Bilbao, in the Basque Country, is a captivating contradiction of old and new. Such buildings as the striking new Guggenheim Museum are set against the stunning Gothic architecture of Casco Viejo (the 'Old Town').
Explore the different parts of the city by strolling alongside the River Nervión on its beautiful walkways and footbridges. With a strong shipbuilding past, Bilbao was once the second biggest industrial power in Spain, after Barcelona, and the city is undergoing a major regeneration process with such dazzling new buildings as the Guggenheim Museum and the Isozaki Atea skyscrapers.
The Guggenheim Bilbao is a remarkable structure made of titanium, glass and limestone. With collections concentrated on post-war European and American artworks, you can wander through the minds of some of the world's greatest modern artists. The imposing giant spider statue, Maman, created by Louise Bourgeois, stands outside the building casting a powerful shadow. Other important cultural spaces in Bilbao include the Alhóndiga, an arts and leisure centre inside what was formerly the city's wine warehouse, and the beautiful 19th century Arriaga Theatre, whose design was inspired by the Paris Opera House.
Experience fantastic designer shopping on the Gran Via and lots of excellent art galleries in the city centre. Delving into the medieval part of the city you'll find open-air markets and many small boutiques. Sample delicious Basque cuisine with the tasty pintxos served in Bilbao's many tapas bars and taverns, especially in the old town. You can also try variations on traditional dishes such as marmatiko and pisto, enjoyed with the region's famous txakoli wine in Bilbao's excellent restaurants. Purchase the Bilbao card from the Tourist Office, available as 1, 2, or 3 day cards and receive some amazing discounts in the city's museums, restaurants, shops and more.
As a coastal and border region, the culinary delights of the Basque Country are influenced by a mix of sea and mountain cultures - a trend labelled in past decades as 'Basque Nouvelle Cuisine'. Bilbao itself is a gastronomic hub, with a wide choice of restaurants offering everything from mouth-wateringly fresh seafood, cured meats, and cheeses - and of course traditional Spanish tapas.
In the nearby town of Llodio you can experience the Museum of Gastronomy which revels in the food culture and cuisine of the Basque region, including the phenomenon of the Txoko gastronomic societies.