Visit the Maritime Museum
The city’s Maritime Museum is one of the best for kids in Bilbao, with plenty to keep them fascinated and entertained. Housed in an old shipyard, there’s lots of space here for them to play, as well as many interactive exhibits and large ships to see and climb onto. Kids and adults alike will enjoy learning how Bilbao turned into an important shipping and fishing city.
Explore Doña Casilda Park
Doña Casilda Park is one of the biggest and best parks in the city, and a great spot to take the children. They will love running around in the wide open green spaces, feeding the ducks and geese on the lake or marvelling at the beautiful fountains. There are also a couple of playgrounds and sometimes a merry-go-round with ride-on horses. Take a picnic and you can enjoy a whole day here.
Ride the Artxanda Funicular
The Artxanda Funicular is the old mountain railway that ferries passengers up and down the Artxanda Mountain, high above the city. Kids will have a great time riding up the mountain, and getting the chance to experience a funicular. At the top, as well as spectacular city views, there are various walkways and a couple of restaurants.
Float down the river on a Bilboat
If those little legs get tired of exploring the city on foot, book a Bilboats tour to discover the city from the water. As many of the major sights, such as the Guggenheim and the Ribera Market are located along the river, it makes for a great way to see the city from a different angle.
Admire the sculptures at the Guggenheim Museum
Some may think that art museums are too sophisticated for children, however the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao offers something a little different to painted canvases in huge rooms. Take your little ones to the Art District that surrounds the Guggenheim to marvel at giant, fun and playful sculptures such as Jeff Koons’ colourful Puppy or Tulips or the giant spider Mamen by Louise Bourgeois. We’re sure this is one art museum they won’t forget quickly.
Make a day trip out to the Painted Forest of Oma
If you’ve seen most of the major sights in Bilbao and feel like getting out of the city for the day, head to the Painted Forest of Oma, approximately a 45 minute journey to the northeast. Your children will love discovering this free attraction and looking out for the colourfully painted trees by the artist and sculptor Agustín Ibarrola, which include images such as eyes, figures and animals.
Discover all the food stalls at the Mercado de la Ribera
If you’re a foodie family, your little ones will be delighted with Bilbao’s Mercado de la Ribera – Europe’s largest indoor market with over 10,000 square metres of space. Teach your kids about various new types of fruit, vegetables and seafood as you pass by the stalls. The market also houses a number of restaurants and cafes, as well as live music sessions.
Learn about culture at the Basque Museum
Help your kids learn more about Basque culture at the Euskal Museoa, housed in an old 17th century church and college. There are thousands of objects on display here that will fascinate children, from old fishing equipment to this wolf trap (below). A particular highlight are the giants, which are used during Basque festivals.
Get to know the marine life at the Getxo Aquarium
Not technically in the city of Bilbao, the Getxo Aquarium, lies in the small town of Getxo along the coast. Taking just 40 minutes to reach on public transport from the centre, it’s well worth a visit. Comprising 26 different aquariums, it will teach kids the difference between the Cantabrian Sea and the Pacific Ocean, and enable them to see many fishes and sea creatures up close, such as butterfly fish, clown fish (like Disney’s Nemo), anemones, corals and crustaceans.
Play on the beach
Bilbao city itself does not have a beach, as it lies inland a little, however they are a number of gorgeous beaches just along the coast from the estuary of the River Nervión. Many are also easily reachable by public transport from the centre of Bilbao. One of the closest is Sopelana, which is accessible via line 1 on the metro. A vast sandy beach, it’s surrounded by huge craggy cliffs – younger kids will have a great time building sandcastles or paddling, while the older ones may enjoy a surf lesson. There’s also a couple of cafes here – just in case anyone gets hungry.