Falling in love with Bilbao Biscay in five days
You will never run out of places to discover or adventures to embark on in Bilbao Biscay.
Thanks to the wide variety of landscapes, a gastronomic offer that never ceases to reinvent itself without losing its essence, and a unique culture that is palpable in the streets–there is always something new to do in Bilbao Biscay. We suggest that you start with a five-day getaway to begin discovering the region, time enough to fall in love with it. You will certainly be back!
The list of things you can do in Bilbao Biscay to make the most of your time there is endless and the experiences we share with those who come to visit us are simply unforgettable. If you want to start discovering Bilbao Biscay, we have just planned a five-day getaway for you where you will have the chance to see some of the most distinctive landmarks and create memories that will last a lifetime.
Days 1 and 2. Discovering Bilbao Biscay
You should at least spend two days visiting some of Bilbao Biscay’s must-see places: the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and the medieval Siete Calles in the capital, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, the Vizcaya Bridge, the Assembly House of Gernika and its Tree, the Bizkaia Flysch, the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Gorbeia Natural Park, the exciting Biscayan coast, the region’s rural and mountainous interior areas, its many cultural heritage sites and hundreds of charming towns and villages steeped in history.
Day 3. Surfing on the coast
The character of the Cantabrian Sea has made Biscay, with a total of over 150 km of coastline, the perfect place to ride the waves. Biscayan beaches will suit all tastes and levels of expertise, from beginners who want to learn the basics to the most advanced surfers. Besides, international championships are regularly held on our coasts giving you the opportunity to watch professional surfers take part in them.
The Mundaka wave, considered one of the most singular and best existing right waves, can be found here too. Every year, surfers from almost any country in the world come to this little town, situated in the Urdaibai Reserve Biosphere, to catch this challenging wave, which can reach 5 metres in height and 400 metres in length.
The autumn and winter seasons are also good for big wave surfing in Biscay. Then, when the winds pick up, huge waves are thrust against the hills at Punta Galea, Meñakoz, Mundaka, and the proximities of Izaro Island by the Cantabrian Sea.
Not only professional surfers can find waves adapted to their skills. Amateur surfers–as well as anyone who likes this sport–will find hundreds of spots with different kinds of waves to suit their level. La Arena, Barinatxe, Arrietara, Plentzia, Gorliz, Bakio, or Laga are also popular surfing destinations where you can find surf schools, special accommodation for surfers, surf camps, or other specialised services that will allow surf lovers to enjoy themselves to the fullest.
Day 4. A gastronomic experience you will never forget
When we talk about Bilbao Biscay, its world-renowned gastronomy–famous for its diversity, originality, and top quality–inevitably comes to our minds. Our region is home to some of the best restaurants in the world, where the best products are used to create unforgettable experiences, an excellent combination of tradition and imagination.
To understand how important gastronomy really is in Bilbao Biscay, the first thing we must do is learn a little bit more about the poteo or txikiteo, a particular pilgrimage on which we visit the bars on the liveliest streets of towns and cities to have wine or txakoli while we chat, sing, and enjoy the joyful atmosphere in the company of our friends or family. Those who join us can confirm the proverbial big appetite of the Basque people, as we generally accompany our drinks with pintxos, delicious bite-size snacks. From the simplest of them–such as gildas–to the most innovative, the variety of pintxos available is almost infinite.
Restaurants in Bilbao Bizkaia are equally impressive. In the most traditional ones, those that carefully follow long-established recipes, flagship dishes of our cuisine are served–including cod Pil-Pil style, pisto (stir-fried mix of vegetables) Bilbao-style, or baby squids in ink sauce–topped off with local desserts. In the restaurants on the coast, the fish –especially sea bream, monkfish or sardine– is the king of the menu, while inland, meat and locally grown products are the main attractions.
You cannot miss the chance to try the creative dishes cooked in the kitchens of the haute-cuisine restaurants of the region.
These international renowned restaurants combine the know-how of Basque cuisine and the quality of its products with new techniques, creating inimitable gastronomic experiences.
Another gastronomic local delicacy is txakoli, a young fruity wine made of grapes grown on south-facing slopes all over Biscay. The influence of the sea is noticeable in this type of wine, probably one of the reasons why it pairs best with fish and seafood although it is also a good with almost any pintxo. If you want to discover all its secrets, you must either visit one of the many wineries that offer tour and tasting experiences or go to the Txakoli Txakolingunea Museum in Bakio.
Day 5. A cultural paradise
Tradition and modernity meet in every corner of Bibao Biscay. We keep alive the traditions and legends our ancestors handed down to us, we preserve the rich heritage left to us by those who once came to our region, and we are open to new international artistic and cultural trends, but we always maintain our identity.
The Basque language, a thousand-year-old language we share with the rest of the people in the Basque Country, is unarguably one of our hallmarks. Its origin dates back to time immemorial, but it is now more alive than ever in our towns and cities.
The remarkable past of Biscay is told in places such as the Archaeological Museum and the Basque Museum, both in Bilbao, but you can also learn more about it at fascinating prehistoric sites like the Santimamiñe Cave, the roman vestiges of Forua, the medieval remains of Ereñozar, and the Argiñeta necropolis in Elorrio.
Biscayan museums let us take a glimpse of past trades in the region as well. The Arrantzaleen Museum in Bermeo shows us how fishermen used to live. El Pobal Ironworks in Muskiz recreates how medieval forgers worked. In the Basque Country Mining Museum, in Abanto-Zierbena, the process of iron ore mining is explained in detail. In La Encartada Beret Factory-Museum, in Balmaseda, visitors can see how our famous txapelas are made. In Gernika, the Euskal Herria Museoa teaches us everything about the characteristic features that define the Basque identity. Even just going for a walk in Bilbao is a good way to discover part of our industrial heritage, the remains of an industrial past that so significantly influenced life in the region.
There is nothing better than going to a local festival to experience our most deep-rooted traditions first-hand: the choirs singing on the eve of Santa Águeda, the unusual Mundaka Carnival, the Living Passion of Balmaseda at Easter, the Cármenes celebrated in seaside towns, the Day of the Geese in Lekeitio, the Magdalenas –during which a roof tile is thrown to the sea in Bermeo–, or the Aste Nagusia in Bilbao. All these festivals blend tradition, music, sport, folk dance and food together, creating as a result an incomparable atmosphere. Special mention must be made of Santo Tomás, a fair that brings the rural world closer to the city every December 21 and kicks off the Christmas season, and to Olentzero, the friendly coal miner who fills the homes of all Biscayan children with presents and happiness on December 25 year after year.
Biscay is also rich in contemporary art and culture. Apart from the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum, where you can admire some of the greatest international masterpieces of all times, we recommend going for a walk in Abandoibarra to find impressive buildings conceived in the minds of famed architects such as Gehry, Foster, Calatrava, Isozaki, Rogers, Moneo, or Pelli. Meanwhile, all kind of alternative cultural activities and the most revolutionary street art can be found in places like Zorrotzaurre and Bilbao La Vieja respectively.