Nestled on the picturesque Bay of Biscay in southwestern France, Biarritz is an enchanting destination that seamlessly blends glamour, natural beauty, and a rich cultural heritage.
Once a sleepy fishing village comprising golden sandy beaches and majestic cliffs, it transformed in the 19th century into a favored holiday destination of European nobility.
Today, the town boasts an architectural legacy that reflects its past grandeur. Opulent palaces and belle époque buildings mingle with charming Art Deco structures, creating a delightful fusion of styles.
The town’s rich history is further woven into its tapestry, evident in its museums, historical landmarks, and lively streets, each narrating stories of a bygone era.
Beyond its historical charm, Biarritz entices travelers with its unrivaled coastline. The town’s iconic beaches offer a tranquil escape, where visitors can soak up the sun or take a gentle stroll along the promenade. Besides indulging in some seaside relaxation, one of the most popular things to do in Biarritz is surfing the Atlantic waves.
The city is also known for being a gastronomic paradise. Everything from traditional Basque cuisine to authentic French delicacies features within a vibrant food scene that will tantalize your taste buds.
Map of Tourist Attractions in Biarritz
In this post, we'll cover:
17. Plage de la Milady
Plage de la Milady is a great place to head to for those who want to spend quality time on the beach.
Located on the Bay of Biscay, this stunning beach offers visitors an idyllic setting characterized by golden sands, pristine waters and awe-inspiring views. Nestled between rugged cliffs, the beach provides a sense of serenity and seclusion, making it a perfect spot to unwind and escape after a busy period of sightseeing.
The soft sand is ideal for gentle walks, while the azure waters of the Atlantic Ocean are terrific for swimming. Plage de la Milady is also renowned as a popular surfing destination, attracting surfers of all skill levels. We rode the swell a couple of times and experienced quite a rush while doing so!
16. Mercado Les Halles
If you love food one of the best things to do in Biarritz is visiting the Mercado Les Halles.
A vibrant and bustling market in the heart of Biarritz, it showcases a wide array of fresh and local produce, including fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses, seafood, and baked goods.
From the colorful displays of seasonal fruits to the enticing aromas of freshly baked bread, the market stimulates the senses and immerses visitors in a culinary wonderland. Apart from the wide selection of raw ingredients, Mercado Les Halles is also home to several food stalls and small eateries.
The market provides an excellent opportunity to taste the flavors of the Basque Country and indulge in the local gastronomic traditions. Visitors can sample regional delicacies, such as pintxos (Basque tapas), oysters, charcuterie, and other mouthwatering treats they will love.
15. Imperial Chapel
The Imperial Chapel is one of our favorite historical landmarks in Biarritz for its stunning design and regal nature.
Built in the mid-19th century at the request of Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III, it is a testament to their love for Biarritz. It also signified their desire to transform the town into a fashionable and luxurious seaside resort.
The Imperial Chapel’s architectural style is reminiscent of the Second Empire period, characterized by its neoclassical design and ornate detailing. The exterior features intricate stonework, elegant columns and a striking bell tower, while the interior boasts beautiful stained glass windows, delicate frescoes and opulent decorations.
Once inside, the chapel’s serene atmosphere invites quiet contemplation and reflection. It is best to visit first thing in the morning to make the most of it.
14. Plage du Port Vieux
Plage du Port Vieux is another terrific beach to visit in Biarritz. Translating to ‘Old Port Beach’, it derives its name from the nearby small harbor that once served as Biarritz’s main fishing port.
With its crescent-shaped shoreline, Plage du Port Vieux is sheltered by rugged cliffs, creating the feel of a secluded haven. The golden sand, clear turquoise waters, and picturesque surroundings make Plage du Port Vieux ideal for sunbathing, relaxation, and leisurely walks along the shore.
Congruently, the absence of strong currents and waves makes it particularly suitable for families and those seeking a calm swimming experience.
For those seeking adventure, Plage du Port Vieux is a starting point for coastal walks and hikes, allowing visitors to explore stunning coastal cliffs and trails surrounding the area.
13. Biarritz Lighthouse
Perched atop a dramatic cliff overlooking the Bay of Biscay, the Biarritz Lighthouse is one of the city’s most iconic landmarks.
This majestic lighthouse, dating back to the 19th century, has played a significant role in guiding ships along the rugged Atlantic coast over the years.
Rising some 73 meters above sea level, the Biarritz Lighthouse offers breathtaking panoramic views of the coastline, the town and the vast expanse of the ocean. Visitors can ascend the lighthouse’s spiral staircase to reach its viewing platform to take it all in.
The lighthouse itself is a beautiful structure, with its white tower and red lantern room creating a striking contrast against the azure sky. It is a poignant reminder of Biarritz’s maritime heritage and historical connection to the sea.
12. Trip to Espelette
Located near Biarritz in the Basque Country, Espelette is a beautiful and charming village that combines scenic landscapes, traditional architecture, and culinary delights.
One of the main attractions in Espelette is its pepper production. The village is famous for its Espelette peppers, which are integral to Basque cuisine. Visitors can explore pepper farms, witness the drying process, and even purchase these aromatic peppers to take home as a culinary souvenir. We love their slightly spicy and smoky flavor and always add it to a ratatouille.
Wandering through the narrow streets of Espelette, prepare to be enchanted by the traditional Basque-style houses adorned with strings of dried peppers. The village exudes a cozy and authentic atmosphere, with quaint boutiques, artisan shops, and local restaurants showcasing the region’s gastronomic treasures.
The Church of Saint-Étienne, a beautiful 16th-century church, is a prominent landmark in the village. Its elegant architecture and intricately carved wooden galleries are worth a visit.
11. Musée Asiatica
If you are fascinated by Asian art and culture, you will want to visit the Musée Asiatica.
Located on Rue Guy Petit, this fabulous museum showcases a remarkable collection of Asian art, artifacts, and antiquities. It boasts an extensive collection that features exquisite pieces originating from India, China, Tibet, Japan, and Southeast Asia.
From delicate sculptures and intricate ceramics to vibrant textiles and ancient religious artifacts, the museum’s displays offer a glimpse into the rich artistic heritage of the continent. Visitors can admire Buddhist statues, traditional paintings, ornate jewelry, and many other masterpieces spanning thousands of years.
The Musée Asiatica’s intimate setting and serene ambiance provide the perfect backdrop to appreciate each piece’s intricate craftsmanship and cultural significance.
10. Alexander Nevsky Church
The Alexander Nevsky Church is a captivating architectural gem that showcases Biarritz’s rich cultural heritage.
With its striking Byzantine-inspired design, this Russian Orthodox church, built in the early 20th century, adds a unique touch to the town’s skyline. It also provides a captivating glimpse into Russia’s religious and cultural traditions.
The church’s impressive exterior features ornate domes, intricate detailing, and vibrant colors. Collectively it reflects the opulence of Russian Orthodox architecture.
Inside, visitors are greeted by an interior adorned with elaborate iconography, gilded altars, and stunning murals that depict scenes from religious narratives. The scent of incense adds to the sensory experience, creating a serene ambiance for contemplation and prayer.
9. Cité de l’Océan
If you are a thalassophile at heart, you’ll love the experience of visiting the Cité de l’Océan.
Offering an immersive and educational experience that explores the wonders of the ocean, this interactive museum and exhibition center, focuses on marine science, biodiversity and ocean conservation.
A visit to the Cité de l’Océan allows visitors of all ages to engage with the ocean’s mysteries through interactive exhibits, engaging displays and multimedia installations. There you can discover the fascinating world of marine life, learn about the ocean’s role in climate regulation and gain insight into its challenges in the modern world.
The museum’s highlight is the ‘Surf Zone’, an interactive area dedicated to the art of surfing. Visitors can try their hand at virtual surfing experiences, learn about wave formation and delve into the history and culture of this popular coastal activity.
8. Trip to Saint Jean de Luz
There is plenty to keep you busy in Biarritz, but if you have time, consider a trip to Saint Jean de Luz.
This charming coastal town, just a 25-minute drive from the city, exudes a rich Basque character and history.
It is renowned for its picturesque streets with traditional Basque-style buildings featuring colorful shutters and flower-filled balconies. One of the best things to do here is stroll along the bustling pedestrian streets, exploring boutique shops, local markets and artisanal craft stores.
Its beautiful beach, Plage de Saint Jean de Luz, is another notable attraction. Boasting golden sand, clear waters and stunning views, it’s ideal for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing.
The town’s rich history is evident at the Church of Saint John the Baptist, which famously held the marriage of Louis XIV and Maria Theresa of Spain. The church’s stunning architecture and intricate Baroque interior are also captivating.
7. Plage du Miramar
Biarritz has several outstanding beaches, but few can compare with the Plage du Miramar for its ambience or outstanding natural beauty.
Situated in the heart of Biarritz, this iconic beach offers a stunning setting with its golden sand, turquoise waters and scintillating views.
Characterized by a vast stretch of soft sand, impressive coastal cliffs frame the beach, adding to its allure by providing a sense of tranquillity and privacy. These cliffs also create a stunning backdrop for memorable photos and scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach is another excellent spot for surfing, while the nearby promenade runs along the coastline and offers charming cafes, restaurants and shops. Whilst there, take the opportunity to enjoy a delicious meal or sip on a refreshing cocktail while taking in the captivating coastal scenery.
6. Côte des Basques
The Côte des Basques is rightly considered one of the most iconic and picturesque destinations along the Basque coastline.
Located just a short distance from Biarritz town center, it offers a stunning stretch of golden sand bordered by dramatic cliffs. The beach’s scenic surroundings create a captivating backdrop for sunbathing, leisurely walks, and immersing yourself in the soothing sounds of crashing waves.
Côte des Basques holds a special place in the hearts of surfers, as it is considered one of the birthplaces of European surfing. Its consistent waves and surf-friendly conditions attract surfers of all skill levels, from beginners to professionals. We also rode some superb waves here.
If you’re not a surfer, climb the viewpoint at the end of the beach for exceptional panoramic views of the coast and the town, especially at sunset.
5. Sainte-Eugénie Church
The Sainte-Eugénie Church, a beautiful Catholic church dedicated to Saint Eugenia, is a prominent landmark in the heart of Biarritz.
Built in the mid-19th century, the Sainte-Eugénie Church showcases an exquisite blend of architectural styles, featuring elements of Byzantine and Moorish influences. Its striking white exterior is adorned with elegant domes and intricate detailing, creating a visually stunning sight.
Inside, its design features stunning stained glass windows, intricate woodwork and ornate decorations that showcase the craftsmanship of the era.
The highlight of a visit to Sainte-Eugénie Church is witnessing its stunning organ, considered one of the largest in France. Its powerful sound and intricately designed pipes add a melodious and spiritual touch to the church’s atmosphere. When we first heard it, the hairs on the back of our neck literally stood up on end!
4. Port des Pecheurs
As mentioned above, Biarritz used to be a sleepy fishing village. You can get a good sense of this legacy by visiting Port des Pêcheurs.
This small fishing port on the rugged coastline provides a charming setting where the sea traditions and the ocean’s beauty converge in perfect harmony.
As you stroll along Port des Pêcheurs, you’ll be enchanted by the colorful fishing boats bobbing in the water, adding a vibrant touch to the picturesque scene. The port exudes an authentic charm, with fishermen going about their daily activities and bringing in their catch of the day.
If you enjoy seafood, the quaint restaurants and seafood stalls that line the port offer terrific dishes. So, treat yourself to a delicious meal of local specialities like oysters, mussels, or grilled fish while savoring the comely ocean views.
3. Rocher de la Vierge
A visit to Rocher de la Vierge – or the Virgin’s Rock – in Biarritz is a captivating experience combining stunning natural beauty and a touch of local legend. This iconic landmark is a rocky outcrop that juts out into the Bay of Biscay, offering breathtaking panoramic views and a glimpse into the town’s maritime history.
To reach Rocher de la Vierge, you can cross a footbridge that connects the mainland to the rock. The footbridge was constructed in the 19th century at the request of Empress Eugénie, who wanted a safe path to the rock.
Once there, you’ll be greeted by a statue of the Virgin Mary standing atop the rock, overlooking the ocean. You’ll also see awe-inspiring vistas of the coastline, the crashing waves, and the expansive ocean horizon.
2. Aquarium de Biarritz
The Aquarium de Biarritz is both an educational and entertaining attraction that offers an immersive journey into the fascinating underwater world.
Home to marine life from the Atlantic Ocean and beyond, the aquarium showcases everything from vibrant coral reefs and mesmerizing jellyfish to graceful sea turtles and several fish species. The aquarium’s layout and design create a sense of immersion, allowing visitors to observe these captivating creatures up close.
The highlight of the aquarium is the shark tunnel, where you can walk through a glass tunnel surrounded by graceful sharks and other captivating sea creatures. It’s a thrilling and awe-inspiring experience that brings you face-to-face with these magnificent ocean predators.
In addition to the exhibits, the aquarium offers educational presentations, feeding sessions and interactive activities. They provide a deeper understanding of marine life and the importance of ocean conservation.
1. Grande Plage
You can’t come to Biarritz and not visit the magnificent Grande Plage. Also known as Playa De Biarritz, it is the town’s main beach, heartbeat and epicenter.
Stretching along the Bay of Biscay, it offers a picturesque setting of golden sands and crystal-clear waters. The spacious shoreline of Grande Plage provides ample room for sunbathing, building sandcastles, or enjoying a game of beach volleyball. Alternatively, you can relax on a beach towel and bask in the warm sun while taking in the breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean.
The Grande Plage is not just for relaxation, however. It is also a haven for water sports enthusiasts. The beach is renowned for its excellent surf conditions, attracting surfers worldwide.
Away from the water, the promenade along Grande Plage accommodates plenty of vibrant cafes, restaurants, and shops. They offer a variety of refreshments, local cuisine, and beachside entertainment – especially at night.
Where to Stay in Biarritz
Biarritz is expensive, so you might find accommodation a little pricey. However, if you want to base yourself near the main attractions in Biarritz or the beach, the city center and La Grande Plage districts are good places to stay.
It is hard to beat the Hôtel Le Café de Paris for sheer location. Overlooking Place Bellevue Square, it is a 2-minute walk to the beach and 5 minutes from the Gare du Midi train. The rooms also offer fantastic sea views, and an incredible restaurant which features ornate chandeliers and serves sensational food from the Basque region. Even though we didn’t stay here, we ate at the restaurant a couple of times.
A good option at La Grande Plage is the Hôtel Au Bon Coin. It is one of the city’s newer hotels, so it has more modern facilities than other places. Rooms are air-conditioned and have very comfortable beds. The hotel also has an excellent bar and terrace area and serves a delightful continental breakfast every morning to set you up nicely for the day.
How to get to There
You can easily get to Biarritz by multiple modes of transport.
The closest airport, Biarritz Pays Basque Airport (BIQ), offers domestic and international flights from several destinations. At the same time, driving to Biarritz is convenient via highways, with a journey time of around 7-8 hours from Paris.
Alternatively, if you don’t have access to a car, several bus services from various cities and neighboring countries can take you directly to Biarritz.
However, we recommend taking the train to the city. We did this from Paris and loved the gorgeous countryside views and coastline we saw on the way down.
Approximate travel times:
- Bayonne – 15 minutes by car, 10 minutes by train
- San Sebastian (Spain) – 45 minutes by car, 1 hour by bus
- Bordeaux – 2 hours by car, 2 hours by train
- Toulouse – 3 hours by car, 2 hours 30 minutes by train
- Paris – 7 hours by car, 5 hours by train
- Marseille – 6 hours by car, 5 hours by train
Best Time to Visit Biarritz
If you want to experience Biarritz at its most glitzy and gorgeous, then July and August are the best time to visit. Its main beach, promenade and hotels do get crowded though with prices also at their highest. Average temperatures of 24°C (so 75°F) mean you can sunbathe, swim, shop or sightsee while breezes from the Bay of Biscay cool you down.
As the warm waters from the Gulf Stream get ‘stuck’ along its coast, visitors can swim in the sea from early June til late October. This period is also the best for surfing with the Biarritz Surf Festival attracting surfers and spectators alike from all around the world.
Spring is another lovely time to visit as the sun is shining, flowers blooming and there are fewer crowds. March to May averages 16 to 19°C (61 to 66°F) though there is quite a bit of rain. In fact, each month sees about 12 to 18 days of rain across the entire year.
As it is the low season, you can find some great deals in December when the Christmas market is on. Otherwise, Biarritz sees only few visitors until spring comes around again.