Visiting Bilbao with the family: our suggestions
Bilbao

Visiting Bilbao with the family: our suggestions

For those of us lucky enough to live here, Bilbao has been reborn and transformed into a beautiful, youthful, modern, and lively city. You only have to see the thousands of people that come year after year to see this immense change for themselves and experience its splendour first-hand.

Many come to Bilbao with their families, including young children, who not only want to enjoy the city, but are also eager to explore it and let their hair down.

Here are some fantastic ideas for visiting Bilbao with your family. Let’s start with some of my favourites.

Discover Bilbao from the waves

Kayak, water bike or boat

kayak ria bilbao

The Bilbao estuary is Biscay’s main artery and plays an important role in the city; set around it are some of the most iconic sites, such as the Guggenheim Museum, University of Deusto and the Calatrava Bridge. Discovering these gems from the water is a delight for adults and guaranteed fun for children. 

There are so many ways to discover Bilbao from the estuary. How about exploring while paddling a kayak or pedalling a water bike? The children will love it and can learn about the sights while having a blast at the same time. Mission accomplished!

If you’d like to enjoy this experience on the estuary in complete comfort, why not take a boat. Bilbao offers many types of boat that can be as long or short as you like. The little ones will love it!

I’ve used many of the activity companies that make these excursions so much fun, including: Urkabia, Bilboats and Bilbobentura.

Discover Bilbao from above

Artxanda’s Cable Car and Viewpoint

Discovering Bilbao from the estuary is great fun, but exploring it from up high will blow you away. Let me tell you why.

Very near Campo Volantín is Artxanda’s Cable Car, a historic and charming red cable car that takes you from the centre of Bilbao to Mount Artxanda in just a few minutes. This excursion will guarantee you two things: the kids will have a blast riding the cable car and, once at the top of the mountain, you will also get one of the most spectacular panoramic views imaginable.

panorama bilbao artxanda

Go for a wander

Strolling through the streets of Bilbao is great fun for everyone, especially for the little ones. Both the medieval Casco Viejo (Old Quarter) and the more modern areas of the city offer some of the most appealing family-friendly options. Here are some of the things you can find while wandering around Bilbao.

The Carola Crane and Maritime Museum

Located on the banks of the estuary in Abandoibarra is a large crane that attracts plenty of attention. Named the Carola Crane, this bright red attraction is the perfect place you and the children to start your adventure in the big city.

grua carola bilbao

You’ll notice that right next door is Itsasmuseum, the must visit Maritime Museum. The museum has some fascinating exhibitions for even the youngest of visitors, allowing them to discover the marine world that stretches from the Bilbao estuary to the Bay of Biscay. This museum also includes activities for children, so you’re guaranteed to have a great time.

San Mamés

Athletic’s stadium, also known as “The Cathedral”, is undoubtedly a must-see on any visit to Bilbao with your children. Go to the San Mamés together and discover the landmark that ignites passions throughout the city.

estadio san mames bilbao

Around the Guggenheim Museum

Puppy

You’ll love this giant dog, which stands more than 12 metres high. You’ll also see that Puppy is the faithful guardian of the famous Guggenheim Museum and you’ll no doubt want to discover what’s inside. Now is the perfect opportunity!

puppy bilbao

Maman

You’ve probably never seen a 9-metre-high spider before, right? This giant arachnid looks like something out of a science fiction film, you’re going to love it!

bilbao araña maman

Zubi zuri

This bridge, more popularly known as the Calatrava Bridge, bisects the city and gives you the chance to visit the sights on both sides of the estuary. While you’re there, cross over to Uribitarte and visit Roqueland Bilbao, a small exhibition of moving models that is sure to delight the kids.

puente zubi zuri bilbao

The Alhóndiga Building

A visit to the Alhóndiga building is highly recommended, and you’ll find out that the design of its columns is anything but boring.

Parks and Gardens

Doña Casilda Park is located between Abandoibarra and Gran Vía, where you’ll find plenty of space for the children to play in and enjoy themselves. The park, familiarly known as the duck park, has a large pond featuring ducks and swans. It’s the perfect place to take a break from walking, have a play, eat an ice cream, enjoy a quiet drink at one of the kiosks and just sit and watch the world go by.

Visit Bilbao by bicycle or tourist bus

Two options that both children and adults love, and which I always recommend, are discovering the city by bike or on a tourist bus.

bilbao bicicleta

Taste the flavours 

If there’s one thing Bilbao is famous for, it’s the celebrated gastronomy. All you have to do is decide whether you prefer sweet or savoury and then delight your palate with the city’s most iconic flavours.

If you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss a chocolate palmera from Arrese, a carolina cake from Don Manuel or a butter bun from Zuricalday. If you prefer savoury, visit La Ribera Market next to Casco Viejo and choose whatever takes your fancy. My recommendation? Try the “piparrak” (chili pepper).

Travel is education

One of my mottos when I travel with children is that travel is education. If there’s one thing that isn’t lacking in Bilbao, it’s art. It’s everywhere, from the most urban and amusing graffiti, which you will find just walking around the city, in places like the Irala neighbourhood, to the most important and iconic museums, such as the Guggenheim Museum or the Museum of Fine Arts. Art in its purest form for all kinds of audiences and tastes.

cuadros museo bilbao

Excursions near Bilbao

Bilbao is very well connected by metro, trains, and buses, allowing you to make excursions to nearby destinations featuring some of our must-see places in Biscay.

Butrón Castle, a medieval castle where you can let your imagination run wild, San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a film location that recalls famous series such as Game of Thrones, the Vizcaya Bridge with its breathtaking panoramic footbridge, and endless beaches, such as the one in Sopelana that allows the most intrepid travellers to discover this wonderful region from the skies with its paragliding activities.

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

As you can see, Bilbao has tonnes to offer families travelling with young children. You can have your own adventure exploring the city together and having lots of fun along the way. Simply decide what you want to do, make a plan, and then let your senses take over. 😉

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