The Basque Country coastline stretches for 176 kilometres along the Bay of Biscay, from across the border with France to the region of Cantabria, and is home to many spectacular beaches. From wild, windswept shores to idyllic golden crescents and fabulous urban sandy playgrounds, here are the Basque Country’s most beautiful beaches.
Although Biarritz is actually in France, it’s still considered part of the Basque Country and has a strong cultural heritage. Its long Plage Côte des Basques faces the Basque coastline and attracts surfers from all over Europe, who come to enjoy its swells. Framed by elegant architecture and old world Belle Époque-style hotels, it’s popular with everyone, not just those looking to catch a wave.
Stretching for almost one kilometre, Laga Beach is located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, approximately a one hour drive northwest of the city of Bilbao. Surrounded by rolling green hills on one side and Mount Ogoño on the other, it’s a tranquil spot, and a popular place for kayaking and surfing. The beach also boasts some facilities, such as a bar and outdoor showers.
Also located in the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve, Laida is one of the most spectacular beaches along northern Spain’s coastline. A one-kilometre-long stretch of golden sand, it sits along the Mundaka Estuary and offers a lovely view of Izaro Island. The beach is also the ideal spot for a number of activities such as canoeing, sailing and surfing. Where the sea meets the shore, the water is very shallow, so it’s a great place for children, too.
The longest beach in the Gipúzkoa province, Zarautz measures 2,500 metres and offers a space for everyone. Families and sunbathers congregate at the western end, playing in the shallows; surfers catch the waves in the centre; and wide dunes sit at the eastern end, providing a home for many species of wildlife.
Half way between Bilbao and San Sebastian sits the small town of Lekeitio, at the mouth of the Lea River, where it meets the ocean. A sandy beach extends on one side of the estuary, while in the middle sits San Nicolás Island – accessible on foot at low tide. The beach also offers facilities such as showers, changing rooms and lifeguards on duty.
Situated just over the French border – approximately 35 kilometres from San Sebastian – Saint-Jean-de-Luz offers a fine sweep of sand, right in the heart of the town: Le Grand Plage. Protected by high sea walls, it’s the perfect spot for families revelling in the summer sun. Those looking for more activities and fewer people should head to the nearby wild beaches of Lafiténia and Cénitz – perfect for surfers.