Zarautz: the most sought-after beaches and surf
The lovely resort town of Zarautz is nestled in the eastern corner of the province of Gipuzkoa and is a popular summer destination. Its golden sandy beach stretches over 2.5 km and welcomes visitors from around the world, but especially the Basque Country and France.
The beach offers three distinct areas to accommodate all types of beachgoers. The westernmost part is ideal for families for its fine sands, tranquil waters and suite of services. The easternmost is slightly tucked away and removed from the crowds. In fact, if you are looking to break out your birthday suit, this is where you want to go. The central area provides Zarautz with its claim to fame – the incredible surf. Zaratuz has earned itself a reputation on the surfing circuit, and surfers flock here just to ride the world-renowned swells. The beach may be a must-see destination but there are many other treasures waiting to be discovered. Read on to find out what else it has to offer!
Zarautz: a surfing capital
Zarautz is the Basque Country’s undisputed surfing capital and boasts one of the finest beaches for this sport in the whole of Europe. No surprise that there is an ample selection of surf schools where beginners can learn the basics or amateurs can polish their skills.
You can surf any day of the year in Zaratuz, but the best time is between October and March when the currents are not as strong and it offers consistent surfing with different peaks for all standards of surfers.
What to see and do in Zarautz
Zarautz was the luxury summer destination among many aristocrats at the turn of the last century, including Queen Isabel II of Spain. As more and more aristocrats began to flock to the small town, they commissioned the construction of their lavish summer mansions along the beach.
Over the course of time, many of these stately buildings were pulled down and replaced by hotels and rest areas for tourists. Nonetheless, Zarautz has retained its elegance and exclusivity, welcoming visitors looking for laidback seaside bliss.
The old town of Zarautz
Take a break from the beach and enjoy a stroll through the quaint medieval old town of Zarautz and discover historic sites, such as the 15th-century Gothic church of Santa María la Real. It houses an impressive Baroque altarpiece with scenes from the Passion of Christ.
The church forms part of the archaeological site of Santa María la Real together with the Zarautz bell tower; it is the oldest building of the town and currently houses the Museum of Art and History.
The Palace of Narros
The great thing about Zaratuz is that you can discover both the pleasures of the beach and local historical landmarks while on holiday. This includes the 16th-cenutry Palace of Narros, composed of a central nave, flanked by two later constructions. The palace was the summer residence of many important historical figures, such as Queen Isabel II of Spain.
It was declared a Historic-Artistic Heritage Monument in 1964 but is unfortunately not open to the public as it is privately owned. You can, however, enjoy a walk in the beautiful, verdant surrounding area.
The Santa Bárbara Viewpoint
Don’t miss the spell-bounding panoramic views this viewpoint affords of the entire bay. Located adjacent to the Hermitage of Santa Bárbara, at the foot of a mount by the same name, you can get there by car or by foot. If you choose the latter, you’ll be spoilt by lush green landscapes and vineyards during the hike up. Once you reach the viewpoint, you’ll feel as if time has come to a standstill as you soak in the absolute tranquillity and contemplate the town and the rugged Basque coastline below.
Eating out in Zarautz: where to go
Discovering the Basque Country through its cuisine is an absolute treat to the senses. Basques are fond of – and known for – preparing scrumptious dishes made from high quality products. As in other parts of the region, Zarautz offers a wonderful selection of restaurants and eateries, serving up a broad selection of dishes for all tastes and budgets.
The kitchen at the Arguiñano family-run restaurant at Hotel KA prepares delectable dishes by merging Basque culinary tradition and innovation, and using fresh, seasonal products. Prawn ceviche, tuna purée, tuna wedges or duck fillet with shallots are just some of the delicacies you’ll find on the menu.
Asador Orioko Barra also serves up delicious meals with picturesque views of Orio Beach. Its signature dishes include grilled sea bream; scrambled eggs with mushrooms; octopus, tuna belly and anchovies. Don’t forget to pair your meal with one of the region’s gorgeous wines.
You can also pintxo-hop in Zarautz and try each tavern’s unique pintxos. A fail-safe starting point is on the main street Kale Nagusia. From there, just let your senses guide you.