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One of the great things about Bilbao is that it is compact enough to walk around, making it a great place to explore for a weekend. Now a popular place of pilgrimage for art lovers (since the Museo Guggenheim was opened that is a city that offers something to all comers - from its epic medieval history to coastal walks and a delightful city centre - the Casco Viejo - located on the east bank of the River Nervion.

Bilbao is easy to get to by either plane form all of the major UK airports or the handy Portsmouth to Bilbao ferry.

Foodies will find themselves in heaven in this part of the world. The food is simply sensational and quintessentially Basque. Most bars sell pintxos

- the Basque version of tapas - to be consumed alongside a glass of delicious local wine.

No visit to Bilbao would be complete without a visit to the Guggenheim.

The stunning exterior will take your breath away and, once inside prepared to be amazed by the opulence of the vast atrium and many galleries.

The exhibitions change from month to month but are always world class.

‘The Matter of Time Alone’ - Richard Serra’s huge steel installation is on permanent display and is a great way to interact with art.

To really get an idea of this wonderful city, head to the seven medieval streets (Siete Calles) that mark the site of the original Bilbao. The Plaza Nueva market (famed for its coins, postcards and antique books) dates from the 19th century and is the veritable beating heart - with bars, shops and cafes galore.

A great destination for a rainy day is La Alhondiga. This vast 19th century building was once a wine warehouse, and has recently been subject to a modern invention by Philippe Stark, the iconic French designer. Today it is a wonderful activities and arts centre planned for use by the general public and boasts a media centre, exhibition spaces, seven cinemas, swimming pools and gyms plus a rooftop terrace with spectacular views across the city.

After dark the city comes alive with a vengeance - one of the coolest parts of town is Indautxu - the location of several hip clubs and bars that stay open for most of the night. If you find yourself craving some culture, try going to an opera, concert or ballet at the Teatro Arriaga - a first class theatre near the centre of town.

And, don’t forget, there are beaches within easy reach of Bilbao - the best (and largest) of these is The Playa de la Concha, which showcases a stylish promenade and a great variety of cafes and restaurants, with a few shops thrown in for good measure.

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