Bilbao is considered the de facto capital of Basque country. While technically located in Spain, locals identify as Basque, and their proud Basque history can be found throughout the city. There’s much to discover within this bustling town, but today I’m going to share with you three of my absolute favorite things to do in Bilbao.
My Bilbao Favorites:
If you’re going to Bilbao, you have to see the Guggenheim. Made of titanium, glass, and limestone and designed by architect Frank Gehry, the building is considered one of the most admired works of contemporary architecture.
This impressive museum is home to a number of innovative, modern pieces. You’ll find massive exhibitions within the museum’s permanent collection, and their temporary exhibitions are always worth a visit.
Right in front of the museum, you’ll find Jeff Koons’s flower puppy. Puppy went onto inspire Raf Simons when he was creative director of Dior and played a major role in his vision for his first fashion show under the label. (You can see more of his process in one of my favorite documentaries, Dior and I.)
The museum is open every day except for Monday. Be sure to bring your student I.D. as students under 26 years old get in for €9. If you’re full on adulting, you’ll have to pay €16, while children and museum members get in for free. Tickets include audioguides, so you’ll have descriptions right at your disposal.
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
This five-star hotel is situated right in front of the Guggenheim. Get room service to have breakfast in bed with views of the Guggenheim from your window. If you don’t end up with a room in front of the museum, the hotel has a beautiful rooftop bar (okay, okay, I’m a sucker for rooftop bars) with views overlooking the city and of course, the Guggenheim. Try a glass of vermouth for just €5.
BTW–If you go to a cafe or bar around Bilbao, you’ll be able to find drinks for much cheaper (i.e. €2 beers and glasses of vermouth). But, for a five-star rooftop bar, the prices are super reasonable and the views are unbeatable.
If you know me, you know I’m a foodie. My favorite thing about traveling is discovering new dishes. So, when in Bilbao, you absolutely have to check out the restaurant scene. The city has a number of Michelin star restaurants, Mina being one of the most highly rated.
This little restaurant is tucked away near the river. Stop by for their “light” tasting menu, priced at €74/person. You get seven courses with little “amuse-bouche” dishes in between. Just make sure to reserve in advance.
Bilbao is such a charming city with really wonderful people who live there. While it’s definitely most famous for the Guggenheim, make sure to take the rest of the city in by walking around and chatting with the locals. (Seriously, I’ve never met nicer people when asking for directions. There weren’t very many English speakers, but that just added to the fun! Brush up on those two years of high school Spanish you took.)
Where have you been in Basque Country or where are you looking to visit next?
Let me know down below!