Bilbao in One Day
The best walking itinerary in Bilbao is from the historical quarter or Casco Viejo. And the best place to start your walking tour is at the Arriaga Theatre a monument to the past wealth of Bilbao, the interior will dazzle you with its unparalleled beauty.
From the theatre wander on down Bidebarrrieta Street past the Municipal Library and the former Palace of Liberties to the Cathedral on the Plaza de Santiago and enter the very foundation of the city the Casco Viejo, where the essence of Bilbao will enchant you. The area is filled with shops, bars, architecture and art housed in the many museums of the quarter. When you enter the cathedral you enter into a time of sea voyages when seamen manned the ships filled with wool from Castile and iron from Bizkaia to return again with fabrics and other exotic cargoes from foreign lands.
Leave the Cathedral by way of the Door of the Angel out into the Seven Streets: Somera, Artecalle, Tendería, Belosticalle, Carnicería Vieja, Barrenkale and Barrenkale Barrena. Be ready to lose yourself among the happy people of Bilbao in the shops, bars, and ancient facades.
The Seven Streets will take you to the Ribera, the bank overlooking the estuary here you take the Ribera footbridge to a different side of Bilbao – Bilbao la Viejo – The area is as old as the quarter you have just left behind you, but here you will discover the ‘Best Market in Europe’ on the Marzana quay, the Mercado de La Ribero. The building is amazing, looking like a ship about to set sail down the river to the sea it is filled with all that delights the chef and good housekeeper. After discovering the delights of the Mercado de La Ribera you are able to visit the church of San Antón, guardian of the city and the bridge.
On then to Ronda Street where you will see sections of the old city’s wall and continue on to the Portal de Zamudio gateway. From here you can pop into the Church of Santos Juanes before heading on to the Plaza Miguel de Unamuno, with the Steps of Mallona which seems to lead onward and upward forever, until you reach Sombrerería Street and into the Plaza Nueva.
Now it’s mid-morning and it’s time for a little refreshment and time to catch your breath while you watch the passing parade under the arches at a friendly bar or small café.
Having rested, you now head through the Correo Street arch and back into the bustling and thriving area that precedes the Arenal, the green heart of Bilbao’s old city. Here you can meander among the walks and admire the fountains and the river as you head to the Ayuntamiento Bridge which you cross to arrive at the Plaza Venezuela. Then on down Aires Street and Colon de Larreátegui Street into the Albia Gardens. Here it is time to stop for a few minutes and just absorb the beauty of the gardens before your enter the Ensanche area, the area of cuisine; the area where food is an art form and where you are guaranteed to find a delightful spot for a well-earned lunch.
Lunch in the Ensanche and on to an afternoon at the Guggenheim
Now there is the purpose in your step as you cross Ledesma and reach the Gran Via, the main shopping street of Bilbao. A little window shopping on your way to the Plaza Moyúa where you can stop for a while by the central fountain to take in the convergence of roads, both old and new; from the mountains and from every corner of Bilbao. Then on down Alameda Recalde, you make your way to La Salve Bridge with its new red arch. There before is the Guggenheim in all its glistening splendour waiting to enfold you and take you from one wondrous moment to the next.
Your tour has been one that has taken you through the centuries from the Middle Ages to the very best of the 21st century.