Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao used to be off the beaten track, but Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum literally put Bilbao on the map. The city offers impressive, 19th-century buildings and bridges and is the gateway to the Basque country.

Perched on the hills above the rust-colored waters of the Nervion River, Bilbao is a thriving port and the commercial heart of Spain's Basque country. The city dates back to the Middle Ages - it was granted city status by Don Diego Lopez de Haro, Lord of Biscay, in 1300 - but it was the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution that cemented Bilbao's economic status. Among the city's charms are the jumble of bars and restaurants found in Siete Calles, the city's old quarter. The Gran Via and the Alameda Mazarredo are graceful, wide 19th-century boulevards. And while the port still bustles with maritime traffic, the undulating lines of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum attest to Bilbao's cultural vitality in the 21st century.

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Points of Interest

  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Old Quarter
  • Bermeo
  • San Sebastian
  • Guernica
  • Hondarribia
  • Biscayan Coast
  • Gastronomic Traditions

More about Bilbao, Spain Points of Interest

  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

    Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this art museum is itself a work of art. The curvy building is clad in titanium, glass and limestone, and its shiny panels are meant to resemble fish scales.

  • Old Quarter

    East of the Nervión River is medieval Bilbao. It is connected to the rest of the city by four bridges. Stroll the old plazas and take the elevator or climb the 64 steps uptown to the Basilica.

  • Bermeo

    This fishing village was the provincial capital until 1602. It's a perfect place to spend an afternoon. Things to see include the 14th century arch of San Juan and other medieval structures in the old quarter.

  • San Sebastian

    This seaside town boasts beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, a lively nightlife, designer shops, and superb Basque restaurants, including more than its share of Michelin award winners.

  • Guernica

    Guernica is best known as the scene of the April 26, 1937 aerial bombing by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe in support of Franco. Pablo Picasso commemorated the day in a painting of the same name.

  • Hondarribia

    Situated west of the Bidasoa river mouth on a promontory that faces Hendaye, France, this tiny border town is home to an ancient old quarter. View the medieval walls and explore the castle.

  • Biscayan Coast

    Picture perfect views of this breathtaking coastline, characterized by its steep cliffs overlooking sparkling beaches fringed by lush vegetation, are best obtained from the beach town of Bakio.

  • Gastronomic Traditions

    From small plates called "pinchos" to Michelin star restaurants, the cuisine of the Basque country is widely considered to be the best in Spain. Explore its culinary traditions in cooking demonstrations and food trails through its marketplaces.

8 EXCURSIONS

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Easy Bilbao

2.75 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 1 1 5
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Sit back and relax as the sights of Bilbao go by. Perfect for those who prefer less walking, this driving tour does not disappoint, presenting a plethora of sights that represent both Bilbao's history and its new modern flair. See the stunning Guggenheim Museum designed by famed architect Frank Gehry and the atmospheric Old Quarter.

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Easy Activity

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$49.95

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Bermeo, Guernica & the Cantabrian Coast

5.5 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 1 1 0
  • Bermeo
  • Guernica

Visit two former capitals on this half-day Basque country excursion. Explore Bermeo, once the provincial capital and still a major fishing port. Then visit Guernica, the ancient Basque capital. Its destruction by German bombs during the Spanish Civil War inspired Picasso's great masterpiece.

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$59.95

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Bilbao Old Quarter Walk

4 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 3 8 0
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Old Quarter

Enjoy a guided walking tour of Bilbao and the Old Quarter where you'll see architectural landmarks ranging from a Gothic cathedral to Frank Gehry's postmodern masterpiece. Tapas and a beverage are included on this half-day excursion.

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Moderate Activity, Includes snack

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$69.95

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Bilbao Highlights & the Guggenheim Museum

5 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 2 0 0
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Old Quarter

Visit the stunning Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, a world-class attraction of modern art by famed architect Frank Gehry, and then stroll Casco Viejo, the city's Old Quarter, on this half-day excursion.

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Moderate Activity

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$79.95

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Bermeo, Bizcaia Coast & City Drive

8 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 1 9 0
  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
  • Biscayan Coast
  • Bermeo

Enjoy a guided tour around Bilbao and then venture out into the beautiful Basque country for a visit to Bermeo, the former capital and a charming old fishing port. A sit-down lunch are included on this full-day excursion.

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Strenuous Activity, Includes meal

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$99.95

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Best of San Sebastian & Hondarribia

8.5 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 1 0 5
  • San Sebastian
  • Hondarribia

Visit an old medieval fishing village on the French border and then take a tour of San Sebastian, a seaside resort from the belle époque. Stroll through its Old Quarter and sample its shops and cafés on this full-day excursion.

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Strenuous Activity, Includes meal

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$129.95

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From Market to Plate

5.5 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 3 0 5
  • Old Quarter

Gastronomy is central to Basque life, and Bilbao has earned its status as a culinary destination. Explore its medieval Old Town and cornucopia of specialty food stores on a walking tour. Visit Ribera indoor market, the largest in Europe, and a traditional txoko, a gastronomic society, for a cooking demonstration and lunch.

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Moderate Activity, Includes meal

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$199.95

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Local Connections: Basque Cuisine Master Class

4 hours | Bilbao | B I O - 3 1 0
  • Gastronomic Traditions

Foodies, unite! This is your opportunity to learn cooking secrets from a Michelin star chef Daniel Garcia, head chef of Zortziko Restaurant in Bilbao. He will introduce haute cuisine and refine your culinary skills in a three-hour demonstration that includes sampling several signature recipes accompanied by Txakoli, a Basque wine.

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Easy Activity, Includes meal

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$229.95

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