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Guggenheim Bilbao, Bilbao

2 Avenida Abandoibarra
Tel: 34 94 435 9080's insider take:

Traveling to Bilbao without stopping at the Guggenheim is like going to Paris and skipping Notre-Dame. Unfortunately, everyone else feels the same way—so set your alarm early on a weekday and beat the crowds by heading right for the always well-curated temporary exhibitions on the second and third floors. Past exhibits here have ranged from masterworks by Rubens and Michelangelo to ancient Aztec art to cutting-edge motorcycle designs. The permanent collection, which focuses on contemporary art, includes some notable pieces—like Richard Serra's steel sculpture The Matter of Time, Jenny Holzer's LED display Installation for Bilbao, and Jeff Koons's topiary Puppy—but is otherwise surprisingly thin. It's better to save for the end of your visit. You can cover the whole museum in about three hours. Of course, you'll want to leave time to explore Frank Gehry's building itself—the true star of the show—both from the inside and out. It's impossible to take a bad photo of the structure from any angle, and when you see it in all its undulating, shimmering titanium glory, you'll understand what the fuss is about.

Closed Mondays (except July and August).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.