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9 things to do in Hendaye, France

Hendaye is a town in the French Basque Country, situated in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques, bordering Spain. Its strategic location at the mouth of the Bidasoa River, along with its attractive landscapes, makes it a highly popular destination. Its expansive beach, stretching about three kilometers, is another major tourist draw. In this article, I will show you all the things to do in Hendaye, France.

If you're planning a quick visit, I recommend walking along the Boulevard de la Mer and exploring some of the nearby streets. On the other hand, if you have more time, you can discover its castle, visit the historic center, or even embark on a short hiking trail along its cliffs.

Table of contents

Where to stay in Hendaye

where to stay in Hendaye
Promenade

Hendaye is a great base when visiting the French Basque Country. This coastal town offers a wide range of accommodations, from luxurious hotels to cozy apartments. Opt for one of the seafront hotels if you want to indulge in dreamy views. On the other hand, if you’re on a budget, an apartment on the outskirts could be a perfect solution.

In any case, I recommend booking in advance, as the city tends to be full of tourists during the peak season. Below, I’ve listed various hotel options to suit different budgets:

  • $: Hotel Bellevue. A 2-star hotel located in the Bay of Chingudy. They offer simple double rooms with lovely views. Breakfast is served.
  • $$: Hotel Uhainak. A 3-star hotel located very close to the beach. It’s straightforward yet boasts excellent reviews. You’ll find single, double, and family rooms.
  • $$$: Villa Enara. A charming villa located on the outskirts. All accommodations are beautifully decorated, and the property features a garden, swimming pool, and views.

Things to do in Hendaye, France

Below you can find the best things to do in Hendaye, one of the most popular towns to visit on the French Basque coast.

1. Stroll along the Bay of Chingudy

Bay of Chingudy Boulevard
Bay of Chingudy

One of the things I enjoyed the most during my visit to Hendaye, and that I highly recommend, is strolling along the Boulevard of the Bay of Chingudy. It’s a lovely and serene landscaped walkway that runs along the bay’s coastline. You’ll come across several benches where you can sit and enjoy the views of Hondarribia, which is located on the other side of the river.

2. Walk along the Boulevard de la Mer

Ondarraitz Beach
Boulevard de la Mer

Speaking of strolls, another you shouldn’t miss is walking along the Boulevard de la Mer, located next to Ondarraitz Beach. It’s an ideal place to walk and soak in the town’s atmosphere. In the middle of the promenade, you’ll find the old casino of Hendaye, a building with architecture influenced by Arabic design. In 1980, this building ceased to be a casino and was transformed into luxury residences and a small commercial area.

3. Hendaye historic center

Hendaye historic center
Place de la République
Saint-Vincent Church
Saint-Vincent Church

The historic center of Hendaye is located near the train station, which witnessed the meeting between Francisco Franco and Adolf Hitler during World War II. Here, you’ll find the Republic Square, the heart of this Franco-Basque town. It’s a peaceful spot, perfect for sitting on one of its terraces while enjoying a drink. In the same square, you can see the town hall and the 16th-century Church of Saint-Vincent.

Even though the historic center is a bit far from the beaches and the more touristy area of Hendaye, if you have the time or want to learn more about the history of this little town, it’s worth a visit.

4. Abbadia Castle, a must-do in Hendaye

Abbadie Castle
Abbadia Castle

This castle was built between 1864 and 1884 on the cliffs located on the outskirts of Hendaye. It was designed by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc for Antoine d’Abbadia, a French explorer, geographer, ethnologist, and astronomer. The castle features a neo-Gothic style and draws inspiration from medieval forts. Inside, you’ll discover decorations influenced by the scientist’s numerous travels.

The building also features a former astronomical observatory and a church where Antoine d’Abbadie and his wife Virginie are buried. Visiting the castle is usually done on a guided tour, during which you’ll also have the opportunity to explore the library and various rooms decorated with period furniture. At certain times of the year, self-guided visits are also permitted.

  • Price: €11.90 (guided tour), €10.50 (self-guided tour), €2.50 (garden + reception visit).
  • Opening hours: Please check the Château d’Abbadia’s website as they vary throughout the year.

5. Domaine d’Abbadia hike

things to do in hendaye
Path
Domaine d'Abbadia
Views

Right next to the castle is the Domaine d’Abbadia, a beautiful natural park with over 60 hectares, which you can explore by taking a walk along an easy trail. During the stroll, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy picturesque views of the sea, cliffs, and the bay. You can catch sight of the renowned twin rocks of Hendaye, observe the flysch, and even visit a World War II bunker.

To visit it, we parked the car at the Château d’Abbadia Parking and walked for about five minutes to reach the beginning of the trail. It took us around 25 minutes to complete the route at a peaceful pace.

🚗 Do you need a car for your trip to the French Basque Country? I recommend comparing prices on Auto Europe and Discover Cars, two websites that will be very useful in finding the best rental rates.

6. Ondarraitz Beach

hendaye beach france
Hendaye Beach

If your trip aligns with the warmest months of the year, there’s no better way to enjoy Hendaye than by taking a dip in its expansive beach. I’m referring to Ondarraitz Beach, which stretches for a total of 3 km. Quite impressive! As you can imagine, it’s a very spacious beach, perfect for families, surfers, groups of friends… There’s enough room for everyone!

If it’s quite crowded, you can head over to the area where the twin rocks are located and you’ll likely find more space. You should note that this part of the beach is often frequented by nudists.

7. Craft market

things to do in hendaye france
Craft market

During our visit to Hendaye, we discovered a small craft market that’s worth visiting if you happen to be in town on a Tuesday, since it only takes place this day of the week. You’ll find it at the roundabout where Boulevard du Général Leclerc and other streets meet. The market offers a variety of foods, jewelry, and other handmade products.

  • Opening Hours: Tuesday from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM.

8. Explore Hendaye on its tourist train

things to do in hendaye
Tourist train

A different way to experience this town, especially recommended if you’re traveling with children, is on Hendaye’s tourist train. The ride lasts for 30 minutes and includes an audio guide. You’ll cruise along the beach and the main streets while discovering the history and traditions of this Franco-Basque village.

For information, visit the tourist office in Hendaye, situated on the Boulevard de la Mer. There, you can also inquire about the availability of other guided tours.

  • Hours: 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM (April, May, June, September, and October); 11:00 AM, 12:00 PM, 3:00 PM, 4:00 PM, 5:00 PM, and 6:00 PM (July and August). 
  • Price: €7 (adults), €5 (ages 4 to 12), free (under 4 years old).

9. Stroll around the harbor

hendaye france
Port

Lastly, another thing you can do in Hendaye is taking a walk around its renowned marina, situated at the mouth of the Bidasoa River. This marina boasts around 900 vessels and stands out as the only port on the Aquitaine coast accessible at any time of day and under all weather conditions. In the vicinity of the marina, you’ll find several bars and restaurants.

Places to visit near Hendaye

saint jean de luz
Saint Jean de Luz

You might travel to Hendaye (France) to enjoy a peaceful stay and swim on its beach, or you might want to explore more areas of the French Basque Country. In that case, I’ll show you what places you shouldn’t miss located near Hendaye:

  • Hondarribia (Spain). If you’re in this area and haven’t yet visited this small town in the province of Gipuzkoa, I highly recommend paying it a visit. Hondarribia is beautiful.
  • Urtubie Castle. This castle, built in 1341, is located just 10 km from Hendaye. I encourage you to visit it and discover all its secrets.
  • Saint-Jean-de-Luz. A little further up the coast, you’ll find this charming town, with a beautiful historic center. Take a look at all you can visit in Saint-Jean-de-Luz.
  • Inland villages of the French Basque Country. If you decide to venture away from the coast, the interior of this region holds charming villages like Sare, Ainhoa, Espelette, or Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. All of them are beautiful!
  • Guéthary and Bidart. These two coastal towns are less known, but if you have enough time, you should consider visiting. In Guéthary, I recommend exploring its small but charming port. On the other hand, don’t miss out on all there is to see and do in Bidart.
  • Biarritz. This town is arguably one of the most famous destinations in the region, and there’s no shortage of reasons why. Make sure to visit it, and to ensure you don’t miss anything, I recommend reading my compilation of the best beaches in Biarritz and my guide to Biarritz, France.
  • Bayonne. It’s the capital of the French Basque Country and a city that has much to offer. Explore its old town and make sure not to miss some of the best things to do in Bayonne.

Map of Hendaye, France

On the following map, I’ve marked all the best things to do mentioned in this post. You can also find the recommended hotels highlighted, along with their respective Booking links.

Take a look at my France travel guide if you’re planning to visit other destinations in the country.

I hope this blog post about what to do in Hendaye (France) has been very helpful for you to discover all the must-visit places in this town of the French Basque Country. If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me via email. Until next time!

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