At first sight, it might seem like Bilbao doesn’t have much to offer other than the Guggenheim museum it is famous for. This 718 year old industrial city does not quite have the reputation like Madrid, Cordoba, and Barcelona. And therefore does not attract the massive crowds. Which is always a bonus point in my book. The single reason Matthijs and I ended up here celebrating the seventh anniversary of our first date was the exotic sound of this city’s name. Bilbao. Not to long ago, I didn’t even know where it was. And now it has a tiny piece of my heart.

The moment we arrived, our hotel receptionist let us know we chose a perfect moment for our short getaway. They were experiencing the worst weather since 1950. If she is serious about that, Basque Country does not have a right to complain. Some showers and six degrees centigrade is perfectly normal where I live. So, we pulled the hoods of our rain coats over our heads, and went off to explore Bilbao and surroundings. The city feels warm and welcoming. The surrounding countryside is stunning. And the true Game of Thrones-fan – not me, I have not seen more than three seconds – can lift up their heart at three film locations within an one hour drive. However, do bring your hiking shes and a bottle of water. Those stairs you will see below are no joke.

What struck me most is the kindness and calmness of the people. Even during carnival there was no frantic chaos. They watched the parade, met with some friends at a bar, or had dinner with their loved one. At 10 pm. And they tried to communicate as good as the language barriers allowed. Which resulted in a mishmash of English, Spanish, a lot of smiling, and pointing at things. Bilbao was the best. Even when you’re not that big of a fan of modern art.

Do

Admire the architecture of the Guggenheim Museum
Wander around town
Eat pintxos
Visit the Bizkaia Zubia
Rent a car and visit the surrounding area,
for example Playa de Itzurun and San Juan de Gaztelugatxe