On the first day you can explore Bilbao from two perspectives: the city from up high and modern Bilbao with its iconic buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum and Euskalduna Palace. You can expect a packed day.
Journey: Walking / Duration: 1 day
A morning “from above”
One of the best places to start the day in Bilbao? Undoubtedly, having breakfast at the legendary Café Iruña, next to the Albia gardens. Open since 1903, it is a favourite among Bilbao locals and visitors alike. Less than 10 minutes away, crossing the Bilbao Estuary, you will come across the elegant City Hall building, right on the river bank and offering the perfect first photo opportunity of your trip. Then a short walk will take you to the Artxanda cable car, which links the area of Campo Volantín with Mount Artxanda. We recommend travelling up on it to get some amazing views of Bilbao.Once you have come back down again, you can walk across one of the first examples of modern architecture you will encounter: the Zubizuri Bridge (be the architect Santiago Calatrava) to admire the background of the towers designed by Japanese architect Isozaki Atea.A peaceful stroll along the estuary will lead you to what will undoubtedly be the highlight of your trip to Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum.
The Guggenheim Museum and lunchtime
At the doors of the museum, the first work of art to greet you is the nine-metre high statue of a spider called Maman, by Bourgeois. The museum itself is even more surprising –made from 33,000 titanium sheets, designed by Frank Gehry with the assistance of an advanced industry aerospace software– it has become the city’s symbol. Another surprise in store is the Puppy outside the museum. An enormous dog created by Jeff Koons, it has a steel base with living flowers.Depending on how much spare time you have, it is well worth stepping inside to visit some of the temporary and permanent exhibitions of modern art, and even have lunch there.
Afternoon by Euskalduna Palace and Azkuna Zentroa
After lunch, if you cross one of the last bridges to be built in Bilbao, the one by Pedro Arrupe, you can catch a view of the University of Deusto. Returning this time over the Deusto bridge and walking along Avenida Abandoibarra, you will reach another jewel of contemporary architecture: Euskalduna Palace, where all types of shows and exhibitions are organised.After lunch and continuing with a peaceful stroll, the best idea is to head into the area of Ensanche through streets such as Sabino Arana, Rodríguez Arias or Alameda Urquijo. This way you will come to the majestic building of Alhóndiga (Azkuna Zentroa). This former wine warehouse has been given a facelift by Philippe Starck and is today a multifaceted cultural centre boasting an exhibition room, cinemas, a design corner and a restaurant where you can have dinner, and in summer chill out on the terrace and soak up the cool atmosphere. Wasn’t it just the best day ever?