Bilbao is a city that attracts more and more visitors from all over the world. People have grown fascinated by its great location, its historical sites, its architecture and its lively urban lifestyle.
The city lies between mountains and is surrounded by important historical monuments. Amongst the most breathtaking are The Puente Colgante in Portugalete, oldest hanging bridge in the world, San Juan de Gaztelugatze, a small chapel located at the very top of an island that can only be reached by going up its 231 steps, and the main city attraction, The Guggenheim Museum, which has turned into the pièce de résistance of the city.
Just by looking around you, you will see how the new modern buildings coexist in perfect harmony with the old, classical ones. Amongst them are Santiago Calatrava’s Zubi Zuri Bridge and Paloma Airport, Isozaki’s Towers, Norman Foster’s Tube entrances and of course the Guggenheim built by Frank Gehry.
By day the city is full of life and excitement; the beautiful streets become full of life, as well as the promenades like Abandoibarra walk, which take you all along the riverside, and the green parks with locals taking a stroll or rushing by. Do try the typical “Pintxos” and the local white wine called Txakoli. For a real insider experience, head to the Plaza Nueva, full of traditional bars. But if you prefer something new and exclusive make sure you try El Bitoque restaurant (Rodriguez Arias, 32. Tel. +34 944 418 830), a very cosy place that has reinvented the traditional Bilbao Pintxo concept.
Apart from sightseeing, Bilbao is also great for shopping as it has a wide variety of luxury shops with the best trends and latest fashions. If its high-end brands you’re looking for head to Echegoyen (Alameda Recalde, 46. Tel. +34 944 436 288), which carries exclusive designs for women from brands like Prada, Lanvin, Marni, Jil Sander, Stella McCartney and Marc Jacobs and is the city’s reference of luxury. Other multibrand shops include Moca (Gran Via De Diego López De Haro 41 and 43. Tel. +34 944 168 489), which has three of the trendiest stores in town dedicated to different concepts: Le Jour, Couture and Complementos, located right in the city centre and with the exclusivity of brands like DKNY, Tom Ford, Joseph, Michael Kors, Tory Burch and Barbara Bui.
Another fashionista favourite is Voga (General Concha, 6. Tel. +34 944 210 561), where you’ll find feminine and elegant clothes. Very stylish and beautifully decorated it’s the perfect place where to choose a party look, wedding outfit or an everyday style with brands like Celine B, Virgine Castaway, Missoni Mare, Tony Cohen, Baum und PFerdgarden, Fairly and the Spanish BDBA and Dolores Promesas. When it comes to sporty, casual and comfortable Italian fashion, we love Frankobollo (General Concha, 6. Tel. +34 944 443 434) right next door. In this shop you can find the brands Napapijri and North Sails, for women, men and children. If it is custom jewellery you are after, then your best bet is The Closet (Ledesma, 18. Tel. +34 944 352 852), a new fashion Mecca that stocks Patricia Nicolás and Kenneth Jay Lane.
The good thing about small cities like Bilbao is that you can easily find what you are looking for. However, when time is limited and patience is wearing thin, the best option is to be personally taken care of. City Shopping (Tel. +34 679 448 013) is one of the best options for exclusive and personalised guided shopping tours. Their expert stylists will take you to the trendiest places and help you find what you need.
If you are in town on business, nothing better for after-work drinks than the Orilla Café and Bar at the trendy Hesperia Bilbao Hotel (Campo Volantin, 28. Tel. +34 94 405 11 00) located near the Guggenheim. Great for a cocktail and light snacks. Come evening, it is time for a little relaxing and a long drink. We recommend you head straight to the The Marina of Getxo. Here you will find the neoclassic Caserio, a typical Basque house reconverted into a boutique hotel, that has one of the best views of the port from its terrace, as well as an exquisite restaurant (Hotel Embarcadero Avda. Zugazarte, 51 Las Arenas, Tel. +34 944 803 100). Take a stroll along the marina and sit at one of the open air cafes, before returning to the city to get ready for a nice evening meal.
Bilbao is a city known for its amazing cuisine. Before going out for dinner, the streets are packed with people standing outside and having an ‘aperitivo’. The best drinks to ask for are Marianitos, Zuritos, Txikitos and Txakoli. Splash & Crash at the five star Domine Hotel (Alameda Mazarredo, 61. Tel. +34 944 253 300) is perfect for a pre-dinner cocktail. A few of our favourite restaurants are right in the centre, Public Lounge, (Henao, 54. Tel. +34 944 052 824) is trendy and sophisticated. The decoration is a fusion of styles. They expertly mix Barovier & Toso lamps with pieces from Philippe Starck, Karim Rashid & Versace. We also love La Kikara (Iparraguirre, 23. Tel. +34 944 236 840) a new ‘concept’ restaurant with live DJ performances.
After a great day all you need is a good rest and where better than Hotel Meliá Bilbao (Lehendakari Leizaola, 29. Tel. +34 94 428 0000) right next to Abandoibarra walk and the river, has a great cosmopolitan atmosphere, one of the best breakfasts in the city and a semi-indoor pool, perfect for a relaxing swim after a very busy stay. Enjoy!
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