The bustling city of Bilbao, in the heart of Spanish Basque Country, offers a remarkable blend of tradition and modernity. The streets are lined with old buildings that date back to the city’s founding over 700 years ago and contemporary masterpieces like the Guggenheim Museum designed by the iconic architect Frank Gehry. The art collections and outdoor sculptures at the museum make it the perfect place to spend an afternoon.
To really dive into Bilbao’s past though, you can’t miss Casco Viejo – the historic Old Town that is bursting with charm. Here, you will be transported back in time while discovering its many gems including Santiago Cathedral and Plaza Nueva. The narrow alleys of the Old Town have a funky boutique or pintxos bar waiting around every corner. And if you ever tire of the city-life, the natural beauty of Northeast Spain is just a short drive away.
But what sets Bilbao apart is its revered foodie scene. From finger-lickin’ pintxos to colorful seafood creations to melt-in-your-mouth steak – the variety of dishes you can try in this culinary powerhouse is simply breathtaking. To get acquainted with the city’s world-class gastronomy and related dining traditions, we recommend getting in touch with a wonderful local tour company called Delight Bilbao for an unforgettable food journey.
Delight Bilbao runs a highly-rated tour that has gained countless 5-star reviews on Tripadvisor and Airbnb. The tour immerses you in authentic local life on an adventurous and personalized experience. Not only is the topic of food covered in detail (with plenty of tasty pintxos and exotic drinks on the agenda), but you will also get the chance to learn about the rich history and traditions that make the Basque Country so unique.
The Best Pintxos Tour in Bilbao
The three hour tour with Delight Bilbao is highly recommended if you are visiting Bilbao for the first time. It’s a three hour introduction to what makes the local food and drink of the region great. The friendly guides lead you on a discovery of the city’s best bites, while you learn all about the wider Basque Country’s history and attractions. They fell in love with the city many years ago and their passion is so infectious that it rubs off on you.
The guides take you from bar to bar and keep you munching along the way on all types of pintxos. In addition to visiting bars, restaurants will also be on the itinerary and they are located well off-the-beaten-track. This enables you to see the spots where the locals eat and to avoid tourists. The tour can be tailored to suit your wishes as well. Some may want to walk longer distances, while others might want to relax at just a few establishments.
No matter how you choose to do it, Delight Bilbao will be happy to share the fascinating history of the Basque Country with you – with its distinct heritage and language on display. Spain is a land with many different subcultures within its borders and the Basque Country is one of the most celebrated. You should know that Basque is one of the official languages of Bilbao and it’s not uncommon to hear it spoken on the streets.
By learning a few Basque phrases and trying to speak a bit, you will gain huge respect with the residents. Also, bear in mind that tapas are called pintxos in Bilbao – and using that term will definitely earn you some extra points. Remember too that this pintxos tour with Delight Bilbao is a small group one and suits 10 people max. For groups of more than 10 people, you can contact the company and they will accommodate your request.
Important Info About the Tour
As just mentioned, the pintxos tour with Delight Bilbao can be as small as a single traveler to as large as a group of 10. That is for the small group tours. There is also an option to book for corporate, educational or special events such as bachelor/bachelorette parties. All you have to do is contact Delight Bilbao and fill out the inquiry form to start planning your foodie adventure with your business associates, fellow students or close friends.
Whatever the size of your group may be, one helpful aspect about the tour is that you will be contacted in advance to ensure all of your needs are met. Whether you follow a strictly vegetarian/vegan diet or have certain neighborhoods in mind that you want to visit, the crew at Delight Bilbao can create a customized experience for you that has a real personal touch. They will balance your specific requests with their expertise.
Their small dedicated team consists of Adria and Dimitri. Adria has been the manager of Delight Bilbao since 2018 when he turned his passion for food and culture into his job. He adores the Basque Country and Biscay in particular – which is one of the main focuses of the tour. Adria is a well-traveled man who has lived in six different countries, so his ability to converse with people from all walks of life is now second nature to him.
Dimitri, on the other hand, was born and raised in Arizona. He moved to Bilbao in 2010 to be closer to the surf and mountains. Another one with the travel bug, Dimitri started exploring the world at 19 and never stopped. But he has found his home in Bilbao where he enjoys showing others the secret spots, best local eats, and the artistic and musical side to the city. Yoga and mountain biking are some more hobbies he often partakes in.
Must-Try Pintxos in Bilbao
The varieties of pintxos are endless and each one is a unique representation of the owner/chef who runs the bar/restaurant. Pintxos are larger than tapas and so it doesn’t take many to fill yourself up. That is why Delight Bilbao suggests starting their tour on an empty stomach and not making any further meal plans for the rest of the day. They know how to completely satisfy your appetite by incorporating a mix of pintxos and drinks.
But what are the best pintxos in Bilbao? Everyone has different tastes, yet there are some popular morsels which are pretty much universally loved. The first is the Iberico Pork pintxos. Many guests with Delight Bilbao have commented on the Iberico Pork version served at Bar La Olla and have been so blown away by it that they continued coming back there several times after the tour. The real Iberian acorn ham here is simply to die for.
Then there are the seafood pintxos. Bilbao is known for its cod, crab, oysters and octopus. Imagine gobbling down octopus pintxos with red mojo sauce and cassava? Or hot crab pintxos for that matter? Although, not everyone loves seafood. So luckily there are plenty of colorful dishes to try in Bilbao where you can get your fix of meat and protein. How does a deboned and diced pig’s trotter pintxos sound to you? This one is even award-winning.
Pintxos can be simple or outlandish, and there are no rules governing what pintxos should be. Whichever ones you choose, you will be able to wash them down with some typical drinks of the region with Delight Bilbao. Txakoli white wine, Crianza red wine, local ciders and vermouth cocktails are all options. If you are apprehensive about the food, you can always talk to the guides in advance to get your questions answered.
Final Tips for Visiting Bilbao
When visiting Bilbao for the first time, we can’t recommend this tour enough – especially within 24 hours of arriving. You will visit five or six fantastic bars, which is an ideal start because you can use this as research for where to eat on your remaining days. Don’t despair when you see zero tourists going into these bars as it’s often the local spots that are best. Each experience with Delight Bilbao is different and no two tours are the same.
You can read the reviews to ensure you are booking with a quality operator, but you should also let them surprise you with hidden gems along the way. Don’t expect to visit the exact same places as previous guests. The tour is rated as the number one experience on Airbnb in Bilbao, so trust them to make the tour special for you. To finish up, below are a couple more tips to keep in mind before you visit the pearl of the Basque Country: Bilbao.
Like many cities, each district of Bilbao has its own character. Think carefully about where you want to be based so you can easily walk around the city. It could be near the Old Town in Bilbao la Vieja or in the riverside area of Indautxu with its buzzing nightlife. The city center is relatively small and walking between each attraction won’t take any longer than 20 minutes. Another option is to use the modern metro system to get around.
Northern Spain isn’t hot year round. Even in summer, it can rain. This is never a reason not to visit because the array of indoor attractions in Bilbao are superb. There are heaps of museums to check out and the food is a highlight in itself. The moderate weather also keeps the Basque Country green and that is how the locals like it. There is so much to do outside of the city – from hiking to surfing – hence, Bilbao is what you make it!