Surfing the Basque Country
Northern Spain and South-West France

Surfing the Basque Country from Bilbao to Mundaka, Zarautz, San Sebastian, over the border to France to Saint-Jean-De-Luz and Biarritz is an amazing trip, with plenty of different types of spots to surf, a unique cultural experience, incredibly beautiful landscapes, stunning cities, and vibing delicious food places.

1. Introduction to Surfing the Basque Country

The Basque Country, also known as Euskadi or País Vasco, is an autonomous community located in the northern part of Spain and the southwestern part of France. The Ocean situated in the cross-border Basque Country region is the Bay of Biscay, which is a gulf of the northeast Atlantic Ocean and home to various surf regions and surf spots along the northern coastline of Spain and the southwestern coast of France.

2. The Basque Country Coastline & Surf Regions

The coastline is characterized by towering cliffs, picturesque fishing villages, sandy beaches, charming coves, and lush landscapes. You have different options to fly into the Basque Country: Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Biarritz. Depending on your place of origin, you might be able to find a direct connection. For example, we flew in from Munich, Germany, direct to Bilbao, while there were no direct flights to Biarritz or San Sebastian.

Bilbao (Sopelana & Getxo)

The shortest distance to the surf from Bilbao is a 20 minutes drive direction north where you will find the towns Getxo and Sopelana. In Sopelana you find a good amount of surf spots lined up next to each other along the northern coastline. Playa Salvaje and Playa Sopelana lay next to each other and there is a big free parking right in the middle of the two beaches from where you can walk and overlook both spots to check the surfing conditions. The next bay a little bit further west from Playa Salvaje is Aizkorri. Again, further west from there, you will reach Punta Galea, a world-renowned big wave spot at the entrance of the port of Bilbao. From this point, if you head about a 10 minutes drive down south, you will reach Getxo with its surf spots within the harbor bay (Arrigunaga, Erreaga, Jefrys) that are working less consistently than the more exposed breaks on the north shore around Sopelana.

Bakio & Mundaka

If you continue to explore the Basque Country coastline direction east, from Bilbao on the way to Zarautz and San Sebastian, Bakio and Mundaka are towns with surf spots along the way. Bakio is a wide beach break with multiple peaks and Mundaka is a river mouth where in combination with the currents from the ocean perfect sandbanks can form under the right conditions that create powerful barreling waves for expert surfers, breaking like over a reef.


From Mundaka, it is about a 1.5-hour drive further direction east until reaching the city and eponymous Surf Spot Zarautz. The bay in front of the city offers a 2.5km wide beach break that works best during mid and high tide and is suitable for all levels of surfers, from beginners to experts. The city of Zarautz has a lot of Bars and authentic Basque Taverns to offer as well as plenty of surf shops and surf rentals within walking distance from the beach.


From Zarautz you can see the town of Getaria which hosts an advanced-level surf spot Orrua, also known as Rocca Puta. This spot under the right circumstances (most likely during winter time) can fire up very big and powerful long waves, up to 6 meters in height, only suitable for those few crazy and experienced enough to surf them. In the center of town, there are two more spots: the sheltered bay Gaztetape and another break at the Getaria harbor named Karramarro.

Donostia San Sébastian

Within less than a 30-minute drive from Zarautz, San Sebastian lies on the way to the French border and is a must-see when surfing the Basque Country. San Sebastian, also known as Donostia in the Basque language, is a beautiful city with nice architecture and a beautiful old town. In addition, the city is famous for its gastronomy and has earned a reputation as a culinary capital. The city boasts numerous Michelin-starred restaurants, pintxos bars (Basque tapas), and a vibrant food and bar scene in general.

San Sebastian has two city beaches: La Concha Beach on the west side of town, a crescent-shaped beach that is considered one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe. It offers golden sand, clear waters, and a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains. The other beach on the east side of the city in the district of Gros is Zurriola Beach, which is quite consistently exposed to swells and hence suitable for surfing.


A 30 to 45-minute drive from San Sebastian, by crossing the border to France, the picturesque coastal town Saint-Jean-De-Luz awaits. If the swell is maxed out at nearby more exposed surf spots, the port of Saint-Jean-de-Luz provides sheltered options to surf in its bay at Les Flots Bleus and Sainte Barbe.

Erromardie & Acotz

North of the town, stunning nature awaits on the wild coast of Saint-Jean-De-Luz including the beaches and surf spots Erromardie, Lafiténia, and Cenitz (Acotz). Erromardie and Lafiténia, both are right-hand waves that work best with bigger swells. Cenitz is considered a spot best for longboarders and offers both, a left-hand wave and a right-hander, while the right-hand wave is the more technical/challenging wave to surf. Cenitz works best at higher stages of the tide as the bottom is a reef that can get very exposed during low tide and surfing is only possible very far out in shallow water.

The vibe in this area is very laid-back. There is a lot of wild nature and not much concrete. Instead, a lot of camping sites are based in this area, plus vibing beach bears and plenty of food trucks.


A jump-off from Saint-Jean-De-Luz, the coast further up north, Guéthary awaits. Another beautiful coastal town with a lot of nice restaurants and surf spots like Avalanche and Parlementia. Both spots can get quite heavy and big during winter swells.


The next town further north along the coastline is Bidart, hosting a variety of different surf spots: The beach break Plage Centrale, an easy reef break Erretegia, plus another two spots Iibarritz and Pavillon Royal.


After Bidart, the city of Biarritz awaits. It is a beautiful city that during summer time is well-known as a holiday destination for the rich and famous. In the south of the city, you find a very long stretch of coastline, with three beaches suitable for surfing: Milady, Plage de Marbella, and Cote des Basques. Right in the center of Biarritz, the city beach Grande Plage Biarritz is another beach break surf spot that works best during the lower stages of the tide.


Immediately after the northern city border of Biarritz, you will find the town and municipality of Anglet. Anglet is home to a long stretch of a beach with multiple jetties reaching into the water from the mainland offering various beach break/point breaks along its bay.

3. Basque Country Surf Season

The Basque Country offers year-round swells that cater to surfers of all levels. The best times are late fall and early spring when you’re most likely to get consistent waves. Winter swells are serious and they can reach heights of more than 30 feet / 10 meters. Conditions only for thrill-seeking expert surfers. While swells are less consistent during the summer months, they cater nicely to beginner surfers.

4. Basque Country Surf Map

  • Africa
  • Asia
  • Europe
  • Israel
  • Netherlands
  • North America
  • Oceania
  • Russia
  • South America
Beach Break
Point Break
Reef Break
Standing Wave
Wave Pool
Difficulty / Minimum Skill Level:
Advanced Level
Beginner Level
Intermediate Level
Pro Level
Works best during:
High Tide
Low Tide
Mid Tide
Left Hand Wave
Right Hand Wave
Works best with:
East Wind
North Wind
Northeast Wind
Northwest Wind
South Wind
Southeast Wind
Southwest Wind
West Wind
Works best with:
East Swell
North Swell
Northeast Swell
Northwest Swell
South Swell
Southeast Swell
Southwest Swell
West Swell

5. What to do in the Basque Country besides Surfing?

On every surf trip – whether you like it or not – there may be days that are flat or conditions barely surfable, for example, due to strong winds or a lack of swell. But no worries, there are plenty of other things to do and to discover in the Basque Country.


In Bilbao, there are various things to do and the most well-known tourist attraction is the Guggenheim Museum, an iconic contemporary art museum. It was designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry and opened to the public in 1997. The museum is situated along the Nervión River and has become one of the most recognized landmarks in Bilbao and a symbol of the city’s revitalization.

Near the Guggenheim Museum is the Zubizuri Bridge, which is nice to walk and gives you a great view of Bilbaos city center. Next, visit Bilbao’s beautiful old town to experience authentic Basque culture with traditional folklore from street musicians and order some Pintxos (Basque Tapas). To have a nice view over the city, get on top of Artxanda Mountain by cable car.

Hiking or Biking the Basque Country

The Basque Country offers incredibly beautiful landscapes, at the coastlines as well as further inland and there are plenty of known hiking opportunities and trails, for example, The Urkiola Natural Park, The Flysch Route, Mount Txindoki, The Gorbeia Natural Park, The Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park, and The San Juan de Gaztelugatxe Trail.


When surfing the Basque Country, we saw a lot of Paragliders, especially north of Bilbao in Sopelana, but also in other places along the coastline. For those thrill-seekers and landscape lovers that enjoy the view from above, going for a paraglide might be a nice thing to do during a surf trip.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian aka Donostia, is a beautiful coastal city, near the border of France, renowned for its stunning beaches, picturesque landscapes, rich history, and world-class cuisine. If the surf is not up at La Zurriola beach, stroll through the district of Gros which lies right behind the beach with plenty of restaurants and bars. Make sure you visit Bergara and Mala Gissona. On the east side of La Zurriola, you find a skatepark, overlooking the bay.

The district that divides the two bays of San Sebastian is the Old Town, known as Parte Vieja, which features narrow winding streets filled with charming shops, bars, and historic buildings. Behind the Old Town, La Concha Beach awaits, a crescent-shaped beach that is considered one of the most beautiful urban beaches in Europe. It offers golden sand, clear waters, and a spectacular view of the surrounding mountains.

Coastal Towns in France

The coastal towns from the Spanish border to Biarritz are beautiful, cozy and offer plenty of restaurants and small shops to discover. Visit is Saint-Jean-De-Luz, Guéthary and Bidart. Two vibing places we highly recommend visiting are the Bibam Bar and Hetero Clito.


Stroll through the beautiful city of Biarritz if the surf is not up. Plenty of shopping and eat-out opportunities await. We recommend visiting Deus Ex Machina Biarritz, and Colors of Surfing – a surf shop different from the usual.

Surf Online Shop – surf apparel & gear for your next surf trip

  • Surf Apparel
  • Surf Gear
Products for:
Futures Fins
Koalition Project
Nudie Jeans
Ocean & Earth
Purple Brand
Rip Curl
Rusty Surfboards
The North Face
YOW Surfskate
Price low to high
Price high to low




        Surf Spots