The best things to do in Bilbao
Bilbao offers fascinating attractions for those who visit it, who are surprised by its landscapes, its amazing architecture, its historical and avant-garde buildings, its culture and its gastronomy.
The city has numerous squares, avenues, markets, buildings and museums that attract a lot of attention from those who visit it, who are left wanting to return.
If you are traveling with the intention of spending two days in this beautiful city, this guide will help you a lot: we will list the best places to visit with a select list where you will find the 10 best places to visit:
- Guggenheim museum (Museo Guggenheim)
- Old Town (Casco Viejo)
- Ribera Market (Mercado de la Ribera)
- Bilbao River (Ría de Bilbao)
- Santiago's cathedral (Catedral de Santiago)
- Artxanda Viewpoint (Mirador de Artxanda)
- Church of San Anton (Iglesia de San Antón)
- Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes)
- Alhondiga Bilbao
- Arriaga Theater (Teatro Arriaga)
Guggenheim museum (Museo Guggenheim)
Opened in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum is the most popular and visited site by tourists. Its greatest attraction, in addition to the works of art found inside, is its futuristic architecture with which this museum was designed, with curvilinear shapes covered and titanium sheets that give it that avant-garde touch that captures the attention of anyone who visits. sees it.
This museum belongs to the American franchise of Guggenheim museums, and inside it has contemporary art exhibitions by the most renowned and world-famous artists such as Louise Bourgeois, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Antoni Tàpies and Robert Motherwell.
The museum also has temporary exhibitions with works coming from the Guggenheim Museum in New York and other international museums on loan to attract more visitors. An example of this is the ancient art section, where drawings by Michelangelo, an old painting from the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, as well as an engraving by Dürer in 2007 have been exhibited.
Old Town (Casco Viejo)
An unmissable destination that you should visit on your visit to Bilbao is its Historic Center. The streets Somera, Tendería, Artecalle, Belosticalle, Barrencalle, Carnicería Vieja and Barrencalle Barrena make up the heart of the Old Town of Bilbao. Here you will be able to discover the essence and origin of the Bilbao people and you will be able to appreciate its shops, businesses and historical monuments, which are the most striking places in this area.
Some tourist attractions that you can visit in the Old Town are the Basque Museum, the Cathedral of Santiago and the Bidebarrieta Library. In the first you can immerse yourself in the history of Bilbao, while if you are more into visiting monuments, the Cathedral and the Library will fascinate you.
This place is the heart of Bilbao, where you can find the best bars and restaurants to sit and enjoy, in addition to learning about the origins of the Bilbao population and their customs,
Some free tours and guided tours leave from the Old Town that will help you understand the meaning and history of each of these places.
Ribera Market (Mercado de la Ribera)
So called because it is located on the banks of the Bilbao Estuary, its 10,000 m2 area makes it the largest covered market in Europe and it holds the Guinness record for the most complete food market in the world.
Since the 14th century, the Mercado de la Ribera has been the mecca of food trade in the city. Here you can find the largest sale of fruits, vegetables, seafood and fish, offering the freshest products in its more than 180 establishments.
A visit to the Ribera Market will help you discover the tricks to making the best gildas, porrusaldas, a good marmitako, or any food in the best Basque style. Its prices are the best in all of Bilbao.
Bilbao River (Ría de Bilbao)
Thanks to the Bilbao Estuary, this city is what it is today. Due to its use as a means of communication for maritime and river transport (Bilbao is located in a navigable stage of this river), the settlement of different types of businesses on both banks increased over the years.
Entering through the mouth of the river into the Cantabrian Sea, the ships arrived in Bilbao with merchandise from other places in Spain and the Americas. The use of the river as a means of navigation allowed Bilbao to become a city in the region.
When visiting the estuary you will be able to admire the villas and iconic buildings of the city, which are mostly built on its banks. If you want to enter its waters, there are points where you can rent a kayak and navigate along the estuary and learn more about the city from this perspective.
Santiago's cathedral (Catedral de Santiago)
Located in the Old Town of Bilbao, the Cathedral of Santiago is the oldest and most monumental church in the city. This basilica was built between the 14th and 16th centuries, taking just over 100 years of construction in total. Its Gothic style attracts thousands of tourists a year and many devotees of the apostle Santiago the elder, patron saint of the city.
This monument has inside three naves, a 64-meter high tower and several Gothic-style chapels. In addition, it is part of the coastal passage of one of the many routes of the Camino de Santiago.
Artxanda Viewpoint (Mirador de Artxanda)
The Artxanda viewpoint, located at the top of the mountain that bears the same name, provides one of the best views of the city. This place offers a quiet environment to admire the city, its buildings, the estuary and beautiful sunsets. On clear days you can see the Cantabrian Sea.
To get there, you must go to the Plaza del Funicular and take one that takes you to this viewpoint, which only takes 3 minutes to travel.
Church of San Anton (Iglesia de San Antón)
The church of San Antón, originally called the parish church of San Antonio Abad, is located next to the bridge that bears the same name. Located on the banks of the estuary, this area offers one of the most beautiful postcards of the city. Its Gothic architecture and Renaissance portico draw a lot of attention from those who visit it.
It is located in the heart of Bilbao, a few meters from the Ribera Market.
Museum of Fine Arts (Museo de Bellas Artes)
Although the Guggenheim is the museum that attracts the most attention, the Bilbao Museum of Fine Arts offers artistic works that have nothing to envy.
In its 33 rooms there are unique works by the best Italian, Belgian, Spanish, French and other artists. Its enclosure houses more than 10,000 works made from the 13th century to the present, covering ancient art, modern art, Basque art and applied arts.
Being one of the most important museums in Spain, it receives more than 100,000 visits a year and is home to the Basque film library.
Alhóndiga Bilbao is a building that formerly functioned as a gigantic modernist wine warehouse and that after deterioration due to the passage of time, it was decided to recover it and convert it into a cultural space divided into three thematic zones.
Inside there are various artistic wonders, such as the 'Atrium of Cultures' space, a place adorned with 43 columns that exemplify different architectural styles and from which you can see the transparent bottom pool located on the 'Terraza del Sol'. It is also possible to enjoy movie theaters and restaurants.
Arriaga Theater (Teatro Arriaga)
This neo-baroque building is one of the most spectacular in the city, both for its exterior façade and its interior, where many of the most important artists attend.
It was built in 1890 and reopened several times after undergoing various renovations. This work of art is located next to the estuary and next to the Arenal Pass, which is also worth visiting to relax as it is an open space that offers various leisure options. On weekends you can find markets, it has a music kiosk, a children's play park and various events are usually organized.