I would like to introduce you to the enchanting (and pocket-friendly) town of Biarritz. It is a city on the Bay of Biscay in south-western France and best known for its surfing culture.
Biarritz has been an upcoming tourist destination for many years now and is still developing on the market place.
It has everything a holiday-maker needs: magnificent beaches, luxury hotels, restaurants (for your Instagram profile).
While Biarritz has certainly moved with the times, this small city has also maintained its prestige and royal heritage. Biarritz is now considered one of the most beautiful destinations in France.
Wide seafront promenades and well-placed benches allow visitors to soak up the stunning natural landscape.
Biarritz was a favorite summertime destination of Empress Eugenie (wife of Napoleon III), who transformed the sleepy fishing village into a fashionable beach town.
To entertain her court, the empress built a grand palace – which has since been turned into a luxury hotel.
The name of the streets in Biarritz also hint at its regal past: Avenue de l’Imperatrice, Avenue de la Reine Victoria, and Esplanade Elizabeth II.
Handsome mansions decked with turrets and oriel windows recall the city’s 19th-century splendor.
Read on to discover some of the best things to do in Biarritz.
1. Le Musée de la Mer (Museum of the Sea)
Make sure your camera is fully charged before you take a trip to this aquarium, you won’t want to miss a single thing.
Smile and wave at the turtles and seals or get up close and personal with the sharks during feeding time, which usually takes place between 10:30 a.m – 5 p.m.
There is also touch tank for kids (and adults) if you’d like to become more familiar with the smaller sea creatures – it’s a real delight for every age.
The main objective of the aquarium is to educate people on the importance of the ocean and the creatures that dwell in its waters.
2. Rocher de la Vierge
Getting from Le Musee de la Mer to Rocher de la Vierge (Virgin of the Rock) doesn’t take long. It’s a straight walk all the way down to the seafront from the doors of the aquarium.
This place is best known for its statue of the Virgin Mary standing on a rock overlooking the sea.
This unusual rock formation gives splendid views of the city and horizon, so make sure to take your camera when visiting.
3. Planete Musée du Chocolat (Chocolate Museum)
Do you have a sweet tooth? Then Planete Musée du Chocolat should be your next port of call.
At the Chocolate Museum, you’ll learn how to make your own sweet treats. As well as that, you’ll discover the history of chocolate and its significance in French culture, particularity in Biarritz.
It’s a unique experience and well worth considering if you’re a lover of chocolate.
4. Phare de Biarritz
The Lighthouse of Biarritz has 248 steps from the bottom to the top.
If climbing all those steps seems daunting, simply standing at the bottom of the lighthouse and watching the sun set on the ocean is a treat in itself.
But for those more adventurous, climbing to the top of the lighthouse will reward you with a panoramic view of Biarritz and the Basque countryside.
Surfing is a popular activity among tourists and locals in Biarritz. It’s primary beach – Grande Plage – is the largest in the region and is the usual go-to destination for surfers.
You don’t have to be a seasoned professional to surf the beaches here, Biarritz also has smaller, less crowded ones where you can practice your skills.
If you’re a complete novice, there are plenty of instructors around who will teach you the basics.
6. Port des pêcheurs (Fisherman’s Port)
Located between the Grande Plage and Rocher de la Vierge, the Fisherman’s Port has its old charm.
There are very few restaurants, but it’s the best place to go if you want to eat some fresh fish.
The small boats from the port are ready to sail out in the basins, and you get to see them as they come and go.
7. Villa Belza
Villa Belza has an unusual style because it was built in the late-19th-century, and makes it one of the most unusual sights in Biarritz.
The building is situated atop the Cote des Basques cliff, near the Rocher de la Vierge. You can reach it by foot by walking along the coastline.
Cote des Basques is a long, sweeping beach, very popular with surfers at low tide.
It is said to be the first place ever surfed in Europe. Now, it is the capital of surfing in Europe.
8. La Plage du Port Vieux
This oval beach is located in a small alcove, and is sheltered from strong winds and waves.
It’s perfect for those who prefer swimming over surfing, or who have small families.
There is a small cafe overlooking the beach, ideal for stopping by if you’re in need of some refreshments.
9. Musee Asiatica
Musee Asiatica is an interesting surprise, with large collections of artifacts from China, Nepal, and Tibet.
Don’t miss the Himalayan and Eastern India collection, which has a fine display of diorite rocks sculptures from the 9th and 10th centuries.
There are more than 1 000 pieces of artwork representing different historical periods, from ancient to modern times.
It is worth giving a try.
10. Les Halles de Biarritz
No trip to Biarritz is complete without paying a visit the one of the largest french food markets – Les Halles de Biarritz.
The market was built in 1885 and is a must-see for food-lovers. It’s a great insight into French food and culture.
From cheese, meat and pâté to fresh fruit and vegetables to French patisserie and coffee – there’s something here for every taste and preference.
11. Rugby Match
Home matches are played at the “Parc des Sports Aguilera” and tickets can be bought directly online from their website. Matches are often less than €15.
The local rugby team, “Biarritz Olympic Pays Basque, more commonly called the “BO”, trains here and you may be lucky enough to meet them.
12. Milwaukee Cafe
If you are a fan of (or indeed miss) the American lifestyle, you can get your fix at the Milwaukee Cafe.
You can order anything from burgers, salads, smoothies, health drinks to delicious cupcakes and proper barista-made coffees.
The owner of this particular cafe is a Milwaukee native but grew up in Biarritz, and now she’s offering her culture to people that are visiting.
13. Le B2
This French restaurant is situated near the Rocher de la Vierge. It boasts an impressive menu, with their own twist on traditional French cuisine.
The staff have a very high level of English, so for those with limited French, you needn’t worry about the language barrier.
Popular dishes include razor clams with burrata, grilled seabass and chocolate mousse.
14. Boulevards and Squares
The Place Bellevue is one of the most beautiful spots to visit in Biarritz. Its charming design is reminiscent of the Belle Epoque period.
The building has a semicircular square overlooking the beach, offering panoramic views of the ocean.
With so many beautiful sights, be sure to make enough time for a scenic stroll or a guided walking tour to learn about the history.
15. Chapelle Imperiale
Built-in 1865, the chapel was dedicated to the Virgin of Guadalupe.
It cuts an impressive figure with its Romanesque-inspired arches, Moorish design motifs, and glittering Byzantine-style gilded mosaics.
Both its interior and exterior have been beautifully preserved, so it’s well worth the visit.
16. Eglise Orthodoxe de Biarritz
This church was built by and for Russian aristocratic immigrants who frequented Biarritz often in 1892.
Gilded icons from Saint Petersburg adorn the interior, creating the impression of a glittering jewel box.
If you enjoy discovering unconventional places of worship, you’re sure to enjoy this church.
17. Marry the Beach
Beach weddings have always been associated with films and fairy tales – it’s not always such a practical option in real life.
However, due to Biarritz’s small-scale beaches and laid-back lifestyle, marriage ceremonies here have become much more commonplace here.
Several agencies are available for hire, helping you plan a memorable ceremony and catering to all your wants and needs for your special day.
Another great way to see the city’s top sights is by taking a Biarritz Discovery Segway Tour.
On this Segway excursion, tourists will stop at the most famous landmarks while learning about the city’s culture, history and architecture.
In terms of accommodation, you’ve got a lot to choose from in Biarritz.
It ranges from luxury hotels, such as Hotel du Palais or La Regina Biarritz Hotel, to mid-range hotels such as Hotel Saint Julien, La Maison du Lierre.
For young adults or those travelling on a budget, more reasonably-priced hotels would be Le Petit Hotel, Hotel Parc Mazon and Hotel Argi-Eder.
All hotels mentioned are very close to the beach and attractions.
Last Updated on March 16, 2023