Day One

  • New Town

Start off with a frothy café con leche and fresh pastries from Basquery. Afterwards, take a scenic stroll along the river stopping for a look at Santiago Calatrava's eye-catching Zubizuri spanning across the Nervión. Continue up to the city's most famous attraction, the Museo Guggenheim Bilbao. Allow plenty of time to admire the exterior of the iconic building and the sculptures, fountains and river views that surround it.

In the afternoon walk through the dreamy Parque de Doña Casildade de Iturrizar and then head to the Museo de Bellas Artes for a look at Bilbao's best collection of Basque and Spanish artists.

In the evening stroll the busy, narrow streets of Casco Viejo grazing on pintxos in any one of dozens of bars. A few key places to start are Gure Toki and Café-Bar Bilbao on the Plaza Nueva, the epicentre of Casco Viejo's foodie scene.

Day Two

  • Old Town

Spend the morning wandering the atmospheric lanes of Bilbao's old town. Stop for coffee and snacks at Bohemian Lane, go window shopping at one-of-a-kind stores like Malmö and Nukak Bilbao, then delve into the past at the magnificent Catedral de Santiago.

In the afternoon, explore Basque culture at the fascinating Euskal Museoa. This atmospheric museum is packed with treasures from the past, including carvings made centuries before the Romans arrived. Afterwards, continue to peer back in time at the interactive Arkeologi Museo.

Following dinner, stop in for a whiskey and perhaps a bit of live music at the Residence, a charming drinking spot in the Abando neighbourhood. Afterwards, head over to Kafe Antzokia for more drinks and live music. If it's the weekend, and the night is young, join the action on the dance floor at El Balcón de la Lola.

Day Three

  • Portugalete

Take the metro up to the old village of Portugalete. Spend the morning, visiting some of the historic sites, including the impressive Basilica de Santa María and the 15th century Torre de Salazar. Afterwards, wander through the old lanes down to the waterfront, stopping for snacks overlooking the waterfront at ghpc.

Walk to Portugalete's most famous draw, the Unesco World Heritage-listed Puente Colgante. Take the elevator to the top for a breezy boardwalk stroll across the great iron bridge. Descending from the heights, take a stroll along the Nervión for more great views; then peek inside the Rialia Museo de la Industria for an overview of Portugalete's intriguing industrial past.

Come back to Bilbao for a dose of culture. Catch a concert inside the lavish Teatro Arriaga, or catch a show inside the high-tech Euskalduna Palace. End the evening with a nightcap at the Cotton Club, where you might catch a bit of live jazz.

Day Four

  • Getxo

Spend the morning exploring Getxo, an easy metro ride from Bilbao. Start in the neighbourhood of Las Arenas, taking a stroll or a bike ride along the mansion-lined Paseo de las Grandes Villasa skirting the waterfront. Dip your feet in the sands at Playa de Ereaga, then enjoy a bit of open-air refreshment with views over the sailboats at Gran Cabo.

After lunch, take the Ascensor Eraga-Algorta up to Algorta for a stroll through the old streets. Stop for coffee at Très Bien, then wander over to the Puerto Viejo, one of Getxo's most atmospheric little neighbourhoods. Pop in for a drink or a bite at one of the taverns like the Bar Arrantzale.

In the early evening, return to Bilbao to catch a game at the Estadio San Mamés, home to the celebrated Athletic Club Bilbao. Afterwards, go for a final pintxo-hopping stroll on the lively streets just east of the stadium. Make sure to stop for oysters and txakoli at El Puertito and an egg-topped delicacy or two at El Huevo Frito.