It’s no secret that the atmosphere inside San Mames, Athletic Bilbao’s home ground and spiritual centre, is electric.
Like many fiercely independent corners of the world, football runs deep here — a unifying spectacle of power, strength and skill. But there are plenty of other things to do in Bilbao outside of the stadium. Combine its heady atmosphere with one of the most eclectic and vibrant culinary scenes in Europe, and you’re surely onto a winner.
Wend your way from bar to bar in the historical district, treat yourself to an evening of glamour at one of the many Michelin-starred restaurants, or head straight to Licenciado Pozas, where the clamour of local fans awaits you. With so many ways to get to the game, all that’s left to do is begin.
Easing yourself into the melting pot of Basque culture is easy in the medieval district of Casco Viejo. Tucked in among its quaint streets and squares are dozens of bustling wine bars just waiting for you to begin your txikiteo tour with them. A small glass of wine or beer, txikiteos is traditionally enjoyed across several bars in the same evening and is almost always accompanied by a delicious side of pintxos. Similar to Spanish tapas, pintxos are small bites, traditionally pierced by a toothpick, which are designed to be eaten stood up at the bar alongside your drink.
This quintessentially Basque take on the traditional bar crawl gives you the chance to experience the very best of the city and to try whichever tasty morsel catches your eye as you go.
Even better, this picturesque part of the city is only a five-minute metro ride away from the stadium, making it the perfect way to whet your appetite for the game to come.
For some ideas on where to start your txikiteo tour, try:
The Basque country is world renowned for the quality of its culinary scene, and Bilbao is no different. The San Mames stadium alone is surrounded by not one, but three Michelin-starred restaurants. Each offering a different take on traditional Basque cuisine and all within easy reach of the football, what better way to kick-start your evening.
There’s a whole world of things to do in Bilbao that will launch you straight into the domain of the beautiful game. Working your way along the bars of Licenciado Poza, or Pozas, as the locals call it, will take you right up to the stadium itself. Hang out with the Athletic Bilbao fans as the pregame atmosphere begins to build, and follow the crowd as they make their way into San Mames in time for the game. This is a true slice of footballing culture and a great way to integrate with local fans. Go for a bar showing the Athletic Bilbao colours for the best experience. (Time to stadium, 5-10 minute walk)
Enterprise is the official rent-a-car of the UEFA Europa League. Learn more about car hire in Spain here.
We sent French street photographer Joanna Lemańska to Marseille so she could experience the city, its people and UEFA Europa League football.
Charlie Connelly wanders among sheep in rural Connemara to find the field that once was at the cutting edge of transatlantic communication. Along the way, he discovers the origin of the term "lynch mob."
Whether you are a Northerner on home turf or a visitor to this fantastic city, our football fan’s guide to Manchester will help you get the most out of match day.
Pack your sunnies and your scarf and let us inspire you with things to do in Stockholm, whatever the weather.