That was the question I asked myself when I got back to Madrid after 5 days in Bilbao.
It has everything I like in a city.
It's clean, manageable, has great public transport, people are friendly, and it's one of the best places to eat and drink in the country.
Not to mention that it's close to the coast and fantastic mountain areas.
It's also green, really green, which is something you don't see too much of when you live in the centre of Spain.
Let's just say that if I had to move to another part of this country it would most likely be the north.
I went to Oviedo, Asturias a short time ago and it also blew me away.
Don't get me wrong. I like the south of Spain but there's something about the north that attracts me more.
Obviously if you come from colder climates you might not agree but hey, that's me.
Bilbao old and new
When I first came to Spain back in the early 1990s, Bilbao was the last place you wanted to visit.
It had a reputation as a heavily polluted grey industrial city that also had the added problem of terrorism and terrible street violence in the form of Kale borroka.
The Basque Country in general was a bit of a no-go area for many Spaniards because of these problems.
Many prominent Bilbao families had relocated to places like Madrid and the city was yet to start its transformation process into the city that it is today.
In 1997 the Guggenheim Museum was opened and the rest is history. Tourists started to flock to the city and it continued to transform.
Today Bilbao is a must-visit city in my opinion and not only for the museum.
Could I live there?
The main question I ask myself as I travel to different cities in Spain is could I live there?
And Bilbao received a definite YES when I asked myself the question.
It seems to be on another level when it comes to cities in Spain.
Ok, so it does have some problems but the pros seem to outweigh the cons.
It is a small city with a population of around 350,000. It's close to the coast and to mountains. The weather is mild although it can be a bit wet.
It also has a great public transport system and seems really manageable. Just so easy to get around.
The architecture is also a stand out feature of the city. It's a pleasure to move around Bilbao while looking at all the fantastic buildings, bridges and monuments.
The food culture is also a huge plus for Bilbao and the Basque country in general.
Basque cuisine is one of the finest in Spain and Basque chefs are at the top of their game.
One thing that definitely stands out is the 'pintxo' culture. Pintxos are elaborated tapas and available at most bars in Bilbao.
Wash them down with a beer, 'caña' or glass of red or white wine. It's an easy and relatively cheap way to eat.
to sum up
Bilbao is a small, manageable and highly liveable city and should be at the top of anyone's list if they are looking for a place to live in Spain.
It offers a high quality of life to its inhabitants and they are more than willing to let you know just how great their city is.
However, there are still some nationalistic feelings in the air so it's a good idea to keep politics off the agenda.
The fact that I have called Bilbao a Spanish city will no doubt bring me some unfriendly feedback from some people.
But hey. That's life in Spain.
Please take a look at my Bilbao photo gallery here.
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Brewster (Saturday, 10 July 2021 00:53)
I was just in the Catalan Pyrenees and a girl there was saying how much she preferred the north to the south. She basically said the people were nicer and not “as obnoxious”. I have yet to visit the north, but I do enjoy Barcelona and Sitges (except for that awful Feast of St John holiday where the kids basically throw grenades around for forty-eight hours).