Bilbao is the largest city in Northern Spain called the Basque Country. Famously known for its contemporary museums and architecture, Bilbao is a fantastic city break destination to visit with the family.
In this guide, I will highlight the most essentials things to do in Bilbao with kids, including a theme park and great outdoor excursions.
With over 1m inhabitants in the metropolitan region of Bilbao, this city is very unique thanks to its traditional Basque culture, the excellent food (the region has nearly 40 Michelin starred restaurants) and the Aste Nagusia festival happening every year in August.
So let’s dive into the best activities to do with kids in Bilbao. Vamos!
1. Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
First, I have to mention one of the most visited contemporary art museum in Europe called Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. The name might sound familiar if you have been to Venice before.
This museum was only open in the late 90s and is home to the most incredible art works from artist like Rothko, Miró or Jeff Koons.
If you are not a big fan of modern art, you and your children will still enjoy this venue just by visiting this incredible building. Outside, you will notice huge art compositions like the big spider called Maman from the artist Louis Bourgeois. You would probably recognise the Tulips from Jeff Koons too.
Typically, visitors spend up to 2 hours at this museum depending if you plan to access the temporary exhibitions. The shop is also worth to hang around to bring back home unique souvenirs from the museum.
2. Sightseeing Bilbao Boat Tour
Perfectly fit for a sunny day, you can’t beat visiting Bilbao with the kids on a nice sightseeing boat tour. You have the choice to book a 1-hour or 2-hour tour and will pass by many key buildings of Bilbao.
Taking this boat is a fun and relaxed way to explore the city of Bilbao when you arrive at the destination. It gives you a glimpse of the city vibes and may give you some hints on what you want to see later in the day.
3. Funicular de Artxanda
If you wish to have incredible views over Bilbao, there is no better option than to take the Funicular de Artxanda that takes you to the Mount Artxanda within minutes.
The unique transportation is very easy to spot with its red vibrant colour and can be on board not too far from the Zubizuri Bridge.
Once you are the top of the hills, you can sit down and admire the landscapes with the focus on Bilbao and the many noticeable buildings such as Guggenheim Museum.
There is a little park to wander around with the children too. And don’t forget to take the picture of the huge red Bilbao sign with the panoramic view of the city.
Now, in my opinion Roqueland is the museum that will definitely capture the attention of young children. This tiny place exhibits miniatures cities and scene compositions protected in big glass boxes. Each scene has been created meticulously and your children won’t forget how cool this museum.
What you will find are different themes such as Sylvanian world, knights, Cowboys and Indians and so much. Your kids will be able to play with certain exhibitions too and create their own world.
A hidden gem in Bilbao for kids not to be missed.
5. Europa Park
Next, you can head to the south east of Bilbao and spend some time with your little ones at Europa Park. This green area is popular with locals who are happy jogging, riding a bike or simply walking the dog.
In this park, you can find a great skate park but also a unique and contemporary playground with great slides and zip lines.
In addition, you will be able to walk around a pond where you can spot ducks and other birdlife. Europa Park is the perfect outdoor activity to do with the kids after lunch or before dinner so they can release balls of energy at the play area.
6. Museum of Fine Arts
If you are desperate to find another museum with an interesting collection of artworks, you can’t go wrong by picking the Museum of Fine Arts. The venue is divided in different rooms with a focus on one artist per room.
The Museum of Fine Arts is among the most visited museum in the Basque country and is lucky to be home of masterpieces from International painters such as Picasso, Gauguin or Francis Bacon.
The entrance is currently free and feels less crowded than Guggenheim as well.
7. Stroll the Streets of Bilbao Old Town
Best of all is a morning or afternoon visit in the Old Town of Bilbao, commonly known as Casco Viejo. You will walk in different narrow streets called the Seven Streets that make this medieval area of Bilbao so interesting.
This part of Bilbao feels the most authentic with lots of shops, restaurants and bars to stop by. This district is where you can discover the Plaza Nueva full of cafes and places to eat the traditional Pintxos (small dishes similar to Tapas).
One main building to observe and visit is the Santiago Cathedral, which was only introduced as a formal cathedral in 1950 by the Roman Catholics of Bilbao.
8. Market La Ribera
In the same area, you have to visit the big market La Ribera. Spanish cities are very good at preserving the traditional food markets where you can shop for local produces and even try the Pintxos at different stalls.
Ideally, you really want to go early for lunch so you can seat with children and taste different dishes like the Bacalao or Bocadillo with Ibero Ham. You will also be spoiled with lots of sweets pastries.
Finally, if you are staying in a holiday apartment, this place is probably where you can buy fresh fish and meats to cook at home for dinner after a long day exploring every corner of Bilbao.
9. Etxebarria Park
Only a few minutes away from Casco Viejo, the Etxebarria Park is a large green open space where parents and children can relax on a nice bright sunny day. It goes without saying that your children will enjoy a well-maintained playground with different activities such as slides, swings and more.
Parts of the park are currently under renovation and will look even better after works scheduled to be finished around this summer.
10. Aste Nagusia festival
I love the facts that summer is synonym with lots of festivals happening in different cities around Europe. Bilbao is not stranger to this recurring event called Aste Nagusia, which usually takes places in mid end of August.
Aste Nagusia means The Great Week but funny enough lasts for 9 days. If you are travelling to Bilbao during this time, you will enjoy lots of festivities with different activities to take part off.
Music plays a big part in this festival and the city of Bilbao welcomed many International artist and bands such as Iggy Pop, Pet Shop Boys or Public Enemy.
To make the festival even more attractive to locals and tourists, there is fireworks competition held for the whole duration of the event.
11. Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve
Last on our list of things to do in Bilbao is an activity that requires hiring a car. The Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is your golden ticket for a full day out with the family away from the urban life of Bilbao.
Urdaibai is a natural birds reserve with nice and long walks surrounded by natural beauties. This place is simply a hidden gem in the Basque country that locals go quite often. A good idea is to bring your lunch picnic so you can appreciate eating outdoor with the kids in the wild.
Also, lots of birds are migrating to this area so no wonder why Urdaibai was listed an official Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO in 1984.
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I hope you have found this article interesting to plan your days out in Bilbao with the kids. The Basque Country is definitely a place to check out for a few days if not a whole week if you are ready to explore different cities like San Sebastian or the French Basque country.
Bilbao has become more and more popular with visitors all around the world with direct flights from low cost airlines such as EasyJet or Vueling.
Enjoy your holiday in Bilbao with the family!
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