“DESDE SANTURCE A BILBAO, VENGO POR TODA LA ORILLA” [“FROM SANTURCE TO BILBAO ALL ALONG THE RIVER BANK I WALK” – lyrics of a popular local song]
Santurtzi stands at the mouth of the river estuary, just 20 minutes from the centre of Bilbao by Metro or light railway.
The overground train has the advantage over the Metro that passengers can see evidence of the area’s industrial past as they travel through the towns in Bilbao’s metropolitan area.
Another way of travelling between Santurtzi and Bilbao city centre is to take one of the regular sailings by EL BOTE TOURS.
Learn more about the history of the city as the boat follows the route along the banks taken by local fishwives selling sardines and also affords views of the area’s industrial heritage.
The Old Town is just a few minutes’ walk from the rail terminal at Abando and from the Pío Baroja dock opposite City Hall, where the boat moors.
A stroll through “the seven streets” takes you through the origins of Bilbao. You can see the remains of the old city wall and such unique constructions as the church of San Antón, the Cathedral of Santiago, the Arriaga Theatre and the Plaza Nueva square.
The visit also includes the La Ribera market, recognised by the Guinness Book of Records as one of Europe’s largest covered markets. A wide variety of top quality products typical of Basque cuisine can be purchased there.
The streets of the Old Town are buzzing with activity. There are over 400 small businesses offering products of all types, popular with locals and tourists alike.
The Old Town is also renowned for its bars, with their huge range of tasty, colourful pintxos or bar snacks.
In Bilbao most things are within walking distance, but you can also take a bus, Metro or tram to see the main sights.
On leaving the Old Town you can stroll along the river bank or head for the Main Street, known as Gran Vía.
Bilbao: elegant and classical
Watched over by the statue of Don Diego López de Haro, Gran Vía is the heart of the Ensanche district. It is always teeming as it crosses squares named after renowned historical personages, and its fine buildings denote the burgeoning middle-class spirit in which they were built. The Provincial Council Building (Palacio de la Diputación), the Sota Building, the Lezama Leguizamón Building and the Palacio Chávarri building on Plaza Moyúa are just a few examples of its fine architecture.
Recent additions to the city’s architecture have placed it on the cutting edge. Frank O. Gehry (Guggenheim Museum), Norman Foster (Bilbao Metro), Santiago Calatrava (Zubizuri Bridge and Bilbao International Airport), César Pelli (Iberdrola Tower), Ricardo Bastida and Philippe Starck (Azkuna Zentroa- Alhóndiga Bilbao cultural centre); Arata Isozaki (Isozaki Towers), Rafael Moneo (Deusto Library), Dolores Palacios and Federico Soriano (Palacio Euskalduna concert hall and convention centre and Plaza Bizkaia building) are just some of the major names who have put Bilbao on the world map for architecture.
The city’s Metro entrances are even known locally as fosteritos in honour of their designer Sir Norman Foster.
A brief stroll through the Ensanche district reveals a fascinating blend of classical architecture and cutting-edge structures.
There is a FUNICULAR railway to the viewing balcony on top of Mount Artxanda.
Just 100 m from the Zubizuri footbridge, halfway between the Guggenheim Museum and the Old Town, stands the Artxanda Funicular Railway, a must for anyone who wishes to enjoy spectacular views of Bilbao in a setting of gardens and paths.
The Bilbao tourist office offers GUIDED TOURS of the Old Town and Ensanche districts to help visitors learn more about the history and main attractions of the city.