Bilbao, the largest city in Spain’s Basque Country, is renowned for its cuisine, boasting more than 10 Michelin-starred restaurants, and unique architecture, particularly the world-famous Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. Bilbao is a cosmopolitan city surrounded by rolling green hills where Basque and Spanish culture and the accustomed and avant-garde mix like sangria.
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The historic Hotel Ercilla de Bilbao, Autograph Collection was forged from the fiery passions of the Basque country. Its rooms channel an unmistakable fusion of Basque culture and Anglo influences.
Bilbao, situated along the banks of the River Nervión which flows into the nearby Bay of Biscay, is the ideal destination for experiencing all things Basque, from performing arts to pintxos, a uniquely Basque version of tapas. Bilbao’s venerated Old Quarter, or Casco Viejo, is a maze of mostly pedestrian-only streets teeming with shops, cafés, restaurants and pintxo bars. Here you will also find the Catedral de Santiago, the city’s oldest church, and some of Bilbao’s best museums, including Euskal Museoa Bilbao, dedicated to the history of the Basque people, and Arkeologi Museoa, an archaeological museum where visitors can take an interactive journey through the history of the region.
What to see
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – This architectural wonder whose exterior is comprised of approximately 33,000 titanium plates is located along the River Nervión. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao features modern and contemporary art by international artists and is one of the most acclaimed museums in the world.
Plaza Nueva – One of Bilbao’s most picturesque plazas, Plaza Nueva is a popular gathering place for locals and visitors alike. This neoclassical square in the heart of Casco Viejo has a cornucopia of restaurants and cafés and is one of the best places to go pintxos hopping.
Mercado de la Ribera – Europe’s largest covered food market, located in Casco Viejo along the Bilbao Estuary, houses around 180 businesses, including those that sell fish, meat, fruit, vegetables and more. This Art Deco building also has a food court.
When to Go
Like most major cities in Europe, the best time to visit Bilbao is shoulder season, approximately April through mid-June and September through October, in order to avoid the summer crowds. However, if attending Semana Grande, Bilbao’s annual festival celebrating Basque culture, plan your visit for the end of August.