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Northern Spain Basque Recommendations

My wife and I are in our mid-60's and will be in Bilbao from May 17-22. What should we we see in Bilbao and the surrounding area, how should we travel and where should we eat? We have heard that Basque cuisine is to die for.....

Posted by
2516 posts

There is a pretty vibrant Pintxos scene around the Casco Viejo area of Bilbao. And the fisherman's towns along the coast, like Lekeitio, will have plenty of fresh seafood too. If you want to see some sights beyond the big cities I'd recommend renting a car and using Bilbao as a home base.

Posted by
20843 posts

San Sebastian is much more touristy than Bilbao (I preferred the latter), but it also has a very active (if tourist-infested) tapas-bar scene located in the historic center. Setting aside the question of food (because I like it but am not all that focused on it), other interesting places to visit in the Basque Country are the town of Hondarribia (restaurants along the waterfront, medieval district on the hill) and the interior capital of Vitoria-Gasteiz (large hilltop medieval district). Few tourists make it to Vitoria-Gasteiz, which makes a nice change from San Sebastian.

Posted by
198 posts

I´m a Bilbao local, and would recommend the following: in Bilbao, the old quarter, the Ribera market, the funicular train to Artxanda hill for the best views, Azkuna Zentroa and the main streets, with beautiful architecture. Obviously, the Guggenheim museum and the Fine Arts museum. From Bilbao, you have an easy ride on the metro to the Puente Bizkaia, something unique in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Monument. On public transport you can ride to Gernika and visit our CAsa de Juntas, one of the oldest Parliaments in the world, and one of the reasons John and John Quincy Adams came here in 1780...Lekeitio is a must, as well as Plentzia. You may want to go to San SEbastian too, easy ride by bus, one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

Pintxos are never a meal for us locals. The local way is to go to a bar, have a drink with ONE pintxo, and then move on to next place and choose another pintxo with another drink, and so on. But we don´t make a pintxos meal, ever, it´s an appetizer before lunch or before dinner. There´s no such thing as pintxos restaurants, all of them offer different ones and they are miniature high cuisine, of all kinds. We mainly drink Rioja wine, it´s affordable (less than 2eur a glass of excellent wine), which is just one hour drive from Bilbao.