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Bilbao Travel Guide

Initially founded as a village back in 1300, Bilbao has become nowadays the fifth largest metropolitan area of Spain and also the capital of the province of Biscay. With an oceanic climate and with mild temperatures along all seasons, Bilbao can be a very nice tourist destination when visiting Spain. The city speaks for itself when it comes to culture, history, museums and churches. Read through the following review to discover Bilbao’s story.

Located on the beautiful Estuary of Bilbao, the city’s name has two different legends referring to its origin. One theory claims that Bilbao comes from “bel vado”, which stands for “good river crossing”; the other presumed origin is related to “bi albo”, meaning “two river banks”. Bilbao was destroyed, after the initial construction, in the 15th century, by three floods and a fire,later it was rebuilt again. Nowadays, after undergoing several renewals, the Spanish city is more than ready for the arrival of tourists. It is the proud owner of one of the major museums of the world, the Guggenheim museum, of a magnificent port, namely the Port of Bilbao, of a cultural center (Euskalduna Palace) as well as of a funicular.

The Guggenheim Museum of Bilbao

Bilbao has various museums, each famous in its own way; of course, the most important of all is the Guggenheim museum. Other major edifices are the Fine Arts Museum, one of the main art museums in Spain, the Basque Museum, the Maritime Museum and also Euskalduna Palace, which contains a variety of spaces, including an opera house and a fabulous concert hall.

The Guggenheim museum is one of Bilbao’s most important tourist attractions, but also a very versatile and internationally reputed art space. Designed to host modern and contemporary art pieces, this is the place to go if you’re an art lover. With an amazing architecture, designed by the Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, the building is made of limestone, glass and titanium and it is righteously called a living proof of contemporary art. The Guggenheim museum is undoubtedly Bilbao’s symbol.

Bilbao’s’ Old Town

The Old Town of Bilbao is like a map full of attractive travel destinations. Besides the chic shops and the traditional bars, one can find in this area of Bilbao many other attractions. The Arriaga Theater, built in 1799 and rebuilt in 1986, holds theater, ballet and opera events.

The market is another worth-seeing place, situated by the river. In 1990, this market was recognized by the Guinness Book of Records as the largest indoor supermarket in the world. The Saint Nicholas of Bari Cathedral makes also part of the Old Town, and it’s renowned for the Baroque architecture. In the evening, the streets of the Old Town get very populated.

Bilbao Zubizuri - The White Bridge

The river banks of the Guggenheim museum were the perfect place to build a large bridge over the Nervion river. Designed by Santiago Calatrava, this very modern structure is built with white concrete and white steal. With floors made of glass panels, this bridge is one of the most photogenic places in Bilbao and one of its reasons of international fame. Moreover it is one of the 'must have' elements of all travel guides that aim to popularize Bilbao.

The Artxanda Funicular of Bilbao

Opened in 1915, the Artxanda funicular was largely damaged during the Spanish civil War and it took another 20 years to rebuild it. It departs from the Zubizuri bridge and, while going up to the mountain, a wonderful perspective and view of Bilbao will reveal itself to the amazement of tourists. This is actually the reason for which half a million of people enjoy this fascinating experience each year – to enjoy the view from above. At the end of the funicular, high in the mountain, a recreational area was created, including parks, restaurant, a hotel and a sport complex.

San Mamés Stadium, home of Athletic Bilbao

The fame of a great city sometimes comes from all sport interests people invest in it. In Bilbao’s case, since the city is the home of the popular team Athletic Bilbao, a great stadium was built to honor their reputation. San Mamés Stadium was opened in 1913 and is the oldest built stadium in the whole Spain. Back in 1982 it even hosted the FIFA World Cup, a major event in the sports industry. When visiting, tourists are impressed by its enormous structure, as it now hosts up to 58,000 seats.

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