10 Day Trip to Spain: Bilbao & San Sebastian

As part of our 10 day trip to Spain, we planned a quick day trip to Bilbao & San Sebastian. We took a 7am flight from Barcelona to Bilbao. We spent time in Bilbao, but also rented a car to drive to San Sebastian. It was a quick excursion; we were able to take a 10:15pm flight back to Barcelona.  

It was quite a day trip!

Bilbao’s Art Scene

Bilbao is located in the Basque region of Spain and is a newly rejuvenated city. After Bilbao built the Guggenheim Museum in 1997, the city saw a large increase in tourism, prompting the city to develop itself as a city for the arts.

The overall structure and design of the museum is an incredible piece of artwork, which you simply cannot miss! Many people think that the building itself is better to look at than the art inside!

Still, we did take the opportunity to explore the artwork inside. Many of them were… interesting. For example, the desk turned over on its side with a cabinet glued to it really inspired us to start gluing items from our house together :/ We weren’t sure what this piece was meant to represent, but we had fun drawing conclusions… Was there more to it that we just didn’t see? Did he not have enough room in his house to have them coexist separately? 

But, sometimes the genius of art lies in the mystery of its meaning. So, we were content to leave it at that and move on to our next destination.

On the Menu in San Sebastian: Pintxos (Yum!)

The weather started to turn sour and it ended up being our worst weather day during the entire trip. We drove to San Sebastian early, in hopes that the rain would clear up on our drive. We walked around the city located on the water, and hiked up to Monte Urgell, which gave us beautiful views.

For lunch, we had a Basque region specialty: pintxos (pronounced “pinchos,” which we also had for breakfast in Bilbao). Pintxos are like finger food tapas, and people say they are the best in San Sebastian. They are usually served cold on a slice of bread. One of the novelties about pintxos bars in the Basque region is that you don’t order the pintxos, you take them right from the bar and are charged for whatever you take.  Some of the delicious pintxos we ate included eggplant, tomatoes, ham, shrimp, fish, peppers, cheese…

Since it was still POURING rain, we hopped into the aquarium to dry off. This gave us a nice reprieve, and there was a lot of cool aquatic life to see. I could easily see this as a great place to bring kids.

Reflections on a Day Trip Well Spent

Later, we drove back to Bilbao and walked around the old town. It was about 6:00pm on a Sunday evening, so a lot of the stores were closed. But, we enjoyed looking at the old buildings and churches. We ducked into a small pintxos bar, had a couple bottles of wine, laughed, cried, and enjoyed each other’s company. 

We are thrilled that we were able to spend the day in the Basque region of Spain. It was a perfect quick excursion as part of our overall 10 day trip to Spain. Despite the rain we were able to explore two great cities, experience a different language, and eat some of the best food we had on our entire trip!

Soon it was a short flight back to Barcelona, and a good night’s sleep prepared us for the next day and our next stop, Valencia!