Idealist City Guide: BILBAO

Bilbao is known throughout the world for its stunning architecture and Basque culture. Bilbao doesn’t knock you out with its physical beauty, but it slowly wins you over with its two small mountain ranges, its riverfront landscapes, quirky architecture, and of course, it’s gleaming and otherworldly modern landmark, the Guggenheim Bilbao Art Museum.


Galleries & Museums

Guggenheim Museum. Frank Gehry designed the famous glass and titanium Guggenheim Museum in 1997 as a museum of contemporary art. But it’s not just what’s inside that’s important; the cutting-edge technology and expert architecture are a sight to behold in themselves.

Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 35 90 80

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is one of the most popular museums in the country, drawing visitors from around the world to see the stunning collection of Basque, Spanish and European art from the past and the present. Think El Greco, Francis Bacon, Gauguin.

Museo Plaza, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 39 60 60

Reproductions Museum Bilbao. Created in 1927, the Reproductions Museum Bilbao curates a collection of reproductions of classic art pieces for viewing pleasure. They reproduce art from a range of artists and have hundreds of pieces on display at any given time. It’s a charmingly eclectic collection of classics.

San Frantzisko Kalea, 14, 48003 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain

Must-See Attractions

Playa de Plentzia. If you’re looking for a peaceful getaway, make sure you check out Playa de Plentzia, an absolutely gorgeous beach with mountains and forests leading up to it. It’s a great spot to enjoy some sun and fully unwind.

Casco Viejo. Casco Viejo is a walking tour of historic Bilbao that goes through the Bilbo Zaharra neighbourhood. This gives you a great idea of what Bilbao was like before it grew into the metropolis it is today.

Plaza Nueva. This is the perfect spot if you’re looking to have a drink and see the city. There are bars, cafes and restaurants scattered about the plaza, and children can play in the open centre while parents have a drink or a bite to eat.

Plaza Nueva, S/N, 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain



Restaurante Mandoya. Located in the heart of historic Bilbao, Mandoya is a local favourite serving up traditional Basque cuisine. They bring in fresh fish daily and source all of their meats and vegetables locally.

Txakur Kalea, 3-5, 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Bizkaia, Spain
944 15 02 28

Casa Rufo. With their selection of delicious Basque food, Casa Rufo would already be a great choice. But add to that the fact that the building is mysteriously filled with connected secret rooms that you can explore, giving you plenty of knick-knacks and delicious food to peruse.

Hurtado de Amézaga Kalea, 5, 48008 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 43 21 72

Nerua (Guggenheim). While you’re taking a look at the Guggenheim Museum, make a stop at Nerua, one of the hippest restaurants in Bilbao. Restaurant magazine included Nerua in their World’s 100 Best Restaurants list, a prestigious honour.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Abandoibarra Etorb., 2, 48009 Bilbo
944 00 04 30


Cestería Alonso. If you’re a fan of woven furniture and accessories, you’ll love Cestería Alonso. They’ve been hand-crafting beautiful wicker and raffia furniture since 1900, making them one of the leading providers of such furniture. Their products include rocking chairs, garden chairs, other furniture, baskets and more.

Calle Belosticalle, 15, 48005 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Spain
944 15 33 51


Imatra: This interior design studio has a range of brands designed not only to look wonderful, but to make a statement. They also showcase the work of architects and artists. Most of the designers who collaborate with Imatra are Basque, so you get an added touch of authenticity.

Apartamento 23. If you’re looking for something a bit unique, you have to check this place out. They carry a handful of top brands in a relatively large showroom, and you can find everything from furniture to lighting at Apartamento 23.

Juan Ajuriaguerra, 23, 48009 Bilbao, BI, Spain
944 24 66 03

Rosita. Rosita’s first showcase was in 2003 when they showed some particularly unusual furniture that Bilbao wasn’t very familiar with. Fast forward 14 years and Rosita is still making innovations in interior design, helping people realise their vision for a perfect home.

Estrauntza K., 6, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 42 04 09

Bomarzo: Bomarzo isn’t just a furniture store — they also specialise in interior design. That means that you’ll be served by knowledgeable individuals who can help you get that new look you’ve been wanting or find the perfect item to complement your existing decor.

Juan Ajuriaguerra 46 Bajo Puerta 8, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 39 31 13

Narata. This is one of those great all-around furniture stores. The designers at Narata know how to pick good furniture, and they also offer an interior design service. They have a range of brands including Estasblished and Sons and Donna Wilson. And Narata stocks everything you need, from furnitures and accessories all the way down to art.

Indautxu Kalea, 4, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 39 90 47

Staying Over

Hotel Miro. For a reasonable nightly rate, Hotel Miro gives you a wonderfully decorated room, easy access to the Guggenheim Museum and the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum. There is coffee and tea in the lobby and a steam room for ultimate relaxation.

Mazarredo Zumarkalea, 77, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
946 61 18 80

Basque Boutique. If you’re looking to get a taste of Basque decor, check out the Basque Boutique, a beautifully designed hotel that comes at a very reasonable price. Each room is different from the next, with unique furniture and decor in each of them. It’s also situated close to the train station and metro shops.

Dorre Kalea, 2, 48005 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 13 48 49

Hotel Ercilla Lopez de Haro. The Hotel Ercilla Lopez de Haro may be a luxury hotel, but the decor and feel lean more toward the boutique side. Featuring a great lounge and located a short walk from the Guggenheim Museum, this is a great spot for tourism.

Orueta Apezpikuaren Kalea, 2, 48009 Bilbo, Bizkaia, Spain
944 23 55 00


The best way to travel from London to Bilbao is by plane. A roundtrip ticket from London to Bilbao will cost between £85 and £200 depending on which airline and times you choose.

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All photos courtesy of respective locations. Feature image (c) pattyco222 / 123RF Stock Photo




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