Bilbao (Bilbo in Basque) had a tough upbringing. Growing up in an environment of heavy industry and industrial wastelands, it was abused for years by those in power and had to work hard to get anywhere. But, like the kid from the estates who made it big, Bilbao’s graft paid off when a few wise investments left it with a shimmering titanium fish called the Museo Guggenheim and a horde of arty groupies around the world.
The Botxo (Hole), as it’s fondly known to its inhabitants, has now matured into its role of major European art centre. However, in doing so, it hasn’t gone all toffee-nosed and forgotten its past: at heart it remains a hard-working and, physically, rather ugly town, but it’s one that has real character. It’s this down-to-earth soul, rather than its plethora of art galleries, that is the real attraction of the vital, exciting and cultured city of Bilbao.
Best places to stay in Bilbao
Bilbao destination guides
Vitoria and the Rioja Wine Region
The famous Rioja Wine region is a must for wine lovers visiting Spain. Located in the south of the Basque country, you will visit the village of Haro, the unique medieval village of Laguardia. Of course, you will visit a traditional wine cellar for a wine tasting, and a guided walking tour of Vitoria.
Explore the Basque Coast
Follow the river road of Bilbao towards the coast and admire the old industrial areas that once powered Bilbao. You will visit the Transporter Bridge of Bizkaia, the oldest bridge of this type in the world, still active and a very much loved icon for the locals.