The best things to do in Biarritz are surprisingly varied, thanks to the town having 2 distinct sides: famous on one hand for its laid-back surfer vibe and, on the other, for its luxurious and glitzy reputation. It’s a peaceful and relaxing place to visit in winter, but summertime is when the golden coastline is peppered with tourists in search of the best spot for soaking up the French Basque Country’s warm rays.

    This is a town popular with couples, families and groups of friends, with first-class surfing beaches, extravagant spas and traditional charm all forming part of its appeal. If you’re looking to plan some time away in France’s southwestern corner, check out our list of the best things to do in Biarritz.

    What are the best things to do in Biarritz?

    1

    Place Bellevue

    The square that lives up to its name

    • Budget
    • Photo

    Poised high above sea level, Place Bellevue – as the name suggests – boasts beautiful views out to the mighty Atlantic Ocean and across the golden sands of La Grande Plage. With such a good vantage point to find your bearings, it makes for the ideal spot to start exploring this popular seaside town.

    Place Bellevue can be reached by foot, either from Passage Bellevue or from the winding path that climbs up from La Grand Plage. Make the most of the views by enjoying a coffee sat outside Le Café de Paris while you’re there.

    Location: Place Bellevue, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Map

    photo by José Sáez (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    2

    Port Vieux

    Explore the charming former heart of Biarritz

    • Families
    • Budget
    • Photo

    Once the focal point of Biarritz, Port Vieux (or the Old Port) is now a charming mini-village, frequented by locals and visitors alike. Take a wander around its quaint and narrow streets and discover the fishermen’s old crampottes, the name given to the small cottages that they once lived in.

    If you’re visiting Biarritz with the family, head down to the quiet and secluded Port Vieux Beach. This little cove is sheltered by the rocks, providing the ideal spot to paddle in the calm waters. If you want to grab a bite to eat, you’re then only a stone’s throw away from the bustling Rue du Port-Vieux.

    Location: Port Vieux, Biarritz, France

    Map

    photo by Gordito1869 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    3

    La Grande Plage

    Soak up the sun on the best beach in town

    • Budget
    • Photo

    Translated as 'The Big Beach', it'll come as no surprise that this vast stretch of golden sand is the largest and most popular beach in Biarritz. Despite its size, it still always gets packed in the summer months, when travellers are locals are itching to cool off beneath the breaking waves of the Atlantic.

    Hire your own board for the day and join the rest of those who come from far and wide to experience La Grande Plage’s magnificent surf. Or, if you prefer to keep your feet firmly on dry sand, you can pay to hire one of the traditional, yet quirky-looking, striped beach tents.

    Location: Quai de la Grande Plage, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Map

    photo by Mairie de Fos (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    4

    Rocher de la Vierge

    The guardian of fishermen

    • History
    • Photo

    Otherwise known as the ‘Rock of the Virgin’, this rugged rock formation is one of Biarritz’s must-see attractions. Local fishermen decided to erect the white Virgin statue back in 1865 after a mysterious bright light guided a ship to safety during a storm.

    To get to Rocher de la Vierge, you must cross the Eiffel Bridge, a footbridge over the water designed by – you’ve guessed it – Gustave Eiffel, the same man behind Paris’ iconic tower. You might get a little spray from the ocean while you’re over there, but it’s worth it for the views back across to Biarritz and as far as the mountains of the Spanish Basque Country.

    Location: Rocher de la Vierge, Espl. De la Vierge, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: 24/7

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 22 37 10

    Map

    photo by Magdus Laszló Hunga… (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    5

    Phare de Biarritz

    Climb to the top for panoramic views of the coast

    • Photo

    Head to the town’s northernmost point and visit the towering Phare de Biarritz. This 74-metre-tall lighthouse is in a prime position on a clifftop, boasting unrivalled views in every direction, from out to sea, to across Biarritz, Anglet and the never-ending coastline.

    Built in 1834, the lighthouse is still functioning today and is open to the public, so all can experience the privileged vistas. Just bear in mind that if you want to get to the top, the only way you can do so is by climbing all 248 steps yourself. Time your visit for sunset to really enhance the whole experience.

    Location: Phare de Biarritz, 60 B Esp, Espl. Elisabeth II, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 22 37 10

    Map

    photo by François de Dijon (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    6

    La Côte des Basques beach

    A long stretch of sandy beach with magnificent sunsets

    • Couples
    • Families
    • Budget
    • Photo
    • Adventure

    La Côte des Basques beach is an absolute must during your time in Biarritz. This vast stretch of fine, golden sand borders the Atlantic Ocean, and the rolling waves that come in from the sea make it a true surfers' paradise. The show never ends here, much to the delight of the kids who marvel at the surfers' skills. They can also make the most of the water in complete safety, due to its lifeguard station geared up for children's safety, and with the distribution of sun cream or identity bracelets.

    The many surf schools available here mean that the older ones can also give it a go. In the evening, the whole family can enjoy the magnificent sunsets offering views across to the Spanish coastline surrounded by impressive cliffs.

    Location: Côte des Basques, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Map
    7

    City of the Ocean

    Discover the ocean and surf in this fun, scientific theme park

    • Families
    • Photo

    City of the Ocean (Cité de l’Océan) can be found in the friendly area of Côte des Basques. Its strange, wave-shaped building seems to want to catch the surfers' attention. It's home to an interactive museum showing a number of family-friendly films. A number of different universes allow you to delve deep into all the secrets of the ocean.

    You can climb aboard a diving vessel before riding the perfect tube. Next, you can tease Archie, the giant squid, and listen to the secrets of Christopher Columbus. Then, get in the Seaborg to do some diving (without getting wet), before finally entering a replica of a polar base. In short, young and old alike can enjoy a host of educational experiences that are often interactive and always interesting and fun.

    Location: 1 avenue de la Plage, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm in high season. Please check the website for specific opening times in mid and low season.

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 22 75 40

    Map
    8

    Eglise Sainte-Eugénie

    A neo-Gothic church overlooking Port Vieux

    • History
    • Photo

    Just as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside, the Eglise Sainte-Eugénie is a beautiful, Romanesque-Byzantine church that started and ended its construction in 1898 and 1903, respectively. The big appeal that draws crowds to this neo-Gothic structure is its prominent coastal location, overlooking Port des Pêcheurs in the picturesque Port Vieux area of town.

    Soak up the sights from the outside, then step inside and admire the kaleidoscope of colours that form the breathtaking stained glass windows. There are often many concerts that take place in the church during the summer, along with regular exhibitions held in the crypt.

    Location: Eglise Sainte-Eugénie, Place Sainte-Eugénie, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: Daily (hours vary depending on services)

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 24 07 43

    Map

    photo by  Daniel VILLAFRUELA (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    9

    Biarritz Markets

    Immerse yourself in the temple of gastronomy and local produce of Biarritz

    Biarritz Markets (Les Halles) is a friendly and lively shopping area and an essential venue for locals. Here, you can fill up on good things and let yourself be guided by the enticing aromas escaping from the brightly coloured stalls. In addition to showcasing local products, Les Halles is also a good place to eat and socialise, making it the perfect location for a romantic stroll, as evidenced by the large number of restaurants and bars in the vicinity.

    Open year-round from the early hours, Les Halles de Biarritz is the city's pride and joy, where the traders strive to preserve the tradition of good service and quality of life.

    Location: Rue des Halles, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: Daily from 7.30 am to 2 pm

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 41 99 91

    Map

    photo by Harrieta171 (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

    10

    Casino Barrière de Basque Biarritz

    Try your luck and enjoy non-stop fun, games and entertainment

    • Nightlife
    • Luxury

    No trip to this seaside town would be complete without a visit to the remarkable Casino Barrière. It's one of Biarritz’s examples of standout Art Deco architecture. Whether you fancy a flutter on one of the roulette tables or you’re happy just watching the experts (and the daring) place their bets, you’ll love experiencing the glitz, glam and neon lights of this fun-filled casino that dominates the town’s shoreline.

    If you’d rather not risk losing any of your hard-earned cash, there’s more to Casino Barrière than just slot machines and poker. The venue has a restaurant and bar, as well as live concerts that often take place on special occasions.

    Location: Casino Barrière, 1 Avenue Edouard VII, 64200 Biarritz, France

    Open: Hours vary by season

    Phone: +33 (0)5 59 22 77 77

    Map

    photo by Fred Romero (CC BY 2.0) modified

    Sadie Geoghegan-Dann | Contributing Writer

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