Thanks to an earlier posting on this website, we discovered bilbaogreeters.com, an organisation that provides, free of charge, an English-speaking guide to Bilbao. The Guggenheim may be the initial draw for tourists, but there is much more to this fascinating city.
My top tip? Meet up with a guide as early as possible in your stay. Ours told us: where to eat outstanding seafood; how best to use the excellent public transport system;and what is worth seeing, apart from the "Guggy".
Don’t just dash into Bilbao to “do” the Guggenheim. Bilbao is a wonderful place to visit, full of beautiful buildings, independent shops, lovely views, terrific bars, gorgeous food – and above all, people as friendly as you could possibly wish. There is so much to the city that you could just wander around blindly for days, stumbling upon the delightful and the intriguing without fully realising what you’ve chanced upon. You could, too, plough your way through a list of sights, museums, galleries, churches, historical places etc, dutifully reading all the facts.
But there’s also another option which is much more rewarding and enjoyable, and that is to be taken around by a friend who knows the place. This is essentially what you will experience if you get in touch with Bilbao Greeters and, incredibly, it is free. All you have to do is contact them in advance with an idea of what you’re interested in (culture, bars, shops, markets, architecture, football, food, perhaps even nothing terribly specific), and a wonderfully friendly local volunteer will spend up to about four hours showing you the best Where and What and How as only someone local can.
On top of that though, you’ll be getting the privilege of unique insights into the life of the city as you chat with them, finding out all sorts of things that you hadn’t even noticed, getting a real feel for the place, and you’ll part feeling that a genuine friendship has been made. That was certainly our experience and we can truly say that our contact with bilbaogreeters.com was what made our holiday so enjoyable – if only there were people like this everywhere we went!
What’s so special about the pavement? Which is the best museum to visit (clue: It’s not the Guggenheim)? Where can I see people swimming overhead? How do you stop a wet brolly soaking the shop floor? The Bilbao Greeters answered these and other questions we had not asked, and they did it for free. Best of all though, they were such lovely people. You really can’t go wrong.
The Feve narrow gauge train service runs along the rugged northern coast from Bilbao through Santander, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. It stops at all the coastal towns as it plunges through ravines and tunnels.
It is very easy to hop on and off, no need to book, you can get several bikes on it easily and it is cheap. Even cheaper if you are over 60. A brilliant way to explore this dramatic coastline on public transport. You can also do the tourist thing and go on the Transcantabrico line which offers seven day trips, luxury accommodation, full board and excursions.
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