When I took my Dad to Bilbao last summer for his birthday, we travelled west on the subway out to the Bay of Biscay using our 72 hour Bilbao Bizkaia cards - I'd recommend getting one as it's both a travel card for all public transport (including the cable car up the Artxanda mountain for incredible views of the city) and gives you free entry to lots of attractions, including the must-see Guggenheim museum. We walked along the Ibaizabal estuary to see the UNESCO World Heritage-listed iron Vizcaya Bridge - the world's first bridge to carry people and traffic on a suspended gondola - and out to the beach to stroll to Getxo and Algorta in the sunshine.
The early 20th century architecture along this stretch of the coast is incredible, with Basque baroque sandstone mansions and OTT decorative arches, ornate cornices and columns, with mountain views behind and Atlantic Ocean views in front. What a place to live! After a couple of hours walking in the sunshine, we worked up an appetite and went for the tasting menu at the contemporary Basque restaurant Tamarises Izarra overlooking the Ereaga beach. We started with asparagus yoghurt with trout caviar and txistorra sausage croquette appetisers, and ordered a bottle of Belondrade y Lurton verdejo white wine from the Rueda region.
The seafood starters were all delicious: carabineer tartar with crustacean broth, cod brandade on white garlic and - my favourite dish - red tuna tataki with tomato sauce and whipped tagliatelle. It's worth making the short trip from the city for this dish alone. The first of the main courses was an extremely tasty baby squid in its ink, followed by hake with cigalita and then a rack of lamb with caramelised apple jam my Dad had to help me finish. For dessert, we had cardamom custard, and a pear puff pastry served with noisette butter ice cream. We had coffees, petits fours and left to walk off lunch along the beach. If you're heading to Bilbao, this coastal area is a lovely place to spend a few hours, especially when the sun's shining and the food's this good.