IL editor Glynna Prentice is in Bilbao, on Spain’s northern coast. Bilbao is one of the country’s biggest cities. It’s also a major industrial center and port. But Bilbao is also a very livable city.
About 15 years ago the city kicked off a major urban renewal with the inauguration of the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum. A branch of the New York museum franchise, the Bilbao Guggenheim has been hailed as the first architectural masterpiece of the 21st century. The museum, whose gleaming titanium hull and rounded form recalls Bilbao’s ship-building heritage, has been a link between the old and the new Bilbao.
Today the city has extensive green park spaces and boardwalks (known as paseos marítimos) along the estuaries that thread through Bilbao. These make it easy to traverse the center on foot (you can walk from one end of central Bilbao to the other in a half hour or less).
Don’t want to walk? Bilbao has an efficient and inexpensive public transportation system of buses, metro, and trams. For about a dollar you can take the metro all the way to the end of the two main lines…both of which end at beach areas that are 30-60 minutes from the center.
Bilbao also has a centuries-old casco viejo, or historic center. Today this area’s cobbled streets are largely pedestrian. The buildings, with their signature enclosed balconies, house apartments on their upper floors and, at ground level, are home to restaurants, bars, and shops that bustle with life.
For its level of sophisticated urban life that it offers, Bilbao is relatively affordable. You can find small apartments in the casco viejo starting at about $150,000. For $250,000 or so you can find cozy two-bedroom apartments in many areas of town, including in some parts of Portugalete, Santurce and Plentzia, the seaside areas near the beaches.
In this video you will see:
- Sweeping views of the Bilbao Guggenheim and the park-lined estuaries that run around central Bilbao
- The streets and shops of the casco viejo
- The Plaza Nueva in the old city
- The estuaries and the attractive water-side housing in Santurce and Portugalete, 30 minutes or less by metro from central Bilbao
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