Bilbao has several distinct areas of interest.
THE CASCO VIEJO
THE CASCO VIEJO (Old Quarter) or The Seven Streets (Somera, Artecalle, Tendería, Belosticalle, Carnicería Vieja, Barrencalle y Barrencalle Barrena) is the oldest neighborhood and the original nucleus of Bilbao, together with “Bilbao La Vieja”.
The Old Town was declared a Historical-Artistic Monument. It holds the Plaza Nueva and other buildings such as the Arriaga Theatre, Bidebarrieta Library, the former Bilbao Stock Exchange, Atxuri railway station, Santiago Cathedral, and the churches of San Antón, San Nicolás and Santos Juanes. Its commercial strength is reflected in five hundred shops, most importantly the Ribera Market, the largest indoor food market in Europe.
EL ENSANCHE (THE ENLARGEMENT OF BILBAO)
From the end of 19th century, El Arenal Bridge links the Old Town with the enlargement of Bilbao that took place at that time, a place of broad and regular streets home to elegant buildings. Plaza Circular Square will be the starting point of our route. The sculpture of Diego López de Haro, founder of the city in 1300, stands in the middle of the square. Gran Vía Street, the core of the enlargement, begins at the Plaza Circular Square and takes its name from the city's founder. Back on Gran Vía Street, you should pay attention to Bizkaia's regional council and other emblematic buildings such as: Sota Building, Chávarri Palace or Carlton Hotel.
During the transformation process that began at the end of the 20th century, architecture was gaining prominence, contributing to shape the new image of Bilbao, a contemporary, modern and innovative city.
San Mames Stadium
Strolling through Bilbao contains more than one surprise. The sculptures that adorn its streets, squares, and gardens are striking.
The walk from the Euskalduna Palace to the Bilbao City Hall offers the route where art is expressed with more force and continuity, but the entire city as a whole is home to one of the best urban sculpture parks that can be seen. It is made up of almost 150 sculptures, from very different periods and styles. We highlight some of the most representative:
La Salve Bridge
Tall tree and the eye
La Puerta de los honorables
THE GUGGENHEIM MUSEUM
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao building, designed by American architect Frank Gehry, represents a magnificent example of the most groundbreaking 20th-century architecture. With 24,000 m2 , of which 11,000 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
The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has the second-best collection of classical art in Spain after the Prado Museum. The collection of the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum gathers today, including paintings, sculptures, drawings, prints and decorative arts, more than 6,000 works, with a chronology that expands from the twelfth century to nowadays.
In 2022 an imposing floating gallery of 2000 m2 will rise above the current museum, designed by Norman Foster and Luis María Uriarte.
ITSASMUSEUM MARITIME MUSEUM
Itsasmuseum maritime museum, located in the old Euskalduna shipyards. Itsasmuseum tells the story of a culture: a maritime culture. The close links that Bilbao and Bizkaia and their people have maintained with the sea have forged a unique identity and unique traditions, which are featured in all areas of the exhibitions and programme of events.
THE BASQUE MUSEUM
The Basque Museum, located in an old baroque style school in the Casco Viejo. Archaeology and ethnohistory of the Basque Country.
GASTRONOMY, PINTXO ROUTES
Bilbao offers an excellent opportunity to savor the pintxo food culture to the full in different areas like the Old Quarter, Ledesma, Diputación or Pozas next to San Mamés Stadium. The pintxo is a small tasty morsel served in bars with a sip or wine (txikito) or beer (zurito).
ANOTHER WAY TO VISIT BILBAO
Bilbao’s history and its estuary are closely entwined. For this reason, Bilboats present Bilbao’s architecture with a cruise on the estuary in order to get to know the city from its main artery: the Nervión or Ibaizabal Estuary.
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 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.
The Bizkaia Bridge, also known as “Puente Colgante”, was the first ferry bridge built in the world with a metal structure. It is located at the mouth of the Nervión river, at the point where the navigable estuary of Bilbao used to get to the sea until the 19th century.
In 2006 it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO for being one of the most outstanding constructions of the European Industrial Revolution and of the iron architecture. You will love to photograph the bridge!
URDAIBAI BIOSPHERE RESERVE
At its heart is the river Oka, born on Monte Oiz and which flows out into an estuary at Mundaka, creating some spectacular wetlands that teem with life. Urdaibai was declared Biosphere Reserve by the UNESCO in 1984.
SAN JUAN DE GAZTELUGATXE
In the middle of the Basque coast, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is catalogued as protected biotope and far from any urban nucleus.
This magical island is joined to the coast by a stone bridge and a 241-step staircase. In early years it has become popular after the filming of some scenes of Game of Thrones.