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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (the Basque Country)


One of Spain’s most avant-garde cities


“The city of the Guggenheim” is an alternative name for this Basque Country destination as, since this original museum was built in 1997, Bilbao has been transformed forever. In fact, now it stands out for its ground-breaking structures created by prestigious architects, and which make it an international benchmark for modern design.

Although, curiously, its unique character comes from combining avant-garde with the traditional feel of its old town, full of charming streets and bars offering pintxos, proof that they are passionate about gastronomy around here. All this has earned Bilbao a place of honour on the lists of Spain’s most interesting cities.

A walk full of contrasts

A visit to this city in the north of Spain could start with the Guggenheim Museum. It is one of the most surprising examples of 20th century architecture as Frank Gehry used 33,000 ultra-thin titanium plates to create its curious curves. Inside, it shares the world’s most important private collection of modern and contemporary art with New York and Venice. Bilbao is home to another of Spain’s most important art museums: the Museum of Fine Arts.The city’s commitment to creating a ground-breaking, imaginative image also includes the Euskalduna Conference Centre, Norman Foster’s metro stations, the Isozaki and Pelli towers, the Zubizuri bridge designed by Calatrava or new cultural centres such as La Alhóndiga by Philippe Starck, built over an old wine cellar.On the other hand, it’s impossible to imagine Bilbao without its characteristic old town, with over 700 years of history. It’s a pleasure to stroll around the famous “Seven Streets” and discover iconic buildings such as the Cathedral or the elegant theatre inspired by the Paris Opera House, the Arriaga, and a combination of shops and cafes ranging from traditional to cool.

Two strengths: Basque cuisine and a green city

The city of Bilbao is proof that gastronomy is an art in the Basque Country – one of the areas with the most Michelin Stars per person in the world. Plaza Nueva and its surrounding streets are full of busy bars serving their famous pintxos: small, delicious bites of food. Here, foodies can find their place among the buzzing bars, family-run restaurants and prestigious chefs. And they will also have the chance to visit the La Ribera Market, a beautiful building where you can have the produce that you purchase cooked for you, or where you can sample as selection of pintxos and Txakoli wine to the beat of live music.Cultural and culinary Bilbao is also a green city, with parks such as Doña Casilda de Iturrizar, surrounded by hills (dare to ride the Artxanda cable car, a classic option to get a bird’s eye view of Bilbao). The estuary is another symbol of the regeneration of Bilbao. You can spot people paddle surfing on the water, or take a boat to the famous Hanging Bridge of Portugalete, declared a World Heritage Site.And if that’s not enough, the beaches and stunning cliffs of Getxo are just over 30 minutes away on the metro.

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What to visit

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Practical information

How to get there - transport information

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How to get to aeroplane

  • Bilbao Airport is about 12 kilometres from the city centre.

  • The A3247 bus connects with Bilbao Intermodal bus terminal every 20 minutes in summer and every 30 minutes in winter.

  • Direct flights to numerous European cities.

  • Daily connections with major Spanish cities.

  • More information

How to get to bus

  • Bilbao Intermodal bus station in the city centre.

  • National and international bus companies, and direct buses to cities such as Donostia-San Sebastian, running every day.

  • More information

How to get to train

  • Renfe long-distance trains stop at the Bilbao-Abando station, offering daily services to cities like Madrid and Barcelona.

  • Commuter train lines connect Bilbao with its metropolitan area and other areas in the Bizkaia province.

  • More information

How to get to boat

  • Regular ferry three times a week from Portsmouth (UK), run by Brittany Ferries. More information

  • Getxo, 10 kilometres from Bilbao, is the port for many cruise companies. Accessible by Metro Bilbao (Neguri station) and the Bizkaiabus 3411 and 3413 bus lines. More information

How to get there by road

  • The AP-8 motorway runs to Donostia-San Sebastián, from where you can travel to France.

  • The AP-68 motorway runs to Barcelona via Burgos, where there are motorways to Madrid or Portugal.

How to get around in metro/tram

  • The metro has 3 lines that run from 6 am to 11 pm, and 2 am on Friday and the day before public holidays, and all night long on Saturday. More information

  • Trams run approximately from 6 am to 12 am, connecting Atxuri Station with La Casilla. More information

How to get around in bus

  • Bilbobus, the city’s bus network, runs from 6 or 7 am to 10 or 11 pm.

  • There are also eight night buses, or Gautxori, running from 11 pm to 2.30 am on Friday, and all night on Saturday. More information

  • You can get on and off the tourist bus as many times as you like in 24 hours, and the route takes 55 minutes with commentary in different languages. More information

How to get around in other means of transport