Cutting edge and traditional, this Spanish shopping route in Bilbao reflects the character of this city in the north of Spain. We took a spin to bring our wardrobe bang up to date.
It has one of the liveliest cultural scenes in Spain. The bold architecture of the Guggenheim Museum beside the inlet stands in harmonious contrast to the historic centre. True to its customs, Bilbao has one of Europe’s biggest wholesale markets, the Mercado de la Ribera. Amidst art and culinary delights, we discovered an extensive, characterful shopping itinerary, starting in the old part of the city, known as Las Siete Calles of Seven Streets. Iconic buildings like St James’s Cathedral and the Bidebarrieta Library are surrounded by more than 500 retailers.
Calle Correo, in the heart of the old city, houses a stream of essential names in Spanish fashion. Adolfo Domínguez has a boutique at number 10, with collections in pure lines and craftsmanship legacy. Alongside at 11B, Fosco offers its range of contemporary designs. Still on the same street, you’ll find the casual street styles of Springfield (8, Correo) and Pull & Bear (11, Correo). A ‘plus-size’ must is Punto Roma at number 14, which sells versatile garments for all kinds of women. Moving on to number 16, bright kids’ garments flood the shop-window display at Charanga.
Fans of time-honoured craftsmanship will love Muñoz shirtmaker’s at 12, Calle Bidarrieta. Its garments are made to measure in the traditional way. At number two on the same road is one of the benchmarks in kidswear, Mayoral, and at three, the lingerie universe of Women’secret.
Justo Aki Ekoshop is a vegan shoe shop at 21, Calle Carnicería Vieja.
Heading eastwards, you’ll come to another of the iconic Seven Streets, Askao. In the nineteenth-century rooms of Laura Batán’s atelier (9, Askao) future brides can choose from bridal designs inspired by Balenciaga’s couture.
Before leaving the neighbourhood, pay a visit to designer jeweller Aitor Diego at Plaza Miguel de Unamuno, and check out some of the local pintxos or tapas, recommended by Foods & Wines from Spain.
On a sunny day, you can cycle across to the other big shopping area in town, skirting round the inlet. Home to luxury brands and small retailers, this district is Bilbao’s undisputed fashion showpiece. The city’s top shopping area is located around main avenue Gran Vía, where big chains vie for attention: Oysho (6, Gran Vía), Bimba y Lola (10, Gran Vía), Zara (11, Gran Vía) and Mango (15, Gran Vía).Top trends in jewellery from Tous can be found at number 27, followed by smart casuals from Massimo Dutti (31, Gran Vía) and Cortefiel (35, Gran Vía). Stradivarius at 37, Gran Vía offers more youthful streetwear.
Amidst the fashion giants are legendary boutiques like exclusive jeweller Larrabe (43, Gran Vía) and long-established shirt artisans at Sastrería Cardenal (61, Gran Vía). Delicately, feminine bridal collections can be found at Rosa Clará, which has its flagship on this street.
For the more sophisticated styles, head for Calle Rodríguez Arias. At number four, Loewe leather is turned into cutting-edge shapes, while Uterqüe next door has a more democratic version of luxury. For street elegance, check out Roberto Verino (18, Rodríguez Arias) and, further on, classic collections with a touch of chic by Mercedes de Miguel. For modern styles that can’t be labelled, try Loreak Mendian (24, Rodríguez Arias) or the more sophisticated scissors of Ángel Schlesser (26, Rodríguez Arias). Move on to number 27 to mingle among the outfits of Purificación García. Nearby are naïve feminine looks and accessories for women and girls from Nice Things (1, García Rivero Maisuaren Kalea).
Plaza de Federico Moyúa is the place to go for Camper’s Menorcan footwear know-how (22, Ercilla), British slipper elegance at Scalpers (29, Ipaguirre) and catwalk looks from Pedro del Hierro (35, Alameda Recalde 35). A stone’s throw away is Sfera (9, Elcano) with smart chic collections that flag up the trends.
Back to the inlet, and the atelier of Paredero Quirós, at 65, Alameda Mazarredo, the place to find vintage-style bridal- and partywear.
After a busy day, don’t miss the vast array of leisure options the city has to offer. Try some ‘Art After Dark’, with a visit to exhibitions accompanied by sessions with the world’s top DJs (from 10 pm to midnight, first Friday of every month).