Bilbao Tours

Written by Helen Glenn Court
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If you're planning a holiday to Spain's Basque region, bear in mind that Bilbao tours offer several interesting attractions. Although the city is primarily commercial, is in fact the industrial hub of the three Basque provinces--its focal point since 1997 has been an art museum. But Bilbao is a port on the Nervión River and the Bay of Biscay, and stands in the shadow of the Pyrenees on a ragged coastline.

Bilbao Tours in Context

Established by charter on June 15, 1300, the city of Bilbao grew steadily over the next 600 years, spreading along five miles of the Nervión River. During the 19th century it became heavily industrial, with an economy that depended on shipbuilding, shipping, and steel-making. These three continue to dominate. The city bustles with commercial activity and a population of nearly half a million. You'll find Bilbao tours well worth your while.

Its old quarter, Gothic cathedral, and the mansions and villas of Bilbao's 19th-century industrial magnates can be toured in a day or two. Just west of the city is Balmasedam, at 800 years old the oldest town in the Basque country. Within easy reach by train--Bilbao is also a convenient rail rub for the Basque provinces--or car are the notable wineries of the Alava province. You'll find the well-known wines and the obscure but distinctive Txacoli, a sparkling wine. Several La Rioja vineyards especially worth visiting and sampling include Remelluri, Faustino Martinez, Palacio, and de Riscal.

Naturalists will also find the area within reach of Bilbao tours memorable. The craggy heights of Monte Gorbea national park offer forests of beech and oak trees. Among them wander deer, fox, the elusive wild boar, and many magnificent birds of prey, including the buzzard and harrier eagle. Of special interest at the Ria de Mundaka--along the coast of the Bay of Biscay--are the marine flora and fauna of Sierra de Orduna, Monte Barzar, and Monte Ochandiano.

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