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Bilbao, located in Spain's Basque region, is the ideal gateway to Vitoria and the famous Rioja wine region. Today the city is famed for the Museo Guggenheim, which opened in 1997, to plant Bilbao on the art and tourism map and spur a major urban regeneration. Consequently, more museums and galleries have opened, which in turn has prompted a parallel resurgence of fabulous restaurants, cafes and bars. Be sure to visit Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s old quarter that's full of character and charm. Not sure where to begin? Why not get an overview of the city via the Bilbao City Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour.

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Tip from Travel + Leisure

Café Iruña

T+L A-List travel agent Virginia Irurita recommends coffee and pinxtos at this gorgeous restaurant across from Jardines de Albia (Bilbao’s central gardens). With its frescoed walls and intricate tiled ceilings and floors, the cafe is awash in history—110 years of it, to be exact.

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