7 reasons to visit Zarautz, a surprising town by the Cantabrian Sea

Zarautz
7 reasons to visit Za ...

Just 20 km west of San Sebastian in the Bay of Biscay, Zarautz is a seaside town that has yet to surprise you. It offers a wide range of pleasures for vacationers of all styles. Do you like surfing and nature sports in general? Hiking, trail running in the mountains, golf? Do you also enjoy the beach simply for lounging and swimming? Basque gastronomy attracts you and you like fresh fish and good meat, wine of character and quality? Do you like walks to discover culture, heritage, while doing a little shopping? As a family, with friends or as a couple for an original getaway weekend, Zarautz awaits you. It is a plural destination, which awaits only your desires to respond to it. We present to you our 7 good reasons to visit Zarautz, you will not need more to pack your bags.


Photos of the article © Tourist Office of Zarautz


Santa Barbara in Zarautz

1-) The largest beach in Euskadi is in Zarautz!

Zarautz beach stretches over almost 2.5km of fine sand and waves... It's an ideal place to bask in the sun , relax, swim... But above all go surfing! Zarautz is a more than popular destination for this sport, with surf spots that attract more than one. For beginners as well as advanced, surfing is a real pleasure. Zarautz beach has regular and homogeneous waves, it's perfect for learning to surf, especially in the shoulder seasons when there are fewer people on the beach. From June 15 to September 15, the beach is a space to be shared between swimmers and surfers, 5 or 6 spots are delimited for surfing, they are clearly visible and meet all your desires. If you have forgotten your equipment, board or wetsuit, many shops can rent you a surfboard in Zarautz and surf schools will delight beginners. Always wanted to try? It is time !

Take advantage of the beach by strolling on "El Malecon", the maritime promenade of Zarautz. View of the mountains on one side, the sea on the other, it's paradise. Along the promenade, a real open-air museum, with very beautiful sculptures to discover.


Zarautz Beach
Surfing in Zarautz
Surfing in Zarautz
Beach and sculpture in Zarautz


2-) Hikes with breathtaking panoramas

Do you have your dose of iodine? Put on your trainers to take on the paths and trails from Zarautz, to explore the region. Whether in the direction of the mountains, with a backdrop of a patchwork of vineyards of the famous Txakoli (we'll talk about it again...), the local white wine, or discovering the Flyschs, the surprising geological formations that border this Cantabrian region, you will be delighted with your hikes around Zarautz.

We recommend the Green and Blue Ring Trail, which goes around Zarautz in 13km, it is a beautiful walk to discover the city and its heritage, but also the surrounding nature through landscaped sites of interest and explained. The Whale Watching Posts Trail connects Zarautz to Getaria, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the ocean, you will cross the vineyards of Txakoli. In the past, whales were hunted in the waters of the Gulf of Biscay (Gulf of Biscay). The whale was highly respected and everything that made it up was used: meat for food, blubber as fuel for heating, for waterproofing, bones for making tools, objects... It was found from October to February, after she had migrated from Norwegian waters. Since the beginning of the 20th century, whales have not been hunted, but the spirit of the whalers is still present on these coasts. Come discover their story.

A bit of Golf? The Real Golf Club of Zarautz offers no less than 165,000m2 of surface area and a 9-hole course to keep your putting in shape. On a dune above Mount Talaimendiet in the Biotope de Iñurritza, for a golf stay in the Basque Country, it's ideal!


Hiking in Zarautz
Hiking in Zarautz
Hiking in Zarautz
Hiking in Zarautz


3-) Discovering the Monumental Archaeological Complex of Santa María la Real

When we say “monumental”, we are not kidding! Santa María la Real is made up of a 15th century Gothic church, with an imposing bell tower 50m high, and conventual buildings. It is an unmissable historical and cultural place in Zarautz, we recommend a guided tour and even just a walk to appreciate its architecture and panorama.


Santa Maria la Real
Santa Maria la Real

4-) Visits to unusual heritage and industrial remains

Here's a nice ride! On the way to the Torreón, this striking white monument, as if hanging on the mountain. From the Santa Maria church, a path leads to the "Vista Alegre", at the edge of a large and very pleasant park is this old watchtower. It is the first reinforced concrete building, built in Gipuzkoa. It was built by a father for his daughter, so that she could appreciate the marvelous view from this unparalleled panorama. It's your turn to be amazed! On a clear day, you can even see the French coast taking shape in the distance, as far as the Landes!

Two towers are in the center of Zarautz and they are the vestiges of medieval times (14/15th centuries) and together they tell the story of these two sisters who fell in love and married the same man. They were condemned to be frozen one and the other to look at their lover the nearby steeple. The tall and proud Luzea Tower (one of the finest examples of civil Gothic architecture in Guipúzcoa, an exhibition hall is located within it), and the smaller but kind-hearted Motza Tower.

Photography and museum lovers, go to the Photomuseum: Argazki & Zinema Museoa. It will tell you about the history of photography, from its invention to the present day. It is one of the best museums in Europe on this subject!


Torreon Tower


Another unusual vestige: The Mollarri ore loading dock in Zarautz (Talaimendi) was an ingenious system for transporting the iron extracted from the mines to the sea, by means of an overhead cable. It is an unusual place that can be visited today, there are information panels. The site is high up and enjoys a magnificent view.


The Quai Mollarri


5-) Shopping in Zarautz

Fancy a little window shopping ? Zarautz is almost like an open-air shopping mall, with everything you need ! The main shopping street, Kale Nagusia, is a pleasant place to stroll, but also perfect for a day's shopping, with boutiques selling clothes, shoes, jewelry, homewares and local produce. Stroll along the narrow streets to Zigordia kalea, Gipuzkoa kalea... and all the charming alleys in the town center, brimming with designer shops and boutiques :

  • Original souvenirs, handcrafted items,
  • Clothing with the latest fashion trends,
  • Selections of traditional Basque clothing and accessories,
  • Contemporary creations...


There's everything you need for a pleasant stroll through the lively streets of downtown Zarautz. Your shopping day is guaranteed to be a success !

Shopping in Zarautz
Shopping in Zarautz
Shopping in Zarautz


6-) Feast on local Basque products in bars and restaurants

In Zarautz, as in all the Basque Country, we eat well, it's fresh, it's well cooked, seasoned with taste and flavor! Zarautz is a seaside town where you can taste a whole range of delicious seafood. Marmitako (tuna stew), txipirones (small squid in their ink, grilled a la plancha, or on a bed of onions), cod with vizcaina... Also taste the fish cooked on traditional grills , it's extraordinary cuisine to discover during your stay. It's healthy, it enhances the taste of fish! A dozen restaurants offer grilled fish in Zarautz.

Do as the inhabitants of Zarautz do, at aperitif time, come and taste the pintxos. They are generally eaten between 12 p.m. and 3 p.m., as an aperitif, because you know it, beyond the Pyrenees, they have lunch and dinner later than in France. Also, keep up to date with this tradition, we consume Pintxos to accompany a glass of beer or good wine such as Txakoli (with an AOC). It's miniature cuisine, portions of classic dishes, available in small bites, on plates.

It is in the old town ("Parte Vieja") that you will have to go to taste good pintxos, around the Plaza de la Música, Barren Plaza, Kale Nagusia...

Do the market! The Zarautz market is open every day except Sunday in the city center. The covered market, the Mercado de Zarautz is also a place to visit. There are local products direct from small local producers, as well as traditional, seasonal products, charcuterie, cheese and Basque cider. Did you know that in the past (and still today with one or two exceptions), it was the women who came to hold the stalls and sell their fruits and vegetables… Good gift ideas to bring back as souvenirs!


Basque Pintxos
Grilled fish
Pintxos
Zarautz covered market


7-) Celebrating in Zarautz: San Pelaio Fiestas and others

The patronal feasts of Zarautz , celebrated in honor of Saint Pelagius, take place on June 25, 26 and 27. You will see parades of drums (adults and children), concerts and traditional dances are on the program.

Mid-August is the Semana Grande: fireworks, concerts all week, train regattas (these are the most famous regattas after those of San Sebastien). Access is free and the show lasts 2 days. Giants and big heads are particularly popular with the public during these holidays, there is a crazy crowd!

The first week of September and especially the 9th is Euskal Jaia, the Basque Festival. All the inhabitants (90%) put on traditional clothes, all day long! It's a "return 100 years back" atmosphere. There will be dancing in several squares, parades of traditional floats... You will also discover the Joaldunak: parades of characters dressed in woolen suits, sheepskin jackets and hessian trousers, who wear brass bells attached to their backs. The bells come in different sizes and produce a distinctive sound when shaken rhythmically. The Joaldunak walk the streets of the city shaking their bells to drive away evil spirits and bring good fortune.

Check the agenda of the Zarautz Tourist Office to find out what the festivities are during your stay in Zarautz and to have recommendations for parking in town.

Other festivals: Surfing championships, trails, triathlon, Basque pelota, sea regatta… But also music festivals, Kalerki (Street Theater Festival), BertsoAstea (Bertso week), Literaturia, the Rockumentalak festival, the craft fairs, concerts and choirs…


Feast of San Pelaio
Basque traditional festival
Basque traditional dancers
Basque traditional costumes


You are ready to organize a holiday in Zarautz, you have all the cards in hand to spend a pleasant moment of sport, relaxation, gastronomy. All this with Basque friendliness!


Port of Zarautz

Did you like our article? Find more on the Basque Country Guide blog. We are also on social networks, come and consult the Facebook page of the Basque Country Guide, as well as our Instagram account @guidedupaysbasque

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