Just signed up for the Basque tour and looking for suggestions for travel after the tour ends in Bilbao. Does Bilbao warrant a few extra days after the tour? Will probably be flying home from Paris (CDG). Best way to get back to Paris from Bilbao? Thanks for any guidance or suggestions.
Bilbao has a good Fine Arts Museum (in addition to the Guggenheim) and a very nice, large historic district (Casco Viejo). I found it an attractive city to walk around. Places you could day-trip to include:
- Interior capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz with a large hilltop medieval district and several art museums. Very non-touristy.
- Bermeo, a small coastal town
- Lekeitio, another coastal town a bit farther east; it's mentioned in a lot of guidebooks but I haven't been there and haven't researched the availability of public transportation.
The Basque countryside is scenic. I enjoyed taking the train from San Sebastian to Bilbao, though it takes considerably longer than the bus. But you may already have seen a good bit of Basque scenery by the time you get to the end of your trip.
I'd think flying would be the simplest way to get from Bilbao to Paris. Check for flights on skyscanner.com. If you want to avoid flying, you'll need to get to Bayonne to pick up a TGV. Whether that would best be done by train, by bus or by some combination of the two I do not know. You can explore options on Rome2Rio.com, but just use that website to identify the bus companies and rail companies you might need to use and go directly to their websites for schedules and fares.
As a Bilbao local, I´d recommend at least a couple of days in Bilbao. Not too big, walkable, with a lovely old quarter, the obvious Guggenheim museum and the Fine Arts. Also, a 1915 funicular that takes you to Artxanda hill for the best views of the city. The unique Bizkaia Bridge (a hanging bridge, UNESCO World Heritage) at a 20´ distance on the underground (clean, reliable, efficient), the beaches and mansions of Getxo, and side trips to Plentzia, Bermeo, Lekeitio (all very easy on public transport). Also, Azkuna Zentroa, the amazing transformation of an old wine warehouse into a beautiful civic center. And the architecture of the city is worth the visit. Of course, I may be biased, but it´s all about how this city has been radically transformed from an industrial town into a green, clean, lovely city.
Portugalete is nearby. It's picturesque little town with a cool suspension bridge. You can take an elevator to the top (I mean, the top!).
Portugalete can be easily reached by bus from Bilbao. The bridge is an engineering marvel.
Close to Bermeo is Gaztelugatxe, a Game of Thrown site.
Guernica is quaint and attractive.
Zamaia's Geopark has unspoiled coastal 'flysch'.