Beautiful Bilbao

posted in: Inspiration | 16


English people love Spain. Mainly the really hot parts of the South – Andalusia, and the Canary Islands (which are actually closer to southern Morocco) which stay warm through the winter months. I love Spain too, but there are so many other magnificent places to explore. Last weekend we went to the Basque Country, and stayed in Bilbao. This semi-autonomous region has its own language and culture and is one of the richest and most industrialised parts of Spain.

spanish regions map
Regions of Spain


The regeneration of the city and the area owns a great deal to the enormous infrastructure investments that have taken place over the recent period. The most iconic, and transcendent art work, is the Guggenheim. I cannot quite express what an impact this tremendous building has – similar to the Sydney opera house, or perhaps London’s St Paul’s cathedral. It is innovative, enormous, full of hope and energy, and a landmark that can be seen from all over the city. It sits on, and incorporates the river.  I absolutely loved the materials it was made from – shiny titanium, stone and glass. There is barely a straight line in the place. The glass panels that form windows and wrap around the lift are layered over each other like fish scales. If you get a chance to go and see it I really urge you to do so. We found a flight and two nights in a good hotel was achievable for less that £300 a person.

At the moment the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition drew us there, but I know that other amazing exhibitions will follow. I would also recommend the Fine Art Museum. The wide selection of Spanish and Basque art here gives a good insight into the culture and history of the country.

Here are a few other things you can enjoy.

Men in Basque Berets (similar to French ones, but bigger)

The food

The views

We also enjoyed a trip on the Funicular railway that turned out to be free of charge – either because it was Sunday, or it was its 100th anniversary. At the top you can see the Guggenheim, and look through a steel fingerprint. As a region that owes its wealth to steel there are many steel monuments – a very interesting one by Richard Serra inside the Fish gallery at the Guggenheim.

Also you can buy fabric. I will cover this in a future post. I loved the hot weather (up to 33 degrees, in October!), the very friendly and chatty locals and the fact that it is only 90 minutes from London. Go if you can.

Pastelerias for coffee and cake
Pastelerias for coffee and cake

16 Responses

  1. Natasha

    Can’t wait to hear more about his trip, Kate, as we are planning to visit the region at the start of next summer. You have further whet my appetite 🙂 Nice to see your blouse getting worn!

  2. Sheree

    We are so lucky in the UK. There are so many different cultures within an easy flight to us. In the 70s my husband and I took 7 weeks off work to drive around Spain, staying mainly in paradores. It was a fantastic experience.

  3. TamsinW-P

    Very interested in this Kate! Husband and I have a child free long weekend coming up in December and I was wondering about going to Bilbao. Not sure it will be warm enough in dec though!

    • fabrickated

      I am not sure we were expecting the hot sun, but it was very welcome Tamsin. Do let me know where you choose because most places are a bit chilly in December. One place we loved was the Finish wilderness – very cold – but stunning and uplifting.

  4. Kim Hood

    We’ve been to Barcelona and multiple other places in Spain but not Bilbao. It must go on the list as you made it look so appealing. That metal fingerprint is fabulous.

  5. Jane

    The Guggenheim looks spectacular and I love that steel fingerprint. Looking forward to hearing more about the fabric offerings in Bilbao. I think you chose the perfect setting for your embroidered blouse.

  6. mrsmole

    Been to the Guggi and it was fantastic. My relatives all came from that area and I have had the good fortune to spend 2 summers there and in Pamplona and Zaragoza eating and drinking with cousins and aunts and uncles and visiting graveyards to pay my respects to the dearly departed.Your blouse surely came in handy for that warm spell! Hope you were able to enjoy lots of pinxtos!

  7. rivergum

    I always wanted to see the Guggenheim in Bilbao, but have not made it there yet. The Gaudi buildings in Barcelona too. One day…

    Lucky you!

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