Private jet charter and flights to Bilbao
Bilbao has become something of an artistic powerhouse. Home to the ground-breaking Guggenheim Bilbao with its signature sweeping architecture, this former industrial port town has the perfect balance of old and new and is a great base for exploring Basque Country. Air Charter Service can whisk you to Bilbao in style on a private jet.
The riverside city of Bilbao lies inland from the Bay of Biscay in northern Spain and is the capital of Basque Country. Although the city has gone through a huge transformation in the last 20 years, it hasn’t lost its soul and you can still find plenty of reminders of its past. Casco Viejo is the small but atmospheric old quarter which sits on the eastern bank of the River Nervion. It’s seven main streets – or Las Siete Calles – are at the heart of the Old Town and are connected by narrow alleys. These historic roads are lovely to wander around and there are lots of independent shops to dip into.
At the northern edge of Casco Viejo is the neoclassical Plaza Nueva, which is enclosed by uniform 19th-Century buildings such as the former site of the Biscay government. The main building on the northern edge of the square is home to Euskaltzaindia – also known as the Royal Academy of the Basque Language – an institution that strives to protect this ancient dialect. Other highlights of the Old Town include the striking Santiago Cathedral – a huge place of worship with eclectic architecture from real Gothic to Gothic revival; the 15th-Century Church of Saint Anthony; and La Ribera Market which is one of the largest covered markets in Europe.
La Ribera Market is located by the waterfront, just across from the Bilbao la Viejo neighbourhood. This once-gritty part of town has become one of the coolest places to hang out. It’s all about striking street murals – the area has become an open-air gallery – and trendy boutiques, cafés and restaurants. This is a great place to head for food as you’ll find everything from Michelin-star fine dining to down-to-earth pintxos (Basque Country tapas) joints.
To the west of Bilbao la Viejo there used to be open land, but in the 19th Century the city grew rapidly and needed to expand. This area – La Ensanche – has become the city’s commercial and financial hub, where shiny glass buildings sit side by side with older Baroque, Gothic revival and Basque buildings. Historic landmarks include the Provincial Town Hall, the Olabarri Palace and the beautiful Concordia Railway Station.
You can’t talk about Bilbao for long before mentioning the Guggenheim Bilbao. This incredible museum changed the town’s fortunes when it was built in the late 1990s. You can’t miss it. It has a similar – but even more striking – exterior to New York’s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. There’s also a larger-than-life, flower-cloaked statue of a West Highland White Terrier standing guard outside. Inside, you can see an unrivalled collection of modern art as well as temporary exhibitions showcasing the work of today’s leading artists.
Before the Guggenheim, the town’s main museum was the Museum of Fine Arts, which opened in 1908. Here, you can see works from the 12th Century to the present day. Thanks to the ‘Guggenheim effect’, there are also many other museums and galleries that you can visit during your time in the city. A couple of the most popular attractions include the Euskal Museum which highlights the heritage and culture of the Basque people, and the Maritime Museum which tells the stories of the city’s seafaring past.
It’s not all about museums in Bilbao, though. Locals love heading to the Parque de Doña Casilda de Iturrizar to soak up the fresh air, wander around its French-style gardens and explore its grand avenues. For great views of the city and the surrounding mountains, take the funicular to the top of Artxanda Mountain. From here you can follow part of the Grand Recorrido 228, a hiking route that encircles the city.