13 Things to do in Bilbao with Kids – Spain Road Trip

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Looking for things to do in Bilbao with kids? We’ve got’em. The best time to visit Bilbao with kids is summertime, of course. However, no matter when you travel to Bilbao, you’ll find a creative, dynamic city to explore.

Our recommendations for what to do in Bilbao with kids. This little Bilbao guide is divided into three parts: Art & History, Walks & Open Spaces, and Day Trips from Bilbao. If you travel in northern Spain, you'll find plenty of things to do in Bilbao with kids. | Guggenheim Museum Bilbao | Bellas Artes Bilbao | Basque Museum | Euskal Museoa | Paseo Campo de Volantí | Day Trip from Bilbao | Basque, Spain | Spain Family Travel | North Spain with Kids

THINGS TO DO IN BILBAO WITH KIDS

Below I’ve listed up our recommendations for what to do in Bilbao with kids. This little Bilbao guide is divided into three parts: Art & History, Walks & Open Spaces, and Day Trips from Bilbao. If you travel in northern Spain, you’ll find plenty of things to do in Bilbao with kids!

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13 Things to do in Bilbao with Kids - Spain Road Trip

ART & HISTORY

Our recommendations for what to do in Bilbao with kids. This little Bilbao guide is divided into three parts: Art & History, Walks & Open Spaces, and Day Trips from Bilbao. If you travel in northern Spain, you'll find plenty of things to do in Bilbao with kids. | Guggenheim Museum Bilbao | Bellas Artes Bilbao | Basque Museum | Euskal Museoa | Paseo Campo de Volantí | Day Trip from Bilbao | Basque, Spain | Spain Family Travel | North Spain with Kids

Rain and overcast weather are common in this region of Spain, so if you’re in Bilbao with kids, plan accordingly. Always visit Bilbao with an umbrella. Fortunately, the city has plenty of indoor activities.

The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao

Let’s start with the main attraction, shall we? Out of all the things to do in Bilbao with kids (or without kids, really), a visit to the Bilbao Guggenheim Museum is a must. If you can only do one thing, then this is what to see in Bilbao.

Whatever exhibit is showing, the building and the grounds themselves are worth checking out. Jeff Koons’ massive “Puppy” looms large near the entrance (the kids will love this one), and Frank Gehry’s undulating building is breathtaking inside and out.

Exhibits can vary in their appeal to young ones. For example, when we were there, the (intentionally monotonous) Andy Warhol “Shadows” show bored them to death. However, we all loved walking through the gargantuan steel ellipses of Richard Serra’s “A Matter of Time” installation, which is part of the Guggenheim’s permanent collection.

The sculpture garden on the back side of the Guggenheim is also a must-visit, if only for the family pictures to take there.

Remember that once you’ve bought your ticket, you can leave and return before closing hours. That’s what we did: one the kids got hungry, we left, found a quick bite and then went back in.

Also, remember that once you’ve bought your ticket, you can leave and return before closing hours. That’s what we did: once the kids got hungry, we left the Guggenheim, found some lunch a few blocks away, and then went back in.

The Guggenheim Bilbao

  • Open Tuesday through Sunday 10 am to 8 pm.
  • 10 euros adults
  • 6 euros students
  • Free for kids under 12

Museo de Bellas Artes Bilbao (Bilbao Museum of Fine Art)

If the Guggenheim wasn’t enough for you, or you simply prefer to see the work of masters old and new when you visit Bilbao, then head to the Museo de Bellas Artes Bilbao. Here you’ll find works by masters like El Greco, Van Dyck and Bacon (also Goya, but go to Zaragoza to see his best work).

If you’re looking for artistic things to do in Bilbao with kids, add this to your itinerary.

The Museo de Bellas Artes Bilbao

  • 7 euro adults
  • 5 Euro under 25 years old
  • Free under 12
  • Closed Tuesdays

Basque Museum (Euskal Museoa)

If you are interested in learning more about the history and culture of the Basque country, this is what to see in Bilbao. However, despite being one of the most relevant cultural things to do in Bilbao with kids, prepare to find close to zero English information on the exhibits.

Highlights include a to-scale 3D topographical map of the region and the massive costumes worn in traditional festivals. These need no explanation to enjoy but would benefit many if we could actually read about their origins without resorting to Google Translate.

The Basque Museum

  • 3 euros general admission
  • free for under 12
  • Open 10am to 7pm Mon/Wed/Thu/Fri/Sat
  • Closed Tuesdays

La Alhóndiga

Once a storehouse for grain and wine, this building has been transformed into a remarkable cultural center. Cafes, movies, book fairs, you name it. Check the calendar to see what events are happening when you’re in town.

Acclaimed art exhibits (often free) pass through these halls. If the kids have had enough painting and sculpture after the other museums, then just walk around and check out the 43 columns in the main hall, each a completely different design.

The building also has a massive swimming pool with a glass bottom, so if you’ve ever wondered what the backstroke looks like from underneath, now’s your chance.

La Alhóndiga

  • Monday to Thursday: 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Friday 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
  • Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
  • Sunday and public holidays 8:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Free entry

WALKS & OPEN SPACES

We don’t want to stay cooped up inside the entire time, do we? Bilbao is a unique mix of old and new. It’s also quite green with the scent of the water (both freshwater and ocean) never too far away.

The Old Town (Casco Viejo)

The main section of the city is basically seven streets, and you can access them by following the river from the Guggenheim Museum (approx 30min). In the old town, you’ll find 18th-Century libraries and cathedrals, and nearby is the Parque Etxebarria, a wide open swath of grass where a steel mill once stood. Local festivals happen here.

The Volantin Walkway (El Paseo Campo de Volantí)

This walking path hugs the Nervion river that runs through Bilbao. Much of the city’s unique architecture is visible from this path. It can be even more stunning after sunset when the lights come on.

The Ribera Market (Mercado de la Ribera)

In business for nearly 90 years, the Mercado de la Ribera is the largest indoor market in Europe. You can grab a snack here or just ogle at all the fresh fish and produce.

La Ría Maritime Museum (Museo Marítimo Ría de Bilbao)

Built from an old shipyard, this place is huge, with plenty of space to run around. Interactive exhibits and attentive staff help kids and adults understand the transformation of Bilbao’s estuary into a shipping and fishing industry.

 

The La Ría Maritime Museum

  • 6 euros adults
  • 3.5 euros under 26 years old
  • free under 6 years

Winter:

  • Tue-Fri: 10am – 6pm
  • Sat, Sun: 10am – 8pm
  • Closed Mondays
  • Free on Tuesdays during the school year

Summer:

  • Tue-Sun: 10am – 8pm
  • Closed Mondays

Vizcaya Bridge (Puente Colgante)

This ain’t the prettiest bridge I’ve ever seen, but it is certainly unique. It’s also historically significant, making UNESCO’s list of industrial heritage sites. It’s about 20 minutes north of downtown Bilbao, but I’m glad we went and want to recommend it to you, as well.

Why this design? Well, with so many boats coming in and out, they needed something that could transport people back and forth across the river without causing a maritime collision.

There are ticket machines on both sides of the river where you can buy round-trip tickets. The ride takes only minutes, but then it can be fun to walk around on either side of the river like we did. There is another type of ticket available that lets you take the elevator to the top level and walk around. We didn’t do it, and I regret it now.

Vizcaya Bridge

  • 0.40 euro: One-way
  • 0.80 euro: Round-trip
  • 7 euro for catwalk access (9 euro with audioguide)
  • free for kids under 3

Getxo Aquarium

Located about a 30-minute walk from the Vizcaya Bridge, this what to do in Bilbao with kids who love Nemo, Dory, and lots of other beautiful colored fish. The beach is a 10-minute walk away if you want to run around further or discuss where the fish actually come from.

The Getxo Aquarium

  • Open Tuesday through Sunday
  • 10:30am-2pm & 4:30am-8pm
  • Closed Mondays.
  • 3.25 euros for adults
  • 2.15 euros for children

DAY TRIPS FROM BILBAO

If you’re driving or otherwise willing and mobile, the Basque country surrounding the city has even more fun in store. Visit Bilbao first, and then look to one of these day trips from Bilbao for something different.

The Oma Painted Forest (Bosque de Oma)

This magical grove of pines sits in a Basque biosphere nature reserve. The artist Agustín Ibarrola painted the trunks of the tree here and there so that when you stand at certain angles, shapes and patterns form.

This was a highlight for our time in Bilbao with kids, and we’d consider it to be one of the most unique things to do in Bilbao. It’s about a 40-minute drive from downtown.

Butron Castle (Castillo de Butron)

I hesitate to mention this one because of the condition the place is in now, but for castle lovers, this is part of what to see in Bilbao and the surrounding area.

Butron Castle is now more of a picnic spot or photo op than actual touring activity. It has seen its better days. No longer open to the public, the grounds surrounding it are still an interesting place for a picnic and a family picture.

The castle is about a 30-minute drive from town, and I would only stop if you’re on your way to San Juan Gaztelugatxe or further east to San Sebastian. This is not one of the top things to do in Bilbao with kids, but for some of you, passing by such a place and not stopping may seem unthinkable.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Travel in Basque Country - San Juan de Gaztelugatxe: Spain Road Trip

Drive 45 – 60 minutes northeast of Bilbao and you arrive at this magical little rock in the Atlantic Ocean. After all of the art and modern architecture of Bilbao, this place feels frozen in the past. No wonder the HBO series Game of Thrones decided to shoot here.

HAVE YOU BEEN TO BILBAO WITH KIDS?

What would you suggest to do in Bilbao with kids? We ate near our accommodation and therefore didn’t get a chance to try Bilbao’s pintxo scene. Do you know where to eat in Bilbao? Tell us in the comments, or contact me directly.

13 Things to do in Bilbao with Kids - Spain Road Trip

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