Whenever we get a chance to walk the Camino del Norte, we can’t wait to visit Bilbao.
This picturesque, modern city has become a hub of Spanish insurance companies, banking, and industry. But, don’t let this put you off visiting as part of your Camino del Norte holiday! Bilbao is not all suits and briefcases!
The city retains its amazing culture and the prosperity of the area has led to an influx of trendy new eateries, attractions, bars, and cafes.
10 Reasons to visit Bilbao
Bilbao is full to the brim of things to do. Here are our Top 10 reasons why you need to visit:
1. The Guggenheim Museum
The Guggenheim is world-famous and is synonymous with the city of Bilbao. The artwork begins with the architecture of the stunning building and the sculptures that surround it. Inside The Guggenheim’s uniquely constructed walls you’ll find exhibitions by the world’s greatest modern artists. This place is mind-blowing.
2. The Seven Streets
The Old Town in Bilbao is known as Casco Viejo (The Seven Streets). These streets are jam-packed with personality, and really capture the character of Old Bilbao. Take a break and chill out in one of the traditional Basque cafes or restaurants.
3. The Theatre
The two theatres in Bilbao, The Arriaga Theatre and The Campos Eliseos Theatre stare across the river at each other. They are glorious to view from a distance, and you can also catch some great shows inside!
4. El Ensanche
El Ensanche is an upmarket neighborhood, that is located on the west of the City. The wide streets of El Ensanche are lined with old townhouses. This is a shoppers metropolis, home to famous fashion house brands. Try to be conservative with your credit card, as some of the fashion is as irresistible as it is expensive!
5. Santiago Cathedral
Santiago Cathedral is the crowning glory of the old quarter in Bilbao. The Gothic-style building is named after St. James, patron saint of Galicia and star of the Camino de Santiago.
Spotting the scallop shell in the Cathedral will remind you that although you’re exploring this fab city, you’ve got some walking to do!
You may have heard of tapas, and Pintxos are very similar. Our tip is to visit a couple of bars and get a miniature meal with a drink. The Camino del Norte and the Basque region, in particular, are famous for their cuisine and this is the ultimate method of tasting the biggest variety of food in a limited timeline.
7. Athletic Bilbao
It’s not often that a football club makes a CaminoWays.com list but the heritage of Athletic Bilbao is admirable, to say the least. The club has managed to stay at the top of Spanish football despite limiting themselves to only employing Basque players since 1912. This celebration of Basque Nationalism is a testament to the club and its community.
8. Artxanda Lookout
A cable car, Bilbao Funicular, takes you from the city to Artxanda Lookout. This vantage point towers 250 metres above the city, allowing you to spot all the sites we’ve listed from a birds-eye view. The green mountainous backdrop should be another reminder that the Camino trail awaits you.
9. Vizcaya Bridge
Vizcaya Bridge is a UNESCO heritage site, so you know it’s got something special! The world’s oldest transporter bridge connects two sides of the city across the Nervion River. The structure is a prime example of industrial ingenuity in the nineteenth century and still operates today.
10. River Maritime Museum
Bilbao’s rich fishing culture is celebrated in this epic museum. Local boat owners get involved in the free exhibition area, showing off their handy work. Essentially it’s an open-mic for ships, and the sense of community is obvious to everyone. Pop down and learn why the seafood you’re eating is so tasty!
Bilbao can be found in the first section of the Camino del Norte from San Sebastian. You can also choose to start your Camino del Norte in Bilbao.
For more information on visiting Bilbao as part of one of our Camino del Norte walking or cycling tours, contact our travel specialists.