel writer Dana Facaros.

Editor note – Dana has not included specific recommendations of where to stay each day unless it’s necessary. Instead, see the ‘Where to stay’ section in our Bilbao destination guide.

Day 1: Bilbao

1

Start with the titanium marvel – Frank Gehry’s fabulous Bilbao Guggenheim, then lunch in the museum, either at Michelin-starred Nerua or a more affordable bistro.

In the evening, stroll through the Casco Viejo – the lively historic centre of Bilbao – joining in a txikiteo (tapas crawl) with the locals.

Day 2: Bilbao

3

Let your senses be deliciously assaulted in the Ribera Market, one of the largest markets in Europe, before visiting the Basque Museum.

Have an elegant lunch at Etxanobe, before heading over to the Fine Arts Museum. Relax in the adjacent Casilda Iturrizar park, then dine in the traditional La Vina del Ensanche, one of the city’s most popular restaurants.

  • Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain

external facade of the market

Experience

Ribera Market

One of the biggest covered markets in the world, this Basque food market is a lush, colourful extravaganza of wonderfully fresh produce.

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+

Website >

Day 3: Bilbao

1

Spend a day dedicated to the sea, starting with the Bilbao Maritime Museum.

Lunch at nearby Restaurante Aizian, then take the metro north to Bidezabal, and follow La Galea Walk over the sea cliffs passing by beautiful Gorrondatxe beach.

In the evening, choose one of 400 gins at the Abadia del Gin Tonic, before a seafood feast at Mugarra.

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+

Website >

Day 4: Rioja Wine Region

4

Head south to the Rioja wine region, with a guided tour from Bilbao or San Sebastian, or linger by hiring a car.

The Vivanco Wine Museum outside Briones, an hour from Bilbao, is an excellent place to start – and have a delicious lunch.

In the afternoon, head to Haro to visit CVNE, one of Spain’s largest wineries, then dine at Haro’s superb Nublo restaurant before checking in at Los Agustinos.

Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture

  • Briones, La Rioja, Spain

Interior of museum showing tools and equipment for making wine

Experience

A well-equipped, new museum created by the winemaking Vivanco family, that explains the history of winemaking in the Rioja region. For an extra few Euros, you can get a guided tour with wine tasting. There’s also a superb restaurant devoted to Riojan cuisine. Closed Monday & Tuesday.

Adult price: 13

Good for age: 18+

Website >

CVNE (Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana)

  • Haro, La Rioja, Spain

couple looking at wine vats

Experience

One of the biggest wineries in Spain, CVNE offers a range of tours including lunches, cellar tours and children’s workshops.

Good for age: 18+

Website >
  • Haro, La Rioja, Spain

  • Official star rating:

A medieval monastery in Haro, converted into an evocative hotel and restaurant; perfect for oenophiles nosing around La Rioja.

Average £130

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club

Day 5: Rioja Wine Region

4

In the morning, head east to Araba to tour Bodegas Jilaba and Santiago Calatrava’s Bodegas Ysios.

Make the short drive to Elciego and Frank Gehry’s fantastical Hotel Marques de Riscal. Have lunch at their 1860 Tradicion restaurant.

In the afternoon, enjoy a vinotherapie spa session before a feast at their Michelin-starred restaurant.

Bodegas Jilaba

  • Araba, La Rioja, Spain

views over a long series of wine barrels

Experience

This very friendly and welcoming vineyard has beautiful views to go with its informative guided tour and tastings.

Good for age: 18+

Website >

Bodegas Ysios

  • Araba, La Rioja, Spain

External view looking to the entrance. The curvy building has mountains behind

Experience

In a gorgeous mountain setting, taste superb wines in this bodega with a mountain-inspired design, by Spanish-Swiss architect Santiago Calatrava.

Good for age: 18+

Website >
  • Eltziego, Basque Country, Spain

  • Official star rating:

Frank Gehry’s ultimate wine lover’s hotel by a famous Rioja bodega, with a wine bar, wine therapy spa and restaurants.

Average £380

Extra beds

Pool

2+ bedrooms

Beach

Kids menu

Fitness center

Kids club