TOURIST INFORMATION OFFICES IN BILBAO
ALAMEDA MAZARREDO, 66 (Guggenheim Museum) 48009 Bilbao
From Monday to Saturday: 10:00-19:00
Sundays and holidays: 10:00-15:00
The “CASCO VIEJO” (Old Town or Old Quarter) or The Seven Streets is the oldest neighbourhood and the original nucleus of Bilbao. It forms part of the Ibaiondo district and contains the New Square “Plaza Nueva” and buildings such as the Arriaga Theatre, Bidebarrieta Library, the Bilbao Stock Exchange, Atxuri railway station, Santiago Cathedral and the churches of San Antón, San Nicolás and Santos Juanes. The neighbourhood also has 500 shops, most importantly the Ribera Market, the largest indoor food market in Europe.
The main commercial and financial activity of Bilbao is centred around the Gran Vía Don Diego López de Haro, with banks, the El Corte Inglés department store, the headquarters of the Regional Government of Bizkaia and the Sota Building. It is 50 metres wide and 1.5 kilometres long between the Circular Square and Sagrado Corazón Square. Halfway down is the Federico Moyúa Square, the heart of the Ensanche district of Bilbao, home to the Chávarri Palace and the Carlton Hotel.
ABANDOIBARRA and Bilbao’s estuary. On the right side of the estuary you can find the Town Hall of Bilbao and at the end of the Campo Volantín Walk, the Olabarri Palace. On the other side and crossing the ZubiZuri bridge, the Isozaki towers (“Isozaki Atea”) and the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao can be found. The Padre Arrupe walkway leads to the University of Deusto and Deusto Bridge. Continuing along the promenade you will reach the Euskalduna Palace and the Maritime Museum.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building, designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, represents a magnificent example of the most ground-breaking 20th-century architecture. With 24,000 m2, of which 11,000 m² are dedicated to exhibition space, the museum represents an architectural landmark of audacious configuration and innovating design, providing a seductive backdrop for the art exhibited in it.
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has the second-best collection of classical art in Spain after the Prado Museum in Madrid. The collection includes more than 6,000 works, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and decorative arts, from the 12th century to today.
The Maritime Museum, located in the former Euskalduna shipyards, has a collection that tells the story of maritime activity on the Bilbao estuary and its port, as well as maritime culture in general, with a special focus on the pieces that relate the lives and accomplishments of the men and women who made the maritime history of this town.
The Basque Museum, located in an old baroque style school in the Old Town, covers archaeology and ethnohistory of the Basque Country.
The Arriaga Theatre is a very beautiful building. Inspired by the Paris Opera, it was the work of the municipal architect Joaquín Rucoba and was opened in 1890. Today, the Arriaga continuously hosts the city’s programme of music and theatre.
Azkuna Zentroa is not only one of the most iconic buildings in the city, but also an innovative new cultural and entertainment space, with a whole variety of activities for all interests. It’s named after Iñaki Azkuna, a Basque doctor, teacher and politician for the Basque Nationalist Party. He was mayor of Bilbao from 1999 until his death in 2014.
Campos Elíseos Theatre. If anything defines this modernist building designed by architect Alfredo Acebal in 1902, it is its beautiful art nouveau façade, designed by the Basque-French decorator Jean Batiste Darroguy. Because of this unique façade this theatre, a listed monument, has always been known as “The Chocolate Box”.
To eat and drink
The Basque Country is world famous for its cuisine based on fish, meat and vegetables, where tradition and modernity go hand-in-hand with a cuisine of its own character, very much in tune with Mediterranean recipes.
Bilbao offers excellent opportunities to savour the pintxo food culture to the full in different areas like the Old Town, Ribera Market, Ledesma, Diputación, Pozas, Eros streets or Marzana quay. The pintxo is a small tasty snack served in bars: people in Bilbao consider good pintxos a fundamental joy of daily life, and bars dedicated to providing them abound. Pintxos are usually accompanied by a small glass of wine (“txikito”) or beer (“zurito”).
In addition to pintxos, don’t leave Bilbao without trying the cod “al pil-pil” or “a la Vizcaína”, hake in green sauce, squid in its own ink, baked crab, lamb stew, marmitako, or if you like sweets, Basque cake, goxua, Basque toast (“Torrija”) or mamia.
As for the wines, Txakoli is the most famous Basque white wine; it is a young wine of great quality, grown by the coast. You will also be able to taste world-famous young, aging, reserve and grand reserve wines from Rioja Alavesa, in the interior of the Basque Country.
Top Restaurants in Bilbao
Here are some suggestions on some of the best temples of eating and drinking in Bilbao.
Best Restaurants (with Michelin Star):
More to enjoy:
Tour Bus. This double-decker bus is the fastest and most convenient way to move around the tourist attractions. Tickets can be purchased at the departure point (Alameda Mazarredo, 67, next to the Bilbao Tourism Office and the Guggenheim Museum) or at any of the stops. It is valid for 24 hours and it allows you to stop as many times as you want, visit whatever interests you and continue the route at your convenience.
Services include explanations in Spanish, English, French or Basque.
To discover more
Bizkaia Bridge, also known as the “Hanging Bridge”, is an architectural jewel which reflects the industrial and maritime character of the Basque Country.
Nearest metro stops: Portugalete and Las Arenas
Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. Urdaibai is a natural area of outstanding beauty and diversity, which is why it was listed by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve in 1984.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. 241 steps, rocks, sea and wind. The magical island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is an essential stop on the Basque coastline. It became Dragonstone in the famous drama television series Game of Thrones.
More info about Bilbao and Biscay province: