Guggenheim Museum Bilbao (the Basque Country)


One of Spain’s most avant-garde cities


We could also refer to this Basque Country destination as “The City of the Guggenheim”, as when this original museum was built in 1997, Bilbao was changed forever. In fact, to this day it is making an impact due to its groundbreaking structures created by prestigious architects, and it serves as an international reference point for modernity.

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. Also, Bilbao has another of the best art galleries in Spain: 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 mix of shops and cafes, 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 pinchos: 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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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.

  • Bus A3247 connects with the Bilbao Intermodal bus terminal, with several stops in the city centre. Between 1 April and 1 November, it operates between 06:00 and 00:00 from the airport and between 05:20 and 22:00 from Bilbao. During the rest of the year, its operating timetable from Bilbao is between 05:15 and 21:45.

  • To get from the airport to the city centre by car, take the N-637. It’s a 15-minute drive.

  • The journey by taxi costs between 24 and 29 euros and takes about 15 minutes.

  • More information

How to get to bus

  • Bilbao Intermodal bus and coach station, with routes to the rest of Spain and other countries, is in the city centre.

  • There are several public transport options from here: Metro (San Mamés stop), tram (Zunzunegi stop), Cercanías train (San Mamés stop), and up to 27 bus lines.

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How to get to train

  • The city’s main railway station is Bilbao-Abando.

  • Renfe trains run to cities including Madrid, Barcelona, Logroño, Zaragoza, Valladolid, Salamanca, Málaga, A Coruña, Vigo, Burgos, León and Segovia. (Ticket booking)

  • The Cercanías and Euskotren local trains connect Bilbao to its metropolitan area, other parts of Bizkaia and nearby cities in the rest of the Basque Country.

  • In addition, Bilbao is on the route of tourist trains, like FEVE and the Transcantábrico.

How to get to boat

  • Ferries:

  • There is a regular ferry three times a week from Portsmouth (UK), run by Brittany Ferries.

  • The Port of Bilbao passenger terminal is in Santurzi, a 15-minute drive from central Bilbao.

  • By public transport you can take the A3321 next to the port and then connect with the C-1 Cercanías train line (Peñota stop), line 2 of Metro Bilbao (Santurzi or Peñota stops) or A3115 (Abaro 11 stop, in Portugalete). In all cases the journey takes about an hour and 20 minutes.

  • Cruise lines:

  • The the cruise terminal of the port of Bilbao is located in Getxo, 10 kilometres from the city centre, about 15 minutes by car or taxi.

  • The best options for public transport are metro (Neguri stop, line 1) and bus 3411 and 3414. All these journeys take about an hour.

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.

  • Check where you can park if you are driving to Bilbao.

  • During 2023, a large part of the city centre will become a Low-Emissions Zone, where driving and parking are restricted. If you plan to visit Bilbao by car or motorbike, find out about the possible restrictions before your trip through your accommodation. 

Practical information

  • Bilbao is a very walkable city, although it has plenty of public transport options.

  • There are two public transport cards: The Barik card is a “contactless” chip card-wallet for discounts on public transport. You can use it for Metro Bilbao, Bilbobus, Tranvía trams, Euskotren local trains, the Bizkaia Transporter Bridge, the Artxanda and Larreineta funicular railways, and more. The Bilbao card allows unlimited use of almost all public transport, and also includes guided tours and discounts on cultural and leisure activities. There three types: 24, 48, and 72 hours.

How to get around in metro/tram

  • Bilbao Metro:

  • The metro has 3 lines that run from 06:00 to 23:00, until 02:00 on Friday and the day before public holidays, and all night long on Saturday.

  • You can buy single tickets or the Barik travel card, which can be topped up for different types and offers routes at lower prices.

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  • Bilbao trams:

  • Trams run approximately from 06:00 to 00:00, connecting Atxuri Station with La Casilla. 

  • Here you can check the prices of the single ticket. You can also use the Barik card.

  • More information

How to get around in bus

  • Bilbobus, the city bus network, operates from 6 to 7 a.m. until 10 to 11 p.m.

  • You can buy a single ticket or use the Barik travel card.

  • There are eight night buses, known as Gautxori, which operate between 11 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and throughout the night on Saturdays.

  • There are also coach stops in the city, with routes between Bilbao and nearby towns.

How to get around in other means of transport