Bilbao is a city in the north of Spain, the largest port and industrial center of the country. It does not feel like the Spain that travelers are used to: you will not hear the sound of wooden castanets, and you will not be treated to paella. Bilbao is impressive in size. It is not a small and cozy town in Europe, but a large industrial center, not without its charm. The place is surrounded by mountains and thick greenery, which attracts tourists from all corners of the world. Here you will not see old architectural buildings, but it is in Bilbao where you can learn the charm of modern art.
Districts of Bilbao
If you like ancient architecture with centuries of history, then Bilbao will disappoint you a bit. It certainly has its own chapel and ancient churches, but that's not why you come to the capital of the Basque Country. Fans of art house, contemporary art, and unconventional approach to architecture come here. It is definitely worth visiting museums and seeing exhibitions of contemporary artists and sculptors.
Population of Bilbao
The best time to visit Bilbao
At the outbreak of the Second Carlist War (1873-1876), Bilbao served as a stronghold, through which the British sent aid to the Spanish. Resisting the attack of 20,000 Carlists, the locals prevented Don Carlos from taking possession of the city and turning it into his residence. The region has survived many conflicts, and it holds a key position in the country's life today, being an important seaport and industrial center at the same time.
Today it is a modern metropolis with skyscrapers and developed cultural life. The mood inside the region is different from the general Spain. It is peaceful, and the streets are clean.
The Basque Country is not famous for its warm weather. It is cold and often rains even in summer. The climate is mild humid, no frost in winter, but warm clothes can always come in handy. The closer to the mountains, the colder and harsher the climate is.
Bilbao has two official languages: Spanish and Basque. Knowledge of English would be an advantage. In general, locals are welcoming and will help the tourist in everything.
There are no direct flights to Bilbao; you can get here via Barcelona, Madrid, Frankfurt, Munich, Paris, Brussels, and Lisbon.
When traveling by subway, keep your tickets until the end of the trip because the pass works not only for entrance but also for an exit. The fare depends on the number of stations and the type of pass you choose.
Things to do in Bilbao
- Walk. Bilbao has a subway and ground transportation, but the only way to experience the city's charm is on foot. This way you can visit all seven ancient streets of the medieval quarter. Authentic architecture amazes with its doll-like balconies and ancient churches with their beauty and variety of styles.
- Stroll along the waterfront. Striking little houses that resemble Amsterdam and mountains on the horizon seem to stand between Bilbao and the rest of the world.
- Visit the main museum of the world. The Guggenheim Museum is one of the reasons why tourists come to Basque Country. There you will discover a world of bizarre modern art that will not leave you indifferent and give you a sea of inspiration.
- Go shopping. The main stores are located on Gran Via Street. There are Spanish little-known brands as well as global brands.
- Go out of town to the suburb of Portugalete. There is an incredible suspension bridge Puente Colgante Vizcaya and a promenade with picturesque views of the French Basque Country.
- Taste the local cuisine. White wine Txakoli and pinchos (appetizers of meat and seafood and other unusual combinations) are the minimum gourmet program.