On our first and only full day in Bilbao we started with the Guggenheim, the primary reason for visiting Bilbao. So as our little one went down for her morning nap in the stroller we started our tour of the Museum, both the building and the exhibits. With so much to see and take in though nap time ended with still miles to go. We stuck in there as long as we could before hitting the café for lunch. After lunch our little one enjoyed her version of what the Guggenheim was for me; the largest, nicest playground she’d ever seen which was perfectly placed adjacent to the museum. We split up allowing running around in the park and experimenting with the playground equipment, while I explored the exterior of the museum.
After the Guggenheim we wandered along the river taking time to appreciate (and take pictures of) the Calatrava foot bridge as we crossed over in to the old city. We spent the rest of the afternoon strolling about casually with no destination in mind.
That evening for dinner we attempted something else we had been watching the locals do with envy throughout Spain, a Tapas Crawl; stopping by a tapas bar for one tapas and a glass of wine and then moving on to a different bar. We thought this practice wouldn’t work so well with a toddler but as it turns out it worked just fine. The only adjustment we made was to start the whole process earlier than most, which resulted in an earlier bedtime for all and better stroller parking at the bar. It worked great! We all started with tapas, which some of us paired with a glass of wine. Our little one loved trying all the different foods and as long as we supplemented with her snacks as we walked around looking for our next stop she was pretty happy. It was a perfect last night in Spain before we made our way across the border to Bordeaux and her wines!
Guidebooks – Since we were traveling light we kept our books to a minimum. For this leg of our trip we used Fodor’s Spain and were very happy with it. We never felt the need for a city specific guide. We have now used it for five trips to Spain and never needed anything more. For European travel in general Fodor’s are my go-to Travel Books.
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao – This is a must see for everyone, but architects should plan on giving this a whole day, (if they aren’t traveling with a toddler). This is a museum that most people visit for the building at least as much if not more so than the exhibits themselves. With this in mind, admission tickets include an audio tour. The audio tour includes a wealth of information about the building. If you aren’t planning on spending a whole day there you should pick and choose what you listen to. I wanted all of it! Which unfortunately meant I only hit the tip of the iceberg when we were interrupted by someone waking up from her nap and had to pick up our pace. In hindsight, knowing I didn’t have all the time in the world I should have prioritized better. Regardless it’s an amazing museum.
Some housekeeping concerns for you. You may want to consider purchasing your tickets online. I don’t often recommend this because it’s nice to stay flexible, but having tickets in hand for a site this heavily visited will make your day a bit less stressful. From a family friendly stand point it is completely stroller friendly; and they will let you bring a backpack or other bag in with baby/child supplies in it. – Must see!