Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Visit Biarritz, France
Biarritz is one of the most popular beach destinations in southwestern France. The city is part of the French Basque Country and lies along the Bay of Biscay, only 18 km from the Spanish border.
Once a small fishing village, Biarritz was made fashionable after Emperor Napoleon III and his wife, the Spanish Empress Eugénie, made it their favorite summertime destination.
Synonymous with elegance and upper-class style, Biarritz is a great place to visit! The mild climate, pristine sandy beaches, rolling ocean ideal for surfing, and stylish restaurants make Biarritz a fabulous holiday destination in France.
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Below are some of the best Biarritz tours, hotels, and more!
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Top Experiences and Tours in Biarritz
Top Biarritz Accommodation and Lodging
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What to Do in Biarritz
What to do in Biarritz, France? Here’s the list of the best things to do in Biarritz – places to visit and Biarritz activities – with something for every traveler.
1. Lighthouse of Biarritz
At Pointe Saint-Martin, the northernmost point of Biarritz, there is a magnificent lighthouse, built in 1830, that sits atop a rocky cliff 79 meters above the water. You can climb the 248 steps to reach the top of the lighthouse, from which you can admire the splendid panorama below.
The best time to visit the lighthouse is towards sunset, which you can enjoy fully from the headland. Pointe Saint-Martin and the Lighthouse are Biarritz’s best spots to see the sun go down.
2. Les Halles (Covered Market)
French food markets are incredible places to visit. They are much more than somewhere to purchase groceries: they are social and artistic hubs.
Biarritz’s Les Halles (indoor market) was built in 1885, and its cast-iron structure is incredible. The market is divided into two buildings. You will find stands selling sweets, cheese, meat, and typical products in one building. The other is dedicated exclusively to freshly caught fish.
Les Halles is one of the best places to see in Biarritz and a great place to stop for a quick lunch in the city. You can find many stalls preparing local food inside the markets. This is also one of the best areas in Biarritz for dining: the pedestrian streets around the market’s buildings are occupied by casual restaurants offering delicious food.
TIP: Discover (and taste!) the specialties of the Basque Country while visiting the best of the city with this Biarritz Gourmet Tour.
3. Plateau de l’Atalaye and Rocher de la Vierge
If you want an incredible 360 degrees view of the coast of Biarritz, the best place to stop is Plateau de l’Atalaye. This is one of the best Biarritz things to do, and you can reach this elevated viewpoint through a series of small ramps.
From the Atalaye Viewpoint, you will also have a clear view of the Rocher de la Vierge. This famous landmark is a rock that stretches into the sea with the statue of the Virgin Mary at its highest point. The Virgin is regarded as the protector of fishermen and was placed on the rock in 1865.
You can take a closer look at the Rock of the Virgin by walking through a metallic bridge designed by Gustave Eiffel.
Facing the Rocher de la Vierge, there is Biarritz’s Aquarium. The building that houses the Aquarium is in art deco style and has been expanded to include the Musée de la Mer.
The Aquarium is one of the best things to do in Biarritz for families. Inside the Aquarium, the pools show the marine flora and fauna typical of the Bay of Biscay, the North Atlantic, the Caribbean, and the Indo-Pacific areas. The two most popular parts of the Aquarium are the shark cave and the seals’ tank.
The Aquarium of Biarritz opens every day from 9.30 am to 7.30 pm and from 9 am to 10 pm in July and August. By visiting the Aquarium, you will also gain fascinating insights about Biarritz’s historic whaling history.
5. Port des Pêcheurs (Fishermen’s Port)
Port des Pêcheurs is Biarritz’s original borough. The fishermen came to settle here around 1780, and little by little, fisheries were set up there. The very first one, the Silhouette fishery, was built on the site of the current “bassin à flots” (the first basin when a boat enters the port).
The Port conserves its ancient charm: the row of cottages where the fishers used to live are now restaurants serving fish and seafood, and you can still admire the high walls of the harbor, built in this way to protect the boats when the ocean was rough.
6. Beaches of Biarritz
Biarritz is particularly popular as a summer beach vacation spot and a surfing destination, so there are beaches for every kind of traveler.
The most famous beach is the Grande Plage. Centrally located, it is Biarritz’s main beach. Grande Plage is fringed by the city’s grandest buildings, the Hôtel du Palais and the Casino. Grande Plage’s soft sandy beach and decent swells make it ideal for casual bathers and surfers alike.
If you are looking for a quieter experience, the Petite Plage is the spot for you. This small beach is situated along the rocky cove of Port-Vieux. The position shelters the beach from winds and waves, making it perfect for families with young children.
La Plage de la Côte des Basques is the dream of any surfer (rent your equipment here). The story goes that this beach became the first place where anyone surfed in Europe in 1957, during the filming of “The Sun Also Rises.” But don’t let the story enchant you: the strong waves and rocky seabed mean this Biarritz surfing beach is suitable for experienced surfers only!
TIP: Learn how to surf or perfect your surfing skills with a private instructor in an authentic and local setting (board and wetsuit included). If you are a beginner, then click here.
7. Hotel du Palais
Originally called Villa Eugénie, Hotel du Palais was Napoleon III’s favorite residence for his wife Eugenia, who spent the summer here.
The gorgeous palace was built on the orders of Napoleon III around 1855 for his beloved consort, a dedication visible in the building’s shape: it has a particular “E” shape from the Empress’s name. Following the collapse of the Second Empire, the palace reopened as a luxury hotel-casino.
The likes of Sinatra and Coco Chanel stayed here in the 20th century, and since 1993 the Hôtel du Palais has been listed as a historic landmark in France.
Today, the Hôtel du Palais is one of the 5-star palace hotels in France. For a unique Biarritz holiday, book your stay in this palace hotel.
8. Casino of Biarritz
Directly in front of the Grand Plage, you will find the Casino of Biarritz, another stunning art deco building.
Built in 1929, the opulence of this building is truly fascinating! You can decide to sit for a while under its portico while sipping a glass of wine or venture inside. You can enter the building even if you aren’t going to try your luck: you can sit at the bar, admire the art deco skylights and floor mosaics, and feel the atmosphere of the roaring twenties.
The Casino opens every day from 10 am to 3 am (the games start at 8 pm). Just remember that you can only enter the Casino of Biarritz if you’re wearing fancy clothes!
9. Take a Day Trip from Biarritz
There are lots of interesting things to see in Biarritz, but it is also worth using one day to explore Biarritz’s surroundings on a day trip. The Basque Country is known for its amazing countryside as well as its pretty villages, so make sure you get out and enjoy one of our suggested Biarritz day trips.
Take the time to see the coastal town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, with its old harbor, beautiful architecture, and sea promenade. Don’t forget to taste the macarons, Saint-Jean’s specialty: they are delicious!
Bayonne is an excellent destination to learn more about the Basque culture. Bayonne’s Old Town hides many surprises, and it is perfect for a day of sightseeing.
The beaches of Bidart are an excellent place to start surfing. Click here to join a fun surf lesson in an exceptional environment.
A little bit further from Biarritz, on the Spanish side, San Sebastian is also beautiful to visit. This private guided tour with transportation and hotel pick-up takes you to one of the most elegant cities in Spain, visiting its top sights from the outside and the famous Concha Beach. The drive from Biarritz to San Sebastian is only 35 minutes, leaving you plenty of time to enjoy the city.