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After our Travel Expert Roxana spending 48 hours in Bucharest and bringing you some amazing travel recommendations, our Head of Operations Sam takes you on a journey to Bilbao, the largest city in Basque Country.
Bilbao is often overlooked by its popular neighbours Barcelona and Seville, yet offers so much to do and see in 48 hours. The city is surrounded by rolling green hills and sits a short distance away from the coastline. The Ria de Bilbao runs through the middle of this unique city and has no shortage of iconic buildings, thriving nightlife and food scenes everyone can enjoy.
In 1300 Bilboa was granted the title of the city-state and the Americas aided in the growth of the city through its trade. Throughout the late 19th century, the industrial sector dominated the cities skyline and it became considered the treasured part of the north. Today, the city is booming with culture, art, nature and food. Essentially, a little something for everybody.
Bask in its extravagant architecturally designed museums, stroll through its historical streets and enjoy the many Pintxos on offer. It's beautiful on the eyes and fulfilling in the stomach. The perfect place to explore for 48 hours. Let us take you through our time visiting this amazing city and guide you through a true experience of 48 hours in Bilbao.
After a 2 hour flight from London Gatwick, I land at Bilbao Airport (the main airport in Bilbao). I want to make the most of my time in the city so I jump in a taxi and head straight to the 4* Hotel Silken Indautxu to drop off my bag.
This hotel, situated near the Guggenheim Museum, takes its name from the traditional Indautxu district, in the very heart of the city, where the commercial and financial area is located.
The building housing the Silken Indautxu Hotel, boasting a beautiful Bilbao-style exterior and a fully renovated interior, is an example of the binomial between tradition and modernity that defines the spirit of this unique city so well.
With an average rating of 4/5, I'm sure it's going to be a great stay!
By popular demand, you should most definitely start off your trip visiting the Guggenheim Museum. Designed by Canadian-American architect Frank Gehry, it is quite possibly one of the most unique, eye-catching and exquisite buildings you may ever see. This building looks like something right out of space and even after two decades standing, still brings swarms of tourists around to see what it's all about. The great thing about the Guggenheim Museum is that the interior of the museum is just as spectacular as the exterior.
Photo Credit: @guggenheim
While the exterior resembles a large ship, naturally, covered in shiny metallic waved of metal, the inside hosts fantastic and insightful exhibitions. You can even enjoy the open-air sculptures of “Puppy” by Jeff Koon and “Maman” by Louise Bourgeois. As a highlight in Bilboa, be ready to be in awe of this area, whether you’re an artistic person or not.
Photo Credit: @guggenheim
A shortish walk away sits the Mercado de La Ribiera, the city’s best food market andthe perfect spot for a great lunch. Originating in the 14th century, it now has Art Deco feels on the outside, and factory feels on the side. While locals come to buy fresh fruit and stay for a drink and snack, you are welcome to do the same. Take some time to enjoy the atmosphere, take note of its surroundings as it sits on the river, and know you are standing in a Guinness World Record for the largest coveredmarket in Europe.
Photo Credit: @sua_collection
As for those snacks, you’ll be in awe with your options. While you have the commondining with a lovely terrace, you also have the pintxo bars which is technically the Bilbao version of tapas. Even gastro bars are available here.
Photo Credit: @bilboabokados
This evening, you will set your sights on Mount Artxanda and use the funicular to get there. The funicular is a railway system that has been operational since 1915.
Photo Credit: @photosensejoshua
Just a three-minute ride costing less than a euro is a fun adventure to be apart of before being swept away from the views above. At the top, you will not only find stunning panoramic views of the whole city and what sits around it but you'll also find cafes and a swimming pool!
Photo Credit: @sally_ryder
Your late-night extravaganza should be spent at the Casco Viejo, also known as the Old Town... “But BeRightBack, this is an area I want to see during the day!” Don’t worry, so did we, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t come and not only check out the area at night but enjoy the nightlife that flourishes. Once again, you're going to have your best bites at the endless amount of pintxos bars available to you.
Photo Credit: @paigar
A popular area to sit in, however, is the Plaza Nueva. Bar Charly has been a popular spot for 40 years.
Photo Credit: @barcharlybilbao
There is also Café Bar Bilbao, La Olla de la Plaza Nueva and Gure Toki. An endless amount of live music venues to enjoy and get your chance to meet some friendly locals.
Just as we mentioned above, you must visit Casco Viejo during the day. Known as the Seven Streets of Casco Viejo, due to it being the original seven streets of Bilbao,the area has an incredible back story. Back in 1983, a flood occurred and ended up submerging most of the medieval buildings in the old town. Then, the Basque government decided to elevate the area and created the wonderful and modern riverside you see today.
Photo Credit: @txemaaguado
Make your way through the charming streets, stop by in local bars, check out all the quirky little stores and of course, all of those pintxo bars you can choose from. More specifically, you’ll be able to find the 14th century Gothic Catedral de Santiago, the same Plaza Nueva you ate at the night before, but during the day, and if you happen to land here on a Sunday you can enjoy the flea market.
Photo Credit: @esgaliciagal
For the afternoon we are going to set our sights on the Basque Coast. Algorta is possibly the easiest accessible beach close to Bilbao, however, Sopelana and Plentzia are both beautiful beaches if you wanted to stretch a little farther to get there.
Photo Credit: @loves.mountain
To get to Algorta will take you a 40-50 minute metro ride, but that stretch we are talking about will be by either bus or local taxi to the seashore. While this area isn't well known for its beach, the area itself is pretty cool. A great place for surfers, scuba diving, sailing or canoeing, some cool 20th-century palaces and mansions to see and of course, that famous Spanish nightlife with a side of too many pintxo options. Stay for the evening and enjoy the area or head back for some Michelin star fun.
Photo Credit: @alain_kiter
On a further day trip, and for those Game of Thrones mega fans, you can take the 45 minutes to drive to Gaztelugatxe. You will recognize it as the “Dragonstone” fortress from season 7!
Photo Credit: @juanjobasurto
If you only spend a short amount of time on the Basque Coast and get back for some afternoon adventure, you can take your time and check out some popular destinations like the Campos Eliseos Theatre and the Museo de Bellas Artes (Art Museum). Both stunning on the outside and the inside and open until around 8 pm, so in Spanish standards, just in time for dinner.
Photo Credit: @bilbaoturismo
Is Bilbao for foodies? Absolutely. Therefore, while you must enjoy the endless collection of pintxos options, you must also try one of their many Michelin Star options. You’ll have plenty to choose from, seriously. Mina is beautifully located on the Bilbao River, and you'll be able to enjoy 10-14 small Michelin star rated dishes and wine pairing menu.
Photo Credit: @dani_delacasa
You can also choose the interactive menu at Atelier Etxanobe and the architectural genius and delicate menu at Alava. There are many dining options available, so don’t be afraid to check out what options may suit you more.
Photo Credit: @etxanobe
Bilbao is one of those cities that we look past but should really be hunkering down for the weekend in. With so much extravagance to see and so many delicious options to eat, you will be well entertained throughout your 48 hours in Bilbao.
If like me you love taking short weekend breaks across Europe and spending 48 hours in cities like Barcelona, Prague, Porto, Split, Bologna, Stockholm or Venice, but if like me you hate wasting hours trawling travel sites to plan and research your next weekend break, only to be hit by increased flight prices just before booking, then BeRightBack is for you!
The team at BeRightBack believes that the mission of a travel company should be to save you both time and money.
With BeRightBack, you get three trips a year to three surprise European destinations, all for the monthly cost of £49.99, which includes your return flights and your hotel.
With BeRightBack, creating a trip takes 60 seconds. Simply tell us how you like to travel when you create your account, and our concierge service does everything else for you. You won't have to lift a finger.
Best of all, you always pay the same price for your trips, no matter when you go away and we help you spread the cost of your travel, thanks to our monthly subscription.
I hope you enjoyed my 48 hours city guide to Bilbao and do not hesitate to use our website chat or to email us if you have any questions!
Sam Norman (Head of Operations at BeRightBack)
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