A cosmopolitan, lively, welcoming, elegant, and modern city with a distinct cultural heritage
Bilbao is today the result of a historic process of renovation and reinvention which was necessary to address the new challenges of the 21st century. The icon of the transformation of Bilbao is the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum with its stunning architecture, the work of Frank Gehry. Its art gallery is one of the world’s most comprehensive collections of contemporary art.
Bilbao is also characterized by its Casco Viejo or Old Town, a lively area which is very close to the hearts of Bilbao’s inhabitants. Take a walk around its bustling “seven streets” stopping to try the ‘pintxos’ (the local tapas) and wine.
The compactness of the city undoubtedly enhances the charm of Bilbao. Moving around is not only easy and simple but also a comfortable and pleasant experience thanks to the modern and sustainable transport network.
One of the best underground systems in the world, frequent buses, trains and trams compose the widely recognised transport offer, connecting the key areas of Bilbao with the coast and the further outskirts. Its size encourages pedestrians to walk around or even bike while they commute, enjoying the sight of different buildings and landscape of the city.
Designed by architect Norman Foster, it has become a symbol of the city because of its accessibility, effectiveness and impeccable design.
Operating from 6:00 to 23:00, there are services with frequencies of six minutes or less at peak times during the day. A night service is also provided on Fridays until 2:00 and all night on Saturdays.
This means of transport, which connects Atxuri station with La Casilla, provides a pleasant journey that borders the medieval streets of the Old Quarter, passing by the Ensanche (expansion area) of the city and running parallel to the river estuary and some of its most representative buildings.
Bilbobus, the urban bus network, passes through all neighbourhoods and most units are adapted for people with reduced mobility. It consists of 35 lines, which run from 6:00-7:00 in the morning until 22:00-23:00 at night, from 23:00 until 2:00-2:30 on Fridays and all night on Saturdays.
Bilbao has a network of cycling routes that facilitate to move around in the city with the main objective of developing sustainable, practical, and rapid transport system for the daily use. Check with your hotel reception desk for information on companies that offer temporary bike rental for visitors.
Near Bilbao, within the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, there are two special cities that you can also visit during your stay.
San Sebastián has a circular bay with pristine white-sand beaches. This is what made the city famous during the Belle Époque era and it is also where Queen Maria Cristina established her royal summerhouse.
La Concha is the most beautiful and famous urban beach in San Sebastian. On one side of the bay, you will find the Urgull mountain, next to the harbour and the city hall, and on the other side of the shell, you will find the Igueldo mountain. There are, however, two other beaches in the city: Ondarreta and Zurriola. Zurriola is also popular with surfers.
San Sebastián is also famous for its pintxos. And the best place to go to try some of them is the Parte Vieja (Old Part). This charming old city centre is famous for having the highest concentration of bars in the world. Recently the city has gained significant press for its cuisine. The city alone has 18 Michelin stars spread across 11 restaurants. Every September, San Sebastián becomes a movie place, International celebrities arrive daily during the International Film Festival.
Vitoria-Gasteiz, is the capital of the Basque Country, is a green city with a lot of natural areas called “El Anillo Verde” and a just short distance from Rioja Alavesa, a world-class wine tourism area.
Vitoria-Gasteiz was designated by the European Commission as European Green Capital 2012. The award was the highest recognition of more than thirty years of proposals and initiatives respectful of the environment and a commitment to sustainable development policies. The city has also obtained the international Biosphere Responsible Tourism certification as a destination for sustainable tourism.
Another treasure that it offers is the Historic Center, it is one of the most emblematic historical centres of Euskadi. It is located on a hill dominated by the Cathedral of Santa María. This Gothic temple is undergoing great restoration works and archaeological excavations, which can be visited by the public. Drawing the most recognizable city skyline are, as well as Santa Maria Cathedral, the towers of the churches of San Miguel, San Vicente and San Pedro.
Vitoria-Gasteiz is a step away from Rioja Alavesa, so you can combine the visit to the city with the pleasure of meeting some of its famous wineries.