BILBAO is home to artists, poets and bohemian romance. The romance echoes over the cobbled streets, past the black rimmed shop windows and streams down the sparkling bridge-laced river to the impressive Guggenheim Museum.
The thin streets that wind through the Casco Viejo (old town) seem to hold the hazy secrets of literature, philosophies and strong political opinions. Through the plumes of smoke, you can see it in the passionate hand gestures, the vibrancy, the cultural diversity, and the captivating Euskeri flags.
It’s well worth exploring Bilbao, so often forgotten. Here are a few ideas to soak up the romance of this place.
Indulge in a Menu del Día and evening Pintxos in one of the exceptional restaurants in the Casco Viejo
You can find some of the Basque Country’s best and most interesting food in Bilbao. The old town is over-flowing with really good eateries where you’ll find crowds of people both inside and out. As you’re served steaming plates of fresh Paella and salted cod stew, enjoy the friendly ambience and a glass of the local drink. There is the acidic and refreshing Txakoli, a gently sparkling white wine with a pale green hue. Or, Patxaran, an infinitely more alcoholic liquor made from sloe berries with a flavour of anise and subtle tones of coffee. Better still for a warm spring afternoon is a glass of cider from the local Sagardotegi (cider house), typically poured from dizzy heights by the enthusiastic waiters. Look for restaurants around and close to the Plaza Nueva, where there’s also a cool Sunday morning flea market.
Discover the music scene of Bilbao
From Basque music, to indie folk, electro and rock, Bilbao has artists from the really famous to the newly-signed touring through it all the time. It’s a great place to discover new music. Just look at the line-up for the huge BBK festival this summer and you’ll realise why you have to see a little bit of Bilbao’s music scene to really know the city.
Not only is Bilbao full of smoky mysterious romance, it’s also home to the impacting silhouette of the Guggenheim Museum. Bilbao was thrown into the 21st century with the building of the museum in 1997. Affectionately named ‘El Goog’, the cool silvery structure can be found just along the river, a short tram-ride away from the old town. It’s like entering another world completely as you move from the dreamy romanticism of the old town to the impressive contemporary architecture of the Guggenheim
Take in the skyline of this city in evolution
The Funicular de Artxandra takes you up above the city where the view reveals the true mixture of new and old in Bilbao. From the beautifully ornate train station to the scattering of glassy skyscrapers, it’s well worth opening your sketch book for on a nice day.
The Euskal Museoa
Of course, on visiting the home of the Euskeri, deep in the heritage of the Euskadi, with passionate Euskera spoken everywhere and by everyone, you must visit the Euskal Museoa. This museum tells the story of the Basque people and the history of their country.
You’ll be intrigued by Bilbao and bewitched by its metropolis, so enjoy it!