Bilbao is the heart of a metropolis where more than a million people live. It is the centre of the economic-social development and the main factor of the modernisation of the Bay of Biscay.
The great architectural and infrastructure projects have been the driving force of the urban and economic regeneration of the city. The Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the Euskalduna Conference and Music Centre, Norman Foster's Underground, Calatrava's airport, the towers designed by the architects Arata Isozaki and César Pelli... are all examples of the dynamism that exists in Bilbao.
The city is situated in the area of Bizkaia and is surrounded by a fertile landscape with forests, mountains, beaches and steep coasts. All this makes Bilbao a privileged destination for visitors. The modern transport and network of roads run to locations nearby such as the other capitals of the Basque Country - Vitoria and San Sebastián.
P&O Ferries offers crossings to Portsmouth from Bilbao twice a week, with a journey time of about 29 hours. AT Ferries also provides twice weekly crossings, taking about 34 hours.
The Pride of Bilbao is the largest vessel and can carry the most passengers. The ferry offers superb on-board facilities including a movie theatre, fitness centre and an award-winning restaurant.
The two return sailings from Portsmouth to Bilbaoeach week with Brittany Ferries depart at 5pm on Fridays for an overnight crossing and at 10pm on Sunday for a two night journey.
Bilbao is very traveler friendly with the local authorities investing heavily to make it one of the top destinations in Northern Spain.
One of the main attractions in the city is undoubtedly the Guggenheim Museum although there are a number of other historic buildings and places that will surprise you, these include the Biblioteca Municipal de Bidebarrieta ( Bilbao's Municipal Library ) located in a historical building with a large collection of books and temporary exhibitions.
There is also the Palacio de Congresos de Musica and well known music and conference center hosting regular major concerts with top names of the music business. The Mercado Antiguo Lavadero ( Bilbao`s Old Market ) is well worth visit and is located in a historic laundry house. Although Bilbao may not be a touristy spot like the Costa del Sol, it has its own quiet charm and history.
Bilbao is a seaport city set on the Nervión River, near the Bay of Biscay. The chief point of interest here is the Casco Viejo or Old Quarter, on the right bank of the Nervión. Here you'll find the sights that Bilbao has to offer: the Gothic Church of Santiago which dates from the 14th century, the elegantly arcaded Plaza Nueva, the stunning Teatro Arriaga.
You'd never guess that a 1983 flood devastated the area from the restored gothic-style buildings that line the narrow streets. It's in these streets that you'll find the best bars and restaurants.
Military buffs will remember that Bilbao was the capital of a short-lived autonomous Basque state that was under Loyalist control during the Spanish civil war (1936-39).
Though typically quiet, the town of Bilbao rocks the house in August during the Semana Grande, a major annual bullfighting event in Bilbao. Tourists and locals mingle in the open-air bars to dance and drink in the streets all night long. Those who've experienced the Semana Grande compare it to Mardi Gras, with a wild and friendly atmosphere to match the famous Fat Tuesday.
There is an excellent selection of Hotels in Bilbao and around the city, the pick of which would suerly include the highly rated Gran Hotel Silken Bilbao This trendy, design hotel is full of fun features, in the same spirit as its world-famous neighbour – the Guggenheim Museum. It was designed by the renowned artist, Javier Mariscal. The Gran Hotel Domine looks out over the shining steel structure of the Guggenheim Museum – one of the most recognisable buildings in the world. The contemporary design of the hotel follows the innovative spirit of the gallery, with its unique angled windows, curved atrium and tall pebble sculpture.