If you are looking for a destination to spend just a weekend or a couple days, I would definitely recommend Bilbao.
Bilbao or Bilbo in basque, is the capital of Basque country in Spain. Famous for its food and culture, there are many places of various interest that can be visited in just a weekend.
The city is divided into two parts, with the main city centre and the old town. In Bilbao, you will find cultural places, variety of architecture and most importantly great food!
As for the climate, the weather in Bilbao can very unpredictable. Being close to the Atlantic Ocean and surrounded by mountains, it can rain a lot in Bilbao.
Planning your trip
1) How to get there
Bilbao has its own airport with local and international flights running. You can book your flight with Air France, Iberia, Easyjet or Vueling. The best way to reach the city center from the airport is by taxi (around 20 minutes and approx 25 €)
Ideally, a hotel located in the city centre will be more adapted as everything is accesible within minutes.
- Ercilla Hotel - Ercilla Kalea, 37, 39, 48011 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
- Melia Hotel - Leizaola Lehendakariaren Kalea, 29, 48011 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
Honestly, I do have a preference for Ercilla Hotel, as it is central, the breakfast is quite good and many restaurants nearby. The rooms are comfortable and quite spacious.
The rooftop bar of the Ercilla hotel has a 180° view of the city surounded by mountains.
3) Commuting in Bilbao
Bilbao has a very good public transport service with buses and metro lines. But most of places are accesible on foot.
Landmarks in Bilbao
1) Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
The Guggenheim museum was built in 1991 and opened to public in 1997. The museum features exhibitions organized by the Guggenheim Foundation and by the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, as well as selections from the permanent collection of the Guggenheim museums.
Around the museum, you can find contemporary sculptures and animations. Such as the big spider or even the Puppy of Guggenheim.
2) Old Town of Bilbao - Casco Viejo
The historical centre of Bilbao called "Casco Viejo" is a pedestrian area filled with shops, bars and restaurants. Among the various shops, you will find different varieties of bakeries, candy and chocolate shops. Oldfashioned buildings, churches, plazas where you can stroll, stop by for a drink.
Drink a caña in Plaza Nueva and enjoy the architecture of the area.
3) Azkuna Zentroa Alhóndiga
Azkuna Zentroa, previously known as Alhóndiga Bilbao, is a multi-purpose venue located in the city of Bilbao, Spain. It was designed by French designer Philippe Starck in collaboration with Thibaut Mathieu and was opened to the public in stages between 18 May and 24 October 2010. The venue, labeled as a "Culture and Leisure Centre", consist of a cinema multiplex, a fitness centre, a library, showrooms, an auditorium, shops, and a restaurant
4) Catedral de Santiago de Bilbao
Santiago Cathedral is a Roman Catholic church in the city of Bilbao. The temple was originally built during the 14th–15th centuries as Bilbao's main parish church, and was only declared cathedral in 1950 when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bilbao was officially created. Its origins probably date to well before the foundation of the city in 1300, when Bilbao was little more than a small enclave of fishermen. The temple is consecrated in honor of the apostle Saint James the Great, by virtue of being a point of transit for the pilgrims that followed the Northern branch of the Way of Saint James. Architecturally, the present building is a mixture of styles
Where to eat in Bilbao?
1) El Globo taberna
You cannot leave Bilbao until you have tried a pintxos bar. A pintxo is an appetizer with a base of bread and toppings of every kind : tuna, dried ham, cheese, sea food. I really recommend you try at the best pintxos bar in town : El Globo.
Address : Diputazio Kalea, 8, 48008 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
An other basque restaurant with a win cellar. A variety of Basque grilled and smoked food. On fridays and saturdays, they host singing and concert nights.
Address : Calle Juan Ajuriaguerra Kalea, 14, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
3) Restaurante Markina
A restaurant which has a bar area where you can enjoy a drink with pintxos and a restaurant area for a sitted dinner.
Reservation in advance is recommended.
Address : Henao Kalea, 31, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
4) Café Iruña
An other great pintxos bar, with atypical interior decoration. If you are looking for an authentic experience, I would recommend you make a visit.
5) Ad Hoc Cascanueces
My favorite restaurant in Bilbao. It's all you can share from differents dishes made with meat, seafood and even vegetarian. It is a great place to go to with friends. A must do in Bilbao.