Bilbao city breaks are a visual treat before you even get started on the many attractions available. Set among lush green hills just south of the Bay of Biscay, the city has pretty parks, plazas and promenades and a railway station with a stunning Art Nouveau façade. It also features an impressive urban centre that has been blessed over the past couple of decades with shiny new structures from architectural rock stars, like Frank Gehry, Norman Foster and Philippe Starck.
The food scene is every bit as appealing. The largest city in the Basque Country, Bilbao is a mere stone’s throw from the coast, so the region’s take on Spanish tapas, known as ‘pintxos’, includes plenty of fresh seafood. A pintxos bar crawl, hopping between venues snacking on a variety of these bite-sized morsels, is known as ‘txikiteo’ and is a brilliant way to start an evening. If you’re down for getting lively with the locals, there’s no shortage of banging bars, as well as a few very respectable music venues.
There’s also a great selection of beaches – Las Arenas, Getxo, Plentzia – that are all handily within the metropolitan area. For a city break with a difference, Bilbao’s beautiful buildings, bars and beaches are just a few reasons to give this buzzing Basque favourite a try.
Mercado de la Ribera
This extremely pretty, giant riverside market is an Art Deco landmark. It’s also where the local Michelin-starred chefs go to grab their daily veg, meat and inspiration.
Climb – or ride the more relaxing funicular – up to this lofty vantage point for spectacular views across the city, where you can see terracotta roofscapes ringed by distant mountains.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
This crazy hunk of glass and stone, dressed up in titanium scales, dominates the skyline of Bilbao and houses important works by artists Jeff Koons and Richard Serra.