Bilbao
Northern Spain coastline

Bilbao

<span>Bilbao - Guggenheim Museum</span>Bilbao - Guggenheim Museum
<span>Bilbao - Fine Arts Museum</span>Bilbao - Fine Arts Museum
<span>Bilbao - The Metro</span>Bilbao - The Metro
<span>Bilbao - Puente Colgante (transporter bridge)</span>Bilbao - Puente Colgante (transporter bridge)
<span>Rioja - Santo Domingo de la Calzada</span>Rioja - Santo Domingo de la Calzada
<span>Rioja - San Millan de la Cogella</span>Rioja - San Millan de la Cogella
<span>Rioja - Haro</span>Rioja - Haro
<span>Vitoria - Santa Maria Cathedral</span>Vitoria - Santa Maria Cathedral
<span>Vitoria - Plaza de España</span>Vitoria - Plaza de España
<span>San Sebastian</span>San Sebastian
<span>San Sebastian - Old town</span>San Sebastian - Old town
<span>San Sebastian - la Concha beach</span>San Sebastian - la Concha beach
<span>Santander - waterfront</span>Santander - waterfront
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Bilbao, founded over 700 years ago, is a classic European city in every respect.  Uncluttered and easily explored on foot, Bilbao´s wide boulevards feature interesting public buildings, museums and parks.  And of course one must not forget the amazing, titanium clad Guggenheim Museum .

A delightful riverside stroll will take you to the Old Quarter where Renaissance, Baroque, Neoclassic and Modernist buildings house innovative shops, traditional Basque restaurants and cosy bars. Bilbao is a friendly, open city where visitors are welcomed and made to feel at home.

The Guggenheim Museum has been acknowledged as one of the greatest buildings of the 20th century but there are many other modern sights in Bilbao worth seeing.  These include the unusual, glass paved Zubi Zuri bridge designed by Catalan artist Santiago Calatrava, and the award winning metro designed by the famous architect, Norman Foster.

See as well the Museum of Fine Arts located within the pretty Dona Casilda park and enjoy the many shops and cafes along the principal Gran Via street.

Take a short ride on the metro to Areeta Station in Portugalete and visit the Puente Colgante, a hanging transporter bridge - the first of its kind, built in 1893 and still in use today. Afterwards enjoy a walk to the mouth of the estuary and dine in one of the many restaurants found in this area.

Suggested day trips to:

Rioja Wine Region

An internationally known wine region, Rioja is also home to many cultural and historical sights, such as San Millan de la Cogolla and Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In San Millan de la Cogolla there are the Monasteries of Suso and Yuso, one situated below the other. Suso was built in the 10th century, and the church has Romanesque and Mozarabic features. Yuso, built between 16th and 18th century, has a church that is partly Renaissance with Baroque features. The first examples of written Spanish are contained in a manuscript from the 10th century preserved here.

In Rioja, the main production of wine is red and some important wine producing towns in the area include Haro, the centre of Rioja Alta vineyards and location of many wineries `bodegas´ offering cellar tours and wine tasting. Also Laguardia, in Rioja Alavesa, a charming medieval town with fortified gateways and splendid views of the surrounding vineyards and the Sierra de Cantabria.

Vitoria

The pretty capital of the Basque Country and the seat of the Basque government is only 45 minutes from Bilbao. The old town, shaped like an almond, features the lovely Plaza de la Virgen Blanca at its tip which is a popular meeting point for every important event in the city.  The city has two Cathedrals, the new neo-Gothic Cathedral located beside the lovely Florida Park and the old Cathedral de Santa Maria in the old quarter , at present undergoing a fascinating restoration and excavation project. A visit to Vitoria would be incomplete without a visit to this Old Cathedral.

Some other architectural gems of the city are Los Arquillos, that were built between 1787 and 1792, and the adjoining Plaza de Espana. Worth a visit too is the Museo de Naipes housed in the old Fournier Playing card factory where one of the most important collections of playing cards in the world is kept.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian - Donostia in the Basque language - is gloriously situated around a shell-shaped bay, called Bahia de la Concha.  It is protected from the Atlantic by a wooded islet, the Isla de Santa Clara. San Sebastian is considered the most elegant and fashionable Spanish seaside resort, becoming popular with the Spanish aristocracy in the late 19th century.

Its old town `Parte Vieja´, is fascinating, although none of the buildings predate 1813, when it was reconstructed after a devastating fire.  This area is known for being the home of `pintxos´ - the very elaborate and delicious Basque tapas - without doubt the very best in Spain.

La Concha beach and promenade is the most popular place in town for relaxing, strolling and people watching. Beyond the beach stands one of the greatest monuments of modern Spanish sculpture: Eduardo Chillida’s Peine de los Vientos (Wind Comb). Also of note in the city are the 19th century Ayuntamiento (town hall) and the Museo San Telmo.

Santander

Santander is Cantabria’s charming capital and has a bustling port.  Once a summer resort for royals, it is a delightful, compact city.  Worth visiting are the small zoo and gardens surrounding the Palace of Magdalena, the Museum of Archaeology and Prehistory and the beach at Sardinero.  Also see the 12th century Cathedral which was rebuilt in 1941 after a devastating fire and the Puerto Chico area which is full of quaint shops , bars and seafood restaurants.

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Accommodation

If you like the look of the above Suggested Tour we will gladly prepare a quote for you. The itinerary is not rigid and can be modified to suit your needs.

Below is a selection of the accommodation we would recommend for this tour. Click on the Hotel Code or info symbol for photographs and detailed information about each property. If you have registered to use our Spain Travel & Holiday Planner, you need only click on add to planner to insert it into your itinerary.

Bilbao Hotel Code Classification Information
2 nights in Bilbao TBC19 Central Hotel
TBC46 Central Hotel
TBC47 Central Hotel
TBC51 Central Hotel
TBC53 Central Hotel
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Bilbao (4 nights/5 days) Hotel Code Classification Information
4 nights in Bilbao TBC19 Central Hotel
TBC46 Central Hotel
TBC47 Central Hotel
TBC51 Central Hotel
TBC53 Central Hotel
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