Visit of Hondarribia and Irun: Medieval and commercial city, full of charm!

Hondarribia
Share Visit of Hondarribia and Irun: Medieval and commercial city, full of charm!
Visit of Hondarribia  ...

Fancy a getaway in two charming adjoining towns? Dynamic , modern and attractive ? Escape for a weekend or a week in Hondarribia and Irun ! They are complementary, one near the Cantabrian Sea , a lively and prosperous fishing port for centuries, with medieval roots still very much present in the vestiges of its heritage and customs ; the other with Roman accents, favorite paths for hikers , bordered by nature and traditions , modern and commercial ... It is the border situation with France, which has forged the assertive and proud character of these colorful towns , as joyful as can be the charming cities of the Basque Country . Embark on a journey through time and cultural , sporting and culinary experiences of choice: we will help you organize your stay in Hondarribia and Irun !

Opening and article photos : © www.bidasoaturismo.com

Irun and Hondarribia tourism

Visit Hondarribia, a proud fortified city with maritime accents

What makes Hondarribia and Irun so successful ? The same ingredients as in the past: a very good quality of life , between sea and mountains , with grandiose and soothing panoramas . A trade boosted by easy mobility , thanks to a dense road network , dynamic bus and train traffic and efficient maritime navigation .

Hondarribia is a town with its feet in the water : its unique 700m -long beach , its marina and fishing port which is one of the most important on the Basque coast, adjoins the famous Mount Jaizkibel , a Mecca of hiking for enthusiasts of all ages and physical condition. At the top of the 545m mountain which has its feet in the water, the Sanctuary of Guadalupe , whose first stones date from the 16th century and which was rebuilt in the 19th century. The Virgin of Guadalupe is celebrated on September 8 (the Feast of Guadalupe), she is the patron saint of the city and in her honor takes place the " alarde ", a large parade composed by the inhabitants of the city, which climbs up to 'at the hermitage. You can also do this procession all year round, it takes 3km from the bottom of the town to the hermitage (the view is breathtaking!).

Hondarribia Beach

The magnificent Hondarribia beach

View from the Jaizkibel

The breathtaking view from the Jaizkibel

Guadalupe Chapel Jaizkibel
The Sanctuary of Guadalupe and the Pottoks, Basque wild horses, on the Jaizkibel

Do you prefer hiking near the sea ? Travel the 14 km of Chemin de la Baie , along the Bidassoa from Hendaye, to reach the vibrant Hondarribia.

Hondarribia is part of the Medieval Towns and Villages Network , which promotes the medieval heritage of several municipalities in Spain and Portugal. Its city center is also recognized as a Historic Monument . Let yourself be seduced by its past! Stroll through the historic and medieval center , the city is host to the Castle of Charles V (which is now a Parador hotel) nestled in the hollow of the ramparts , vestiges of the warlike functions of the city (with the Place d'Arme , the old powder magazine , the bastions , the moats, the medieval footbridge…). It is also in the architecture of its well-preserved houses that one respectfully admires the antiquity of Hondarribia. Once through one of the city gates , to enter the heart of the city, the visitor is immersed in a timeless space, where elegant wrought iron elements adorn the facades of opulent and bourgeois houses. TheNuestra Señorade la Asunciónparish church is like a beacon that watches over this district, with its Gothic style and Renaissance ornaments.

The ramparts of Hondarribia

The remains of the city walls

   The fishermen's quarter, Hondarribia

Place d'Armes

Hondarribia

To learn all about the past of the city of Hondarribia , visit the Interpretation Center , which is located on the Place d'Armes, where the Tourist Office is also located.


Hondarribia is also its seafront , with its colorful half-timbered houses , typical of the small fishing villages of the Basque Country. This is the place to taste the famous Pintxos ... True totem of Basque culinary culture (known as Tapas in the rest of Spain). These are small plates that pile up on the table, with delicious dishes to enjoy with friends, to share and to peck. Hondarribia is the Mecca of Pintxos and you will not miss good places where to whet your appetite! Meat, fish, shellfish and roasted, marinated vegetables… Desserts as well, of course, all on deliciously arranged plates, with a style for each chef, a real trademark so that everyone can find a Pintxos to their liking. In June, it's the International Medieval Pintxos and Tapas Competition , it's time to go bar crawling!

The Port of Hondarribia

The beautiful port of Hondarribia


San Pedro

San Pero quail Quail San Pedro

San Pedro Street (Fishermen's Quarter)

Put on the swimsuits: Hondarribia is a stronghold of water sports , it is because between sea and mountains, there is much to do on such a beautiful playground! Surfing, of course, which remains one of the strong identities of the Basque Country, but also sailing sports , quite simply boat trips . Dive in deep blue waters rich in biodiversity, thanks to the quality of the waters of the Cantabrian Sea. Embark on a sea kayak, rowing ...

Do you have a boat? Come and anchor it at one of the 600 rings of the marina, or take the opportunity to do a baptism on the water, or a catamaran cruise!


But, what is this lighthouse that shines in the distance? This is the Higer lighthouse (the fig tree lighthouse)! He guides boats in the Bay of Biscay and at the mouth of the Bidassoa , to keep them away from the dangers of rocky coasts. It dates from the end of the 19th century and its square tower is surmounted by a gallery and an octagonal tower. From the lighthouse, hiking trails are available to go to Fort de Guadalupe , but if you really have the soul of a walker, why not join the path of Saint-Jacques-de-Compostelle or continue on the GR10 , to the Mediterranean coast (over 800km, all the same).

Another idea for a hike: The Talaia route . A very nice 21km walk, for experienced hikers. From Hondarribia or Cap d'Higer, you walk along the ocean towards Cap de Bioznar, with the crashing waves on the rocks for only music. You then climb to 543m on Mount Jaizkibel, then you follow the ridge that descends, against a backdrop of green Basque mountains, towards the sumptuous harbor of Pasaia.

Irun and Hondarribia are hosts of two routes to reach Santiago de Compostela , used by pilgrims since Antiquity. The Chemin de la Côte is a very old way, which passed by the coast before crossing the Jaizkibel and continuing. The Way of the Interior passes through Irun, it concerns pilgrims who come from Labor and France.

Store front Hondarribia
The colorful streets of Hondarribia

Irun, strong, combative and open at the same time: perfect border town!

Would we too often forget that Irun is a border town that has seen many episodes of political and geographic quarrels ? They have forged its architecture (as evidenced by the church " Santa Maria del Juncal " and the Town Hall of the city) and its spirit of openness! It was with the Romans that Irun found its first urban structure, the Empire having founded the city of Oiasso , the remains of which can be seen through the thermal baths (dear to the Romans) and the Santa Elena hermitage where finds a Roman necropolis. Direct your steps towards the Oiasso Museum to learn more about the occupation of the Bay of Biscay by the Romans. Independent and strong , Irun is a city that was built on this past. Many times turned upside down, destroyed and today a modern gateway that has not forgotten its history, it is an attractive city to visit during a day of peaceful strolling.

The Town Hall of Irun

Admire the Town Hall of Irun Town

Church of Santa Maria del Juncal

Santa Maria del Juncal church

Hermitage Ama Xantalen

The Ama Xantalen hermitage and its Roman remains

To visit the city of Irun following in the footsteps of the Romans, download the very well-designed Tour Irun Roma application, which is linked to information from the Museum and takes you to 8 points in the city: it's free!


The Beauty of Irun is also expressed in its landscape , you are at the gates of the Aiako Harria Natural Park , its beech forests as far as the eye can see, its pottoks (wild Basque horses) and its biodiversity. This lush mountain will appeal to those fond of flora and fauna , like the Txingudi Marshes , in the Plaiaundi Ecological Park (visit the Ekoetxea Txingudi Interpretation Center), and its 3 km of trails to be covered in all seasons, to admire the birds that come to feed or nest in the marsh.

Aiako Harria

The green Aiako Harria Natural Park

The Txingudi Marshes
The Txingudi Marshes


Discover the historical and mining complex of the Irugurutzeta heritage space: the Virtual Open-Air Museum. Here was one of the most important mining areas of the Bay of Biscay , which lasted until the end of the Second World War, with no less than 9 calcining furnaces! Ideally, take the tourist mining train from the Oiasso Museum, until you reach these facilities for a visit.

Calcination furnaces

The calcining ovens, heritage area of Irugurutzeta

Hermitage San Martial Irusta waterfall
The San Martial hermitage on Mount Aldabe and the Cascade d'Irusta

For a beautiful photo: The view from Mount Aldabe is absolutely superb! This is the opportunity to pass near the hermitage of San Martial , the patron saint of the city of Irun, which is celebrated on June 30 with a parade.


And the gastronomy? It is even on the plate that the Roman imprint is strong in Irun. In July, walk through the heart of the city, the Route of the Roman Pintxos : it's fun, original and enchanting for the palate. Of course, many restaurants and places to find quality food typical of the Basque Country are available in Irun. Which brings us to talk to you about an aspect to consider in the budget of your vacation : Shopping ! Prepare for an irresistible outing to shop in the stores of Irun , because it is the city where tens of thousands of people go every year, to do good business and take advantage of the border situation4 large shopping areas , 2 wholesale markets and a beautiful weekly market are available to window-shopping enthusiasts. Prices are sometimes more attractive than in France, which is one of the reasons why many of Labor's neighbors come for a walk on Saturdays in Irun.

Irun, city of shopping lovers
Irun, city of shopping lovers
Irun irun

Pintxos

Pintxos Pintxos

Pintxos

Delicious pintxos, there will be something for everyone!


A stay in Irun would not be complete without a visit to the fantastic Oiasso Museum , which, thanks to its museography , news and events, will be of interest to the whole family. Also visit a cider house , there are many in this region and Basque cider , Sagarnoa has nothing to do with its Breton counterpart. It is less sweet and more fruity, for a marriage without false notes with the traditional Basque charcuterie and the Pintxos that you will not fail to taste in this region!

Oiasso Museum
The Oiasso Museum
Oiasso Museum
The collections of the Oiasso Museum tell the story of the city

Learn more

Now you really want to go on vacation to Hondarribia or Irun? You are right ! To find accommodation, find out about good little restaurants, tourist and cultural sites to visit, do not hesitate to consult the website of the Hondarribia and Irun Tourist Office.


Did you like our report? Visit the Guide du Pays Basque blog to see more.

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