Bilbao in 3 Days - A Rollercoaster of Culture and Culinary Delights

Located in the heart of Spain’s Basque Country, Bilbao is a fascinating blend of historic grandeur and modern artistry. From the awe-inspiring Guggenheim Museum to the charming streets of Casco Viejo, Bilbao offers a myriad of experiences. So, whether you’re an art aficionado or a foodie in search of the next best pintxo, Bilbao has got you covered.
Pro Tip:For foodies, don’t miss the Mercado de la Ribera for some of the freshest produce and seafood!

Day 1: Dive into Culture and Art

Day 1: Dive into Culture and Art

Guggenheim Museum

The Guggenheim Museum is not just an art museum; it’s a symbol of Bilbao’s transformation from an industrial port city to a global cultural hub. Designed by the world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, this stunning edifice features a series of interconnected volumes and shapes, creating an abstract masterpiece that’s just as captivating as the art it houses.

Why Visit: This is the cornerstone of Bilbao’s cultural scene and an absolute must-see.

Pro Tip: To avoid the crowds, go early in the morning and purchase your tickets online for a seamless experience.


A Short Walk along the Nervion River

The Nervión River is like Bilbao’s lifeline, flowing through the city and offering serene vistas that contrast the bustling urban atmosphere. Enjoy a tranquil walk along the riverbanks, where modernity meets nature in a harmonious blend.

Why Visit: Ideal for taking a break and capturing some panoramic shots of the city.

How to Reach: Just a 10-minute walk from the Guggenheim, making it an easy part of your Bilbao itinerary.

Pro Tip: For the best experience, aim for sunset when the golden hour offers unbeatable photo ops.



Plaza Moyúa

Plaza Moyúa is more than just a square; it’s a social hub filled with history and culture. Encircled by iconic buildings like the Chávarri Palace, the square features a beautiful garden and intricately designed fountains, making it a popular meeting point for both locals and tourists.

Why Visit: This is Bilbao’s nerve center, buzzing with life and activities.

How to Reach: A leisurely 15-minute walk along the Nervion River will lead you here.

Pro Tip: If you love photography, this is a great place for some candid street shots.

If you are traveling with kids, check out our top 10 things to do in Bilbao with kids.


San Mamés Stadium

Stepping into San Mamés Stadium is like entering the very heart of Bilbao’s soccer culture. The stadium is a magnificent construction that comes alive during match days, providing a riveting atmosphere that’s second to none.

Why Visit: Even if you’re not a soccer enthusiast, the sheer energy here is intoxicating.

How to Reach: A quick metro ride from Plaza Moyúa, ensuring you continue your 3 days in Bilbao without any hitches.

Pro Tip: Check the schedule in advance, and if possible, buy tickets to a game to feel the city’s passion for soccer firsthand.

Bilbao, Spain

Day 2: Explore the Old and the New

Casco Viejo (The Old Town)

With its narrow, winding streets and centuries-old architecture, Casco Viejo is Bilbao’s historical heart. It’s where you’ll find the iconic Cathedral of Santiago, a must-see for anyone with an interest in religious or architectural history.

Why Visit: To get a real feel for the city’s history and character.

How to Reach: A short tram ride from San Mamés Stadium takes you to Casco Viejo.

Pro Tip: Pop into one of the traditional Basque taverns for a taste of pintxos, the local tapas.



Mercado de la Ribera

Bilbao’s culinary scene shines brightest in Mercado de la Ribera. Located near the Old Town, the market is a feast for the senses, with stalls offering fresh produce, meats, and the catch of the day.

Why Visit: For an authentic culinary experience.

How to Reach: Just a 5-minute walk from the heart of Casco Viejo, making it easily accessible on foot.

Pro Tip: Look out for the fresh oysters, they’re a real treat.



Arriaga Theatre

This neoclassical gem stands as a tribute to the city’s thriving arts scene. Its plush interior and remarkable acoustics make it one of the best places in Bilbao to catch a live performance.

Why Visit: For high-quality entertainment and a touch of elegance.

How to Reach: A simple 7-minute walk from Mercado de la Ribera.

Pro Tip: Book tickets online for an evening show to make the most of your Bilbao itinerary.



La Ribera Bilbao

As the sun sets, the vibrant nightlife of La Ribera Bilbao starts to shine. This district offers a unique mix of classic pintxos bars and modern cocktail lounges, making it the ideal spot to wrap up your day.

Why Visit: To experience Bilbao’s eclectic nightlife.

How to Reach: Conveniently, it’s only a 10-minute walk from Arriaga Theatre.

Pro Tip: Head to the rooftop bars for a scenic view of Bilbao at night.


Extend your stay and visit Pamplona in a short ride from Bilbao. Our guide for the top 10 attractions in Pamplona help you in exploring this city.

Bilbao, Spain

Day 3: A Date with Nature and Technology

Doña Casilda Park

Begin your day with a visit to Doña Casilda Park, a tranquil oasis amid the city’s hustle and bustle. The park features English-style gardens, fountains, and even a small pond where you can rent paddleboats.

Why Visit: It’s a perfect place for a leisurely morning stroll or a casual picnic.

How to Reach: A 20-minute tram ride from La Ribera Bilbao.

Pro Tip: Don’t miss the quaint duck pond; it’s a hit with kids.



Azkuna Zentroa

Formerly known as Alhóndiga Bilbao, this multi-purpose venue is a marvel of modern architecture and functionality. From a cinema to an indoor swimming pool with a transparent floor, the building is a spectacle worth witnessing.

Why Visit: For an unparalleled blend of art, leisure, and culture.

How to Reach: A quick 10-minute walk from Doña Casilda Park.

Pro Tip: Check out their calendar for temporary exhibitions; they’re often very intriguing.


Bilbao Fine Arts Museum

As one of the most important cultural spots in the Basque Country, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum is a treasure trove of artworks ranging from the Middle Ages to contemporary pieces. Here, you can explore a world-class collection that does the city proud.

Why Visit: To soak up some culture and appreciate high-quality art.

How to Reach: Another easy 10-minute walk from Azkuna Zentroa.

Pro Tip: The museum is free on Wednesdays, but it gets crowded, so plan your visit accordingly.


And of course visiting Spain with going to Madrid is not full. Take a train and read our guide for the top 10 places to visit in Madrid.

Best areas to stay and to avoid

5 Areas to Live In

  1. Indautxu: Located near San Mamés Stadium, this area is perfect for sports lovers and offers easy access to the metro. Why: Great for first-time visitors looking for convenience. Pro Tip: Plenty of pintxos bars around for a night out.
  2. Abando: This is the commercial heart of Bilbao and is home to a mix of modern and classic architecture. Why: For those looking for shopping and fine dining. Pro Tip: Close to the Guggenheim for art enthusiasts.
  3. Deusto: An area known for its university, offering a youthful vibe and budget-friendly options. Why: Ideal for younger travelers or those on a budget. Pro Tip: Check out the local bookshops and cafes for a relaxed afternoon.
  4. Old Town (Casco Viejo): If you want to be immersed in history and culture, this is the place to stay. Why: For a sense of history and a variety of entertainment options. Pro Tip: Great location to explore the best pintxos bars.
  5. Ensanche: This district is perfect for families and those looking for a quieter experience. Why: Ideal for long stays and those seeking peace and quiet. Pro Tip: Check out the local farmers’ markets for fresh produce.

5 Areas to Avoid

  1. San Francisco: Known for being a bit unsafe, especially at night. Why: High crime rates compared to other areas. Pro Tip: If you must visit, go during daylight hours.
  2. Zorroza: Far from the main attractions and not very well-connected. Why: Not convenient for short-term travelers. Pro Tip: Mostly residential, better options available closer to the city.
  3. Miribilla: While residential, it’s quite isolated and not tourist-friendly. Why: Lack of amenities and far from attractions. Pro Tip: Avoid if you’re not planning to rent a car.
  4. Otxarkoaga: Another area known for safety concerns. Why: Not the best reputation in terms of safety. Pro Tip: Stick to the more tourist-friendly areas.
  5. La Peña: Mostly industrial and not much to see or do here. Why: No tourist attractions and not particularly charming. Pro Tip: Not ideal for visitors; focus on more central districts.


And there you have it! This comprehensive Bilbao itinerary should make your 3 days in the city a memorable experience!