Bilbao (Biscay) lifestyle
There's plenty to keep shoppers happy in Bilbao. The main shopping quarter is the old town of Casco Veijo, whose tangled streets are packed with designer stores and quirky shops. For classy boutiques and department stores, head for the modern district of Ensanche, whilst for jewellers and international chains, the Indautxi area is your place. On Sundays, the Plaza Nueva hosts a lively market ideal for snapping up trinkets and other goods. And if you fancy bringing home some typical Basque souvenirs, watch out for the local berets called txapelas, bright ceramics and txakoli, the fizzy local wine.
While the rest of Spain concentrates on tapas and paella, Bilbao's cuisine is Basque and centres on fish and pintxos - delectable skewers of nibbles like anchovies, peppers and miniature seafood treats served on trays. Otherwise, wrap your tastebuds around Bilbao's famous cod dishes, the main one being bacalao al pil-pil - dried salt cod in a garlic sauce. Drinks-wise, you'll find lots of cider houses scattered around and don't leave without enjoying some txakoli, the region's sparkling light white wine. For the biggest choice of eateries, head for the old town, Ensanche district or Deusto, the university area.
Bilbao bubbles with life at night, so you'll never get bored. The hub of activity is the old town, where countless bars and cafes will see through the night with drinks and pintxos. You'll also find music bars playing everything from reggae to rock and several high-energy nightclubs with DJs and live bands for grooving till dawn. If you fancy a flutter, there's a glittering casino or take in a classical concert, opera or ballet at the riverside Arriaga Theatre.