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Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
News article6 November 2023Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs3 min read

SME Assembly 2023 — A Little Guide to Bilbao

bilbao gugg

The SME Assembly 2023 is just around the corner, and this year, it's set to take place in the vibrant and culturally rich city of Bilbao. To help you make the most of your visit to this Spanish gem, we've prepared a little guide to highlight the best things to see, buy, eat, and drink in and around Bilbao.

What to See

Bilbao is a city that seamlessly blends tradition and innovation, and there's no shortage of fascinating sights to explore. Some must-visit places include:

  1. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao - A masterpiece of modern architecture designed by Frank Gehry, this iconic museum is a work of art in itself, showcasing contemporary and modern art exhibitions that will leave you inspired (Photograph above: Basque Government).
  2. Casco Viejo (Old Town) - Wander through the charming narrow streets of the Old Town, where you can explore historic buildings, quaint shops, and savour the local pintxos, a Basque version of tapas.
  3. Bilbao Fine Arts Museum - Home to an impressive collection of Basque and Spanish art, this museum offers an in-depth look at the region's cultural heritage.
  4. Puente de Vizcaya - This UNESCO World Heritage site is a unique transporter bridge, offering breath-taking views of the city and its surroundings.
  5. San Juan de Gaztelugatxe - A short drive from Bilbao, this picturesque islet boasts a hermitage perched on a hill, with a winding path leading to spectacular vistas of the Bay of Biscay.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
Gobierno Vasco; M.Arrazola EJGV


What to Buy

While in Bilbao, you'll discover an array of unique items to bring back home as souvenirs. Here are some of the best buys:

  1. Basque crafts - Explore the local markets and shops to find handcrafted Basque items, including woodwork, ceramics, and textiles.
  2. Basque cheeses - The Basque Country is renowned for its delicious cheeses, such as Idiazabal and Roncal. Don't forget to try some and bring a piece home.
  3. Basque wine - The region is also famous for its wine, so consider picking up a bottle or two of Rioja or Txakoli, a crisp white wine perfect for warm weather.
  4. Basque berets (Boinas) - These iconic Basque berets make for a stylish and practical accessory that's distinctly Basque.

What to Eat

Bilbao offers a delectable culinary experience, and you won't want to miss trying some of the local dishes:

  1. Pintxos - As mentioned earlier, Bilbao's version of tapas is a must-try. These small, flavourful snacks come in various forms and flavours, so don't hesitate to indulge in a pintxo crawl.
  2. Bacalao a la Vizcaína - A classic Basque dish, this codfish in a rich tomato and red pepper sauce is a taste of the region's heritage.
  3. Chuletón - If you're a carnivore, you'll love the Basque-style T-bone steak, perfectly grilled and seasoned.
  4. Pulpo a la Gallega - While not traditionally Basque, this Galician-style octopus is a local favourite and a must-try for seafood lovers.
basque food
Gobierno Vasco; M.Arrazola EJGV


What to Drink

Of course, no visit to Bilbao is complete without enjoying some local beverages:

  1. Basque cider (Sidra) - The Basque Country is known for its cider houses (sagardotegiak), where you can sample traditional cider served directly from the barrel.
  2. Txakoli - This slightly sparkling white wine is perfect for a refreshing sip on a warm Bilbao day.
  3. Basque craft beer - The craft beer scene is thriving in Bilbao, so explore the local breweries and sample some innovative and flavourful brews.
  4. Kalimotxo - Try a uniquely Basque drink, made by mixing red wine and cola. It's surprisingly refreshing.

The SME Assembly 2023 in Bilbao promises to be a unique blend of business insights and cultural exploration. Make sure to take some time to enjoy the rich culture and culinary delights this vibrant city has to offer. Bilbao has something to offer everyone.


You can also visit Bilbao Turismo and Turismo de Euskadi to find more information and historical and cultural insights on the region and the city.

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Enjoy your stay!


Publication date
6 November 2023 (Last updated on: 6 November 2023)
Directorate-General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs
Promoting Enterprise - categories
  • EU SME Week
  • EU SME Assembly
Promoting Enterprise - tags
  • SME Assembly