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BilbaoSpain

This former industrial city is now a major European arts center, home to cultural attractions including the famous Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao, in northern Spain, was once an industrial center, but today is better known for its thriving arts and cultural scene. Come to visit world-class museums, dine at sophisticated restaurants or head out into the surrounding countryside.

Start your visit by climbing the Mallona stairs from Plaza Unamuno to Parque Etxebarria or take the Artxanda funicular railway to enjoy some of the best views in the city.

Many travelers come to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, one of the most renowned art institutions in Europe. The remarkable modern building, with its curved glass and titanium walls, houses art from the mid 20th century to today. Other art attractions include the Fine Arts Museum and the Basque Museum. Bilbao also has a full annual program of cultural events featuring many important exhibitions and performances. See some of these events at the Palacio Euskalduna, a striking modernist building in the city center.

The city is revered not just for its modern architecture, but also for its buildings dating back to the 14th century. Visit the Gothic-style Cathedral of St. James and the Alhondiga, a complex containing a library, several bars and restaurants, a cinema and a rooftop pool with a glass floor.

Bilbao is known for its sophisticated dining scene, with a host of Michelin-starred restaurants. Try local cuisine such as baby squid and lamb stew.

As well as art and food, Bilbao is a city keen on sport. In town there are 18.5 miles (30 kilometers) of cycling lanes, as well as many swimming pools, gyms and parks. Around Bilbao there are nature reserves and hiking trails, as well as several nearby golf courses.

Rent a car and drive out of town to enjoy the countryside or coast surrounding the city. There are traditional fishing villages along the nearby bay. Further down the coast you’ll find picturesque and quiet beaches. An inland route will take you to hiking trails through mountainous scenery. Check the weather forecast before planning your beach day, as the mild climate brings more rain than in other parts of the peninsula.

Where to stay in Bilbao

Ribera Market showing interior views, food and a bar

Bilbao Old Town

4.5/5Wonderful!(8 area reviews)

Museums, shopping and theatres highlight some notable features of Bilbao Old Town. Make a stop by Santiago Cathedral or Arriaga Theater while you're visiting, and jump aboard the metro at Arriga Tram Stop or Casco Viejo Station to get around town.

Bilbao Old Town

Top hotels in Bilbao

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Melia Bilbao
Hotel Melia Bilbao
5 out of 5
Lehendakari Leizaola, 29, Bilbao, Vizcaya
The price is NZ$147 per night

Located in Abando, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dona Casilda Iturrizar Park, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and San Mames Stadium. Plaza Moyua ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (984 reviews)

"Liked the pool, was lovely to swim and look at the view. Also, the view from my room was particularly lovely of the a little park and people walking their dogs."…"

Reviewed on 7 Mar. 2020

Hotel Melia Bilbao
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
5 out of 5
Alameda de Mazarredo, 61, Bilbao, Vizcaya

Located in Abando, this luxury hotel is within a 5-minute walk of Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. Plaza Moyua and Zubizuri Bridge are also ...

4.8/5Exceptional! (798 reviews)

"Location location location. Got a free upgrade, by far my favorite hotel in the whole world service wise. There are great restaurants within 5 minutes walking distance. Hands down best choice in Bilbao."…"

Reviewed on 22 Feb. 2020

Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao
Hotel Carlton
Hotel Carlton
5 out of 5
Plaza Federico Moyua 2, Bilbao, Vizcaya
The price is NZ$183 per night

Located in Abando, this luxury hotel is steps away from Ensanche and Plaza Moyua. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and San Mames Stadium are also within 15 minutes. ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,251 reviews)

"Property is really nice and very well located able to walk to all mayor attractions"…"

Reviewed on 16 Mar. 2020

Hotel Carlton

Popular places to visit in Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Image for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

4/5(20 reviews)

Investigate a vast collection of modern and contemporary art both inside and outside one of the most recognizable buildings in Bilbao.

San Mames Stadium
Image for San Mames Stadium

San Mames Stadium

4/5(1 review)

Join local soccer fans and shout your support for a well-known European team that calls this spectacular stadium its home.

Plaza Moyua
Image for Plaza Moyua

Plaza Moyua

4.5/5(12 reviews)

Take time out in this attractive city plaza and contemplate the beauty and majesty of the architecture of the surrounding historical buildings.

Top activities in Bilbao

VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY
Image for VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY

VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY

100% of travellers recommend
NZ$125
Per adult
Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups
Image for Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups

Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups

NZ$394
Per adult
Vitoria and Añana Salt Valley Tour in small groups
Image for Vitoria and Añana Salt Valley Tour in small groups

Vitoria and Añana Salt Valley Tour in small groups

NZ$572
Per adult
Bilbao Private Walking Tour with Professional Guide
Image for Bilbao Private Walking Tour with Professional Guide

Bilbao Private Walking Tour with Professional Guide

NZ$463
Per adult
San Sebastian and Basque Coast tour in small groups
Image for San Sebastian and Basque Coast tour in small groups

San Sebastian and Basque Coast tour in small groups

NZ$313
Per adult
Private Transfer San Sebastian to Bilbao along the Coast
Image for Private Transfer San Sebastian to Bilbao along the Coast

Private Transfer San Sebastian to Bilbao along the Coast

NZ$448
Per adult

Reviews of Bilbao

4.6

Top Destination

5 - Excellent
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4 - Good
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4 - Good 40.90909090909091%
3 - Okay
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2 - Disappointing
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4/5 - Good

Verified traveller

12 Oct. 2019

My reason for visiting Bilbao was for the Guggenheim Museum, and it was such a wonderful experience.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

6 Oct. 2019

Beautiful town, plenty to do and see, worth trip to see the Guggenheim. On several occasions the Male staff were dismissive, but when the female staff came on pleasant and helpful.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

24 Sep. 2019

Bilbao was an enjoyable city to visit, with not just the Guggenhiem but other museums and areas to visit. The Philipe Stark designed Aztkuna Zentroa is facinating and worth visiting, as are the old town and the many bridges and parks.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

13 Sep. 2019

Would like another three days to make up for the rain, 3 out of 4 days in September, rare but miserable.

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

23 Jul. 2019

Beautiful city. Would love to visit again

5/5 - Excellent

Verified traveller

24 Jun. 2019

Loved the City and the food. Beautiful buildings and architecture and food.

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