The city of Bilbao is the main factor of the modernization of this region. The great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of the urban and economic regeneration. The Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference Centre, Norman Foster's Underground, Calatrava's airport, are all examples of the dynamism that exists in Bilbao. The city is surrounded by a fertile landscape with forests, mountains, beaches and steep coasts. All this makes Bilbao a privileged destination for visitors.
Bilbao also has two universities: the University of the Basque Country, which in spite of its youth, already enjoys a high level of academic achievement and research; and Deusto University, an institution which throughout this century has been the professional and intellectual alma mater to a considerable proportion of Spain's political and business leaders.
The cultural activities in Bilbao are irresistible, with two of the best art galleries in Spain, six museums and contemporary art exhibitions.
The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao has become the cultural and tourism driving force of the Basque Country. This spectacular building has been designed by Frank O. Gehry and built in 1997.
The Fine Arts Museum has a complete and priceless art gallery with three collections: old art (El Greco, Zurbarán, Goya or Van Dyck), contemporary art (Gauguin, Bacon or Tàpies) and Basque art (Regoyos, Zuloaga or Iturrino). The Basque Museum includes Basque prehistory and archaeology.
Sports events are another leisure option for visitors, with high-level football, basketball, cycling, rugby, sailing races, surfing, athletics… And, of course, the typical sports of the Basque Country, which are attractive because they are all spectacular. Basque sports and popular games are very close to traditional everyday activities –work that Basque people used to carry out and that served as leisure and competition amongst neighbours on recreation days: seeing who cuts more grass and more logs, who rows faster... Strength is measured by lifting large stones, in races loaded down with weights, tug of war... However, the most popular sport is "pelota vasca", with its different specialities such as "pelota a mano", "a pala" or "a cesta-punta", which can be enjoyed on pelota courts in every town, with betting to make the competition more interesting.
Bilbao is totally equipped to host any congress or professional meeting and to amply satisfy every possible requirement. It has played a historic role as a conference city, and is today a venue for numerous meetings in all sectors of the economy.
The evidence of this tradition is the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, which every year is hosts a number of important trade fairs. The Euskalduna Conference Hall and Auditorium is another key infrastructure in the city's conference activity, and has over 100 meeting rooms and a total area of 10,000 m².
Gastronomy is art in Bilbao. The city is home to prestigious restaurants which offer dishes ranging from traditional cuisine to the most avant-garde culinary creations.
Eating well is easy, almost an obligation. Top-quality ingredients are guaranteed as the local products are fist class. Bilbao is famous for being the capital of cod, because of the wide variety of mouth-watering recipes made with this fish. We recommend indulging in the local custom known as "chiqueteo" (having pintxos with a drink) in a few of the city's numerous bars before sitting down to have a meal.