Bilbao, the capital of the world.

Although I’m sure you probably weren’t aware of it, Bilbao is the capital of the world.

“Where?” you might be asking. “The world has no capital!” You may scoff, but according to many people, the largest city in the Basque Country, Bilbao, is the capital of the world. Sure, it’s just their self-promotion and way of feeling better about the fact that the actual capital of País vasco is “Vitoria-Gasteiz” an hour to the south.

Although it may not be the actual “capital of the world” or even the autonomous community of País vasco, Bilbao is the capital of one of Spain’s most gorgeous provinces, Vizcaya (officially Bizkaia). It is home to the Guggenheim Museum which attracts many tourists.However, the Guggenheim, while a very pretty building , is not close to capturing the real allure of the town.Bilbao has a population of around 350,000 people, but it is classified as a “villa”, not a city, due to ancient classifications.

The capital is situated in the North of Spain, inside The Basque Country in the mouth of Bilbao’s  Sea Inlet. Several years from now, the colors which predominated were sad such as grey in consequence of the abundance of industrialization. Among these last years, Bilbao has changed drastically. It is the perfect place to travel to for the tourits, firstly, because of its small size that allows to be visited in a few days, and secondly, for the reason that there is something to  visit in every single corner. Nevertheless it is the Guggenheim museun what attracts the most in the city, moreover, it is the reference point of Bilbao. It was built by Frank Gehry and represents an incredible example of the most avant-garde of the XXth century.

A part of the fantastic buildings, reataurants, monuments, comercial centers etc… the good environmet present in the city gives more magic to it, they are nice people known as loyals and lovers of Bilbao who feel that Bilbao is the most beautiful and best city all over the world, because of that, the “Bilbainos” call it “The Capital of the World”. The gastronomy is other component which contributes to make the city more atractive the tipycal dishes are “Bacalao a la Vizcaina, Bacalao al Pil-Pil, Marmitako and Talo with chistorra”. The last one is very common to eat in the most famous week of the year which the “Aste Nagusia” is celebrated.

1. Foodies Heaven

With over 40 Michelin-starred restaurants in Bilbao and the surrounding Basque country, a weekend visit is not long enough for a serious foodie. In fact the area can claim more Michelin-starred restaurants than anywhere else in Europe. Just outside of Bilbao, off the airport road, Azurmendi by Chef Eneko Atxa was the first restaurant in the province to achieve three Michelin stars (held since 2013). There are three others in the Basque country, all in San Sebastian. If you only have time for one Michelin starred experience in Bilbao, Mina Restaurante is a must. This worthy recipient of a Michelin star (awarded from 2013), serves only 38 guests at six tables and at the bar each evening. Chef Álvaro Garrido opened Mina in 2006 with his partner Lara Martín in a beautifully converted warehouse on the river in the old town.

How cute is this lovely, historic cafe? It’s one of the most beloved meeting points in Bilbao for a coffee and pastry, and is also famous for its kebabs. The beautiful mosaic tiles make for a scenic photograph.The historic Cafe Iruna has a lovely Moorish decor. Don’t leave without trying the popular Moroccan lamb skewers, prepared on an inside barbecue. Bar Bacaicoa on Plaza Miguel de Unamuno has been serving grilled chorizo and mushroom pinxtos for over 50 years.

Also not to be missed is Guretoki on Plaza Nueva where the pulpo and softshell crab are essential.

2. Vizcaya Bridge, the world’s first transporter bridge built in 1893 near Bilbao

Slightly further afield but easily reachable by Norman Foster’s RIBA award-winning Metro, is the Vizcaya Bridge, a World Heritage site. Built in 1893 and the first of its kind, this remarkable ‘hanging bridge’ links the towns of Portugalete and Las Arenas crossing the mouth of the Nervion River. The bridge is more commonly known as Puente Colgante (the hanging bridge) because it features a gondola suspended by steel cables that can transport 6 cars and about 30 foot passengers across the river in a minute and a half.

3. Old Town – Getxo

Barely half an hour from Bilbao, this picturesque Puerto Viejo, the Old Port of Algorta, a beautiful small seaside town. Little white cottages cluster together by the sea, with fishing boats and bars and restaurants along the harbour.

4 . Mercado de la Ribera

The biggest covered market in Europe, this busy market is a great place for food lovers and food photographers alike. From Galician seafood to Iberian sausages and the most colourful fruit and veg, it’s a real feast for the senses.

5.  Zugaztieta Park – La Arboleda

This scenic spot is the old mining town of the Basque region, which is now a popular picnic and hiking location. The former mines are now artificial reservoirs surrounded by a green environment, ideal for fishing. Just remember, it’s not safe to go swimming here.

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