London Stansted to Bilbao Airport.
The city of Bilbao in the northern Basque region of Spain has been transformed in recent years with stunning new examples of modern architecture such as the Guggenheim Museum and the Euskalduna Concert Hall. However, Bilbao still retains its old quarter of medieval streets
surrounding the picturesque Plaza Nueva.
EasyJet operate flights between London Stansted and Bilbao Airport. Designed by the famous architect Santiago Calatrava, Bilbao Airport is located about 12km (7 miles) from the city centre. Buses run on the Bizkaibus 3247 line from the airport to various stops in the town centre between 6.15am and 12.00pm. A single ticket for the 20-minute journey costs 1.15 euros. Taxis from the arrivals hall to the city centre cost about 18 euros for the
Places of interest in Bilbao include:
- Guggenheim Museum. This gigantic silver structure of limestone and titanium is one of the most important examples of 20th century architecture. Designed by Frank Gehry, the museum is surrounded by a series of sculptures including Jeff Koon's puppy made from flowers and a giant metal spider by Louis Bourgeois. Diverse collections of avant-garde and modern art are housed within the museum.
- Riverside. Up until the 1980s this area of Bilbao was a working port. Now the riverbank area has been transformed with the addition of some impressive new structures. One of the most striking of these is the Zubizuri bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava, the architect responsible for Bilbao Airport. Further along the river is the Euskalduna Concert Hall, designed to resemble a large rusting ship. It can hold 2,200 spectators and hosts some top-class ballets, operas and concerts.
- Fine Arts Museum. A large variety of pieces are on display here covering the Renaissance, impressionist and contemporary periods. Painters whose works are represented include the likes of Gaugin, Van Gogh, Van Dyck and El Greco. The upper floor houses some fine examples of Spanish abstract art and pieces by local Basque artists. The museum's location next to Parque de Doña Casilda de Hurrizar means you can enjoy a stroll in the park after admiring the art.
- Cathedral of Santiago. Because the coastal route to Santiago de Compostela passes through Bilbao, many pilgrims stopped off in the city during the Middle Ages so the cathedral, in the centre of the old town, was devoted to Santiago. The original cathedral was destroyed by fire and the present structure dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries, although there are later additions. One of these is the 16th century stained glass window, one of the cathedral's most attractive features.
- Old Town. Bilbao still retains its old town (Casco Viejo) depite all the recent changes. Plaza Nueva is a pretty square full of restaurants and bars. Here you can enjoy the Basque version of tapas called pintxos. Around the cathedral the streets, which date back to the 14th century, are arranged in a grid pattern known as Las Siete Calles (seven streets).