Cheap flights to Bilbao
The bustling metropolis of Bilbao is central to all that is Basque, and is a happy-go-lucky hub of history, culture, nightlife, and art and architecture, as well as being home to Spain’s best cuisine.
There’s something for everyone in Bilbao. World-class museums, art galleries and entertainment make the city a cultural hotspot that’ll lead you on fascinating journeys into history and art. While its array of top-notch Michelin-starred restaurants, authentic food and fish markets, and cute little ‘pintxos’ bars — a sort of Basque version of tapas— Bilbao will transfix your taste buds and see you travelling to the region again and again.
Catch one of the carnival processions in Bilbao on 13-17 February. The city comes alive at carnival time and dressing up isn't just for children. Buy yourself a coloured wig or a pirate hat and join in the fun and games.
Catch a classical music concert by the award-winning Bilbao Symphony Orchestra on 9, 10, 23 and 24 October at the Palacio Euskalduna (4 Avenida Abandoibarra, euskalduna.net).
Don't miss a colourful exhibition of popular paintings of Kinshasa at the Galeria Kalao Bilbao, which specialises in art from the Sub Sahara. Until 26 April (6 Calle Arbolantxa, kalaobilbao.com).
The permanent collection at the Bellas Artes Museum has exhibits from world-class painters including Goya, Bacon and El Greco. Check out the website for current exhibitions and take advantage of free entry on Wednesdays (2 Museo Plaza, museobilbao.com).
"Aste Nagusia" or "Big Week" hits Bilbao on 16-24 August. The city has almost non-stop festivities on offer for all tastes and age groups, including theatre, music, dance, puppet shows, fireworks, traditional sports, a giant fairground and much, much more. astenagusia.com
Enjoy a day trip to the nearby medieval town of Balmaseda, a 30-minute hop from Bilbao. Visit the Basque "Boina" (beret) Museum (laencartadamuseoa.com), go for a guided walk up into the surrounding countryside or enjoy some traditional Basque cooking at one of the bars or restaurants in the old quarters. Frequent trains and buses.
Going for a picnic in La Arboleda is a real treat. Take a train or bus to nearby Trapagaran, then ride up for 15 minutes on the funicular railway to this area of great natural beauty. Picnic tables are set out around the old flooded quarries, home to all kinds of wildlife, and the views from the top are spectacular. Pop into the village for a cold drink at one of the traditional bars before heading back to the city.
Head to the nearby beach town of Plentzia, at the end of the metro line. Go for a walk along the water's edge, call in for a few drinks in the bars of the old quarter and eat lunch at one of the restaurants in the little fishing port. You won't be disappointed.