The Basque capital is an ideal destination for conferences
Twenty years ago, the opening of the spectacular Guggenheim Museum Bilbao captivated the world and put the Basque capital on the map. It was the catalyst for the regeneration of an industrial city that today is regarded as a benchmark for art, architecture and tourism, as well as continuing to be one of the main business centres in Spain.
The city has transformed itself to shine as brightly as the façade of its most emblematic building and is now a perfect location for meetings, incentive trips, conferences and exhibitions. Bilbao Airport operates more than 600 flights every week, with connections to all major European cities, and the Port of Bilbao has a fully functional cruise terminal.
The hotel offering in the city is excellent with a wide range of options. Among the best are: Gran Hotel Domine Bilbao, directly opposite the Guggenheim Museum; the Meliá Bilbao, next to the Euskalduna Palace; and the NH Collection Ría de Bilbao, with views of the Zubizuri and the Isozaki Towers.
Venues are magnificent and include: the Bilbao Exhibition Centre, Euskalduna Palace, Iberdrola Tower, Azkuna Zentroa, San Mamés, Yimby, La Ribera, Bilbao Estuary Maritime Museum and a huge choice of manor houses in Getxo.
Bilbao is an accessible city, and the best way to get around and discover all the new and old architectural delights is on foot or by bicycle. However, it is definitely worth getting a bird’s-eye view and you don’t need to hire a helicopter for the pleasure; the Artxanda funicular railway takes you up to one of several viewpoints around the city.
You can get a different perspective on the city by taking an excursion on board the ‘Txinbito’. This popular boat sails up the estuary to Portugalete, home to the spectacular Vizcaya Bridge. From there, you can walk along the coast through the bourgeois neighbourhoods of Las Arenas and Neguri until you reach the picturesque Old Port of Algorta.
The Basque Country has more Michelin stars per square kilometre than any other place in the world. Food is a serious business for the Basques and it is an unbeatable experience to have the privilege of dining at a table in Azurmendi, Arzak, Akelarre, Martín Berasategui, Mugaritz, Zarate, Nerua, Etxanobe, Zortziko, Mina, Andra Mari, Etxebarri, Boroa, or countless others.
However, good gastronomy is an inclusive affair in the Basque Country, where bad food is almost unheard of. There are some excellent tours in Bilbao for ‘pintxos’, the Basque version of tapas.
An event held in Bilbao should be a feast for the all the senses.