Set in Northern Spain, Bilbao is the capital of Biscay Province and is located in Spain’s Basque region on the country’s beautiful north coast. Once a city known for its industrial prowess, Bilbao is now one of the most upcoming cities in Europe and is a popular port of call for many cruise lines. Bilbao presents an impressive blend of architecture, tradition, sea views, mountainous landscapes, character and history that combine to deliver an attractive cruise destination.
Museo Guggenheim helped to bring the city of Bilbao into the 21st century, introducing a modern lease of life and architecture that Bilbao hadn’t seen before. Overlooking the Nervion River, the magnificent Museo Guggenheim structure that is built from titanium sheets, shimmers in the light and reflects off the water. The brave and ambitious idea was brought to the city by Frank Gehry and since opening its door in 1997, this museum continues to heighten the trend of tourism in the area. Bilbao’s industrial path is now a distant memory, and it proudly boasts a firm place in the spotlight for artistic culture and tourism.
Further collections of art are curated at the Museo de Bellas Artes; a gallery on the other side of the city, yet still easily accessible from the port. A brilliant location, the Museo de Bellas Artes houses incredible works of art dating right back to the 12th century and includes works by such creative icons as Gauguin and Francis Bacon.
Bilbao’s architecture is a unique mix of ultra-modern and beautifully historic. The gothic Cathedral de Santiago is one of the finest Romanesque churches in Spain, with a wonderful renaissance portico and beautiful cloister. Visitors can deepen their knowledge of history and art through different spaces and temporary exhibitions that are organised by the church regularly.
Stroll through the Gran Via; a shopping district comprising three different areas and boasting the widest selection of stores that can be found in the city. Among the city’s most charming districts is the impressive old quarter of Casco Viej, a narrow alleyway of streets and boutiques for you to wander through at a leisurely pace. Get a taste of Bilbao and indulge in local culinary creations from the chic local bars and restaurants that surround this hidden jewel. Right at the heart of Casco Veij you will also find the original seven streets, Las Siete Calles, which date back to the 14th century. It isn’t difficult to see why many take to wandering the beautiful old town for hours on end, discovering endless historical points of interest amid the working city.
Bilbao owes much of its recent rise in popularity as a cruise port to its position as the gateway to Vitoria and the famous Rioja wine region. Many cruise lines, including Celebrity Cruises’ ‘Immersive Wine Cruises’, feature Bilbao on a regular basis, offering passengers the opportunity to experience the world renowned wine making region. Over 400 varieties of grape are grown in Spain and Bilbao is a great place to start. Relax and admire your scenic surroundings while sipping on a glass of Rioja; perfect when in port and even better for a sunset sail away.
For a view over the city for miles around, a trip up the steep slope on Funicular de Artxanda is a must and provides a picture-perfect way to end your visit.