mebilb

24 hours in Bilbao

When I first brought up visiting the Spanish city of Bilbao, most people’s reactions were a bit ‘eh’, after all it was unfairly nicknamed ‘el boxto’ the hole. Best known for the Guggenheim museum pictured above, but yet it really shouldn’t be. There is a lot more to this fascinating town from the cool ‘pod-like’ Metro entrances to the delicious pinxtos that I was obsessed with, and though I might have only spent 24 hours there during our #winteroadtrip from the south of France to portugal and back, it definitely impressed me enough to want to write about it.

bilbao spain bilbao spain

We arrived in the late afternoon from Lisbon, Portugal without a clue or a map on what to do. We were staying at the Hotel Miro in front of the Guggenheim museum, a really interesting boutique modern hotel designed by Spanish designer Antonio Miró in a great location in town – the ‘golden mile’. Not to mention the awesome eye-popping view of the museum from our window, and our awesome free slippers that I of course still wear today ;-).

Hotel Miro

Address: Alameda Mazarredo, 77, 48009 Bilbao, Vizcaya, Bizkaia, Spain
Phone:+34 946 61 18 80

guggenheim

 

We left our things in haste so to see as much of Bilbao as fast as humanly possible and headed towards the Casco Viejo (old town center) about 30 minutes walking. I highly recommend moving around this town on foot because this city is a visual feast (at least to me). Modern shops everywhere in sight, the atmospheric was pretty electric just a few days after the new year when we were there – people having fun, taking walks and eating out. I liked the feeling of a city that just feels alive, modern and young – and that Bilbao is.

bilbao spain bilbao spain bilbao6

 

The mission that night was to show Nico just how amazing pinxtos are (tapas in the Basque country), these tiny bites of heaven are the kind of food that you dream about – or at least I dream about them. A variable gastronomic success and something that makes ‘tasting’ an art form.

 

The combinations of flavors, mousses, attractively arranged on a plate are just remarkable. We stopped at Bilbao’s Plaza Nueva and ordered a few choices each accompanied with Txakoli {pronounced Chacolí} a slightly sparkling, very dry white wine that they pour from above, really fun to watch! The best idea is to go to a few different places and do a sort of mini-food-tour, it’s cheap and a great way to get to know local cuisine — and the city!

pinxtos

The vibe in Plaza Nueva the night we were there was fantastic, a real festive atmosphere and it looked like gift giving was still in full force even though it was well past Christmas. There is just something about the Basque country that I really really love, I can’t really explain it but it’s without a doubt a region so full of culture & art, and happy people who know how to live, plus their fab affordable food. We slowly made our way back to Hotel Miro for a good nights rest before visiting the Guggenheim the next morning.

Of course breakfast was absolutely amazing, guests can make their own mimosas and eat churros {which of course I did}.

hotelmiro

Visiting Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpiece, the Guggenheim Museum was somewhat of a pivotal moment. I had been to the Basque country before, but I really was bummed not to visit Bilbao and this museum at that time. Now a few year’s later – I finally was able to make it happen.

IMG_4513 bilbao7bilbao10 bilbao9 bilbao8

 

This museum is the kind of place that you can’t take your eyes off of. The curves of this building is entrancing, it really is like a drug. I knew about this place from working at an architectural media firm that produced a really cool film series meant to make you examine the way modern architecture is used in daily life. The film titled Gehry’s Vertigo touches on the cleaning crew who bravely navigates the Guggenheim’s tall curved and long slopes to clean this difficult work of architectural art. The series is really quite fascinating and I recommend checking it out if you get the chance. Here is the link. 

bilbao12

We actually spent a lot of time looking at the building, outside there was a really neat smoke installation that carried onto some of the public pavilions surrounding the museum. Plus who doesn’t love a gigantic looming spider?

bilbao11 bilbao12

While I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of the art, I did sneakily snap this one on my phone of Richard Serra’s exhibit ‘A Matter of Time’ using curved sheets of steel, not easy to say the least! It’s easy to get lost and/or confused in this exhibit.

matteroftime

While a lot of the permanent art was a bit out of our realm of understanding, I did enjoy this museum. I think of it as the kind of place you go with an open mind, and at least in my case, the building itself served as a much more interesting protagonist than I could have ever imagined.

Guggeheim Museum, Avenida Abandoibarra, 2 48009 Bilbao. 10am – 8pm (closed on Monday). Adults: 13 € admission.

Places I wish I could have seen: I heard the El Museo de Bellas Artes has many impressive artworks by Spanish artists, the Apetit Gallery hosts contemporary & street art. Also the Alhóndiga Bilbao, Philippe Starck’s transformation of an early twentieth-century wine warehouse into a cultural centre with a swimming pool that boasts a transparent floor. So cool! 

*Disclaimer – My partner and I were guests of Hotel Miro in Bilbao but trust that all opinions and thoughts 100% are my own. 

Ps. even leaving Bilbao is cool, this place is a modern architecture lover’s heaven!

Also, being the curious gal that I am – have you been to Bilbao? I’d love to know what you think about this city? 

0
PDF Editor    Send article as PDF   

Sign up to get Girl in Florence via Email

Sign up for new posts along with thousands of other followers and connect via social media, 100% no spam
Name
Email *



There are 12 comments

Add yours
    • GirlinFlorence

      I think people give this a hard time because they really don’t know anything about it, but it’s actually pretty awesome. Plus you can combine this with a trip to San Sebastian quite easily!!

  1. Gil

    never been there, but your post made it feel like I was traveling along with you. Everything looks so clean!

  2. Delicious Europe Travels

    Thanks for the great post! I’ve always wanted to go to the Basque region of Spain because I hear it is a food lovers paradise and now I want to go ever more after looking at your pictures! How did you find the weather? I hear that it rains more often compared to the rest of Spain.

  3. Victoria

    I lived in Bilbao last year and this has brought back so many amazing memories, El Museo de Bellas Artes is really good as well and free on Wednesday afternoons which is a bonus. The Alhóndiga is really cool, it’s a shame you didn’t have the time to see more. If you get the chance to go back there’s so much more that The Basque Country has to offer, I’ve written about a lot of it on my blog.

    • GirlinFlorence

      Thanks for the tips, I really wish I could have stayed longer as well! I spent some time in the Basque Country as well (the French part as well as San Sebastián) and I adore it. I am sure I will find my way back there again and I will certainly check your blog out :-)

    • GirlinFlorence

      The city is an architectual dream if you ask me :), the Guggenheim just being one. I wish I could have spent more time exploring every nook and cranny but at least I know to come back the next time we head over to the Basque country.

  4. Christine

    If you can fall in love with Bilbao on a wet, rainy day, imagine how beautiful it is in the sun! I’ve been living there the past 2 years and the city never ceases to amaze me. I hope you’ll be back to explore it in more depth, as well as the beautiful Basque towns.

    • GirlInFlorence
        Christine, I know I would love it even more and I really want to come back and experience the city a bit more slowly. I loved wandering the old town and just marveling at these cities that so many people have really never thought of visiting. Are you based permanently from there now? Perhaps we can meet up the next time I’m in town!

Comments are closed.