How many buildings merit a pilgrimage all their own? The Taj Mahal, Chartres, St. Peter's -- it's a short list. In our lifetime, one has been added: Frank Gehry's Guggenheim Bilbao. On a Friday night, you can fly to Bilbao either through London (shorter flight, longer layover) or via Madrid. Stay at the Lopez de Haro. (It's where Gehry stays.) From there, it's a short walk to the museum. Look at the building the way you would a work of sculpture -- from all sides, including across the river and, by car, from the highway that seems to slice through it, before viewing the equally engaging collection inside. In the evening, take the hour trip to the seaside city of San Sebastian, and stroll along the waterfront before going to dinner in the nearby town of Oiartzun. Dine in the Michelin-two-star Zuberoa on such dishes as grilled squid with green-onion compote. The next morning, visit the other museum in Bilbao, the Museo de Bellas Artes, which has a fine collection of Flemish and Spanish masters. If you are truly a glutton, have a big Sunday lunch (as Spaniards do) before hopping back on the plane and heading home.
DETAILS Guggenheim Bilbao, 011-34-94-435-9080 or www.guggenheim-bilbao.es; Lopez de Haro Hotel, 011-34-94-423-5500 (rooms start at $180); Zuberoa, 011-34-94-349-1228.