Three days in Bilbao give you plenty of time to get to grips with the city’s art, architecture, and food, and explore the villages and landscapes of the surrounding Basque Country. Here’s how to make the most of 72 hours in Bilbao.
If you’re an art lover, make a beeline for the Guggenheim in the morning to beat the crowds. While you can explore the gallery independently, visiting with a private guide allows you to gain a deeper understanding of the contemporary art exhibits inside the Gehry-designed building, as well as surrounding attractions such as Jeff Koons’ Puppy sculpture. Otherwise, starting your day on a hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus lets you get your bearings and pinpoint places you’d like to visit later in the day.
In the afternoon, visit the Fine Arts Museum or take a walking (or running) tour of the city, which typically include stops at Casco Viejo and Abandoibarra. Meanwhile, food lovers shouldn’t miss the chance to get to grips with Bilbao’s pintxos scene during a food tour that includes a market visit and wine tasting session.
Use your second day to escape the city. If you’re a GOT fan, take a half- or full-day Game of Thrones excursion, most of which stop by Dragonstone aka San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Meanwhile, non-Game of Thrones fans can opt for trips along the Basque Coast: tours sometimes incorporate border crossings into French Basque Country and stop in Getaria.
If you’re a food and wine lover, dedicate day two to exploring La Rioja region on a tour that comes complete with wine tastings and vineyard visits, or venture to San Sebastián to take part in a specialized wine or gastronomic excursion.
On your final day in Bilbao, take it easy with some shopping, strolling, and panoramic views. In the morning, cross the Zubizuri Bridge and ride the Artxanda Funicular to Artxanda Mountain to enjoy sweeping city views. Then, enjoy a spot of shopping along Gran Vía.
Once back in the center, kayak down the Bilbao estuary or take the opportunity to stop by any galleries, museums, or attractions you didn’t manage to squeeze into your first day’s itinerary. To round out the afternoon, swap your kayak for a cruise along the river and get a new perspective on the city before spending your final evening in Bilbao out for dinner. Dishes such as txangurro (spider crab) are typical of the region.