Bilbao in 1 day
Bilbao was founded in 1300, which means you won’t be able to fit 718 years of history into 24 hours. This one day tour, however, immerses the curious traveller into the Siete Calles—the seven streets that founded the city—the bohemian and multicultural atmosphere of the so-called Soho of Bilbao, the cosmopolitan modernity of the Guggenheim Museum and the tranquillity of Mount Artxanda, a traditional place of recreation for the people of Bilbao.
And all that, of course, without forgetting the flavour of traditional pintxos—so tasty and short-lived that you’ll just have to come back for seconds.
Itinerary day 1
10:00 AM-12:00 PM
Bilbao La Vieja
Bilbao’s former industrial neighbourhood known for its cheery spirit is today a bohemian and multicultural area where gentrification has arrived hand in hand with cultural projects such as BilboArte and BilboRock, a concert hall located in the church of the Convent of La Merced.
12:30 PM-2:00 PM
By crossing the estuary we travel into the heart of Bilbao. A stroll through the Siete Calles—the city’s founding streets built in 1300—some good pintxos and a stop off at some emblematic places such as Santiago Cathedral or the La Ribera market are a must.
2:30 PM-3:30 PM
This tavern has been serving traditional Basque food with a smile since 1952. Enjoy its cosy atmosphere and specialities such as bacalao al pil-pil (cod in a creamy garlic sauce), marmitako (a warming winter stew) and Idiazábal cheese.
4:00 PM-5:00 PM
Plaza Nueva and Arenal Gardens
There’s nothing better than digesting post-lunch in a café on this square, the city’s social and commercial centre for centuries and witness to the traditional Regocijos Bilbaínos town festivities, before strolling through the Arenal Gardens alongside the Nervión river.
This centre of contemporary art opened in 1997—the perfect synthesis of Bilbao’s industrial past and its current cosmopolitanism—has become the city’s universal icon thanks to Frank Gehry.
8:00 PM-9:30 PM
The Artxanda lookout point and funicular
The charming red funicular opened in 1915 takes us up above the city to the top of Mount Artxanda, a traditional place of leisure for the people of Bilbao. Watching the sunset over Bilbao from the top is priceless.
10:00 PM-00:00 AM
For a riverside dining experience right in the city centre, head to the elegantly-designed contemporary Ibaizabal Restaurant located on the ground floor of Hotel Barceló Bilbao Nervión. Expect exquisitely prepared local cuisine, made with top-calibre ingredients, and best enjoyed with some wine from the sizeable and formidably-crafted wine list.