Top 10 Things to Do in Bilbao with Kids

by John and Sarah Hayes (and kids)

From Author

Hey there, fellow family adventurers! We’re the Hayes family—John, Sarah, Michael, and Emily—and we want to share the joy, wonder, and excitement we experienced during our recent adventure to Bilbao, Spain. This place is teeming with activities for kids, parents, and everyone in between. Trust us; your whole clan will find something to love here. We’ve compiled our top 10 things to do in Bilbao, so sit back, relax, and let us guide you through this magical city!

Top 10 Things to Do in Bilbao with Kids

1) Guggenheim Museum: A Modern Marvel
The Guggenheim Museum was at the top of our list when we planned our trip, and it didn’t disappoint! The kids were captivated right from the moment they saw Jeff Koons’ “Puppy” at the entrance. But let’s talk about the architecture for a moment; designed by the incredible Frank Gehry, the building itself is like a sculpture, all swirls and curls of metal, creating a spectacle that’s hard to take your eyes off. Inside, the awe didn’t stop. Michael couldn’t stop talking about Richard Serra’s “The Matter of Time,” while Emily was enchanted by the various digital art installations. As parents, we loved the education the museum offered: they have workshops for children on weekends! Definitely a jewel in the crown for the top 10 things to do in Bilbao. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the gift shop; it’s a treasure trove of unique art-inspired items.
2) La Ribera Market: Food Heaven
This is a food lover’s utopia! Imagine a space covering 10,000 square meters, packed with everything from fresh produce to ready-made meals. La Ribera Market offered us the opportunity to explore Basque cuisine to the fullest. We started off at the fresh produce section, where the kids picked some exotic fruits to try. Then, we ventured into the fish market area where an array of sea creatures awaited. We indulged in some oysters and fresh shrimp, cooked to perfection at one of the food stalls. The highlight was the pintxos cooking class that they offer; not only did we eat delicious food, but we also learned how to make it!
3) Casco Viejo: The Old Quarter
Ah, the Casco Viejo—imagine walking through narrow, cobbled streets, surrounded by medieval architecture that’s been beautifully preserved. The kids had a blast doing a self-made scavenger hunt, spotting various landmarks like the Santiago Cathedral and La Bolsa Bridge. Then, we found ourselves in Plaza Nueva, a bustling square surrounded by pintxos bars and shops. We took turns picking different pintxos (miniature snacks that are an essential part of Basque culture), and oh my, the flavors! A particular family favorite was the stuffed pepper pintxos. Don’t leave without trying some local desserts too; we recommend the Basque cheesecake!
Casco Viejo: The Old Quarter
Casco Viejo: The Old Quarter
4) Mount Artxanda: Views and More
If you’re looking for some tranquility and panoramic vistas of Bilbao, Mount Artxanda is where you need to be. The funicular ride to the top was an adventure in itself, and both Michael and Emily were glued to the windows. Once we reached the summit, the view was breathtaking. We spent a few hours just soaking in the scenery, spotting landmarks, and taking photos. There’s also a children’s playground, so while we parents savored some well-deserved cappuccinos at a nearby café, the kids burned off some energy. We also did a mini-hike on one of the walking paths; it was both educational and entertaining as the trails have informative boards about local flora and fauna.
5) San Mamés Stadium: For the Love of Soccer
Our family is a bunch of soccer enthusiasts, so San Mamés was a non-negotiable stop. The tour begins with a multimedia presentation that delves into the history of Athletic Bilbao, the city’s home team. From there, you visit the locker rooms, the press area, and finally, the field itself. Standing on the sidelines where legends have played was a surreal experience. The energy in the empty stadium is palpable, making you want to chant and cheer. The kids had their faces painted with the team colors, a lovely free service provided by the stadium. If you can, try to catch a live game; the atmosphere is electrifying!
6) Mouth of the Estuary of Bilbao: Take to the Water
We decided to experience Bilbao from a different angle: the water. We took a boat tour that sailed down the Nervión River and out into the estuary. It was educational, fun, and incredibly scenic. The tour guide pointed out important landmarks, and the kids got to participate in a small quiz about Bilbao’s geography. Plus, there’s something undeniably fun about feeling the wind in your hair and the sun on your face as you glide through the water.
Bilbao, river
Mouth of the Estuary of Bilbao: Take to the Water
7) Bilbao Maritime Museum: Set Sail into History
This museum is an ode to Bilbao’s maritime history and its relationship with the sea. It’s not just a place to see but to experience. With life-size models of ships and interactive exhibits, we could practically feel the ocean wind in our hair. The kids went on a simulated sailing adventure, steering a ship through various challenges, which taught them about navigation and sea currents. The temporary exhibits are worth checking out too; we caught one about historic sea monsters that fascinated the kids. It’s undoubtedly one of the top 10 Bilbao attractions for families who love the ocean and history combined.
8) Doña Casilda Park: Outdoor Fun
After all the intense sightseeing, we craved some downtime, and Doña Casilda Park provided just that. This lush green oasis in the heart of the city was perfect for a lazy afternoon. We had a picnic near the duck pond and then explored the park’s various sections. There’s a beautiful rose garden that had the kids playing fairytale games, and a small playground where they mingled with local children. For the parents, there’s an old-fashioned merry-go-round that’s more of an art piece than a ride, a wonderful example of Bilbao’s dedication to aesthetics even in the most mundane places.
9) Azkuna Zentroa: Not Just a Leisure Center
This place is like a mini-city within a city. Designed by Philippe Starck, Azkuna Zentroa is a marvel of modern architecture. We first hit the rooftop pool, an architectural wonder with a glass bottom. Swimming there felt like floating in the sky! Then we attended a puppet show in their event space that kept Michael and Emily laughing and engaged. There are also small art installations scattered around the building that serve as great conversation starters and educational points for the kids.
10) Museo de Bellas Artes: A Touch of Classic Art
Yes, Bilbao is not just about modern art. Museo de Bellas Artes offers a different vibe altogether. It’s quiet, serene, and the art speaks volumes. From Renaissance paintings to Basque sculptures, the museum houses an eclectic collection that spans centuries. We all loved the gallery dedicated to Basque artists; it provided a rich cultural context to our trip. They also have interactive family tours that engaged the kids and enriched their understanding of art history, making it a top 10 thing to do in Bilbao.


And there you have it—our family’s guide to an unforgettable Bilbao adventure. We hope our experiences help you craft the trip of a lifetime! Safe travels, and enjoy every moment in this beautiful Basque city! 🌍👨‍👩‍👧‍👦✈️