20 Must-Visit Attractions in Bilbao, Spain

<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/inaxo/2845853506/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bilbao, San Anton | © Iñaki Queralt / Flickr</a>
<a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/inaxo/2845853506/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Bilbao, San Anton | © Iñaki Queralt / Flickr</a>
The Basque city of Bilbao has much to entertain the visitor, from world-class art museums to fine dining restaurants, hip and trendy districts, food markets and plenty of avant-garde contemporary architecture. Here are 20 must-visit attractions in Bilbao.

Guggenheim Museum

Museum, Building
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Guggenheim Bilbao
Guggenheim Bilbao | © Mark B. Schlemmer / Flickr
The Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao’s top attraction, draws the most tourists to the Basque city. Housed in the celebrated metal ship-like building designed by American architect Frank Gehry, it features contemporary artworks by people such as Eduardo Chillida, Andy Warhol, Richard Serra and Mark Rothko.
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Bilbao Art District

Surrounding the Guggenheim lies the Art District, filled with large-scale sculptures by famous artists. Look out for Puppy by Jeff Koons, giant spider Mamen by Louise Bourgeois, and Tall Tree and the Eye by Anish Kapoor.

Puppy by Jeff Koons, Guggenheim Bilbao © Georges Jansoone / WikiCommons

Casco Viejo

Casco Viejo is Bilbao’s Old Town, consisting of seven main pedestrian streets and many winding alleys. Filled with historic architecture, this district is also home to some of the city’s most important sights: Bilbao Cathedral, Ribera Market, and the Plaza Nueva, surrounded by delicious pintxos bars.

Plaza Nueva, Bilbao © Jose Mario Pires / CC BY-SA 3.0 / WikiCommons

Azkuna Zentroa

Music Venue, Concert Hall
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Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao
Azkuna Zentroa, Bilbao | © Starck / Wikimedia Commons
Azkuna Zentroa, formally known as the Alhóndiga, was once the city’s wine exchange and storage house. Redesigned by artist Philippe Starck, today it’s set on 43 individually designed columns, from art deco to Chinese-style ones covered in dragons. The Azkuna Zentroa is now the city’s premiere culture and leisure centre, holding various events, exhibitions and workshops throughout the year.
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La Ribera Market

Market, Shop
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La Ribera Market Bilbao
La Ribera Market Bilbao | ©Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons
Europe’s largest indoor market, with over 10,000m² (110,000 sq ft), the art deco-style La Ribera Market simply can’t be missed. Shop for traditional produce, browse fresh fruit and veg stalls or simply stop for a drink at one of the bars – something will keep you entertained. The market also has a few restaurants and its own in-house jazz band.
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Bilbao La Vieja

Not to be confused with the Casco Viejo, Bilbao La Vieja, also referred to as ‘Bilbi,’ has quickly become the hippest and trendiest district in Bilbao. It’s known for its innovative street art, funky bars and cafés, as well as small galleries and fashion boutiques.

Bilbao la Vieja © Zarateman/WikiCommons

Bilbao Maritime Museum

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Bilbao, Museo Marítimo
Bilbao, Museo Marítimo | Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons
The Bilbao Maritime Museum details the Basque Country’s special relationship with the sea, displaying exhibits on ship building as well as local fishermen. Visitors can see ships built in the shipyards of Bilbao and a collection of model boats, and the museum also holds various workshops and family activities.
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Euskalduna Palace

Concert Hall
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Euskalduna Palace, Bilbao
Euskalduna Palace, Bilbao | © Jean-Pierre Dalbéra / Flickr
Euskalduna Palace, Bilbao’s conference centre and concert hall, was established in 1999 and is one of world’s best conference centres today. Designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios, it symbolises the last ship built in the city’s old shipyards. Check out the latest programmes of concerts, opera, dance and theatre here.
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Pintxos bars

Basque Country is known for its pintxos: small pieces of bread topped with a variety of classic ingredients, from meat and vegetables to seafood, all held together with a cocktail stick. Bilbao is one of the best cities for a night of bar hopping and filling up on the most delicious pintxos from each bar. Some of the best and most traditional pintxos bars can be found in the Casco Viejo.

Fine dining restaurants

As well as pintxos, Basque Country has become world renowned for its fine dining cuisine. While Bilbao might not have as many as San Sebastian, it does have its fair share of Michelin-starred restaurants.

Gourmet food © Julien Sarazin/unsplash

Rio Nervión

Rio Nervión, also called the Ría de Bilbao, is the river that runs through the centre of the city. Many of Bilbao’s major attractions lie along the river, so it’s ideal to explore by boat. A number of different river tours in the city, from kayaking ones to relaxing tour boats, are available.

Doña Casilda Park

Museum, Park
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Parque de Doña Casilda Iturrízar
Parque de Doña Casilda Iturrízar | ©Zarateman / Wikimedia Commons
Sitting just above the central districts of Abando and Indautxu, Doña Casilda Park is Bilbao’s biggest and best park, surrounded by major attractions such as the Guggenheim, Fine Arts Museum, Maritime Museum and Palacio Euskalduna. Home to wide green spaces, tree-lined boulevards, ponds and fountains, the park is a perfect space for relaxing.
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La Salve Bridge

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La Salve Bridge
La Salve Bridge | © Xauxa (Håkan Svensson) / Wikimedia Commons
This iconic bridge crosses the river right next to the Guggenheim Museum. Constructed in the early 1970s from green concrete, it was one of the first bridges in Spain to be built with a cable system. For the 10th anniversary of the Guggenheim, French artist Daniel Buren added a huge red arch across the top.
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