Is Bilbao Worth Visiting? Bilbao is definitely worth visiting. The point of interest there, such as museums, Park, Churches, theaters, etc., will take you to medieval times. So, if you are thinking of spending your weekend or holiday in Bilbao with your family and kids, pack your backpack, and you will have a memorable trip there.
This list of the best places to visit in Bilbao will help you not miss anything in this perfect city to spend a fun weekend, making the most of your time. There are also many unusual things to do in Bilbao.
Located in the north of Spain, in the Basque Country, this cosmopolitan city has managed to leave behind its industrial and gray past, to become a benchmark for both national and international tourism thanks to its extensive range of leisure, culture, and especially gastronomy, in which its delicious pintxos stand out.
One of the main protagonists of this change is its iconic Guggenheim Museum. Although there are many more tourist attractions in this city that will surprise you at every step, we are sure it will become one of your favorites.
What’s the best time to visit Bilbao? The best time to travel to Bilbao is from May to October when the weather is pleasant with temperatures around 20 degrees, and there is less rain.
The most comfortable way to get to the city, if you do not live nearby, is by plane landing at Bilbao Airport, and once there, take the A3247 bus that will take you to the center in less than half an hour.
Based on the experience of the two times we have visited Bilbao, the last time by car, we have made this list of what we think are the 10 unusual places to visit in Bilbao. Let’s start!
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Is Bilbao Worth Visiting? 10 Unusual Places To Visit In Bilbao, Spain
Bilbao is worth Visiting if you like:
1. Guggenheim Museum
Entering the Guggenheim Museum, built by the famous architect Frank Gehry in 1997 on the estuary banks, is one of the best things to do in Bilbao.
This symbolic and controversial contemporary art museum looks imposing with its curvilinear forms covered with limestone, glass, and titanium, which change color depending on the light of day.
In addition, this cultural space visited every year by more than 1 million people houses an important collection and temporary exhibitions of modern art, which have placed Bilbao in a prominent position in the cultural scene worldwide.
Visiting the museum from another side of the river, you can see the La Salve Bridge as well as peep at the sculptures outside, including Puppy, a huge dog covered with flowers, and Mama, a spider 9 meters high with several eggs inside its stomach. Visiting the museum is one of the best things to do in Bilbao with kids.
Visiting hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 8 pm.
2. Old Town
The Casco Viejo or Seven Streets (zazpi kaleak in Basque), located on the estuary’s banks, is the oldest and liveliest neighborhood to visit in Bilbao.
This medieval neighborhood charms with its narrow streets filled with shops and traditional taverns and several of the city’s biggest tourist attractions such as the Cathedral of Santiago, the Arriaga Theater, or the market of La Ribera view, which we will discuss later.
Among the more than 40 pedestrian streets of the historic center, there are 7 essential ones: Artecalle, Tendería, Belosticalle, Carnicería Vieja, Barrencalle, Barrencalle Barrena, and Somera, the oldest and where some of the most famous pinchos places in the city.
An excellent way to learn more about the history of this neighborhood and not miss anything important is to book a free tour of Bilbao, considered one of the best free tours in Bilbao.
Strolling around the town and exploring the area like locals is an unusual thing to do in Bilbao as tourists mostly visit famous places.
3. La Ribera Market
is Bilbao a good place to visit? Another of the most popular sites to see in Bilbao is the Mercado de La Ribera, the largest covered market in Europe at 10,000 square meters.
In this Art Deco style market and large stained glass windows, you will find the freshest products from the garden and the Cantabrian Sea, which have played a significant role in placing the Basque cuisine as a reference worldwide.
Besides, enjoying the smells, colors, and aromas of the food stalls, you can go upstairs to taste a careful selection of pintxos accompanied by a delicious txacoli, a slightly acidic white wine typical of the Basque Country, in one of its bars and restaurants.
Visiting hours: Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 2:30 pm and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm; Saturdays from 8:00 am to 3:00 pm.
4. Plaza Nueva – One of the best places to visit in Bilbao
The Plaza Nueva, located in the heart of the old town, is one of the most beautiful squares to see in Bilbao and with more atmosphere, especially after sunset.
This beautiful neoclassical style square, built in the mid-nineteenth century, stands out for its 33 semicircular arches with Doric columns attached and for bringing together some of the best restaurants and pintxo bars in the city.
These bars, flooded with tasty tapas, serve delicious specialties such as the pintxos of cod in pil-pil sauce, chistorra, omelet tuna, or octopus, among many others.
Other places very close to this square and with a good reputation are the Baste and the Bacaicoa, although the Bilbao offer in pintxos is endless.
Keep in mind that although most locals and tourists make the route of the pintxo bars at night, if you come in the morning, you can take the opportunity to have vermouth accompanied by some rabas (squid), the typical appetizer of the city.
And if your visit coincides with a Sunday morning, you will find a flea market with books, coins, stamps, and antiques.
5. Artxanda viewpoint – Bilbao Must See Place
Another of the best things to do in Bilbao is to take the funicular to the Artxanda viewpoint to enjoy the city’s best views.
To get on this historic funicular, you should approach the Plaza del Funicular, located near the Zubizuri Bridge, a magnificent work of Calatrava, if it were not for the fact that they had to put a carpet on the floor to prevent slipping on rainy days.
The panoramic viewpoint gives you a chance to view some of the most striking buildings in the city and the estuary, and you can even see the sea on a clear day.
An excellent way to visit this viewpoint is to book this tour of the historic center, which includes the funicular ticket. Witnessing the fantastic beauty of Bilbao from Artxanda is an unusual thing to do in Bilbao.
Funicular hours: daily from 7:15 am to 10 pm; Friday and Saturday close at 11 pm.
6. Churches to see in Bilbao
Among the essential churches to see in Bilbao you have:
Basilica of Begona: Built-in Gothic style during the early sixteenth century, it has a wooden carving on the inside depicting the Virgin of Begona, patron saint of Biscay, and is held in absolute devotion by the locals.
Cathedral of Santiago: The oldest religious temple to visit in Bilbao stands out for its small Gothic cloister, the Angel’s Gate, the tower, and beautiful stained glass windows.
Church of San Antón: This gothic temple is included in the coat of arms of the Villa of Bilbao and, together with the bridge of San Antón, forms one of the most picturesque images of the city.
7. Arriaga Theater – Tourist Attractions in Bilbao
Entering the beautiful Plaza del Arenal and seeing the impressive facade of the Arriaga Theater, one of the most beautiful in Spain, is another must-do in Bilbao.
This neo-baroque building from the late 19th century is dedicated to the Bilbao composer Juan Crisóstomo de Arriaga, known as the “Spanish Mozart.” and has an extensive theater and music shows program.
If you do not have the opportunity to attend any of these shows, you can book a guided tour that takes place on Saturdays and Sundays, from 11 am to 1 pm.
To learn more curiosities about this theater, such as an unsolved murder and other city legends, we recommend you book a free tour of mysteries and legends, which starts right at the Arriaga Theater. Going to the theater is one of the best things to do with kids in Bilbao.
8. The Alhondiga – Place to visit near Bilbao
The Alhondiga or Azkuna Zentroa, a former modernist wine warehouse that was remodeled and transformed into a center of culture, sports, and leisure, is another of the most beautiful places to visit in Bilbao.
This building, rehabilitated by the renowned designer Philippe Starck, has an interior with a large square covered with 43 columns of different styles that surround three themed buildings where different activities are held.
In addition to a transparent pool located on the terrace, this center has 8 movie theaters, an auditorium, library, exhibition hall, gym, restaurants, and several stores.
9. Stroll along the estuary
A stroll along the banks of the estuary at sunset is one of the most romantic things to do in Bilbao.
In recent years, the estuary, also known as the Ibaizabal estuary or the Nervion estuary, has been transformed into a space for leisure and recreational activities, such as boat rides.
Besides enjoying the atmosphere in areas such as the Marzana dock, we recommend a walking route along the estuary starting from the San Antón bridge in the Old Town and passing by 9 other bridges that connect the right and left sides of the city center.
As you walk, you will see important buildings like Ribera Market, the Arriaga Theater, La Concordia Train Station, and the imposing City Hall, another of the places to see in Bilbao, which has a magnificent Arab Hall inside.
The second part of the tour will start at Campo Volantín, then pass in front of the Guggenheim Museum, the Iberdrola Tower, and ending at the Euskalduna Bridge, surrounded by the Tiger building, the Euskalduna Palace, and the 60-meter high Carola crane, located on the docks of the Maritime Museum.
Another good option to travel along the estuary and reach more distant sites such as the Hanging Bridge of Portugalete, Getxo, or the fishing port of Santurtzi, is to book a boat trip.
10. Doña Casilda Park
Having completed the list of must-see places to visit in Bilbao, you deserve some time to relax and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of the city at Doña Casilda Park.
This English-style garden is one of the city’s green lungs and features a pond with ducks, swans, and peacocks.
Next to the park is the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, one of the most important in Spain, which houses a collection of more than 10,000 works of art by great masters such as Picasso, Goya, Ribera, and El Greco. Going to the park is one of the best things to do with kids in Bilbao.
So, Is Bilbao worth visiting?
What do you think of the place? Which one of the unusual things to do in Bilbao excites you the most?