Bilbao is known as the financial capital of Basque Country. At first, I just planned to pass through on my way to San Sebastian. But then I saw pictures of the Guggenheim Museum, designed by Frank Gehry, and I knew I should see it. We had a pretty full itinerary, but I felt like we needed to at least spend one day in Bilbao.
Unfortunately, we didn’t have the best weather while we were in Bilbao, so we couldn’t just walk around and explore the city. We stayed at Hotel Miro Bilbao, located pretty much across the street from the Guggenheim. From our hotel room window, we could see the museum and the old town area was about a 15 minute walk.
Hotel Miro Bilbao
When we arrived at Hotel Miro, Alfonso, one of the friendliest front desk employees I have ever met, greeted us. We learned about the courtesy lounge that the hotel has in the lobby. It was stocked with tea/coffee and some snacks (including my favorite – gummies), that were all self-serve. We would definitely take advantage of this during our stay in Bilbao.
We headed up to our room, and like we were warned the room numbers were on the ground rather on the door. Just like the lobby, the room was very modern and stylish with very clean lines. I love the huge window and we had a great view of the Guggenheim.
Hotel Miro is located in the best area to stay in Bilbao. It is basically across the street from the Guggenheim Bilbao and just a short 10 minute walk to Bilbao Old Town. It doesn’t get much more convenient than that.
The bathroom was very nice too. The toilet was separate from the shower and vanity, which is always nice especially when you are sharing a room. The vanity section could be open to the rest of the room or closed off with a curtain, so you could watch tv while doing your makeup, if you wanted to. The bed was very comfortable, perfect for a siesta.
The hotel also has a small restaurant on the first floor. They serve what they call the brown bag breakfast, which includes fancy breads with artisan jams and honey. They also had fresh squeezed orange juice. It was a nice way to start the morning. If you are hungry for more, there is a menu with eggs and other items that you can order.
Visiting the Guggenheim Bilbao
Then we were off to the Guggenheim. We had already admired the architecture from our hotel room, but before we went in we had to check out the dog plant sculpture outside the museum. It is huge and you can’t get a sense of its size until you stand next to it. Then we went inside. They had an interesting umbrella check station. You hang your umbrella and lock it and take the key. After securing our umbrellas, we got our tickets and entered the museum. The Guggenheim museum price varies (check their website) but will be something around 10€ for adults.
It really is the perfect building for a modern art museum, it has Frank Gehry’s unique style. The atrium is very impressive. The windows give you a nice view of the river and the sculptures outside. I loved the tulips one, it was so colorful, which was nice on such a gloomy day.
Also in the atrium was one of my favorite exhibits in the museum. At first, it just looks like some light display on the wall, but you must go closer. You can actually go through it. On one side the lights are red and the other blue. It’s not just lights, they spell words. It is almost mesmerizing and at times it made you feel like you were moving when you weren’t. The artist is Jenny Holzer.
We were also very happy to see an exhibit from Richard Serra. We first became fans of Serra during our visit to DIA in Beacon last year. I love that his art is so interactive. You walk into each piece and you don’t know what is around the corner. There was a very informative video at the end of the exhibit. You can also view the exhibit from the balcony, which gives you a whole different perspective. I really enjoyed watching how others were experiencing the exhibit from above.
We also enjoyed the Andy Warhol exhibit (which is only there until October 2, 2016). It is a lot different than his works that I have seen at MOMA. “Shadows” is 102 similar but different canvas paintings hung side by side. There are a lot of different bright colors. You enter and your eyes follow the paintings around the large room.
As can be expected with contemporary art, some exhibits we just didn’t get or like, but overall the museum is definitely worth a visit. We had about two hours to spend at the museum, which was almost enough time to see all the Guggenheim Bilbao highlights. Then we had time for pintxos before our aqua wellness appointment back at Hotel Miro.
Aqua Wellness at Hotel Miro
We figured the spa would be a great way to end our one day in Bilbao and relax after what had been an amazing vacation in Spain. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. We went downstairs and the door was locked, so we went back to the front desk to get the key. Then we entered our own private water relaxation area. There was a steam room, jacuzzi, and fancy shower plus two really comfortable lounge chairs.
We started in the steam room and then moved to the jacuzzi. Then it was time to hit the shower. It was one that had the rain shower head but also sprayed you from the wall. It was almost like a human car wash. After the shower, we had a little time to relax and enjoy some tea in the lounge chairs. It was a very relaxing experience.
I should add that by the time we had to head to the airport, the weather had totally cleared and the sun was out. Talk about bad timing! Well, we still enjoyed our one day in Bilbao and I hope to come back.
Have you been to Bilbao? I would love to hear about your experience and favorite places.
Expert Tips for Spending One Day in Bilbao:
- I would recommend allowing 2-3 hours to see the Guggenheim. Please note that photography is not allowed inside the Guggenheim.
- If you are looking for a gourmet restaurant, there are two at the Guggenheim.
No financial compensation was received, but Hotel Miro Bilbao did offer a discount on our stay and complimentary tickets to the Guggenheim. As always, opinions are my own.