Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in Bilbao


By Abigail Lewis

Bilbao, located in the heart of the Basque Country in northern Spain, is a vibrant and culturally rich city that offers a multitude of attractions and activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in exploring its stunning architecture, experiencing its world-class cuisine, or immersing yourself in its fascinating history, Bilbao has something for everyone.

One of the city’s most iconic attractions is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, this architectural masterpiece is a must-visit for art lovers and enthusiasts. Inside, you’ll find a vast collection of contemporary art and exhibitions that will leave you in awe.

In addition to the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao is also home to the Casco Viejo, or the Old Town. This charming neighborhood is filled with narrow pedestrian streets, historic buildings, and picturesque squares. Take a leisurely stroll through its winding alleyways, explore its traditional shops, and indulge in some pintxos, the Basque Country’s famous bite-sized culinary delights.

Another popular attraction in Bilbao is the Zubizuri Bridge. Also known as the White Bridge, this stunning footbridge was designed by Santiago Calatrava and is a true architectural gem. Its unique, curved design and white color make it a popular spot for photography and a great place to enjoy panoramic views of the city.

If you’re interested in the city’s history, make sure to visit the Bilbao Cathedral. This Gothic-style cathedral, dating back to the 14th century, is a prime example of the city’s rich architectural heritage. Climb to the top of its bell tower for breathtaking views of Bilbao and its surroundings.

For nature lovers, a trip to the nearby Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is a must. This stunning natural area, recognized by UNESCO, is home to diverse flora and fauna and offers endless opportunities for hiking, bird watching, or simply enjoying the tranquility of the surrounding landscape.

No matter what your interests are, Bilbao has plenty to offer. From art and architecture to history and nature, this vibrant city is sure to captivate and inspire you.

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is one of the most iconic and celebrated attractions in the city of Bilbao, Spain. Designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, the museum is a stunning example of contemporary architecture that has become a symbol of the city’s renaissance.

Opened in 1997, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao houses an impressive collection of modern and contemporary art. The museum’s permanent collection includes works by artists such as Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, and Richard Serra.

The museum’s exterior is characterized by its curvaceous titanium facade, which reflects the surrounding light and changes color throughout the day. Inside, visitors can explore the museum’s various galleries and exhibition spaces, which are filled with a diverse range of artworks.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase the work of both established and emerging artists. These exhibitions cover a wide range of artistic disciplines, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video art.

Aside from its art exhibits, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao also offers a range of educational programs, including guided tours, workshops, and lectures. These initiatives aim to engage visitors of all ages and promote a deeper understanding and appreciation of contemporary art.

The museum is also home to a gift shop and several dining options, including a cafe and a Michelin-starred restaurant. Visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink while taking in the museum’s breathtaking views of the city.

Overall, a visit to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a must for art enthusiasts and architecture lovers alike. Its striking design, world-class art collection, and vibrant cultural programming make it one of the top attractions in Bilbao.

Casco Viejo (Old Town)

Casco Viejo, also known as the Old Town, is the historic heart of Bilbao and one of the city’s top attractions. This charming neighborhood offers a glimpse into Bilbao’s past with its narrow, winding streets and well-preserved medieval architecture. The area is filled with traditional Basque buildings, lively squares, and colorful, bustling marketplaces.

One of the highlights of Casco Viejo is the iconic Santiago Cathedral, a stunning Gothic-style church that dates back to the 14th century. Visitors can admire the intricate stone carvings and beautiful stained glass windows while exploring the Cathedral’s impressive interior.

Another must-see attraction in Casco Viejo is the Mercado de la Ribera, one of Europe’s largest covered markets. Here, visitors can wander through the vibrant stalls filled with fresh produce, seafood, meats, and local delicacies. The market also boasts a variety of bars and restaurants where visitors can sample traditional Basque cuisine.

Casco Viejo is also home to numerous shops, boutiques, and art galleries, making it a great destination for shopping enthusiasts and art lovers. The neighborhood is known for its unique blend of traditional and contemporary culture, with many local artisans and craftsmen showcasing their work.

One of the best ways to experience Casco Viejo is by simply getting lost in its charming streets and alleys. Exploring the neighborhood on foot allows visitors to stumble upon hidden gems, such as picturesque squares and hidden courtyards.

Address Opening Hours Admission
Casco Viejo, Bilbao Open 24/7 Free

With its rich history, vibrant atmosphere, and architectural beauty, Casco Viejo is a must-visit destination for anyone exploring Bilbao.

Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a must-visit destination for art lovers and history enthusiasts. Located in the heart of Bilbao, this museum features a diverse collection of artwork that spans from the Middle Ages to the present day.

One of the highlights of the museum is its collection of Spanish and Basque art, which includes works by renowned artists such as El Greco, Goya, and Sorolla. Visitors can explore the evolution of Spanish art over the centuries and see how it has influenced and been influenced by international art movements.

The museum also houses an impressive collection of European art, with works by masters like Van Dyck, Rubens, and Picasso. From Renaissance paintings to modern and contemporary art, there is something to captivate every visitor.

In addition to its permanent collection, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum regularly hosts temporary exhibitions that showcase different themes and artists. These exhibitions provide a fresh and exciting experience for returning visitors, as well as an opportunity to discover new artists and art styles.

Visitors can also take advantage of the museum’s educational programs and guided tours, which offer insight and context into the artwork on display. Whether you are an art expert or a novice, these programs are a great way to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the art.

The Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is housed in a beautiful historic building, designed in the neoclassical style. Its elegant architecture provides the perfect backdrop for the magnificent artworks within. The museum also features a relaxing courtyard where visitors can take a break and reflect on their museum experience.

Entrance to the museum is free on Wednesdays, making it an ideal option for budget travelers. However, even on other days, the admission fee is reasonable and well worth the cost considering the quality and variety of artworks on display.

Overall, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum offers a cultural and artistic journey through the ages. Whether you are a local or a visitor to Bilbao, this museum is a must-see attraction that will leave a lasting impression.

Bilbao City Hall

The Bilbao City Hall, also known as the Ayuntamiento de Bilbao, is one of the most impressive buildings in the city. Located in the heart of Bilbao’s old town, the City Hall is a stunning example of neo-baroque architecture.

The construction of the Bilbao City Hall began in 1890 and was completed in 1892. Designed by architect Joaquin Rucoba, the building features a magnificent facade adorned with intricate carvings and sculptures.

Visitors to the City Hall can admire the grand entrance framed by columns and decorated with ornate ironwork. The interior is equally impressive, with majestic staircases, beautiful stained glass windows, and opulent chandeliers.

Aside from its architectural beauty, the Bilbao City Hall is also an important administrative center for the city. It houses the offices of the mayor and other government officials, as well as various municipal departments.

For visitors interested in the history and culture of Bilbao, a visit to the City Hall is a must. Guided tours are available, providing an opportunity to learn more about the building’s history and significance. The City Hall also hosts exhibitions and cultural events throughout the year.

Surrounded by charming narrow streets and picturesque buildings, the Bilbao City Hall is a true gem in the heart of the city. Whether you’re interested in architecture, history, or simply want to admire the beautiful surroundings, a visit to the City Hall is highly recommended.

Zubizuri Bridge

The Zubizuri Bridge, also known as the “White Bridge,” is one of Bilbao’s most iconic landmarks. Designed by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, the bridge spans the Nervion River, connecting the city’s downtown area with the popular neighborhood of Deusto.

The bridge, which opened in 1997, features a unique and modern design. Its white steel structure curves gracefully over the river, creating a visually stunning focal point in the city’s skyline. The bridge is made even more striking by its glass floor, which allows visitors to see the river and passing boats beneath their feet.

The Zubizuri Bridge not only serves as a functional way to cross the river, but it is also considered a work of art in its own right. Its sleek and contemporary design reflects the city’s commitment to modern architecture and urban development.

Walking across the bridge is a must-do activity for visitors to Bilbao. The views from the bridge are breathtaking, offering panoramic vistas of the city and its surroundings. The bridge is also a great spot for photography, especially at sunset when the light reflects off the bridge’s white surface.

Adjacent to the Zubizuri Bridge is the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, another architectural masterpiece that attracts visitors from around the world. The bridge serves as a perfect starting point for exploring the museum and the rest of the city’s attractions.

Whether you’re a fan of architecture or simply looking for a unique experience in Bilbao, a visit to the Zubizuri Bridge should be at the top of your list. Its combination of functionality and artistic design makes it a true highlight of the city’s attractions.

San Mamés Stadium

The San Mamés Stadium, also known as Estadio San Mamés, is the home stadium of Athletic Club, a professional football team based in Bilbao. Located in the district of San Mamés, it is one of the most iconic and historic stadiums in Spain.

The stadium has a seating capacity of around 53,000 spectators and has hosted numerous high-profile matches throughout its history. It is known for its unique architecture, with a combination of traditional and modern elements. The exterior of the stadium features a metallic structure that reflects the industrial heritage of Bilbao, while the interior offers state-of-the-art facilities and amenities for fans and players.

Visitors to San Mamés Stadium can experience the rich history of Athletic Club and its passionate fan base. The stadium offers guided tours that take visitors through the various areas, including the pitch, changing rooms, and press conference room. Visitors can also explore the club museum, which showcases the team’s accomplishments and memorabilia from famous matches.

Attending a match at San Mamés Stadium is an incredible experience for football fans. The atmosphere is electric, with the passionate fans known for their unwavering support of the team. The stadium’s design ensures excellent acoustics, creating an intense and unforgettable experience for both players and spectators.

Whether you are a football fan or simply interested in exploring Bilbao’s sports culture, a visit to San Mamés Stadium is a must. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere, learn about the club’s history, and witness the passion of Athletic Club’s dedicated supporters.

Key Highlights:

  • Home stadium of Athletic Club, a professional football team in Bilbao
  • Seating capacity of around 53,000 spectators
  • Tours available to explore the various areas of the stadium
  • Club museum showcasing the team’s accomplishments
  • Incredible atmosphere and passionate fans during matches

Experience the rich history and vibrant atmosphere of San Mamés Stadium, one of Spain’s most iconic and historic football stadiums.

Ribera Market

Ribera Market, also known as Mercado de la Ribera, is one of Bilbao’s top attractions and a must-visit for food lovers. With its impressive size and variety of fresh produce, seafood, and local dishes, the market offers a true glimpse into Basque gastronomy.

The market is located on the right bank of the Nervion River and dates back to the 14th century. It has undergone several renovations over the years, becoming one of the largest covered markets in Europe. The current building, with its striking Art Deco design, was completed in 1929.

Inside, you’ll find stalls selling everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats, cheeses, and sweets. The variety of seafood on offer is particularly impressive, with stalls showcasing an array of fish, shellfish, and octopus. You can also find speciality foods such as Basque cider, olive oil, and cured meats.

One of the highlights of a visit to Ribera Market is the chance to sample the local cuisine. The market is home to several bars and small restaurants where you can taste traditional Basque pintxos, small bite-sized snacks usually served on skewers. These pintxos are a staple of the Basque culinary scene and are an excellent way to experience the flavors of the region.

Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply want to experience the vibrant atmosphere of a traditional market, Ribera Market is a must-visit in Bilbao. Its combination of fresh produce, local delicacies, and historical significance make it a truly unique and enjoyable destination.

Bilbao Cathedral

Bilbao Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Santiago de Bilbao, is one of the most important religious sites in Bilbao. Located in the heart of the city’s old town, the cathedral stands as a symbol of Bilbao’s rich history and cultural heritage.

The construction of the cathedral began in the 14th century, and it was completed in the 16th century. The architectural style of the cathedral is predominantly Gothic, with elements of Renaissance and Baroque styles as well. The intricate carvings and stunning stained glass windows make it a masterpiece of Spanish religious architecture.

Inside the cathedral, visitors can admire the beautiful altarpiece, which is considered one of the most important in Spain. Created by sculptor Francisco de Baeza in the 16th century, the altarpiece depicts scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. The cathedral also houses numerous chapels, each adorned with unique artwork and religious artifacts.

One of the highlights of a visit to Bilbao Cathedral is the opportunity to climb to the top of the tower. From there, visitors can enjoy panoramic views of the city and the surrounding area. The climb to the top may be challenging, but the view is definitely worth it.

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Plaza de Santiago, a charming square that is often used for cultural events and performances. Visitors can relax and soak in the atmosphere of the old town while enjoying the surroundings of the cathedral.

Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or religious art, Bilbao Cathedral is a must-visit attraction in Bilbao. Its grandeur and beauty leave a lasting impression on all who visit, making it a significant part of Bilbao’s cultural identity.

Be sure to include Bilbao Cathedral on your itinerary when exploring the top-rated attractions in Bilbao. Its historical and architectural significance, combined with its central location in the old town, make it a wonderful destination for tourists and locals alike.

Address: Plaza de Santiago, s/n, 48005 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain
Opening hours: Monday-Friday: 8:30am-8pm, Saturday: 8:30am-7pm, Sunday: 8:30am-1:30pm

Euskalduna Palace

The Euskalduna Palace is a modern and iconic building in Bilbao that serves as a venue for conferences, concerts, and performing arts. Designed by architects Federico Soriano and Dolores Palacios, the building was completed in 1999 and has since become a symbol of Bilbao’s cultural and architectural renaissance.

The Palace is located on the site of a former shipyard, paying homage to Bilbao’s industrial past. Its unique curved shape and metallic facade mimic the design of a ship, representing the city’s maritime heritage.

Inside the Palace, you’ll find multiple venues, including an auditorium, exhibition halls, conference rooms, and a multipurpose hall. The main auditorium is known for its impressive acoustics and can accommodate up to 2,164 spectators.

The Euskalduna Palace hosts a wide range of events throughout the year, including concerts by renowned musicians, theater performances, dance shows, and conferences. It has also been the venue for prestigious international events, such as the MTV Europe Music Awards in 2018.

Adjacent to the Palace, you’ll find the Euskalduna Conference Centre, which offers additional facilities for large-scale conferences and conventions. The Conference Centre is equipped with state-of-the-art technology and can accommodate up to 4,000 attendees.

If you’re visiting Bilbao, be sure to check the schedule of events at the Euskalduna Palace. Whether you’re interested in music, theater, or conferences, there’s always something exciting happening at this iconic venue.

Funicular de Artxanda

The Funicular de Artxanda is a popular tourist attraction in Bilbao that offers stunning views of the city and its surroundings. This historic funicular has been operating since 1915 and is a beloved symbol of Bilbao.

The funicular takes visitors up the steep slopes of Mount Artxanda, providing them with panoramic views of the city’s skyline, including the iconic Guggenheim Museum and the Nervion River. The journey itself is an experience, as visitors are treated to breathtaking views of Bilbao and its lush green landscapes.

At the top of Mount Artxanda, visitors can explore the beautiful park, which offers walking paths, picnic areas, and playgrounds. There are also several restaurants and cafes where visitors can enjoy a meal or a drink while taking in the picturesque views.

For those looking for adventure, Mount Artxanda is also a popular spot for paragliding and hiking. The hiking trails range from easy walks for beginners to more challenging routes for experienced hikers. Visitors can enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the area while getting some exercise.

Whether you’re a nature lover, an adventure seeker, or simply looking to enjoy the breathtaking views of Bilbao, a trip on the Funicular de Artxanda is a must-do when visiting the city. Don’t miss out on this unique experience that combines history, nature, and stunning views!

Maritime Museum

The Maritime Museum in Bilbao offers an in-depth look at the city’s rich maritime history. Located in the iconic Euskalduna Palace, the museum showcases a wide range of exhibits that highlight Bilbao’s connection to the sea.

Explore the History of Bilbao’s Maritime Heritage

The Maritime Museum takes visitors on a journey through time, starting with the origins of the port and the important role it played in Bilbao’s development. Exhibits cover various aspects of maritime life, including shipbuilding, fishing, and trade.

Discover the Art of Shipbuilding

One of the highlights of the museum is the section dedicated to the art of shipbuilding. Here, visitors can learn about the techniques and tools used to construct traditional Basque boats. The intricate craftsmanship and attention to detail are truly impressive.

Learn about Basque Maritime Culture

The Maritime Museum also offers insights into Basque maritime culture, including the traditional fishing techniques used in the region. Visitors can explore interactive displays, watch videos, and even try their hand at some hands-on activities.

Experience Life on Board a Ship

To provide a more immersive experience, the Maritime Museum features a reconstructed ship deck where visitors can get a feel for life on board a ship. The realistic setting and detailed displays bring the history to life.

Visit the Aquarium

As part of the Maritime Museum, visitors can also explore the aquarium, which houses a variety of marine species from the Bay of Biscay. From colorful fish to majestic sharks, the aquarium offers a fascinating glimpse into the underwater world.

Whether you’re a history enthusiast or simply curious about Bilbao’s maritime heritage, a visit to the Maritime Museum is a must. Don’t miss this opportunity to dive into the city’s past and learn about its rich connection to the sea.

Basilica of Begoña

The Basilica of Begoña is one of the most famous landmarks in Bilbao. Located on a hilltop overlooking the city, this beautiful church is a must-visit for tourists and locals alike.

Built in the 16th century, the Basilica of Begoña is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Its striking Gothic architecture and ornate details make it a true masterpiece. The interior is equally impressive, with stunning stained glass windows and intricate altarpieces.

Visitors can climb the stairs to the top of the bell tower for panoramic views of Bilbao and the surrounding countryside. The square in front of the basilica also offers stunning vistas and is a popular gathering place for festivals and events.

Inside the basilica, you can find the venerated statue of the Virgin of Begoña, the patron saint of Biscay. The statue is believed to have miraculous powers, and many pilgrims come here to pray and seek blessings.

Whether you’re interested in art, history, or religion, the Basilica of Begoña is a must-see attraction in Bilbao. Its beautiful architecture, religious significance, and panoramic views make it a memorable stop on any visit to the city.

Arriaga Theatre

The Arriaga Theatre, also known as the Teatro Arriaga Antzokia, is one of the most iconic and historic performance venues in Bilbao. Located in the heart of the city, it stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of the region.

Named after the famous Basque composer Juan Crisostomo de Arriaga, the theater was built in the late 19th century and has since become a beloved landmark for both locals and tourists alike. Its grand neo-baroque architecture and opulent interiors are a sight to behold, making it not only a popular entertainment destination but also a visual masterpiece.

The theater primarily hosts opera, music concerts, ballets, and theater performances, attracting talented artists and renowned companies from around the world. The main auditorium can seat up to 1,500 people, while there are also smaller spaces for more intimate and experimental shows.

Aside from its artistic significance, the Arriaga Theatre holds great historical importance. It survived the Spanish Civil War and has undergone multiple renovations and restorations over the years to preserve its original charm. It has been declared a Cultural Interest Property by the Spanish government, further cementing its cultural value.

Visitors to the Arriaga Theatre can take guided tours to learn more about its history and architecture. The tour grants access to both the public and private areas of the theater, giving visitors a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the world of performing arts.

Whether you’re a lover of the arts or simply interested in exploring Bilbao’s cultural scene, a visit to the Arriaga Theatre is highly recommended. Immerse yourself in the rich history and artistic brilliance of this iconic venue, and experience the magic of live performances in a breathtaking setting.

Basque Museum

The Basque Museum, also known as the Euskal Museoa, is a must-visit attraction for those interested in learning about the history and culture of the Basque Country. Located in the heart of Bilbao, this museum offers an extensive collection of exhibits that showcase the unique traditions, language, and heritage of the Basque people.

The museum is housed in a beautiful 17th-century building, which adds to the charm and historical ambiance of the exhibits. Inside, visitors can explore various galleries and halls, each dedicated to a different aspect of Basque culture.

One of the highlights of the Basque Museum is its collection of traditional Basque costumes and clothing. Visitors can see elaborate garments worn for special occasions, as well as everyday attire that reflects the region’s distinctive fashion sense.

The museum also features displays on Basque music, dance, and sports. Visitors can learn about traditional Basque instruments and watch videos of local dances and sporting events. There is even a section dedicated to the popular Basque game of pelota, where visitors can try their hand at this fast-paced and skillful sport.

Another fascinating aspect of the Basque Museum is its extensive collection of Basque art. The museum houses paintings, sculptures, and other works of art that reflect the region’s artistic heritage. From traditional folk art to contemporary pieces, there is something to inspire and captivate every art lover.

In addition to the exhibits, the Basque Museum also hosts regular cultural events and educational programs. Visitors can attend lectures, workshops, and performances that offer a deeper understanding of Basque culture and traditions.

Overall, a visit to the Basque Museum is a unique and informative experience that allows visitors to delve into the rich history and culture of the Basque people. Whether you have a personal connection to the region or simply have an interest in learning about different cultures, this museum is a must-visit when in Bilbao.

Address Plaza Unamuno, 4, 48006 Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain
Opening Hours Tuesday to Saturday: 11am – 7pm
Sunday: 11am – 2pm
Closed on Mondays
Admission General: €6
Reduced: €3 (students, seniors, disabled)
Free for children under 8 and members


What are the top-rated attractions in Bilbao?

Some of the top-rated attractions in Bilbao include the Guggenheim Museum, Casco Viejo (the old town), the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, and the Artxanda Funicular.

What can I do in Bilbao?

In Bilbao, you can visit the famous Guggenheim Museum, explore the charming streets of Casco Viejo, take a ride on the Artxanda Funicular for breathtaking views of the city, and enjoy the art at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum.

Is visiting the Guggenheim Museum worth it?

Yes, visiting the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao is definitely worth it. It is one of the most iconic modern art museums in the world and houses a diverse collection of contemporary art. The museum building itself is also a work of art and a must-see architectural masterpiece.

How can I get to Casco Viejo in Bilbao?

Casco Viejo in Bilbao can be easily reached by public transportation, such as the metro or bus. There are several stations near the old town area, including Casco Viejo station itself. If you prefer walking, it may be possible depending on your starting point, as Casco Viejo is located in the heart of the city.


15 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Martinique | Travel Video | Travel Guide | SKY Travel

Photo of author

Abigail Lewis

Abigail Lewis, a valued Cancun resident since 2008, skillfully combines her extensive knowledge of the region with her travels across Mexico in her engaging TravelAsker pieces. An experienced traveler and dedicated mother, she brings the lively spirit of Mexico to her articles, featuring top family-friendly destinations, dining, resorts, and activities. Fluent in two languages, Abigail unveils Mexico's hidden gems, becoming your trustworthy travel companion in exploring the country.

Leave a Comment