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Hidden Gems

Hondarribia

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1 day in Hondarribia, Spain

Estimated time to visit: 6 hours (time for lunch  included) 

 

Hondarribia, Spain (Fuenterrabia in Spanish language) is a coastal town east of San Sebastian in the Spanish basque country and which  faces France. it is a charming and typical Basque village which offers 2 different flairs. We have put together this Hondarribia to help you organise a day in the most effective way.

Guide to spend 1 day in Hondarribia

Where is Hondarribia?


Hondarribia is on the left side of the end of the Bidasoa river. It is the last coastal town in Spain. On the other side of the bay lies Hendaye, already France.
Hondarribia is located at 20 kilometers east of San Sebastian, 20 kilometers west of Saint Jean de Luz in France, or 35 kilometers from Biarritz.
Hondarribia´s strategic position made it an important fortress-town and the scene of many a battle. Picturesque medieval streets in the old part, beautiful basque style houses in the Marina district, a sandy beach, the seafront and many bars and restaurants make of Hondarribia a very popular tourist destination.

20 kilometers east of San Sebastian (20 minutes)

How much time to spend in Hondarribia?


Our recommendation would be to spend half day in Hondarribia, though you could spend one full day with no problem, specially if you decide to enjoy a beach day in its beach.
Your time in Hondarribia should include a walk in the old quarter, a walk in the Marina district, time for pintxos (either at lunch time or for dinner) and time to enjoy some of the fantastic view points available in Hondarribia.

The old part of Hondarribia


The old town has a medieval atmosphere, largely due to its narrow streets since the area inside the defensive walls was too small to allow for anything wide.


The old town can be accessed through different areas but it is mostly enjoyed through the Puerta de Santa María, a 15th century gate decorated wit the town´s coat of arms and an image of Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe.


The Calle Mayor (Kale Nagusia) or Main street still has old mansions and they are one of the most attractive things to enjoy in Hondarribia. These old mansions have coats-of-arms, wought iron work and charming bay windows. The Town Hall, The Zuloaga palace (today the library) and some of the houses in the street like Torrealta and Casadeavante are fantastic.


On the right side of the main street you will find the Gothic church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion. Originally from the 11th century, it was rebuilt in the 16th century in renaissance style. The bell tower platform and the balcony in the sacristy both provide splendid views over the town and the area. A very important historical event took place at this church: the Pyraneean alliance was concluded in 1659 by the marriage of Louis XIV of France to princess María Teresa.


The Royal palace of Charles V (today a Parador hotel) is located at the Plaza de Armas and is probably the top attraction in Hondarribia. Its construction begun on the 12th century and it continued under the influence of Ferdinand and Isabella. It was completed by Charles V. The facade is from the 15th and 16th century. This explains the name of the castle.
Its location made it the perfect place for defensive purposes. Charles V himself stayed at the castle-palace while they waited for the marriage of the King´s daughter, Maria Teresa, with Louis XIV.

The Marina district


The second “face” of Hondarribia is found in the noisy Marina district. Hondarribia was for centuries an important fishing harbour and it is at the Marina district where we can find the typical and colouful Basque houses. These houses share colours with the typical Basque boats.

Through all pedestrian Calle San Pedro you will find bars and restaurants alike that stand below the colourful balconies, all of which share a gaily decoration with flowers.
Two of the best things to enjoy in the Marina district are the terraces that many bars open up and to enoy a walk along the bay in the Paseo del Butron from where you will enjoy fantastic views of Hendaye.

Beach in Hondarribia


Most locals from Hondarribia used to spend their beach days in Hendaye. The beach in Hendaye is huge and totally opended to the ocean, whilst the beach in Hondarria used to be very small. But the beach is today 800 meter long and offers a great experience. Many people still prefer the beach in Hendaye (less crowded) but the beach in Hondarribia is perfect for children (very calmed waters) and very easy to access, with a paid parking area next to it.

Best views in Hondarribia


There are different view points not be missed.

Our favorite is from Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe. This church is located 5 kilometers west of Hondarribia in the shadow of the Jaizquibel mountain. The miraculous image of the Madonna of Guadalupe, the city´s patron saint, is surrounded by a golden altarpiece. The painting shows a number of model ships and sailors surrounded by sacred objects. The views are fantastic all the way up the road and from the view point ourside the church.

The Alarde of Hondarribia


If you happen to be in the area or visiting San Sebastian around September 7th you should seriously consider a trip to Hondarribia.

Each year since 1683, on September 7th there is a feast in honour of the Madonna of Guadalupe. A Renaisance story describes the historical event that was the start of this feast. In 1683 the city was heavily besieged for two months by the army of Prince Conde de Saint-Simon. Exhausted and nearly at the end of its strength, the city of Hondarribia was relieved by the arrival of the Spanish army on the eve of the holy day of the Madonna of Guadalupe. Thus the people of Fuenterrabia (hondarribia) felt theyr faith in the Madonna had been rewarded.

The Alarde is one of the top Spanish festivals in the basque country (and the North of Spain) and it is also one of our favorite things to enjoy in Spain in September 

Beach in Hondarribia
La Marina district in Hondarribia
House in Calle San Pedro in Hondarribia
Views of Hondarribia from Hendaye port

Interesting things near Hondarribia

Lagusardia

Laguardia

This small Spanish village was founded in 908 by Sancho Abarca of Navarre to defend the frontier, when it was known as La Guarda. It was originally laid out in the shape of
a ship, with the bow facing North. and the stern South. In 1164 it achieved town status under Sancho el Sabio. In 1194 its fortifications were extended by King Sancho el Fuerte. Cars are not permitted inside the walled city!

City guide San Sebastian thumbnail

San Sebastian city guide

San Sebastian city guide with a recommended list of hotels, restaurants, places to visit, weather, prices, monuments, things to see and do and much more. With its amazing gastronomy offering, San Sebastian is for sure one of the top cities to visit in Spain