Bilbao, Spain

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Main port photo for Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao used to be off the beaten track, but Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum literally put Bilbao on the map. The city offers impressive, 19th-century buildings and bridges and is the gateway to the Basque country.

Perched on the hills above the rust-colored waters of the Nervion River, Bilbao is a thriving port and the commercial heart of Spain's Basque country. The city dates back to the Middle Ages - it was granted city status by Don Diego Lopez de Haro, Lord of Biscay, in 1300 - but it was the 19th century and the Industrial Revolution that cemented Bilbao's economic status. Among the city's charms are the jumble of bars and restaurants found in Siete Calles, the city's old quarter. The Gran Via and the Alameda Mazarredo are graceful, wide 19th-century boulevards. And while the port still bustles with maritime traffic, the undulating lines of Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Museum attest to Bilbao's cultural vitality in the 21st century.

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  • Guggenheim Museum Bilbao Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

    Designed by architect Frank Gehry, this art museum is itself a work of art. The curvy building is clad in titanium, glass and limestone, and its shiny panels are meant to resemble fish scales.

  • Old Quarter Old Quarter

    East of the Nervión River is medieval Bilbao. It is connected to the rest of the city by four bridges. Stroll the old plazas and take the elevator or climb the 64 steps uptown to the Basilica.

  • Bermeo Bermeo

    This fishing village was the provincial capital until 1602. It's a perfect place to spend an afternoon. Things to see include the 14th century arch of San Juan and other medieval structures in the old quarter.

  • San Sebastian San Sebastian

    This seaside town boasts beautiful beaches, historic landmarks, a lively nightlife, designer shops, and superb Basque restaurants, including more than its share of Michelin award winners.

  • Guernica Guernica

    Guernica is best known as the scene of the April 26, 1937 aerial bombing by Nazi Germany's Luftwaffe in support of Franco. Pablo Picasso commemorated the day in a painting of the same name.

  • Hondarribia Hondarribia

    Situated west of the Bidasoa river mouth on a promontory that faces Hendaye, France, this tiny border town is home to an ancient old quarter. View the medieval walls and explore the castle.

  • Biscayan Coast Biscayan Coast

    Picture perfect views of this breathtaking coastline, characterized by its steep cliffs overlooking sparkling beaches fringed by lush vegetation, are best obtained from the beach town of Bakio.

  • Gastronomic Traditions Gastronomic Traditions

    From small plates called "pinchos" to Michelin star restaurants, the cuisine of the Basque country is widely considered to be the best in Spain. Explore its culinary traditions in cooking demonstrations and food trails through its marketplaces.

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