A 30.000 pies por viajeros para viajeros

A route through Bilbao

The route starts in the Siete Calles area, in the pedestrian streets that alternate the more classical shops with the more innovative and brimming with bars and restaurants to sample the very best in Basque cuisine.

This metropolitan area has an outstanding architectural and monumental heritage, with civil and religious buildings of great interest and where the bars and shops truly come to life. El Arenal of Bilbao is the best Gateway to the city’s Old Town and its bridge, a watchtower over the Teatro Arriaga, a great centre of Bilbao’s cultural life, built by Joaquín Rucoba and Octabio de Toledo, who took inspiration from the Paris Opera in its creation.

We enter the Siete Calles through the Arenal and, at 2 calle Fueros, we encounter Lautxo, a small shop specialising in all types of take-away croquettes and cannelloni. The huge selection of croquettes includes Basque style cod, prawn and mushroom, baby squid cooked with onion, and chorizo, and the cannelloni delicacies include leek, Idizabal and mushroom.

To eat we were recommended to try Kasko, a colourful restaurant with oak columns offering modern cuisine combined with Basque products. It offers menus to suit all budgets.

Strolling around the Siete Calles you will come across interesting shops such as lu:la, in plaza Santiago s/n, which sells beautiful shoes, the latest fashion and one-off accessories. Another of the shops that caught our attention in the Old Quarters was La Casa del Yogur of Bilbao. Located at 2 calle Víctor, this outlet specialises in dairy products from Cantabria made from 100% natural yoghurt.

The Plaza Nueva, which is built in a defined neoclassical style and with 64 arches supported by Grecian columns, is teeming with bars. We loved Víctor Montes, with its huge array of pinchos (brochettes), but you can lose yourself in any of the many lively, popular bars and establishments in the square.

At number 2 Calzadas de Mallona, you will find the Archaeological Museum which houses the Basque Country history in a chronological route from prehistoric ages to the modern age.

Climbing the 213 steps of Mallona which start in the plaza Unamuno, takes you to the Basílica de Begoña, passing by the cemetery of Mallona. This stretch forms part of the Route of St. James via the Costal Route. From the viewing point you have the best views over the old quarters. And for the lazy, you have the alternative of going up in the Begoña lift.

Most noteworthy in the Etxebarria Park is the old chimney which still remains intact on the Aceros Echevarría steel factory. This is due to the fact that many of the industries were located inside the city.

Going down, you arrive at the river where you will find the Mercadillo del Nervión, a curious shop selling second hand items. Antiques, rarities and a little bit of everything. If you are a lover of vintage clothing, you must visit the market on calle Dos de Mayo which takes place on the first Saturday of every month. Here you can find second hand and new clothes, old vinyl, vintage furniture and much more.

Bordering the estuary we come across Zubizuri, which means “white bridge” in the Basque language, it is also known as the Campo de Volantín Pedestrian Bridge or Calatrava Bridge, which has become the new symbol of Bilbao.

Continuing along the path through Volatinse country you come to the plaza del Funicular which will take you up to Artxanda. The funicular railway was built in 1913 and during the journey which lasts a few minutes, you will pass through Ciudad Jardín (Garden City), an area of pretty houses with beautifully kept gardens.

A Artxanda has always been considered the lungs of Bilbao because the town was formerly the location of a lot of industry and the air wasn’t as clean as it is nowadays.

Once you are up there you will come across a park with grass, a children’s play area and a picnic area where the Bilbao inhabitants go up to sunbathe and relax after having lunch in one of the rotisseries. There are three good restaurants to eat in, the Sidrería Artxanza cider bar with a menu of cod tortilla. fried cod and drink for €28, the restaurante Txacolí with typical Bilbao cuisine and the restaurante Antón.

 Picture by kurtxio

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