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Zubizuri Curved Pedestrian Bridge Across the Bilbao River, Bilbao, Euskadi (Pais Vasco), Spain
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Camino de Santiago Tour from Bilbao by Self Drive and Independently Walking with some guides and meals On this self drive tour you follow along the ancient French way pilgrimage to Santiago. Take turns driving and get a chance as well to walk independently scenic portions of the trail and savouring excellent cuisine and La Rioja's world famous wines…more...
Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Old Quarter and Panoramic City Tour Half day privately guided tour of the Guggenheim Museum and then a walk around the old quarter and a panoramic city tour…more...
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Bilbao, Spain - the Top-10 reasons why I love this city
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Bilbao, Spain - the Top-10 reasons why I love this city   by Ingrid Svalin

Featured Bilbao Hotels

The first time I came to Bilbao in north of Spain was nearly 15 years ago. To be honest I wasn't too impressed. This was quite a boring place back then.
View Across Old Town, Bilbao, Capital of the Basque Province of Vizcaya (Pais Vasco), Spain, Europe
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But, then something happened. An amazing transformation took place!  The ugly duckling turned into a beautiful swan. In only a decade the city of Bilbao turned from a grey industrial town into a splendid cultural metropolis.

After that first visit I and my family actually ended up moving here. Since I am Swedish this was quite an exotic destination for me. Throughout the last few years I had the joy of experiencing the transformation of the city first hand.

Many of my fellow country men prefer to visit the South of Spain. After all, warm beaches are what we all long for, isn't it? Going to the North of Spain might seem like an odd goal for a vacation.

Well, let me share my top-10 reasons why I love Bilbao. This place hosts many treasures yet to be discovered by tourists.

1. A city in constant change
It seems Bilbao has taken a sacred vow to improve by the day. It is inspiring to see how no effort is spared to enhance the beauty of the city. Some of the best architects of the world have been contracted to partake in the urban transformation. Even small neighbourhood areas where few tourists ever come, are being improved and beautified.

2. The Guggenheim museum 

This modern art museum is truly awe-inspiring. It is the most known landmark of Bilbao and is located in the heart of the city, just along the riverbank. The first thing that strikes you is the building itself. It is like a giant vessel, covered with gleaming titanium. Once inside there is more than 10.000 m2 of modern art to enjoy.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Euskadi (Pais Vasco), Spain
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3. Splendid cultural life 

If you are a cultural lover you will be spoiled for choice. The newly inaugurated "Euskalduna Congress and Music Centre", and the century old "Arriaga theatre" have ample programs of dance, theatre and opera.

Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Spain
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4. Friendly size

Bilbao is a well sized city. It is not too big, nor too small. Put on a pair of good walking shoes and you can get around most tourist places by foot. You have restaurants, culture and shopping all within decent reach.

5. Relaxed atmosphere

Greater Bilbao houses about 1 million inhabitants. Even so, you can still enjoy a feeling of relaxed atmosphere. On nice evenings, after work, people hang out with a glass of wine or a cup of coffee at the local plaza. The children are playing skipping rope or "hide and seek" meanwhile.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Euskadi (Pais Vasco), Spain
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6. The Old town 

I love the old, historical centre of Bilbao. During the last few years this area has been beautifully restored, preserving the old charm of the century old buildings. Here you can enjoy restaurants, tapas bars and great shopping. This part of the city also offers a vibrant bar life at night.

7. The food 

Bilbainos take great pride in their cooking. Fresh sea food and vegetables from the fertile Basque countryside are the basis of the local cuisine. If you are looking for a good restaurant you don't have to look far - there are plenty. For a "today's menu" at a neighbourhood restaurant you have to pay about 10 Euros.

8. Get to know a new culture 

Bilbao is located in the Basque Country. The region enjoys its own culture and language, unique to the rest of Spain.

The Basque language is ancient and no one really knows its origins. It is supposedly very difficult to learn. You will find that all street signs are written in both Basque and Spanish.
9. The beaches

If you long for a clean, beautiful beach with blue water this is the place to come. The beaches of the Basque country are still undiscovered by the great masses of tourists. Here you can enjoy nature, sand and sea without feeling like a crammed sardine. Sopelana and Plentzia are two beautiful beaches located close to Bilbao. You can easily get there by city metro.

10. It is not too hot!

Can that be a reason to love Bilbao? I would say yes! The temperature is mild and comfortable most of the year. You can explore the city at any time of the day without having to defy a burning sun. The temperature can rise above 30 degrees in the summer, but then you always have a beach near. The winter is also pleasant; you rarely need to wear winter gears.

I hope you will add Bilbao to your upcoming vacation plans. It is truly a beautiful place to visit!

Getxo, Atlantic Resort at the Mouth of the Bilbao River, Bilbao, Euskadi (Pais Vasco), Spain
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About the Author: Ingrid Svalin is originally from Sweden but has been living and working in the Czech Republic, Canada and Spain. Since 1997 she resides in Bilbao where she works as a marketing director for a Spanish company. Ingrid is the editor of the Here she shares all her best insider tips about the city of Bilbao - what to do, how to get here and where to stay.

More Bilbao Tours
Camino de Santiago Tour from Bilbao Independently Walking with support of a Driver Guide On this driver guided tour you will independently walk (with the support of a driver guide) the most scenic parts of the ancient French way pilgrimage to Santiago and savour excellent cuisine and La Rioja's world famous wines...more... Deluxe Art and Nature of Green Spain Tour by Self Drive with some meals A self drive tour through Green Spain a mosaic of natural purity and historic village. Art is intertwined with nature for example, the world-renowned Guggenheim Museum...more... Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Artistic Tour Enjoy an intensive visit of the World Famous Guggenheim Museum with an expert Art Guide…more...


Bilbao, Spain - the Top-10 reasons why I love this city
The first time I came to Bilbao in north of Spain was nearly 15 years ago. To be honest I wasn't too impressed. This was quite a boring place back then.  But, then something happened. An amazing transformation took place!  .. read more
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, in Spain, was built in 1997 by Frank Gehry, a Pritzker Prize winning Canadian/American Architect. Mr. Gehry is well known for his modern architecture, much of which seems to defy logic with its curves and bends.... read more
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Barceló Avenida Hotel & Spa, Bilbao
The Barceló Avenida Hotel & Spa is a deluxe hotel located 10 kilometers from Bilbao International Airport. The hotel is located in the upper part of the city, next to the Begona Basilica and just 10 minutes by metro from the center of Bilbao and the Guggenheim Museum. The onsite Sarasate Restaurant has a daily set menu, a la carte restaurant and buffet. The hotel has 11 rooms for meetings, conventions and receptions with capacity for up to 600 people. Coffee break facilities and state of the art audio-visual equipment is available. Barceló Avenida offers a wide range of facilities and features, such as: a Cyber Corner, WiFi access, ample parking, SPA and Fitness Centre. The hotel features 143 spacious rooms. Each guest room has a full bathroom fitted with a thermostatic bath and individual hairdryer, direct dial telephone, satellite TV with pay per view and video games.
Barceló Hotel Nervion, Bilbao
The Barceló Hotel Nervion in Bilbao is a nine-storey building located 200 metres from the main railway station and the nearest metro station.  The world-renowned Guggenheim museum with innovative architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright is located 300 metres from the hotel. The beach on the north coast of Spain is 20 kilometres from the hotel. The hotel's restaurant, the Ibaizabal, is open at all meal times and serves a mix of traditional and modern cuisine, specializing in Basque and Italian food. At the Barceló Hotel Nervion, Bilbao, meeting rooms are also available in the hotel for business meetings or small private dinners. Audiovisual facilities are also available including videoconferencing equipment. Wireless Internet access is available throughout the hotel, for an extra fee. The hotel also has a gym and sauna, plus facilities for guests to relax with massage treatments.
Hesperia Bilbao
The Hesperia Bilbao is a seven-floor hotel featuring a striking, curved façade, and is set in a central location directly opposite the Guggenheim museum, within 50 metres of the city's shops and restaurants.  A shopping centre is located adjacent to the hotel, and the world-renowned Guggenheim museum, with innovative modern architecture from Frank Gehry and Japanese architect, Isozaki, is 50 metres away. The hotel's main restaurant, La Ría, serves traditional Basque fare such as Bacalao (salt cod), lamb stew and chorizo. After dinner, guests are invited to relax in the Orilla Bar and enjoy drinks and cocktails. The hotel houses a number of conference and meeting rooms of varying sizes, all of which are equipped with modern audio-visual facilities for presentations. ireless Internet access is available free of charge in all public areas of the hotel. 
Hotel Carlton, Bilbao
The Hotel Carlton in Bilbao, a beautiful, mansion hotel designed with chandeliers and marble flooring in its interior, located in the city center, 400 meters from the Guggenheim. Bilbao old town is within 500 meters of the hotel.  The Hotel Carlton houses Artagan Restaurant, which serves traditional Basque cuisine and seafood; open for lunch and dinner. Guests can relax in the hotel fitness center which includes a well-equipped gym, steam room, sauna and a massage room. At the Hotel Carlton, Bilbao, other amenities include a multilingual concierge who can assist with sightseeing needs; valet parking, round the clock room service, and babysitting services.  Events, wedding and banquet services are available on request.  In the evening, guests can relax in the magnificent lounge bar decorated with domed ceilings, chandeliers, richly patterned rugs and marble floors; serves tapas and specialty cocktails from a house menu and is famed for its celebrity clientele. 
Hotel Ercilla, Bilbao
The Hotel Ercilla in Bilbao is located 12 kilometres from Loiu International Airport. Located in the heart of the business and commercial centre of the city, the hotel is close to Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Congress Centre and the International Exhibition Centre. Its wide range of meeting rooms with the latest audio-visual equipment make it the ideal city-centre hotel for business. Your stay will be pleasant and comfortable, thanks to the richly appointed guest rooms. A complete buffet breakfast with a variety of salads, cured hams and sausage and a wide range of hot dishes surprise guests daily. The onsite Bermeo restaurant serves the best of traditional Basque cuisine. Elegant and impeccable service has made the Hotel Ercilla an ideal place for your business meals. 
Hotel Ercilla Lopez De Haro, Bilbao
The Hotel Ercilla Lopez de Haro is a luxury property located 11 kilometers from the Bilboa International Airport. Opened in 1990, the Hotel Ercilla Lopez de Haro is in the center of Bilbao and exudes great luxury and elegance. This hotel is only 100 meters from Guggenheim Museum and 500 meters from the Music Congress Palace. Providing easy access by highway, the hotel is near the train station and well connected to Sondica Airport.  Experience the best of Basque cuisine in the onsite restaurant. The Club Nautico Restaurant, with its first-class china, cutlery and glassware, adds distinction and delight to the service elevating the Basque cuisine to new heights. Informal dining is also available at the Ambigu.  The Hotel Ercilla Lopez de Haro is minutes to popular shopping and entertainment venues. The elegant and personalized décor in all the rooms and suites appeals to even the most discerning traveler.
Hotel Spa Husa Jardines de Albia, Bilbao
The Husa Jardines de Albia Hotel in Bilbao is set in the centre of this cosmopolitan city. It is a modern building with a grand marble and glass entrance set only 300 metres from the striking Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum. The Husa Jardines de Albia has a spa tub and fully-equipped fitness centre. Business facilities include conference rooms, accommodating up to 100 people, and complimentary wireless Internet access throughout the hotel.  Complimentary newspapers are available at the front desk, as are safe-deposit boxes to store valuables throughout your stay in Bilbao. Husa Jardines de Albia Hotel, Bilbao, offers The Zuria Restaurant and its menu of Basque dishes, served in a contemporary dining room.  The cafeteria serves a breakfast buffet and room service. 
Silken Indautxu Hotel, Bilbao
Hotel Silken Indautxu rises from the financial district in Bilbao, Spain. Local attractions include the Fine Art Museum, Arriaga Theatre, and Guggenheim Museum, the famous Frank O. Gehry-designed center for modern art. Hotel Silken Indautxu features several dining and refreshment options. Restaurante Etxaniz creates specialty Basque entrees with fresh local ingredients. The restaurant's dining space features hard wood flooring, linen-covered tables and a chandelier that extends from an expansive ceiling. Meanwhile, Cafeteria Indautxu offers expedient dining service, serving snacks and light lunches in a contemporary setting.  Additionally, El Muelle Piano Bar presents live music and special weekend entertainment. Hotel Silken Indautxu presents a morning breakfast buffet. Beyond its dining amenities, Hotel Silken Indautxu offers an on-site car rental and laundry center.
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Guggenheim Museum Bilbao   by E Cho

Bilbao Featured Hotels
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, in Spain, was built in 1997 by Frank Gehry, a Pritzker Prize winning Canadian/American Architect. Mr. Gehry is well known for his modern architecture, much of which seems to defy logic with its curves and bends. Unlike many architects, he completed construction of the museum on time and within the original budget.

The curvatures of the museum were created using a combination of titanium, limestone and glass. The artwork protected from heat damage by the glass curtain walls that were built throughout the structure. The entire museum took three years to complete; it was started in October of 1994, and was first open to the public on October 19, 1997. 

Built beside the Nevion River, water reflects beautifully off the glass walls of the building that looks more like the sculptures it houses, rather than a functional museum. Even the entrance makes one commend the architect's vision in making the building an extension of the modern art inside.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, Euskadi (Pais Vasco), Spain
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Design of the Guggenheim was created using computers due to the mathematical complexity of each curve. The resemblance of the museum to a ship was deliberate, due to the port status the town holds. If you look closely at the glass walls, you will note that they look like scales of a fish, and this fish design, which can be found in much of Gehry's work, is carried throughout the structure.

Though the magnificence of the museum itself will leave you spellbound, do not forget the brilliance of the artwork within and on the grounds of the building. Many of the exhibits change periodically, giving visitors incentive to come often, though there are permanent exhibits as well. The museum is easy to navigate, which many be surprising considering the complexity of the exterior.

Gehry's creativity can be seen inside the structure, as visitors enter the atrium. Gazing up, your eyes will be drawn to the skylight, which resembles a metal flower, allowing natural light to bathe the room. A canopy covered terrace, glass elevators, a sculptural tower, curving walkways, and stair turrets are also featured in the interior design. The hours spent exploring this modern museum will be well worth the visit.

Not far from this impressive structure, still along the banks of the river, lies the Sheraton Bilbao Hotel. The hotel offers a variety of ways to relax, with an outdoor heated pool, sauna and fitness centre for your pleasure. The Café Chillida and Aizian Restaurant both serve Basque cuisine, designed to delight even the most discerning palette. Each room is equipped with modern conveniences, allowing you to enjoy your experience to the fullest. 

Guggenheim Museum, Exterior, Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Guggenheim Museum, Exterior, Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
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The Sheraton Bilbao Hotel is within easy access to Dona Casilda Park, where the Museum of Fine Arts resides, as well as the Euskalduna Conference and Concert Hall, making this the perfect choice to stay during your visit to Bilbao, Spain.

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