Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Bilbao’s iconic Guggenheim Museum Bilbao along with its more recent guardian, The Puppy.
The Puppy was a creation by American artist Jeff Koons that was originally temporary but locals loved it and demanded the kaleidoscopic, floral hound be made a permanent attraction. And so it came to be.
And by the way, this Guggenheim museum is covered with very pricey titanium, not steel.
Why visit Bilbao?
Abando Indalecio Prieto Rail Station. Photo by Jordi Paya.
Or Bilbo as it’s spelled in the Basque language (which, btw, is called Euskera), is a large and lively city in the Basque Country of north Spain. It isn’t on the coast – which is about 14 kms to the north – so the city doesn’t have beaches like neighbouring San Sebastian or Santander, but it does have a river running through it – known mainly as the River Nervión but possibly/historically as Ibaizabal (wide river in Basque). Riverside walks are pleasant, easy and offer plentiful sights, old and new.
• parking is in short supply though there is a good underground park beside the Guggenheim. Best to get to Bilbao by train and then swing the legs into action.
• the weather spends a lot of time at the grey end of the colour spectrum, especially in winter but summer leans towards monochrome too.
Beaches? Nope. Oh well, the riverbank makes a fine promenade and you could take a swim in the bizarre Alhondiga swimming pool.
Some people have suggested beaches at Sopela, past Getxo, about 20 kms from Bilbao, and at Castro-Urdiales, west of Bilbao. Also Plentzia, which is popular due to fact that the metro terminates there and it hosts a good selection of restaurants. Then there is Bakio beach that is favoured by surfers. We haven’t been there so can’t comment.
Alternatively drive an hour to Santander for half a dozen magnificent city beaches with all facilities and great sand, though you may have trouble finding a place to park if you arrive later than about 10 am.