My friends Bryan and Stacey bought a place in Biarritz ages ago — 2008? 2009? — and I’ve been promising (threatening?) to visit ever since my first visit. This year, with a little spare time on hand before my busy season at work, I finally booked a long weekend in Biarritz. And it was one of those trips where you spend the entire visit wondering, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?” Because Biarritz is really the best of towns. It’s right on the beach and the surf is often up, so there’s a nice laid-back surfing vibe to everything. It’s a small enough town that if you dine out at the same restaurant often enough, everyone knows your name and knows your story and knows where you live or where you are staying or who you know or why you know them. In short, I love Biarritz. I think we should all move there. There are so many things to do in Biarritz! It’s amazing.
Where to Stay in Biarritz…With a Rooftop Swimming Pool!
I got a great Hotwire deal on the Radisson Blu in Biarritz — read my post for details on how I get great deals on Hotwire — and while the hotel certainly hasn’t been updated in the last seven years — the timeframe recommended for most hotel upgrades — its location — smack bang in the middle of things and just a 7 minute walk from my friends’ place and a short walk to the beach — was perfect. It also helped that Stacey knew someone who knew the manager of the hotel, so there may have been some free drinks and snacks involved.
We were also pleased with the hotel’s great rooftop pool and bar, where we spent many an hour relaxing and just doing nothing, really, except discussing how it was that we had all gotten so old. Honestly, it’s really hard to beat the Raddison’s location or rooftop pool in Biarritz so if you’re not picky about decor and don’t mind an older property, this is the place to stay for your weekend in Biarritz. The hotel overlooks the beach and it’s just a short walk to the surfers beach or into town for the cute little beach in the lead photo on this post. Book the Raddison Blu Biarritz.
If the Radisson Blu doesn’t appeal to you, here are some other hotels to consider:
● Le Saphir: This is one of the cheaper hotels in Biarritz but in high season, it will won’t be cheap-cheap. This hotel has a great location close to the waterfront. Rooms are a bit basic but they are clean and the owners are very friendly.
● La Maison du Lierre: This is a small boutique hotel conveniently located to main shopping street in Biarritz. I love the decor and the convenience to restaurants and bars.
● Sofitel Le Miramar– If you’re looking to splurge, the Sofitel Le Miramar is a great option. It’s conveniently located on the beach and it has a lovely bar and restaurant with views over the ocean. If I had the millions I deserved, I’d stay here.
Things to Do in Biarritz
Watch the Sunset from the Rooftop Bar of the Radisson Blu
Watching the sunset from the rooftop bar of the Radisson Blu is one of the best things to do in Biarritz, in my opinion. Grab a glass of rose or an Aperol Spritz and chill out. If you’re lucky, there will be some live music. Maybe some free snacks. Amazing.
Watch the Sunset from Extola Bibi
Along Avenue Beaue Rivage, right next to the parking lot (south), there’s a small park with a bar set in the middle called Extola Bibi. This is a great little outdoor bar to hang out at and watch the sunset. It’s very popular with the local crowd. People of all ages. If you’re down on the beach during the day, it’s really wonderful to come up to street level and grab a drink before you head out for dinner. It’s one of the more local things to do in Biarritz. It’s even great for kids because there’s plenty of outdoor space for them to run around.
Visit Mercado les Halles
The Mercado les Halles is one of the top things to do in Biarritz. It’s a fantastic food market with all sorts of local Basque products. The market is open every day during the year from 7:30 am to 2 pm but during the the high season in July and August, it’s also open in the evening and is a popular gathering spot.
Hang Out on the Plage du Port Vieux
The lead photo on my post is of the lovely Plage du Port Vieux, which is a fun beach that is easily swimmable and surfer-free. It can get really crowded, but honestly, I love it here. One tip: if you are planning on spending some time on the beaches in Biarritz, buy some Turkish towels. They are very light and easy to carry. I suggest this because on your way back from the beach, you may want to stop for a drink somewhere and these are much more portable than heavy beach towels. (They also take less water to wash and dry faster so they are better for the environment.)
Catch a Pelote/Jai Alai Match
Jai Alai is very popular in the Basque region and there will probably be a few matches on while you’re in town. At Parc Mazon in town, there’s a court where locals will also play in the evening. Catching a game is one of the really fun things to do in Biarritz that helps you feel like a local.
Go to Surf School
One of my goals in life is to learn how to surf!! And in Biarritz, there are a number of surf schools to choose from. Take a 2-hour personal surf lesson or if you’re not ready to commit just yet, try a 1-hour surf lesson. If you’re already an experienced surfer, you can do a surf tour of Biarritz and the surrounding areas!
Visit the Biarritz Aquarium
The Biarritz Aquarium is compact but still pretty enjoyable, for adults and kids alike! Seals are always fun to watch!! And the jellyfish are mesmerizing.
Walk from Rocher de la Vierge to the Lighthouse (Or Vice Versa)
One of the most relaxing things to do in Biarritz no matter what time of year is take a nice long walk along the waterfront. You can either start at the lighthouse and walk towards the Rocher de la Vierge (the statue of the Virgin Mary on the rock, accessible by a small bridge), or head in the opposite direction. This is a nice, manageable 1.5 mile walk. Especially nice at sunset!
Treat Yourself to a Massage at Hotel du Palais
If you are looking for a great spa in Biarritz, check out the Hotel du Palais. My friend Stacey and I did a spa day where we first relaxed in the lovely hotel pool and had massages and facials before enjoying a lovely lunch overlooking the ocean. Life doesn’t get much better than this, so if you’re looking for a spa or need a massage in Biarritz, look no further.
Have Ice Cream at Maison Dezamy
One of the easiest and sweetest things to do in Biarritz is stop in at Maison Dezamy alone Rue de les Halles for some of their fantastic ice cream! Great on a warm summer evening!
There is no better way to fit in with the locals than buying a pair of espadrilles in Biarritz. (Red ones are especially popular, particularly in late July, around Fetes de Bayonne.) Two of my favorite places to buy espadrilles in Biarritz are the Art of Soule on Rue Gambetta and La Maison de l’Espadrille on Rue du Port Vieux.
Where to Eat in Biarritz
Going out to eat, of course, is one of the best things to do in Biarritz. I love Basque cuisine! It’s very French but, er, very Spanish at the same time. (Although I probably shouldn’t say “Spanish.”)
Caroe: I love this small Danish restaurant on Rue Gambetta Biarritz. Lots of great seafood dishes here. It can get quite crammed and is not a large place so plan ahead. Some interesting Scandi beers on the menu too.
Cibo Pizza: Right next to Caroe, you’ll find Cibo Pizza. Because sometimes, even in France, you need a good pizza. Reservations recommended! We’ve been locked out before!
Haragia: Tiny little place just off Rue Gambetta in Biarritz that serves mainly steak and chips. We perched on high chairs and devoured a number of plates of very good steak. VERY popular so make a booking. I liked it here a lot, although service was both very harried and very slow. We ordered a second bottle of wine and we were nearly done with our food by the time it arrived.
The Beach House: This was about a 15 minute ride (I think) outside Biarritz, but we loved the relaxed vibe and international cuisine. (I love Basque food as much as the next person, but after a few days of it, you start salivating over anything Asian.) We had a table on the outdoor patio, but luckily we were under a canopy because it proceeded to rain like nobody’s business while we were sitting there. While we enjoyed our time here, The Beach House felt like a “beautiful people” kinda place, just fyi.
Bar du Marche: We wandered around Biarritz’s lively central market before settling down here for a big plate of garlicky chiporones. This was a very lively, fun spot and we were lucky to get a table. The restaurant was so crowded that we could barely get to the bar for tapas, which was our original plan.
L’ Artnoa: Fantastic, friendly winebar that has recently been refurbed. I stopped in here to pick up a gift for my friends and service was super sweet and helpful. Snacks and a small menu available.
Cafe du Commerce: Great for nearly all day dining — they take a small break between lunch and dinner — with something on the menu for everyone. This friendly cafe is located right by the market.
Day Trips from Biarritz
Bayonne is about a 45 minute ride on the bus from Biarritz. The buses are very easy and well-labeled. I’ve taken the bus twice now from Biarritz to Bayonne for Fetes de Bayonne and it’s a crazy good time. (Sorta like Oktoberfest but more of a street party.) Even if your dates don’t overlap with Fetes de Bayonne, Bayonne seems like a nice town for a day trip from Biarritz.
San Sebastian is about a 45 minute to one hour drive from Biarritz. I hope you have heard of San Sebastian before, but if not, it’s all tapas bars all the time. A great thing to do is tapas crawl your way through town. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been to San Sebastian and it truly never gets boring.
Summary of the Best Things to Do in Biarritz
After spending a week in Biarritz for the first time in like eight years, I have decided that I must make this an annual pilgrimage. It’s a great little town for a long weekend! Put it on your list.
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