Things to do in Biarritz
Many years ago, on our way back from a family trip to Paris, we made a brief stop in Biarritz, France. My connection with this coastal town was love at first sight. Since then, I have returned to Biarritz on numerous occasions. If you’re planning to visit as well, don’t miss out on my selection of the top 20 things to do in Biarritz.
1. Rocher du Basta, one of the most beautiful places in Biarritz
The little islet of Rocher du Basta is connected to the beach by an arched stone bridge. I love looking out and checking if the bridge is over the sea (during high tide) or over the sand (during low tide). If the tide is low, a set of stairs that lead down to the beach are accessible. The islet is small but abundant in nature, with benches where you can rest and stairs that take you to a small viewpoint with stunning views.
2. Port Vieux Beach
Port-Vieux is a small cove located in the center of Biarritz. It is my favorite beach in Biarritz due to its cozy atmosphere and charming setting. Additionally, there is a bar and a restaurant right on the cove. Both places are great for grabbing a drink and enjoying fantastic views.
On one side of the cove, there is a high rock from which you can jump into the sea. Be sure to include this cove on your list of things to do in Biarritz in a day. It won’t disappoint you!
3. Visiting Rocher de la Vierge, a must-do in Biarritz
Rocher de la Vierge is another islet, this time connected to the mainland by a metal bridge called Passerelle Eiffel. It can be a bit frightening to cross if you look down, especially when the sea is rough, but don’t worry, it’s very safe! If there are big waves, I recommend going to the islet. The strong ones splash if you’re standing on the lookout point. Let’s see if you can manage not to get wet!
Before crossing the bridge towards Rocher de la Vierge, don’t miss the natural viewpoint formed by the rocks, creating a beautiful arch with the sea in the background. It is located next to the entrance of the footbridge. The exact coordinates are 43°29’01.9″N 1°34’08.0″W. That’s where I took the cover photo used in this blog post. As you can see, it’s a stunning spot.
4. Biarritz Lighthouse
Located on the Pointe de Saint-Martin, the Biarritz Lighthouse was built in 1834 and stands at approximately 40 meters in height. You can spot it from afar at many points in the city. I recommend getting closer and visiting it. You can visit the top for €3 and enjoy the incredible panoramic views. If you don’t wish to visit the top, the views of Biarritz from the esplanade where the lighthouse is located are just as stunning. For us, it’s always a must-visit.
5. Going to La Grande Plage, one of the best things to do in Biarritz
La Grande Plage is the main beach in Biarritz and is usually the most crowded. In fact, it can be challenging to find a spot, especially during the summer. Nonetheless, it is the perfect spot if you want to stroll along the shore, take a swim, enjoy good waves, and watch people surf. Some sections of the beach are reserved for surfers, while others are designated for swimming.
The promenade is also a great place to go on a walk, shop, or grab a drink. However, having breakfast by the sea can cost around €10, and a latte is priced at €4.70. Nevertheless, for the views and the ambiance, it’s worth it! If you prefer a more budget-friendly plan, you can buy some takeaway food and sit on a bench with a view. Towards the end of the promenade, there is a green area that is perfect for this kind of plan.
6. Les Halles Market
Les Halles Market is a must-visit when you come to Biarritz, France. Inside, you’ll find butcher shops, fruit stands, bakeries, prepared food stalls, and more. The food is locally sourced, and there is no shortage of Basque specialties. If you feel like having a picnic, it’s the perfect place to buy a baguette, cheese, and cold cuts. For dessert, treat yourself to a slice of Basque cake or some canelés, typical sweets from Bordeaux.
7. Eating oysters at L’Ecaillerie
Another smaller building is located across from the main market. Inside, you’ll find fishmongers where you can order seafood dishes prepared on the spot. Upstairs, there are tables and chairs where you can enjoy your meal in a relaxed atmosphere. I highly recommend trying a serving of oysters. For €6.90, you can have half a dozen oysters and a glass of white wine. They are absolutely delicious!
8. Dining at the Fishermen’s Port
If you decide to take a walk along the promenade that runs along the coast, you will come across the Port des Pêcheurs, a small harbor. Here, you’ll find several restaurants serving local dishes, especially seafood and other seafood-related dishes. There is usually a lively atmosphere during lunch and dinner hours, making this spot one of the best places to eat in Biarritz.
In our case, we had a wonderful meal at Casa Juan Pedro. I highly recommend dining at this restaurant if you’re in the mood for excellent fish or seafood.
9. Church of Sainte-Eugénie
In addition to all the places mentioned above, Biarritz is home to a significant number of historical buildings that I recommend visiting, even if it’s just from the outside. One of them is the Church of Sainte-Eugénie. It was built on the site of the former chapel of Notre-Dame-de-Pitié between 1898 and 1903. It was erected in honor of Eugenia de Montijo, the wife of Napoleon III. The church features a neo-Gothic style.
10. Hotel du Palais at Biarritz
Another building not to be missed in Biarritz is the famous Hotel du Palais Biarritz. While staying here is only possible for a few, it is worth admiring its exterior as it is a place with a vast history. It was built under the orders of Emperor Napoleon III as a summer residence for his wife, Eugenia de Montijo.
After the emperor’s death, the palace became the property of the Banque de l’Union Parisienne. Later, it was transformed into the luxury hotel it is today. As you stroll along the promenade of the Grande Plage, you will see it located at the end of it.
11. Côte des Basques Beach
Côte des Basques Beach is one of the best beaches in Biarritz, especially if you enjoy surfing. What I love most about this beach is its location. It is surrounded by a small cliff, offering beautiful views of the sea. Additionally, the neighborhood where it is located, also called Côte des Basques, has many restaurants and a youthful atmosphere.
12. Enjoying a delicious crêpe or waffle
Is there a better plan than indulging in a Nutella crêpe or a delicious waffle? Every time I visit Biarritz, I can’t resist getting myself a crêpe and sitting on a bench to enjoy it while watching people go by. The place where we usually buy them is La Tireuse. They have a stall where they sell them to-go. If you prefer to sit down, you can go to Crêperie Le Blé Noir.
13. Orthodox church in Biarritz
One of the buildings that will catch your attention is the Orthodox Church of Biarritz, built in the late 19th century in a Neo-Byzantine style. During that time, Biarritz was a famous vacation destination among wealthy Russians, who became interested in the Basque coast after arriving in Pau, where another Orthodox church was built in 1867. On certain days of the week, it is possible to visit the interior of the church. You can check the schedule on their website.
14. Visit the Cité de l’Océan, an unique experience in Biarritz
One of the best things to do in Biarritz, especially if you’re traveling with children or if it’s raining, is to visit the City of the Ocean, a museum that, as you can imagine, aims to educate people about the ocean. Inside, you will find various exhibitions and educational activities. They also have several virtual reality attractions where you can surf or swim with sharks.
The entrance fee is €14 for adults, €9.90 for children ages 6 to 12, and €12 for teenagers ages 13 to 17 or students. Inside the museum, there is a cafeteria and a restaurant.
15. Belza Villa
If you stroll along the coast from Plage du Port Vieux to Côte des Basques, you will come across Villa Belza. It is a neo-medieval mansion built by the sea in the late 19th century. It is one of the most iconic buildings in Biarritz and can be seen from various points along the coast.
The home has had several owners since its construction and was even requisitioned during the Nazi occupation. It has been the victim of multiple fires in addition to having various purposes. It now houses a number of premium apartments.
16. Imperial Chapel (Chapelle Impériale)
Another building that will surprise you in Biarritz is the Chapelle Impériale, a small chapel built in 1864 by order of Eugénie de Montijo and dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe. It blends Hispano-Moorish and Romanesque-Byzantine styles. Access to the interior is only possible on certain days of the year on a guided tours.
17. Enjoying a treat at Miremont, Biarritz’s most emblematic pastry shop
Among the numerous pastry shops and cafés to visit in Biarritz, one stands out for its history and antiquity. I’m referring to Patisserie Miremont, which was a favorite of King Alfonso XIII. It was founded in 1872 and remains one of the busiest tea rooms in the city.
Don’t hesitate to step inside to buy some pastries or even sit at one of the tables to savor your treats more peacefully.
18. Strolling along the promenade
If you only have a few hours to visit this Basque-French town, my suggestion is to spend your time strolling along the promenade from Plage du Port Vieux to Hôtel Du Palais, or if you have time, all the way to the cape where the lighthouse is located.
While you stroll on the promenade, you will have the opportunity to pass by many major tourist attractions of Biarritz: Rocher de la Vierge, the harbor, Rocher du Basta, the Church of Santa Eugenia, La Grande Plage, and more. All while enjoying the beautiful sea views!
19. Visit Casino Barrière
Another great thing to do in Biarritz, especially if it’s raining, is to visit the casino. Casino Barrière was built in 1929 by architect Alfred Laulhé and is located next to La Grande Plage. It features an Art Deco style. In addition to the various games, the interior also houses a bar, a restaurant, and a theater.
20. The Gare du Midi
Built in the early 20th century, La Gare du Midi is the former train station of Biarritz. The main facade faces the Pierre Forsans Public Garden. In 1926, La Gare du Midi entered a period of decline until it was renovated in the 1990s to host shows and conferences.
I hope that my list of things to do in Biarritz has been very useful to you. However, as I recommend in every place, I encourage you to wander through the streets of this small coastal town to discover hidden gems.
Things to do near Biarritz
Biarritz is the perfect starting point for visiting other towns along the Basque-French coast, as well as some nearby spots in the Landes department. To the north of Biarritz, you’ll find Anglet, famous for its numerous beaches and its 4.5 km promenade. To the south, you’ll discover Bidart, another coastal village whose historic center is worth a visit.
Other places to visit near Biarritz:
- Bayonne: This is the capital of the region, and a visit to Bayonne will allow you to delve deeper into Basque history and culture. Getting lost in its streets and visiting the market are just some of the best things to do in Bayonne.
- Saint-Jean-de-Luz: It is one of the most beautiful towns in the French Basque Country. Its old town is a marvel, filled with charming houses and shops.
- Hendaye: This town is located next to the Spanish border and is known for its expansive beach and natural surroundings. Abbadie Castle is one of the most famous places to visit in Hendaye.
- Guéthary: This small and charming town has a beautiful hidden gem that is definitely worth a visit. I’m talking about Le Vieux Port. Don’t miss it!
- Inland villages: If you have several days, I recommend visiting inland villages such as Espelette, Sare, Ainhoa, and Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. They are absolutely beautiful!
- The Landes: If you’re up for going a bit further north, you can visit some places in the Landes region, such as Capbreton or the Dune du Pilat.
Where to stay in Biarritz
If you’re looking for a great place to stay in Biarritz, I recommend choosing a hotel near Grande Plage, Plage du Port-Vieux, or in the city center.
We have stayed several times at Hotel de La Plage (pictured above), right next to Plage du Port-Vieux. It’s a great option as the location is good and it’s relatively affordable.
The hotel doesn’t offer extravagant luxuries, but it’s quite nice and has everything you need. It offers single, double, and family rooms (for 4 people). If you choose this option, I recommend booking as early as possible as it tends to fill up quickly.
Update: The hotel has recently been renovated.
If you’re looking for a charming hotel in Biarritz, I recommend Hotel Edouard VII. It occupies a beautiful 19th-century building and is located in the center of Biarritz, just a five-minute walk from the coast. This building used to be the residence of the Mayor of Biarritz and was also where Napoleon III received medical attention. Today, it has been transformed into a lovely hotel. They offer different types of double rooms.
Here are some more hotel recommendations, listed by budget from lowest to highest. However, please note that hotels in Biarritz can be quite pricey:
- $: La Maison du Lierre, Hôtel Le Saphir.
- $$: Hôtel La Maison Garnier, Hotel Le Windsor Plage.
- $$$: Le Miramar Thalassa, Hôtel Le Café de Paris.
Map of Biarritz, France
In the following map of Biarritz, I have marked all the places to visit mentioned in this article. You will also find the recommended restaurants and several hotels marked, along with their respective links to Booking.
Don’t miss my France travel guide if you plan on visiting more destinations in the country.
Should I add any more places to this list of things to see in Biarritz, France? Do you recommend any other restaurants? If you want to share your experience in this city or have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. Until next time!