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    Bilbao, Casco Viejo

    Casco Viejo

    Bilbao’s atmospheric old town has more to offer than just its famous Guggenheim museum. Wander through the city’s charming streets, also called Siete Calles: with many lively bars, artisan bakeries, local markets and small boutiques, there’s plenty to keep you busy for an afternoon or two.

    Bilbao, Zubizuri

    Zubizuri

    Designed by architect Santiago Calatrava, the Zubizuri is one of the most striking and modern bridges in Bilbao. Connecting both river banks, this white bridge has a curved walkway suspended under a flowing white arch.

    Flights to Bilbao

    Bilbao has a well-earned reputation for being a cool, creative and exciting city that’s full of fun. Whether you’re interested in art, great food, history, sport or popular culture, there is something going on in Bilbao that you’re bound to love.

    Day or night, you won’t be left bored, and if you fancy heading further afield to explore breathtaking beaches, the northern coast is easily accessible. A great place for a city break or a longer holiday, check out cheap flights to Bilbao and hotels on the Brussels Airlines website today.


    What to do in Bilbao?

    1. Possibly the city’s most famous attraction, the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is a must. The artwork is as interesting and unique as the building itself, designed by Frank Gehry, and the museum really embodies the edgy, creative side of this Spanish city.
    2. See the Casco Viejo, the Bilbao Old Town. Steeped in history, the Siete Calles, or seven streets, have all the bars, bakeries, shops and boutiques you could need to while away an afternoon or two. It’s also a great place to head if you’re looking for the city’s nightlife.
    3. Ride the funicular to the top of Artxanda Mountain. In operation since 1915, at the top of this three-minute ride, you’ll be greeted by incredible views of the city. Treat yourself to some refreshments in one of the many cafés you’ll find there.
    4. Walk along the river. Bilbao’s many museums aren’t the only place to discover impressive works of art. The street art around the city is just as fascinating and the banks of the river Nervión are one great place to see this. You can also kayak or paddle board or, if that all sounds a bit active, simply take a relaxing river cruise.
    5. Visit the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum if you’re looking for a more traditional art experience. Featuring work from artists such as El Greco or Goya, it’s a favourite tourist attraction.
    6. Admire the Catedral de Santiago. The city’s cathedral is a thing of beauty that begs to be explored, both for its aesthetics and for the history it shares with the Camino de Santiago. Visitors can learn more about the historic pilgrimage inside.
    7. Catch some sport. Home of Athletic Bilbao and recent host of the European Rugby Championship and Challenge cup finals, there’s usually something going on in Bilbao’s stadiums.

    Practical information for your trip to Bilbao

    • Brussels Airlines flies to and from Bilbao Airport, located 9 km from the city centre. The local Bizkaibus (Line A3247) leaves every 15 minutes and stops in the city centre. There are also trains and public transport to other nearby cities such as San Sebastian. Car hire and taxis are also available.
    • Current local time in Bilbao:  
    • Currency: Euro.
    • Telephone calls and Wi-Fi: : The telephone code is +34. There are also a number of free Wi-Fi spots around the city.
    • Electric sockets: Type C and F. Spain operates on a 230 V supply voltage and 50 Hz.
    • Travel Information: Spain is an EU member and has signed the Schengen agreement. Therefore, many travellers will only need a passport or appropriate ID card to enter the country and don’t require a visa for stays less than 90 days. You can find more information here: www.iatatravelcentre.com.
    • Vaccinations: No vaccinations are required to visit Bilbao. For more health information visit: www.iatatravelcentre.com.

    Dos and Don’ts in Bilbao

    • Do check what’s happening at the Bilbao Exhibition Centre. From sports events and concerts to conferences and forums, there are countless interesting events to attend.
    • Do research Bilbao restaurants. From Michelin-starred establishments to hidden gems serving traditional delicacies, Bilbao’s gastronomy scene is hard to beat. You’ll be spoilt for choice, but consider ringing ahead if there’s somewhere you really want to visit.
    • Don’t be afraid to explore. Bilbao is very well connected and cities like Santander and San Sebastian are on your doorstep. Take the train or rent a car to explore more of Spain’s undiscovered north, while Game of Thrones fans should head north east to discover Gaztelugatxe, which stood in for Dragonstone.
    • Don’t only use public transport. The Bilbao metro is great but the city really does reward those visitors who explore it on foot. Wandering around the streets of the Basque-country capital will allow you to get a feel for the place and appreciate the creativity and atmosphere that makes it so popular..

    Local phrases & essential vocabulary

    As well as Spanish, you are sure to hear and see a lot of Basque in Bilbao. It’s worth trying to master a few key phrases in Spanish and Basque:

    • Hello: Hola - Kaixo
    • Good morning/good day: Buenos días - Egun on
    • Good night: Buenas tardes - Gabon
    • Please: Por favor - Mesedez
    • Thank you: Gracias - Eskerrik asko
    • Yes: Sí - Bai
    • No: No - Ez
    • Where is… : Donde está… - Non dago…
    • How are you?: Cómo estás? - Zer moduz?
    • The bill: La cuenta - Faktura
    • Do you speak English?: Habla ingles? - Ingelesa hitz egiten duzu?
    • How much is it?: Cuánto es? - Zenbat balio du?
    • I don’t understand: No entiendo - Ez dut ulertzen

    Cultural events in Bilbao

    • The biggest event in Bilbao, Aste Nagusia, or Great Week, is celebrated towards the end of August each year, and involves concerts, shows, parades, street activities and so much more. It’s a time of true celebration and enjoyment throughout the entire city and shouldn’t be missed.
    • Music lovers will enjoy Bilbao BBK Live festival, which happens every July in the city. Countless pop and rock artists perform on a specially designed site on the slopes of Mount Cobetas. Tourists are known to come from countries far and wide and the festival attracts a number of international artists.

    Pintxos in Bilbao

    When to go to Bilbao?

    Bilbao is a popular summer destination for many because its geographical location means it’s a little cooler than the south of the country. It does, however, have a lot to offer all year round. There are a number of great festivals that go on in the region, and remember that if you’re visiting outside of the summer months, it does get a lot more rain than other parts of the country.

    What to eat in Bilbao?

    • Pintxos. The Basque take on tapas, many of the establishments you visit in Bilbao will have bars that are laden with tapas and other small dishes. Usually, you take a plate, choose what you want, and pay at the end. There are even pintxo bar crawls to help get a taste of everything on offer. A glass of local Txakoli wine, a dry white wine slightly sparkling, will accompany your pintxos perfectly.
    • Bacalao pil-pil. An iconic Basque dish, this garlic cod is delicious.
    • Pastel Vasco. This creamy custard cake is the perfect way to finish off a round of pintxos.

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