Frank O. Gehry, Sir Norman Foster, Santiago Calatrava and Philippe Starck: these world-renowned architects have not just changed the face of Bilbao with their works, but they have also helped the city achieve the fame and splendour that attracts countless visitors every year.

Since the 1997 opening of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank O. Gehry, the Basque city on the Estuary of Bilbao has turned into a popular travel destination with much to offer. Visitors cannot avoid one particular tradition in the Old Town's narrow, picturesque streets, a.k.a. the Seven Streets: doing as the Bilbaínos do and going from bar to bar sampling small tasty snacks known as pintxos. These tasty morsels enjoy cult status in Bilbao. They are usually enjoyed with a small beer, known locally as zurito, or with a Txakoli, a local dry white wine

Once replete with pintxos, visitors can explore the city's numerous sights, roam the pedestrian-friendly Casco Viejo (Old Town), and visit the Mercado de la Ribera, the largest indoor market in Europe, which attracts the whole of Bilbao with its fresh produce between Monday and Saturday.

A trip on the underground is also worthwhile. Metro Bilbao, the work of architect Sir Norman Foster, has an impressively simplistic, purist design. Line 1 of the underground takes you to the Bay of Biscay in no time at all, where you can find some of the most beautiful beaches in the Basque Country. They are great for relaxing and recharging your batteries before returning to Bilbao.

City Facts

  • Location

    largest city in northern Spain's Basque country

  • Population

    approx. 372 000

  • Size

    approx. 41.6 km²

  • Public transport

    very good bus system, two underground lines, one tram line

  • Climate

    influenced by the Atlantic; mild with warm summers. The majority of rain falls between October and April.

  • Best time to visit

    summer season, with June to September being the driest months

  • Good to know

    ‘Egun on’ in Basque is the rough equivalent of ‘hello’ and goes to show that although Spanish is the official language in Bilbao, the locals usually speak Basque with one another.

  • Nice to know

    The Biskaya suspension bridge has linked the towns of Portugalete and Getxo together since 1893. As well as being the world's first transporter bridge, it is now considered to be an architectural masterpiece of Bilbao.

  • Airport

    Bilbao; around 9 km north of the city centre

  • Bus

    The Bizkaibus line A3247 leaves for the Bilbao Termibus bus station and the city centre every 30 minutes.

  • Taxi

    The taxi stand is in front of the arrivals hall; journey time approx. 20 minutes.