Bilbao is a lovely place to visit for so many reasons. Whether you have flown into the Bilbao airport, or you have arrived by another form of travel, you will find the best street food, amazing things to do with children, as well as many exciting free things to do. The best museums in Bilbao are also one of the main reasons to head to this port city and there are museums for people of all ages to enjoy.
The first thing that you need to do when you head to Bilbao, is to find a place for your bags. Head to a Bounce luggage storage in Bilbao to drop off your luggage. There are ultra-convenient locations close to Bilbao Airport and Old Town. Once done, you can head out to have fun without worrying about your bags. Now, let's get into which museums simply can't be omitted from your itinerary:
La Ria Maritime Museum
This museum is located in the former Euskalduna shipyard. This is a lovely museum that is very informative and you will see exhibitions like one on the Titanic. From September to June, admission is free on Tuesdays and is one of the best free things to do in Bilbao. This is one of the smaller museums in the city and it is not a fine arts museum, but you will learn a lot about naval and maritime history here.
Between temporary exhibitions and permanent shipping history museum exhibits, you will never get bored visiting this museum, even if you have been before.
Museum of Sacred Art
This museum is home to more than 2,000 pieces that are separated by the year that they were created. The various periods of art history are represented here accurately and you can view everything from modern art to contemporary art.
There are jewelry displays here as well as art and sculptures. This is an interesting museum among Bilbao's fine arts museums and you will not regret coming here to visit.
Museo de Bellas Artes
The Museo de Bellas Artes is a smaller venue that offers you about an hour of art to appreciate. This is a spot near the city center and it's one of the best Bilbao fine arts museum locations that will not break the bank. If you want to get inside out of the sun or take a little break from other activities, you need to pop in here.
The Guggenheim Bilbao Museums should still be at the top of your list of museums to see but this little collection is another great museum choice. These kinds of impressively showcased small collections are everywhere in this historical city and each is unique. You could spend every day of your trip visiting spots like this to see the small but carefully curated collections on offer.
Athletic Club Museum
Head to this museum if you are passionate about the history of sport or simply want to learn more about it. The Athletic Club Museum also features some history about Bilbao itself. This is an award-winning location that is on par with the Guggenheim Bilbao Museum. You will be impressed with this location even if you are not a dedicated sports fan. It's easy to spend a few hours here immersed in the exhibits. You'll emerge hours later wondering where all the time went.
Museum of Artistic Reproductions
This spot is housed in a former church. You will enjoy access to art like a Parthenon frieze reproduction as well as reproductions from many other periods. There are decorative arts here as well as tourist attractions from other places that have been faithfully reproduced. This is a very nice spot to spend part of an afternoon and you will find that this museum is just as enjoyable despite the art being "fake."
Reproduction art is a skill in its own right. You will get to see pieces of art from all over the world when you head here. Knowing that they are not the real thing doesn't lessen their power and impact, and how else can you see works from Paris, Rome, and other world-class cities in one place?
Guggenheim Museum Bilbao
The Guggenheim Museum is a lovely structure that is as special as the pieces of art it houses. There is a large collection of modern and fine art here to enjoy as well as a continuation of the Guggenheim legacy. The collection here is large, varied, and full of pieces that you cannot see anywhere else.
The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a fine arts museum that you must put on your list of things to do while you are in Bilbao. This is without a doubt one of the incredible museums that you need to see when you are in the city. You'll find a new appreciation for art and architecture from the building alone. Frank Gehry designed this location and the sweeping lines of the building are its own work of special art.
Archaeological Museum of Bilbao
Dedicated to Basque Country and its history, this spot is worth your time in the Casco Viejo neighborhood. This is one of the smaller museums in Bilbao, but that doesn't mean that the collection here is not just as interesting as what is on offer in the larger museums. There are other museums that will show you art and teach you about Bilbao, but this spot is very interesting because Basque Country has a unique and special history all its own.
Museo de Pasos de Semana Santa
For exhibits of clothing and local history, this is the best place to stop by. The focus at Museo de Pasos is Easter. They showcase religious art and various scenes relating to Easter in a well-restored 18th-century building. The price of tickets is affordable here and you will get to see all kinds of carefully curated exhibits. This is a gem among the smaller museums in the city and one that you should put on your list of things to do while you're in town.
This is a great stop to pair with a trip to one of the bigger museums in the city and you will love the contrast between the small and large museum experiences that these spots can offer.
Catedral de Santiago
Catedral de Santiago is not actually an official museum, but the stained glass it showcases in its windows really should be displayed in one. The history of the church is documented inside and the flying buttresses are extremely impressive. In short, even though this is a church, not a museum, it should probably be considered both. You can learn a lot about the culture of Bilbao here and you'll get to see one of the finest examples of a Catholic Church in the Gothic Revival style.
The stained glass alone is a sight and these pieces are definitely art. The soft glow of the light through the stained glass panes is awe-inspiring, as are the intricate details of the ceiling of the church itself. You will not regret making a stop here at this lovely location.
Museo de Altamira
The Museo de Altamira will teach you all about paleolithic art. There is a reproduction of the cave art that was discovered in this area and you can see faithful reproductions of these antique artifacts when you visit. This is one of the most unique locations in the city and you'll love that you can see such a unique part of the history of Spain.
This spot gives tours daily, so you can get a lot out of the experience of visiting. Make sure that you reserve your spot in advance so that you do not miss out on anything.
Euskal Museoa Bilbao Basque Museum
For access to lots of interactive displays and engaging and informative artifacts, you will want to head to the Bilbao Basque Museum. This location is dedicated to archaeology and you will find all kinds of displays that feature dinosaurs and more. This is a really fun way to get kids excited about museums if you're traveling as a family. Check out this guide for more ideas of things to do in Bilbao with kids.
People of all ages can have fun here and even if you are not coming to see paintings, you will see art of a different kind. Educational museums can certainly be fun, and this is a rarity in Bilbao since it will appeal to the whole family.
Sala Rekalde Contemporary Art Gallery
Dedicated to contemporary art in Spain, this location is a great choice for your fine arts museum visit if you love this period of art. The contemporary Spanish art scene is well-respected and this collection is devoted to exposing the world to the local talents of Bilbao and the rest of Spain.
The Sala Rekalde Contemporary Art Gallery is also more fluid in its definition of a contemporary art gallery. They offer art classes, encourage lively debates, and welcome innovation from any source. This unique gallery will likely inspire you to think outside the box.
What are the best free museums in Bilbao?
In Bilbao, the first two museums mentioned on this list are the best free ones. Head to either the Museum of Sacred Art or the La Ria Maritime Museum (or both) to give your wallet a break. Just because they're free, doesn't mean they aren't worth visiting.
Are there any cheap museums in Bilbao?
Most of the museums in the city are not free, but there are some affordable options if you are on a budget. These are excellent spots to visit and they are no less meaningful even though they are affordable. You will not regret choosing from this set of museums if you need to save some money but you still want to enjoy access to the history and art of this lovely and memorable city. Of the cheaper options, the Deusto Expo Center, Museo de Bellas Artes, and the Museum of Artistic Reproductions offer the best bang for your buck.
Which are the best museums in Downtown Bilbao?
Downtown Bilbao is a great place for a drink, fine dining, shopping, and art and culture. You can spend part of your day shopping and combine that with a trip to a museum or two. Many of the city's best museums are located in the Old Town City Center. Of course, you can't talk about downtown museums without mentioning the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Other notable stops in the City Center include Euskal Museoa Bilbao Basque Museum and the Catedral de Santiago. Downtown Bilbao is also one of the best sports to find street food in Bilbao.
This is one of the most memorable cities in Spain and you will want to make sure that you take the time to enjoy the art that is on offer in this historical city. There are many incredible museums here as well as the Guggenheim foundation to enjoy when you visit. Bilbao is full of art to see and exhibitions to enjoy.
From Basque culture to Basque artists, Bilbao is one of the best places to visit the top museums in the world. This is a vibrant place that offers so much to see and do that you will be busy every day with exciting adventures. Visiting Bilbao is one of the highlights of a trip to Spain for most people and you'll want to put it at the top of your list of places to see during your trip.
Make sure that your luggage is in safe storage before you head out to see all the popular museum options in Bilbao.