Bilbao Travel Guide

7:30:00 AM

I was so charmed by Bilbao, the capital city of Basque Country in the north of Spain. It was rainy during our brief mid-March visit, and that was perfect. The city's architecture is stunning and ranges from Gothic to contemporary. And it seems like around every corner is the most picturesque bakery, boutique, bar or cafe to explore.


Trimmer is a little cafe boasting aromatic coffee and a strong design aesthetic. It is also attached to a shop of the same name. Ian and I actually popped into the shop first to pick up what became our go-to backpack. So it wasn't until we were browsing the shelves of the shop that we discovered the attached cafe. Needless to say, we wandered in and spent the afternoon sipping coffee and playing gin rummy.
+34 946.941.135 | Colón de Larreátegui 35


Las Fritas 
I made us take a pit stop here while we were exploring the Casco Viejo area of town. They serve up paper cones filled with french fries, and  you can select any topping(s) you want. We went for padrón peppers and cheese. It was the perfect warm snack for our rainy day of exploration. 
Gurutze Kalea 6
Our meal at Etxanobe is definitely in my top 5 meals ever. The cuisine is beautifully prepared and presented in a fun and creative manner. We enjoyed fabulous wine pairings with our chef's menu, and the head chef even came out at the end of our meal to introduce himself and prepare our nitrogen-frozen dessert at the table. Make a reservation.
+34 944.421.071 | Avenida Abandoibarra 4 (Inside Palacio Euskalduno)

Grab some sushi to go at Sumo, where the fish is fresh and the flavors are authentic. They also have a good selection of Japanese beers so you can grab one of those too. Makes the perfect lunch on the go. 
+34 944.416.144 | Calle Ledesma 5

Irrintzi Pintxos & Friends
Situated in the old town, Irrintzi offers a large variety of imaginative pintxos that are all (ok, mostly) labeled. Order a glass of tart cider to wash down your pintxo snack.
+34 944.167.616 | Santa Maria 8


This little wine & sports bar is a great local spot to have a glass of Txacoli. We met some friendly locals here who took us on a little adventure, so don't be too shy to strike up a conversation with the people around you. 
+34 944.230.515 | Henao 31 

Shown to us by a local friend, The Public Lounge is another great spot for wine. Again, I recommend the crisp Basque white, Txacoli. I understand they have a good lunch menu too. Unfortunately we came by a little too late in the day to order lunch. Don't be like us. 
+34 944.052.824 | Henao 54


The Guggenheim in Bilbao is an awesome way to spend a day. The building itself is designed by Frank Gehry and is recognized as one of the most iconic contemporary buildings in the world. The architecture and exterior sculptures alone are a morning's worth of visual stimulation. While we were there, there was an exhibit featuring the life work of Niki de Saint Phalle, who has now become one of my favorite artists. I also enjoyed The Matter of Time (permanent collection) and Ai Wei Wei's China Log, which I believe was on loan from New York.
Sometimes closed on Mondays.
+34 944.359.000 | Avenida Abandoibarra 2

Los Aledaños del Casco Viejo
Wander through these seven parallel streets. This part of town was once the entirety of Bilbao, and will give you an impression of the days of old. Pop into any bakery here that looks good and order a batillon de mantequilla, which is a brioche with butter and sugar. You won't regret it. 


  1. That Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao reminds me of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown L.A. Looks like the walls were put together by someone spreading frosting on a big cake.

    1. They were both designed by the same architect, Frank Gehry.