City Breaks

Published on April 8, 2011 | by Andrea Guerriero

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Enjoy an intense weekend in Bilbao

If you wish to enjoy a weekend in one of the most attractive European cities, choose Bilbao, in northern Spain. If in the past Bilbao was predominantly considered an industrial city, in recent years it has been deeply modernized, enhancing also its cultural aspect.

You have only two days for touring this beautiful destination? The best is to visit the new part on Saturday and the historical centre – with its amazing attractions – the day after.

Start with a stop at the symbol of Bilbao, the Guggenheim Museum, a beautiful building designed by Frank Gehry and opened in 1997. Here you will be welcomed by the sculpture of a giant spider before enjoying the astounding spectacle that continues in the art collections displayed inside. Nearby the museum there are many other attractions, such as Puppy, a 12 meters-high dog made of flowers and a bunch of colorful tulips, both works by Jeff Koons.

Another landmark of the city is Euskalduna Palace, headquarters of the Opera House. Both buildings are located in the new part of Bilbao, which is separated from the Old City by River Nerviòn.

On Paseo Campo Volantín you can enjoy a walk along the Rìa. Here, you will find the Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Congresses and Music, reachable through the romantic Doña Casilda Iturrizar park, green lung of the city. Before reaching the other side of the River, take a ride on the funicular Artxanda: from here you can enjoy a very nice view of the city and the mouth of the Rìa.

The second day you can visit the more traditional area of the town. Restored after the flood damage of 1983, the historical centre is one of the main shopping and entertainment areas of Bilbao, with many restaurants and bars where you can spend fun evenings.

The beating heart of this area is Plaza Nueva. Here are located the Museo Vasco and the San Nicolas Church. Along the Rìa de Bilbao, there is the Arenal, a wide promenade hosting many of the events of the city. In the vicinity, there is the Cathedral of Santiago and the famous Teatro Arriaga, Bilbao’s firs Theatre (1799) which welcomes first class artists and performances.

Walking on the Gran Vìa, you will breathe the traditional character of Bilbao visiting monuments, squares, shops and workshops. Nearby, there are the gardens of Albia: a leafy square in which stands the Caffè Iruna, a renowned literary and political gathering spot in.

On Sundays, on the banks of the river, a lively open-air flower market is held. From here, proceeding along Via Fueros, you get to Unamuno Square, full of people at any time and ideal for a relaxing afternoon. The Square overlooks the famous Calzadas de Mallona. If you climb its steps to the top, you will get to the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Begoña.

Getting to Bilbao is not difficult. Bilbao International Airport is located in Loiu, and offers more than 400 flights a week, from/to the main Spanish cities and European capitals. Traveling around the city is easy as well: recently, the city has been provided with a modern underground network. The BilbaoCard – available at the Tourist Office – offers discounts on the city’s public transport network as well as for museums, shops, restaurants, shows and other services.

Photo by Vvillamon

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About the Author

Hi, I'm Andrea, a travel blogger, web programmer, seo apprentice and amateur photographer based in Milan. I love reading, I love music. I love to travel but only if I leave on a mission! I've been traveling through most of Europe and I love writing about it. I love photography, especially as a way to document experiences, places, events. My Nikon D300 camera is always with me, and it helps me in sharing my life with the rest of the world. Getting in touch with new people, different life styles and foreign traditions, and write about it, is all I can ask for.



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