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Explore The Best Things of Bilbao In Basque Country, Spain

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Impression about Bilbao

Arriving in Bilbao

Bilbao is a city that once you live in for a while, you will never forget it. The city is clean, tidy, diverse, and of moderate size. It is a city that rarely combines the advantages of big cities and small cities: it has the richness and sufficient services of a large city, and the efficiency and speed of a small city.

bilbao basque spain street hills

It was night when I arrived in Bilbao, and I was chatting with people along the way, so I didn’t have much an impression of the city. When I went out the next morning, I felt entering a multi-layered world. The city has a very strong sense of hierarchy, generally cities with mountains have this characteristic.

bilbao basque spain grey stairs
bilbao sede de osakidetza glass

The whole city of Bilbao has ups and downs, so the locals follow the trend, build various buildings according to the changes in the terrain, and use various passages, stairs, escalators, and elevators to connect different buildings. Some areas with a strong sense of modern multi-layer architecture shows up as science fiction worlds.

bilbao spain walking bridge zubizuri
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The charm of mountains and rivers in Bilbao

In Bilbao, you will see mountains in the distance from time to time. These mountains are looming on rainy days, as if you are entering a fairyland. In addition to mountains, Bilbao also has rivers that pass through the city. The rivers give the city its charm. Everywhere the river goes, it seems to be injected with more vitality. In addition to various boats, people also paddle canoes in some rivers.

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Once, my friend and I were walking on the riverbank when we suddenly heard four people on two small boats in the distant river waving oars and shouting at us to cause attention. After a closer look, it turned out that it was a friend and her three friends rowing in the river. They happened to meet us and greeted us with their paddles. We also waved our arms very hard, expressing the joy of meeting our friends by chance.

bilbao basque spain calatrava zubizuri

A city with mountains and rivers is spiritually rich. Places where natural scenery and cities are combined often breed talented people. They will be receptive to art and have an open style. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is the locals’ embrace of art. This building has conquered people from almost all fields in the world, and even harsh architectural critics are impressed.

The Guggenheim Museum

The museum

The Guggenheim Museum (The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum) is designed by architect Frank Gehry and was inaugurated in October 1997. There are 250 contemporary pieces artwork. The Guggenheim Museum’s architecture blends seamlessly with the Nervion River, the surrounding environment, and the entire city.

bilbao guggenheim museum puppy spain

I passed the Guggenheim Museum every morning and evening, twice a day, and I often went there even on weekends and holidays. So, I passed the Guggenheim Museum more than 400 times a year. Normally, when I pass by a place more than 20 times, I will no longer pay attention or look carefully at any details. The Guggenheim Museum is a special case. Every time I will look carefully at this building in different lights and weather. In appearance, this is a very rare building that you will never tire of.

The Puppy

The giant Puppy near the Guggenheim Museum has won the love of locals, so this Puppy has also become one of the local iconic classics. Puppy is 12.4 meters tall, made of soil and flowers. This giant pet symbolizes love and happiness. In real life, it does bring a lot of fun to the people who come to visit.

bilbao basque guggenheim puppy flowers

In addition to the Guggenheim Museum, there are also very unforgettable places like the Bilbao Art Museum, where many artworks are moving and touching.

The seaside and beach of Bilbao

Nature seems to reward this city and put all natural resources here. In addition to mountains, water, and rivers, Bilbao is also close to the sea. Take the subway Line 1 to the last stop of Plenzia, which is very near from the sea. Follow the charming seaside path to this beautiful Bay of Biscay, people can enjoy the beach and have a wonderful time.

bilbao plentzia sea beach spain

The first time I went to the beach, it was winter and there were very few people on the way there. There was a strange bird on the road by the beach that kept making terrifying sounds. Then, the weather suddenly became cloudy for no reason, and there was only one dog running back and forth crazily on the beach. There was no one else in sight except me and the dog. I was thinking to leave, but I felt that it’s a pity to leave like this. Finally, a person came and took the dog away, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Fortunately, it was not a wild dog.

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In the end, I was the only one on the whole beach. At this moment, the sky, ocean, beach, nature and myself, everything else seemed to disappear. Such an experience will allow the body and mind to relax and be energized by nature.

Wonderful Public transportation system in Bilbao

The municipal Bike Share Service of Bilbao

Bilbao has an extremely developed transportation system. In addition to convenient subways, buses, and tram, it also has a developed bicycle lane system. These dedicated bicycle lanes are perfectly integrated into urban traffic. The bicycle lanes have special bicycle lane maps. Bicycles only need to be registered with an ID card or passport to use them for free in the past (later, there was an annual registration fee of around 20 euros). There are bicycle stations for returning bicycles in many places.

bilbao basque spain tram green

There is a friend who relies on bicycles to travel every day. She walks to the bicycle station every day to pick up a bicycle, then rides along the bicycle path to where she needs to go, and then returns the bicycle to a nearby bicycle station. Basically, she relies on free bicycles for most of her trips. In this way, she not only exercised, but also had no transportation expenses, and also contributed to reducing urban pollution – killing three birds with one stone.

bilbao basque spain tram bridge

This bicycle rental system is called “bilbaobizi: The municipal Bike Share Service of Bilbao”, and there are 43 official bilbaobizi stations in Bilbao. Many years before many cities around the world began to use shared bicycles, Bilbao had already perfectly integrated shared bicycles into its public transportation system.


In addition to clean and efficient buses and trams, Bilbao’s subway is also worth mentioning. The subway in Bilbao is very clean, the lines are clear and easy to take. The entrances to the subway are amazing, the famous architect Norman Foster designed the special metro entrances called “ el Fosterito”, which use metal and glass making riding the subway feel like walking into a mysterious world.

bilbao basque metro station sarriko

The most interesting thing is that the subway runs all night every Saturday, because there is an outdoor party every Saturday in Bilbao, and young people from the whole city gather together to enjoy the weekend. The all-night subway operation prevents car accidents caused by drunken young people driving.

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The parties are not held in the same area, areas change all the time. Generally, in areas where parties are held, the streets stop passage for vehicles and turn into pedestrian streets. Many young people sit on the streets and circle around, drinking, chatting, and relaxing. There are police patrols around this party area to ensure the safety of the area.

bilbao spring casilda iturrizar park

The Safe city

Bilbao is a very safe city. In a city of this size, there are often many safety hazards, and women tend to avoid walking at night. However, the sense of security this city brings to people makes many women walk alone late at night. A female friend of mine likes parties and often goes back to her apartment alone at 02:00 am at night.

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However, I generally recommend that tourists put safety first no matter where they are and try not to walk alone late at night.

bilbao plaza bizkaya office building

Weather and special way of hanging clothes in Bilbao

The weather in Bilbao is very moderate, and it is relatively comfortable even in summer. It is not as crazy hot as Malaga and Granada in the southern Spain, but there are many rainy days in Bilbao.

bilbao basque spain windows sky

Many locals put a special big umbrella on top of the clothes that they hang to dry outside the window to prevent the clothes being from being suddenly hit by the rain. This created an interesting scene. It was raining heavily outside, and many people were drying their clothes under umbrellas outside the windows.

bilbao clothes window basque spain

Aste Nagusia (The Great Week)

Every summer, Bilbao has a city-wide celebration that lasts for more than 9 days and is extremely lively. The festival is called Aste Nagusia (The Great Week), which is also called “Semana Grande de Bilbao” in Spanish. The festival starts on the first Saturday following 15 August.

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In addition to various activities during the festival, many people party and celebrate outside at night. Late at night, the city begins to set off giant fireworks. The gorgeous fireworks are colorful over the city and can be seen from all parts of the city.

bilbao dona casilda iturrizar park

Fireworks last almost half an hour and occur every night during The Great Week. There were several nights after I fell asleep and was woken up by fireworks, so I simply got up at night and sat by the window to watch the beautiful fireworks in the night sky.

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If I must say that Bilbao has any shortcomings, then I can barely find two shortcomings:

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The first disadvantage is that because Bilbao is an area where the Basque people live, many street signs are bilingual. Far from the city center, there are occasional signs that are only in Basque, which for foreigners is equivalent to reading hieroglyphics. Therefore, if you take a bus to the suburbs, it is best to find out the name of the stop in advance, otherwise missing the stop won’t be a nice experience.

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The second disadvantage is that direct flights from Bilbao to other cities and countries are generally expensive. Many people can find cheap flights when traveling from the city where they live to other cities, but many flights from Bilbao are not economic. However, there is a Ryanair airport in Santander, a city 100 kilometers away from Bilbao, from which there are many economic flights.

town hall bilbao casco viejo

Best things to do in Bilbao

Bilbao is the 10th largest city in Spain and it’s the largest city in the north of Spain. Bilbao is a city suitable for visiting slowly, because it is a city that combines nature and human wisdom ingeniously, and these details need to be appreciated slowly.

bilbao ramon basterra gran via

A hurried trip to tourist attractions is not suitable for this city. If you really have limited time and want to visit Bilbao’s main attractions, you can refer to the list below:

The Casco Viejo (Seven Streets)

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Plaza Nueva

bilbao cathedral santiago casco viejo

Cathedral de Bilbao

bilbao theater arriaga casco viejo

Arriaga Theater

bilbao basque spain ribera market

Mercado de la Ribera (market)

Abando district

Guggenheim Museum

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Museo de Bellas Artes (Fine Arts Museum)

bilbao dona casilda park sculpture
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Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park

Stadium San Mamés

Gran Via & Plaza Moyua (shopping street)


bilbao basque spain zubizuri bridge

Zubizuri (white bridge)

Puente de Vizcaya (bridge)


the Top of Mount Artxanda

plentzia bilbao street basque spain

Plentzia (town + beach)

Activities and food

bilbao basque spain casco viejo

Aste Nagusia (Big Week Festival)

Canoeing in the Nervion River

Pintxos (the Basque edition of tapas)

Author: Hua

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