From the day the Guggenheim‘s spellbinding curves graced the city, Bilbao became a powerhouse, not only of trade and industry as it has always been, but one of art and culture and cuisine. Legendary architect Frank Gehry put Bilbao on the map and installed a structure so iconic that it is worth the trip alone.
Thankfully, Bilbao boasts many other reasons to visit including Norman Forster’s stunningly designed metro stations and Santiago Calatrava’s sublime Zubizuri Bridge. But, in spite of these cutting edge creations, Bilbao has a medieval heart; the Old Town, known as Sierte Calles (the Seven Streets). Here, 14th Century cathedrals hide in its slender cobbled streets and covered markets selling mouth-watering tapas give a lively local buzz to the proceedings.
The tall pastel coloured houses of the Casco Viejo rise elegantly above the boisterous barrio bars, cosy cafes and established theatres that add such richness to Bilbao. Jeff Koon’s famous Flower Puppy adds another splash of colour to this already quirky city. After admiring the landscapes in the Fine Art Museum, take in the scenic views with a stroll through Doña Casilda Iturrizar Park. The heady heights of Artxanda Funicular whisk visitors to even greater altitudes and panoramic vistas across the city.
Beautiful Basque beaches, ideal for surfing, stretch out just a stone’s throw from the city. With so much to offer in the way of al fresco activity, culture and gastronomy, why go anywhere else?
The following information is correct as of January 2015 and is subject to change. Please check with the airline directly for complete accuracy.
Bilbao Airport is located approximately 6.5 miles from the centre of Bilbao and can be reached easily by car in around 20 minutes. Local bus services also operate every 30 minutes from outside the airport terminal with a journey time of 20 minutes. There are several taxi companies also available from outside Bilbao Airport.
What you need to know
Currency: The Euro (€)
Visas: UK and EU nationals do not require a visa to enter Spain. However, a passport with three months validity beyond the length of travel is required by all travellers. Nationals of countries outside the EU may require a visa to enter Spain. More information can be obtained from a local embassy or from the Foreign Office website.
Laws: The legal age for purchasing and consuming alcohol in Spain is 16 for wine and beer and 18 for spirits. There is a very strict smoking ban in place throughout Spain that prohibits smoking in all indoor public areas including public transport, bars, restaurants, cafes, clubs and arts venues. It is even illegal to smoke near hospitals and school playgrounds.
Best Time to Visit
The weather in Bilbao is hottest and driest in August however the summer is often the busiest and most expensive time to visit due to school holidays. While it may be the best time of year to hit the beach and top up the tan, spring and late summer in Bilbao are also warm enough to enjoy the sea while being less inundated with tourists. Winters in Bilbao never get that cold, perhaps down to 5 degrees Celsius and is a much quieter time of year to enjoy the city’s museums and galleries.
With carnivals in February, parades for Semana Santa in April, a Film Festival in May; Books Fairs, Puppets Shows, Fiestas, Boat Races and the famous Aste Nagusia cultural week in the summer months and Tango, Storytelling and Documentary Film festivals and huge open air markets from autumn through to winter, Bilbao is definitely an all-year-round destination.
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