BilbaoSpain

Image for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao showing night scenes and modern architecture

This former industrial city is now a major European arts center, home to cultural attractions including the famous Guggenheim Museum.

Bilbao, in northern Spain, was once an industrial center, but today is better known for its thriving arts and cultural scene. Come to visit world-class museums, dine at sophisticated restaurants or head out into the surrounding countryside.

Start your visit by climbing the Mallona stairs from Plaza Unamuno to Parque Etxebarria or take the Artxanda funicular railway to enjoy some of the best views in the city.

Many travelers come to Bilbao to see the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum, one of the most renowned art institutions in Europe. The remarkable modern building, with its curved glass and titanium walls, houses art from the mid 20th century to today. Other art attractions include the Fine Arts Museum and the Basque Museum. Bilbao also has a full annual program of cultural events featuring many important exhibitions and performances. See some of these events at the Palacio Euskalduna, a striking modernist building in the city center.

The city is revered not just for its modern architecture, but also for its buildings dating back to the 14th century. Visit the Gothic-style Cathedral of St. James and the Alhondiga, a complex containing a library, several bars and restaurants, a cinema and a rooftop pool with a glass floor.

Bilbao is known for its sophisticated dining scene, with a host of Michelin-starred restaurants. Try local cuisine such as baby squid and lamb stew.

As well as art and food, Bilbao is a city keen on sport. In town there are 18.5 miles (30 kilometers) of cycling lanes, as well as many swimming pools, gyms and parks. Around Bilbao there are nature reserves and hiking trails, as well as several nearby golf courses.

Rent a car and drive out of town to enjoy the countryside or coast surrounding the city. There are traditional fishing villages along the nearby bay. Further down the coast you’ll find picturesque and quiet beaches. An inland route will take you to hiking trails through mountainous scenery. Check the weather forecast before planning your beach day, as the mild climate brings more rain than in other parts of the peninsula.

Where to stay in Bilbao

Ribera Market showing interior views, food and a bar

Bilbao Old Town

4.5/5Wonderful!(8 area reviews)

Bilbao Old Town

Top hotels in Bilbao

Estimated price for 1 night / 2 adults
Hotel Carlton
Hotel Carlton
5 out of 5
Plaza Federico Moyua 2, Bilbao, Vizcaya
AU$170
per night
Mar 1 - Mar 2

Located in Abando, this luxury hotel is steps away from Ensanche and Plaza Moyua. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and San Mames Stadium are also within 15 minutes. ...

4.4/5Excellent! (1,213 reviews)

"Out dated. Nice but out dated. Shower is tiny, I’m 5’11 200lbs and didn’t have shoulder room. It’s not a bad place but not all that great either. Great location though, can walk everywhere nearby like museum, tapas, and beautiful parks."…"

Reviewed on 18 Feb. 2020

Hotel Carlton
Hotel Melia Bilbao
Hotel Melia Bilbao
5 out of 5
Lehendakari Leizaola, 29, Bilbao, Vizcaya
AU$139
per night
Feb 23 - Feb 24

Located in Abando, this luxury hotel is within a 10-minute walk of Dona Casilda Iturrizar Park, Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, and San Mames Stadium. Plaza Moyua ...

4.4/5Wonderful! (1,032 reviews)

"Convenient location for exploring the compact city."…"

Reviewed on 1 Jan. 2020

Hotel Melia Bilbao
Barceló Bilbao Nervión
Barceló Bilbao Nervión
4 out of 5
Paseo Campo Volantin 11, Bilbao, Vizcaya
AU$124
per night
Mar 22 - Mar 23

Located in Uribarri, this hotel is within a 15-minute walk of Bilbao City Hall and Plaza Moyua. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and San Mames Stadium are also within ...

4.3/5Excellent! (1,672 reviews)

"Stylish room with a very comfortable bed. Really happy we were able to open the windows for fresh air, a rarity in a US hotel!"…"

Reviewed on 15 Feb. 2020

Barceló Bilbao Nervión

Popular activities in Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
Image for Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Investigate a vast collection of modern and contemporary art both inside and outside one of the most recognizable buildings in Bilbao.

San Mames Stadium
Image for San Mames Stadium

San Mames Stadium

Join local soccer fans and shout your support for a well-known European team that calls this spectacular stadium its home.

Plaza Moyua
Image for Plaza Moyua

Plaza Moyua

Take time out in this attractive city plaza and contemplate the beauty and majesty of the architecture of the surrounding historical buildings.

Top activities in Bilbao

Full-Day Guided Tour of Vitoria-Gasteiz & Basque Country
Image for Full-Day Guided Tour of Vitoria-Gasteiz & Basque Country

Full-Day Guided Tour of Vitoria-Gasteiz & Basque Country

100% of travellers recommend
AU$145
Per adult
Basque Coast Half-Day Tour
Image for Basque Coast Half-Day Tour

Basque Coast Half-Day Tour

88% of travellers recommend
AU$105
Per adult
Charms of San Sebastián Day Trip
Image for Charms of San Sebastián Day Trip

Charms of San Sebastián Day Trip

76% of travellers recommend
AU$113
Per adult
Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups
Image for Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups

Biarritz and French Basque Coast tour in small groups

AU$169
Per adult
VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY
Image for VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY

VITORIA & RIOJA WINE REGION WITH WINERY

100% of travellers recommend
AU$113
Per adult
Vitoria & Rioja Wine Area Full-Day Tour
Image for Vitoria & Rioja Wine Area Full-Day Tour

Vitoria & Rioja Wine Area Full-Day Tour

80% of travellers recommend
AU$122
Per adult

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