On the banks of the Bidasoa river, sheltered by Mount Rhune’s austere peak, Hondarribia is one of the most picturesque towns on the Basque coast. Close to the French border, just east of San Sebastián, this lovely walled fishing village is enjoying a gastronomical moment, with an explosion of noteworthy restaurants.
More compact and manageable than its popular neighbor, San Sebastián, Hondarribia offers many attractions:xa0 a sandy beach at Txingudi Bay, an old fisherman’s quarter where antique houses sport colorfully painted shutters and flower-filled balconies, and a fortified medieval quarter with a hilltop castle and a labyrinth of cobbled lanes. Foodies come here for the celebrated epicurean delights served in eateries ranging from casual to sleek to the Michelin-starred.
Stay the night, or visit Hondarribia on a day-trip from San Sebastián or Bilbao. Most tours combine travel by van and boat to explore the French coast, dipping into quaint towns such as Hendaye and Saint Jean De Luz before encountering the bohemian glam of Biarritz.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Hondarribia is the perfect spot for architecture and history buffs, and foodies.
- Find information at the tourist kiosk at Plaza de Armas.
- Try the pintxos bars along the pretty tree-lined pedestrian street, Calle San Pedro.“Pintxo Pote” is a Thursday night tradition, with bars offering a pintxo and a beer or glass of wine for about US$2.
- Climb the hill to the medieval castle where King Charles V used to live.
- Escalators and elevators make the steep hills accessible to all.
How to Get There
Hondarribia is about 12 miles (20 kilometers) east of San Sebastián along the Atlantic Coast; expect about a half-hour on the road. Buses and trains run regularly between the two towns and take approximately an hour to an hour and a half.
When to Get There
Peak tourist season is August, when swarms of European travelers holiday along the coast. Beat the crowds and come during the spring (April - June) and fall (September - October) when the weather is temperate and not so rainy. September 8 is Virgin of Guadalupe Day, celebrated with a military procession.
Hop over to French Basque Country Just across the Bidasoa river estuary is the French basque beachtown of Hendaye. From Hondarribia, take a ferry, hike (about 1.5 hours), or bike (30 minutes) over the Spanish/French border. Here, you’ll find a beautiful 2-mile (3-kilometer) beach heaven for watersports including surfing, coastal walking trails to see the otherworldly flysch rock formations, and the fabulous neo-Gothic Château Abbadia.
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- Victoria Eugenia Theatre (Teatro Victoria Eugenia)
- San Telmo Museum (STM)
- Constitution Square (Plaza de la Constitución)
- San Sebastian Old Town (Parte Vieja Donostiarra)
- Buen Pastor Cathedral
- Monte Urgull
- San Sebastián Aquarium
- La Concha Beach (Playa de la Concha)
- Santa Clara Island (Isla de Santa Clara)
- Miramar Palace (Palacio de Miramar)
- Ondarreta Beach (Playa de Ondarreta)
- Monte Igueldo