Bilbao is a sprawling city with a strong Basque identity and rich heritage, which has rapidly transformed into a buzzing cultural capital bursting with civic pride. Further back, Bilbao was originally a small medieval fishing village on the Rio Nervión. Today, 700 years later, it retains a small town feel despite being Spain's tenth largest city.
Nevion River & Bilbao
Bilbao's standout attraction is the world-famous Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. This Frank Gehry-designed contemporary art museum is one of the world's most recognisable modern buildings; its exterior bending and flexing in bright silver panels. The museum's striking design and the collection within – featuring works by Jeff Koons and Richard Serra, among others – spawned a tourism boom, which reinvigorated Bilbao during the 1990s; the city hasn't looked back since.
Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum is the centre of Bilbao's justified claim as a cultural capital, but there are a whole host of other landmarks and sites that are well worth exploring, too. Close to the museum is the district of Deutsu, full of cafes and bars where students and bohemians discuss the issues of the day. On the other side of the Rio Nervión, meanwhile, is Bilbao's old town, Casco Viejo, home to an impressive gothic Cathedral and a good starting point for exploring the rest of the city.