Northern Spain’s most exciting city, Bilbao, is an urban phoenix that as late as the mid-Nineties was mired in industrial decay. But less than 20 years on, chic restaurants and dramatic architectural statements dot its centre. Pitched 10 miles inland from Spain’s north coast, Bilbao is the largest city in the Basque Country. Still a busy port, its kernel lies in a valley on the estuary of the Nervió river. The city spreads out on both sides of the water: the Old Town (Casco Viejo) is on the right bank; “newer” districts such as Abando and Indautxu are on the other shore. The best times to enjoy the city is mid-April through June, September, and October as the temperature is ideal during these months.