Ah, the French Basque Country… a region that has such a mix of Basque tradition and French charm that it immediately wins the heart of every tourist that visits. What’s not to love? The incredible beaches, friendly locals and fusion of Spanish and French cultures is one-of-a-kind. The first thing you’ll notice when you start your holiday in Biarritz is the special combination of Basque/Spanish and French influences. Occasionally you’ll see Basque Country flags, but you’ll mostly hear people speaking in French. And as if that weren’t mind-boggling enough, you’ll also come across restaurants advertising the local speciality: “Poisson a la plancha” (Poisson is fish in French, and a la plancha means grilled in Spanish). But not to worry, you don’t need to crack the complicated bilingual code to happily indulge in incredible French croissants and tasty gateaux Basque (Basque cake). So good you’ll be ready to emigrate.
Mouth-watering delicacies aside, the town is also well known for surfing, golf and great beaches. There’s so much on offer, but what better way to discover the top things to do in Biarritz than following in the footsteps of the locals? That is precisely why we travelled to this beautiful town and asked the people who live there what their favourite places are, and what activities they like to get up to. Read on for some recommendations you won’t want to miss out on!
Where to find the best food
Here’s a little secret – we started out writing a single Biarritz travel guide but ended up with so many local suggestions for where and what to eat that we had to write a second blog about it. Check out all our Biarritz foodie recommendations here or have a look below for the highlights.
- Traditional products: Halles Market (or Mercado Les Halles) is the best place to explore the food culture of the French Basque Country. Here you can buy regional products to take home with you or sit down and taste them on the spot. In either case, don’t leave without having tried some of the fantastic cheeses, gateaux Basque, piperade (a typical Basque dish made of onion, peppers, and tomatoes) and Montagne honey.
- Fish and seafood: Go straight to the Place Saint-Eugenie by the Biarritz port to enjoy some seafood-specialities like moules-frites (mussels and French fries). We were recommended this spot by Céline Lesaourgues, who works in a clothes shop located in the same square. She knows the area quite well, and she suggested we go for a bite at Tandem Restaurant, where the quality of the food is excellent, but the prices aren’t too high.
- Pintxos: The Rue des Halles is one of the busiest areas in Biarritz. When the sun is out, you’ll find locals and tourists alike sharing drinks and pintxos on the terraces that line the street. We tried the ham croquettes at Chistera and were very impressed!
- Bakeries: France is well known for its bakeries, and the French Basque Country is no exception. You’ll find a bakery at every corner, so make your way to any of them for a taste of the regions traditional cake, the gateaux Basque. Alternatively try the more traditional French delights such as croissants and macarons.
What beaches Biarritz locals prefer
- For surfing: Although you can surf on almost any beach in Biarritz, our friend Lyde Beondeau who works at one of the top Biarritz surf schools suggested that ‘Côte des Basques is one of the best beaches for long-board surfing, and Le Miramar is a nice option for body-surfing’. But if surfing isn’t your thing, you can’t go wrong with any of the local beaches. We recommend trying out Le Grande Plage, Marbella and La Milady as well.
- For relaxing and taking the kids: We also asked Céline about her personal favourite beach, and she didn’t hesitate to highlight Ilbarritz (located in Bidart, a village just outside Biarritz). It’s small but gorgeous and perfect for enjoying with the family. We also asked Frederic, a local Biarritz musician, and he suggested Le Milady.
- For a warm swim: The cold Cantabrian water might not be for everyone, and you’ll see a lot of people sticking to the sands on Biarritz’ beaches (or opting for a dip in their villa’s private pool instead.) However, we think the Port Vieux beach is a good option for a warmer swim in the summertime.
What to do in Biarritz with kids
- Aquarium: The main attraction for families with kids travelling to Biarritz is the remarkable beaches the region offers, but there are lots of things to do here besides spending long days by the ocean. Our top recommendation is the Biarritz Aquarium, which is home to sharks, seals, jellyfish and plenty of other underwater critters. Take the kids to find Nemo, Dori and their other fishy friends!
Where to see the best views
- Lighthouse: Just by the famous Le Phare (lighthouse in French) you can enjoy one of the most extraordinary views of Biarritz. Take as many pictures as you can and stop to have a drink or some food at Le Pavillon du Phare – a lovely terrace open from April to November (depending on the weather).
Where to see the sunset
- Le Surfing is located just by the ocean on the Côte des Basques beach. This restaurant is, as Frederic describes it, ‘the best place for a glass of wine before the sunset’.
Where to go for a nice walk
- Take a stroll from the iconic Biarritz lighthouse down to the Côte des Basques beach and take in all the beautiful views along the way.
- From the Erretegia beach in Bidart (just outside Biarritz) you can walk all the way to the Spanish border. The hike is about 25 kilometres, so bring proper footwear, lots of water and snacks to refuel.
Now that you know what to do in Biarritz and how to make the most of your experience here, you can start planning your trip! Begin by checking out all the amazing villa holidays located in Biarritz where you can stay in. Not sure from what villa to choose? Just get in touch with our concierge team.