- Magical island with a wild coastline, waves and wind
- Great photo opportunities
- Eating "pinchos"
- Meeting local kids at the Plaza
- Watching the waves crashing against the rocks
- Naptime while hiking
Prepare in advance
Pack some food and drinks for the afternoon hike. There is no supermarket, cafe or lunch spot nearby.
Good to know
While you can use your stroller for the morning hike in Bilbao, you have to switch to a baby carrier to access the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe for the coastline views. The island is connected to the mainland by a man-made stone bridge and has 241 steps to reach the top.
You can do a city stroll any day of the week, but on Mondays the Guggenheim Museum is closed.
About This Day
Start your Basque family itinerary with a relaxed stroll around the city of Bilbao. Pass the famous Guggenheim Museum and be amazed by the gigantic spider sculpture or the flower puppy outside the museum. Continue to the old city, stroll around the small winding streets, taste some typical Basque "pinchos" (tapas) and take a well-earned siesta at the Plaza Nueva. After resting, you feel energized enough to continue you day trip with a drive a bit outside the city to the Bay of Biscay. There you’ll climb 241 steps to the magical rock island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe. Enjoy the crashing waves, wind, stunning views, and a wild, beautiful landscape; once you reach the top of the island, this place will take your breath away!
Even from afar, one is impressed by the modern architecture of the Guggenheim Museum. The museum is a cultural jewel in Bilbao. It is possible to walk all the way around the museum, admiring the architecture from each perspective while also visiting a number of artworks installed outside. Kids like to play around and under the almost 9-meter-tall (30 feet) "Maman" spider sculpture. Dignified and stalwart as it stands guard at the museum, Jeff Koons’ "Puppy" fills kids with awe, and even joy. "Puppy" is a dog carpeted in plants, imposing in scale.
Inside the museum you will discover different art galleries and exhibitions. The museum offers different programs for kids and families; for example BabyArt is a workshop to stimulate touch, hearing and sight by means of a game with parents, and provides an initiation in the enjoyment of art. It is for babies aged 6 to 36 months.
DIRECTIONS The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is located in the city center. Public transport services in Bilbao are accessible and adapted for people with disabilities. Depending on your accommodation or your previous location you can reach the museum either by metro, by tram or by bus. If traveling by bus, the following routes will stop near the museum: 1, 10, 13, 18 and A7 at the stop "Museo 1 / Henao". Routes 13, 27, 38, and 48 stop at "Alda. Recalde 31 and 11," and "Alda. Recalde 12." Routes 11 and 71 go to "La Salve / Igogailua" and "Campo Volantín / La Salve." By tram, exit at the Guggenheim stop. By metro the stop is Moyua; exit via Ercilla-Guggenheim.
TIP Space is limited in the workshops. Advance purchase is required to secure a spot.
Eat a perfect lunch at the Café Bar Bilbao, the most famous pincho bar in Bilbao. They offer artfully prepared loaf appetizers (tapas) on their counters. And this is place not only for eating well but also for social gatherings and to meet locals. Take a seat—outside in summer—and enjoy the Spanish atmosphere on the Plaza Nueva in the heart of the old city of Bilbao. The kids will love it; the miniature cuisine is perfect for kids and they can play outside on the Plaza.
DIRECTIONS The Café Bar Bilbao is located in the old city of Bilbao. From the Guggenheim Museum you can either walk for about 20 minutes to the café. Or you can take the bus to the stop "Puente del Arenal" and walk from there couple of minutes to café. You can also reach it by metro if you take the Caseo Viejo Line to the stop "Zazpi Kaleak."
9A Lugar Barrio Gibelortzaga, Gaztelugatxeko Doniene
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe ("castle rock" in Basque) is a definite "must-see." It is a cone-shaped island located just off the shore and is connected to the mainland by a man-made stone bridge. The bridge becomes a narrow path with 241 steps that zigzags its way to the top. Climb up to the highest point where you will find a church which has a bell situated along the front of its facade. According to legend, ring the bell three times and make a wish.
Our family loved the climb down the hill, across the bridge and up to the church—it felt like a small adventure and a bit of a workout that rewarded us with truly impressive views. The ocean is rough and the waves really crash against the rocks of the island.
DIRECTIONS San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is located on the Biscayan coast, and is 35 kilometers (22 miles) east of Bilbao (about a 45-minute drive). It is possible to get there by car or bus. To get there from Bilbao by car, you need to take the BI-631. Once you arrive at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, there is a free-parking area next to the main road. If you are planning to go to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe by bus from Bilbao, you need to take the Bizkaibus line A3524 which goes from Bilbao to Bermeo via Mungia and Bakio. That bus stops right in front of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and the name of the stop is "Gaztelu Begi."
TIP I would recommend using a baby carrier if you bring your baby. You will have a hard time with a stroller. Don't forget a snack and some water. You can always stop at one of the many benches located off the road and take in the views. At top of the island, next to the church there is also a small area protected from the wind with tables and benches.