Bilbao cruises

Bilbao stands in the north of Spain in the heart of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, in so-called Green Spain. This swathe of Iberian coast bordering the Bay of Biscay, is so known for its wet and temperate climate which helps create landscapes of lush dairy pastures and forests, and the scenery has much more in common with that of the British Isles than the scrubland of southern Spain.

Bilbao’s Cultural Heritage

Founded in the fourteenth century, the city grew off the back of iron export, and later steel production, shipping, ship building and banking. Its strong Basque identity is noticeable most strongly in the language, the festivals and the cuisine.

A staple of Basque menus are ‘pinchos’ or ‘pintxos’ which are similar and generally smaller than tapas, ranging from simple bites like potato and onion omelette or anchovies through to scallops or foie gras with white beans. While you’ll find pintxos bars in Bilbao Old Town, San Sebastian has gained a particular reputation for these delicious morsels. The town where Queen Maria Cristina established her royal summerhouse during the 1800s also delights with its curved bay, white sand beaches, lovely promenade and Belle Époque buildings.

Discover Bilbao

Bilbao’s Old Town is also known as ‘the seven streets,’ which formed the original mediaeval town. They remain a colourful and beautiful centre, where the arcaded Plaza Nueva and the Gothic Cathedral de Santiago are main attractions. Nearby stands the Arriaga Theatre, as it has for over 120 years, with its domes and curved façade. 
Food lovers may want to make a visit to La Ribera Market, the biggest indoor market in Europe. Since the 1920s its home has been a cavernous Art Deco building with large stained-glass windows. 

The Museo de Bellas Artes should be high on the sightseeing list, with works dating from the 12th century to those by Cézanne and Gauguin. La Alhóndiga is another of Bilbao’s culturally important buildings, a former wine warehouse that has been transformed into a space for exhibitions, concerts and more; its design by Philippe Starck includes 43 columns, all in playfully different styles. Finally, of course, there’s the Guggenheim museum. The arresting curves of its gleaming titanium panels have been created to reflect the light and the river by which it stands. Architect Frank Gehry’s masterpiece has become an emblem of the city, known as much for its striking exterior as for the collections it hosts.

Excursions

Please note: The shore excursions listed are typical for this port. The full programme of shore excursions available for your cruise will be displayed on Cruise Personaliser at least 12 weeks prior to departure.

  • La Rioja Wine & Picturesque Laguardia

    The perfect tour for lovers of fine wines, amazing architecture, fantastic food and stunning sights.

    La Rioja Wine & Picturesque Laguardia

    Relax on the scenic drive to the heart of the La Rioja Alavesa region. Your first stop will be the prestigious Marqués de Riscal wine cellar and hotel, internationally renowned since it was founded in 1858.

    Together with your knowledgeable local guide and a wine expert, you’ll learn about the winemaking process of the famous Rioja wines and savour their flavours in a tasting session. Take the chance to photograph the astonishing exterior of the hotel, designed by legendary architect Frank Gehry. Like the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the building is covered with titanium. But here, Gehry chose to infuse his work with the colours of Marqués de Riscal: pink like the wine, gold like the mesh on the Riscal bottle, and silver like the bottle top.

    Next, visit the medieval village of Laguardia, capital of the La Rioja Alavesa region. Flanked by the Cantabria mountains to the north and by the Ebro river to the south, it offers extraordinary views. Your guide will reveal the charming Plaza Mayor, the beautiful Church of Santa Maria de los Reyes and the fortified Abbey Tower.

    A delicious lunch of local dishes will be served with wine at the enchanting Posada Mayor de Migueloa, which dates back to 1619.



    This tour operates by coach and on foot and involves approximately 2-3 hours of walking, including many steps, slight inclines and uneven, cobbled ground. Shops at Laguardia will only accept Euros and major credit cards. The order of site visits may vary.

    Tour code

    BIO_021

    Features

    • Activity high

      Activity Level: High

    • Meal included

      Meal Included

    Duration

    7 hours