Red and white banners on match days - not just around the San Mames stadium - proclaim the importance of football matches in Bilbao. For many, El Athletic Club's first team are what keeps the Basque spirit alive.
With its commitment to home-grown talent, the locals love their club, but also welcome visitors who respect their traditions - book your Bilbao football tickets and savour a unique atmosphere. Start the day with a visit to another iconic Bilbao institution: the Guggenheim Museum is stunning, inside and out. Then head to an old-style bar for moreish tapas-style snacks called pinchos, traditionally accompanied by a small glass of txikito, or white wine.
Although Bilbao is the perfect size for a weekend break, the nearby surfing beaches, plus walks in the Pyrenean foothills, offer plenty of opportunities for a longer stay.