When I first visited the Basque Country, back in 1991, one of the things that was immediately very clear was the rivalry between Bilbao and Donostia. Donostia was the elegant city with the beautiful beaches. Bilbao was the industrial powerhouse that had suffered for that industry, with a dirty river and generally unappealing character.
Since that time, I’ve gone back to the Basque Country every 3-4 years and the transformation of Bilbao has been dramatic. The river is cleaned up with a very nice walk the hugs the river. The downtown, while always charming, has become more vibrant. And, with the Guggenheim, clearly Bilbao is more of a tourist destination than it ever was before.
So, I like Bilbao. I like Donostia too. To me, they are opposite sides of the coin, with very different feels and things to offer.
To help you the next time you visit Bilbao, there is now an app called “Guia iLike Bilbao“, for Android, that will let you get around Bilbao, on your own, and discover the best Bilbao has to offer. It seems that much of the information is also on the website, but that doesn’t help as much as you wander the back streets of a big city. The app will give you the history, the sites, the best places for food and drink, and much more.
If anyone uses this app to tour Bilbao, let me know what you thought!