Bilbao is the de facto capital of Northern Spain's Basque Country, which shares a border, history, and culture with southwestern France. As a buzzy port city with an industrial background, you'll find various architectural styles in Bilbao, the most famous building being Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum. Of course, no trip to the city is complete without an exterior view of the renowned museum. Still, you can combine modern art with a city tour and stroll along the waterfront to find other impressive architecture.
Besides the Guggenheim, Bilbao's other draw is its culinary scene. Although similar to tapas, Northern Spain calls its famous snack "pintxos." You'll encounter various small bites, but the signature dish is a piece of fresh bread piled high with some assortment of savory goodies. You'll find other delicious concoctions in the city, plus an amazing wine scene.
Although a bustling city, Bilbao also acts as a starting point for outdoor adventures. The green hills and jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa create a picturesque backdrop for the area. Plus, you'll find plenty of gorgeous coastlines and nearby beaches to explore.
Many travelers visit Northern Spain with one thing in mind: food. Bilbao and its neighbor San Sebastian are two of the biggest foodie hubs in the country. Eat your way through the city with cooking classes, winemaking experiences, and an assortment of delicious pintxos.
The Best of Pintxos Gastronomy Experience
Explore Bilbao with your tastebuds! With a local guide leading the way, you'll enjoy a gastronomy experience featuring Bilbao's famous pintxos tapas. You'll visit some of the city's classic staples and creative newcomers, all offering a delicious blend of small bites that highlight the region's delicacies. Enjoy the city's ambiance and make your way from one tasty spot to the next. Read More
Urban Winemaking in Bilbao
You don't have to leave the city to experience the wine scene of Northern Spain. In the heart of Bilbao, you'll join two prestigious oenologists to learn about local wine. Besides a large selection of international varietals, you'll also discover premium Spanish wines, tasting several pours decanted straight from the vat. To end the visit, you'll blend your own bottle of wine and create a personalized label. Read More
Bilbao's food scene is unlike any other, as this city is filled with world-class chefs and creative pintxos bars that put a modern spin on this beloved classic. To truly learn the region's gastronomy, enjoy a Basque cooking class in the heart of Bilbao. With a professional chef as your teacher, you'll prepare three dishes and one dessert using nothing but fresh, local, and organic ingredients sourced from the city's famous markets. Read More
With a full stomach, you'll surely be ready to explore more of the city. Bilbao is both a modern metropolis and a historic port city, so you get the best of both worlds regarding history and architecture.
Architecture in Bilbao Tour
Discover why Bilbao is known internationally as a city of brilliant architecture. With a local guide, you'll wander through the city's off-the-beaten-path streets, which are mostly untouched by tourists. This architecture tour focuses on Abandoibarra, also known as the Art District, where you'll also find the famed Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Read More
Bilbao City Tour
There's so much to see in Bilbao, and a city tour with a local guide will help you make the most of your time. Highlights on this tour include strolling along the Nervión River, passing the Guggenheim Museum, perusing Ribera Market (Europe's largest covered market), and admiring Casco Viejo's 700-year-old buildings. End the tour atop Mt. Artxanda for amazing views of the city. Read More
Guggenheim Museum Tour
A visit to the Guggenheim Museum is a must-do when in Bilbao. Although the exterior is a masterpiece of contemporary architecture by the legendary Frank Gehry, the interior is also worth your time. Explore nearly six acres of space highlighting world-renowned artists, such as Andy Warhol, Anish Kapoor, Jeff Koons, Louise Bourgeois, and Eduardo Chillida. Read More
Swap the city for some of Spain's most scenic countryside. The Picos de Europa—a mountain range that rivals the Swiss and Italian Alps—sits directly west of Bilbao. You'll feel a world away as you explore the region's wild nature.
Explore Picos de Europa & Potes
Escape the city and enjoy some of Northern Spain's natural beauty. Just west of Bilbao is Picos de Europa National Park, set in the Liébana region. Start in Fuente Dé, where a cable car takes you nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. Admire the views of valleys and mountain peaks or enjoy a short hike around the station. Other highlights include views of the Hermida Gorge, a stop at the Monastery of Santo Toribio, and a tour of Potes, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Bilbao Itinerary
How many days you spend in Spain depends on your itinerary, and because Bilbao sits on the country's northern coast, you'll have to be a little strategic with planning your trip. Luckily, Spain features an impressive highway network, high-speed trains, and many regional airports. Therefore, you can easily combine time in Bilbao with any other region in Spain!
If you'd like to stick to the north, consider combing Bilbao and San Sebastian with the region of Galicia to the west or Rioja to the south. Give yourself at least one week to explore Northern Spain and tack on a few more days if you'd like to expand your trip to cities like Madrid, Valencia, or Barcelona. Plan for at least two weeks in Spain (the more time, the better) if you want to extend your time to southern cities in Andalucía, such as Seville, Granada, or Córdoba.
Past kimim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include experiences in Bilbao: