Filling a narrow valley shaped by Río Nervión, Bilbao is a city immersed in nature. You can see green hills surrounding the city in all directions, beyond the silhouettes of the skyscrapers. It is also a city of contradictions −blending the old and the new. Bilbao’s great success was the ability to remodel itself as a major tourism hub, after the collapse of its local industries towards 2000s. A former wasteland in the city center was transformed into the Guggenheim Museum by the star architect Frank Gehry, and the world has witnessed how a single museum could have a great impact on a small city. The museum started to attract as much visitors as the city's population every year and Bilbao underwent a rapid transformation with new spots celebrating good food and contemporary art, as well as more architectural landmarks by prestigious names like Norman Foster (who designed Bilbao metro) and Philippe Starck (who transformed a former wine cellar into the new culture and leisure center Azkuna Zentroa). While you are there, don't forget to have lazy strolls along the lively alleyways of Casco Viejo (Old Town), and try Basque specialties like cabrito (roast yeanling) and jabugo ham. The city is also a good base to explore the Bay of Biscay and the famous wine producing region of Rioja.

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