Modernity and tradition come together in Bilbao, the largest city in the Basque Country. With two days to explore, you can sample the best of the compact city’s art, cuisine, and culture, and venture to the countryside. Here’s how.
Rise early and arrive at the Guggenheim art museum before the crowds do. As one of the city’s most iconic buildings, it’s a must-see for first-time visitors. Explore as part of a private or small-group tour to discover context that’s crucial to understanding the modern art inside.
Spend the afternoon sampling pintxos (Basque tapas) on a food tour of Bilbao— which typically include wine and a market visit—or try your hand at making your own tapas during a cooking class. If you’d rather tick off more sights in less time, opt for a hop-on hop-off bus tour.
Enjoy the twinkling lights, after-dark views, and local hangouts of Bilbao on an evening tour that stops at Puente Zubizuri and Plaza Unamuno. Then, dine out and try classic Basque dishes such as bacalao a la Vizcaína (cod in a red pepper and onion sauce) or txangurro (spider crab). Finish with a show at the Euskalduna Palace.
Wake early on day two for a full-day excursion outside of the city limits. Wine lovers won’t want to miss the chance to visit vineyards and sample wines in La Rioja region, while gastronomes can visit the town of San Sebastián, home to several Michelin-starred restaurants.
If you prefer culture to cuisine, opt instead for a Game of Thrones-themed day trip into the Basque Country; a half-day visit to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (Dragonstone); or a day trip to Añana Salt Valley and the Basque Country capital, Vitoria.
Back in the city, branch out of the Old Quarter and head to the New Town. There, you’ll find some of Bilbao’s best bars and clubs, which prove perfect for a celebratory final night. If you’d rather take it easy, ride the Artxanda Funicular to Artxanda Mountain and enjoy views over Bilbao from above.