Art, gastronomy, avant-garde… Although small in size, the capital of Bizkaia has a lot to offer its visitors. Any day is a good day to walk through its lively streets, but the last day of the week has a special atmosphere you don’t want to miss. If you plan on visiting the Basque Country, this stop is an absolute must. So, today at Civitatis, we’d like to offer some tips as to what to do on a Sunday in Bilbao. Don’t miss out on a thing!
Explore the Siete Calles of the historic center
If you’re not sure what to do on a Sunday in Bilbao, getting lost in the streets of the old town is a great plan. Did you know that the original core of Bilbao was composed of three main streets? These were gradually extended to the famous Siete Calles (‘seven streets’).
After the floods that destroyed it in 1983, the old town was rehabilitated. Currently, the center houses a combination of classic and avant-garde shops, as well as many bars and restaurants where you can taste the best of the local gastronomy.
Getting lost in one of the Siete Calles, you’ll find unique corners, colorful houses, churches, palaces, and more. If you also decide to take the free tour of Bilbao, you’ll be amazed by the fascinating facts you’ll learn about the capital of Bizkaia.
Visit the Guggenheim Museum
Another plan that’s perfect for a Sunday in Bilbao is to visit the most famous museum in the Basque Country, and one of the most important in Spain. Check out the Guggenheim, the undisputed star of the city! Although it is not totally free from criticism, this peculiar museum of modern and contemporary art is an obligatory stop on your trip to Bilbao.
You can find the Guggenheim on the left bank of the river. The structure of the museum itself, debuted in 1997, is a work of art by the famous Frank Gehry. Even if you don’t go inside the museum, just walking around it you’re sure to be surprised by some of the works of art that surround it. On the private tour of the Guggenheim Museum, we’ll tell you stories and interesting facts about works such as the famous spider-shaped sculpture entitled “Mama”, by Louise Bourgeois, and the iconic “Puppy” by Jeff Koons, covered by almost 40,000 flowers!
Climb Mount Artxanda
Climbing Mount Artxanda is one of the most classic ways to spend a Sunday in Bilbao. And it comes as no surprise, with such spectacular views of the city, that this spot is ideal for some breathtaking sunsets.
You can ascend the mountain by car, but the most common way is to take the famous Artxanda funicular. From the top you can enjoy excellent panoramic views of Bilbao, overlooking the estuary, the Guggenheim Museum, the new San Mamés Stadium, the Iberdrola Tower and other iconic places in town.
Take a stroll through Plaza Nueva
Next on our list of what to do on a Sunday in Bilbao, we move to the largest and most important square in the historic center. Yes, it’s very similar to a lot of major squares in Spain, but the unique buildings of the Euskaltzaindia and the Royal Academy of the Basque Language will quickly remind you that you’re in the Basque Country.
Another of the wonders of this square is that it’s one of the best places to try some delicious pintxos. Be sure to visit Gure Toki or Café Bar Bilbao!
Plus, on Sundays, there’s an antiques market that takes place in this square. A very lively spot where you can buy, sell or exchange stamps, coins, banknotes, books and second-hand records – all kinds of fun collectibles!
Try the famous Basque pinxtos
Sundays are by far the best day to enjoy an aperitif. So, if you’re lost on what to do on a Sunday in Bilbao, we encourage you to go on a pintxo tour that will leave you with your mouth watering and your stomach full!
The excellence of Basque gastronomy is no secret. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that Bilbao is home to a large number of Michelin-starred restaurants. Basque cod al pil pil, Biscayan-style tripe, stuffed peppers, baby squid…. The options are endless!
But make sure to leave room for dessert! We recommend ending your meal with a carolina, a puff pastry tartlet covered with meringue and topped with egg yolk and chocolate, simply delicious!
Admire the Santiago Cathedral
Strolling through the old town of Bilbao, you’ll be amazed by the imposing Santiago Cathedral. Named after the patron saint of Bilbao, Santiago el Mayor, this temple is one of the Basque Country’s best examples of Gothic churches. It has also been dubbed a World Heritage Site since 2015.
Among the most outstanding artistic works of the cathedral are the chapels of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios, Nuestra Señora del Rosario, San Diego de Alcalá and Nuestra Señora de Begoña. You can also visit the choir, the main chapel, the cloister and other beautiful chapels that house a great legacy. If you want to discover all its history, we encourage you to take a guided tour through this iconic cathedral.
Cruise along the Ría
If you’re looking for something low-key to do on a Sunday in Bilbao, we give you the perfect plan: a boat tour of the Bilbao Estuary, known locally as the Ría de Bilbao.
The Guggenheim Museum, the Vizcaya Bridge, the port of Santurtzi…. Sailing the waters of Bilbao’s iconic Ría, you can appreciate the city from a whole new angle whilst disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of the city. Enjoy the best panoramic view of the estuary!
If you prefer to stick to land, you can also stroll along the shoreline of the estuary at sunset and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.