Bilbao – a home away from home

Coming from Sheffield I feel a lot of affinity for Bilbao; a former industrial hell-hole based on steel making that has reinvented itself to be a very liveable and chilled out city. Both cities have similarly sized populations (around half a million) as well as quite similar rainy weather and underachieving football teams that play in red and white stripes.

AC Bilbao

That said, the architecture, both modern and old, is a lot better in Bilbao where the city council seems to be much more forward thinking.


Bilbao is also the capital of one of Spain’s major culinary regions and eating well is a local obsession, whereas in Sheffield we are more concerned about the contents of our pint glasses.

Art Deco Station front




Bilbao also has a metro. The entrances were designed by Sir Norman Foster. Locals call them ‘Fosteritos’.


This was my third time in Bilbao. I’ve been in June 2012, July 2013 and June 2016. However, please don’t consider these posts as an exhaustive guide to the best restaurants in this gastronomic mecca. I have been to a lot of good ones, but there are plenty I haven’t had time to try.

Lovely building near Placa Nueva

You’ll find my Google map here and a guide to the neighbourhoods here.

I’ve organised my posts as follows:

Bilbao – General (this post)
Bilbao – Abando
Bilbao – Abando – The Guggenheim
Bilbao – Casco Viejo
Bilbao – Casco Viejo – Plaza Nueva
Bilbao – San Francisco
Bilbao – La Vieja
Bilbao – Getxo

I’ve stayed in two hotels here. In 2016 my employer put me up at the Hotel Zenit Bilbao which was slightly out of the way, but still only twenty minutes’ walk to the Guggenheim or the Casco Viejo. The rooms are modern and the breakfast is quite good.

On previous occasions I stayed at the Abba Parque now known as the Ilunion . It was a bit faded but quite handy for the bus station.

A friend likes the Hotel Domine It’s pricey but the rooftop breakfast bar overlooks the puppy in front of the Gugenheim which makes it worth the money he says.


Photos uploaded September 2012.
Photos for other posts uploaded February 2014 and October 2017.

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