Nestled in Spain’s vibrant Basque Country, Gipuzkoa’s coastline is a breathtaking fusion of natural beauty and cultural richness.
The province is home to rugged cliffs, verdant landscapes, and the impressive waves of the Cantabrian Sea. It makes it home to some of the most picturesque beaches in northern Spain.
They are also one of the main reasons that I decided to live here!
From surfers carving the waves, to families soaking up the sun and history buffs exploring ancient ports, Guipuzcoa’s beaches offer a myriad of experiences, making them a must-visit for anyone exploring the area.
In this post, I’ll run through some of my favourites.
Things to know about the beaches in Gipuzkoa
Before we jump into some of the top beaches in the region, it’s worth understanding a little bit more about the Gipuzkoa coastline and what makes it unique.
The allure of Guipuzcoa’s coastline
Guipuzcoa sits proudly on the northeastern coast of Spain. It forms part of the regions natural border with the Cantabrian Sea.
Its coastline is a dramatic landscape where the mountains meet the sea. This creates a series of coves, cliffs, and sandy beaches that have been sculpted by the relentless forces of nature.
This unique geographical setup has resulted in a variety of beach types, from wide, sandy expanses to secluded pebble beaches hidden away by steep cliffs.
It has shaped the region’s culture, traditions, and economy. With fishing villages dotting the coast and maritime festivals lighting up the calendar, celebrating the sea’s bounty and its pivotal role in Guipuzcoan life.
Try your hand at some water sports
The beaches of Guipuzcoa offer more than just stunning landscapes, they are hubs of activity and adventure for all ages and interests.
Beyond the traditional beach activities like sunbathing and swimming. If you fancy it, you can also indulge in a number of water sports.
Surfing is particularly popular in the region, with beaches for both beginners and seasoned surfers, thanks to its consistent waves.
Kayaking and paddleboarding offer tranquil ways to explore the coast’s hidden coves and inlets, providing a closer look at the marine life and the unique geological formations along the cliffs.
Explore the rugged coastline
For those who prefer land-based activities, the coastal paths and trails offer exhilarating hikes with panoramic views of the Cantabrian Sea.
The Flysch route in Zumaia, for example, combines natural beauty with a lesson in geology, making it a favourite among hikers.
The region’s beaches also play host to various cultural events throughout the year, from traditional Basque festivals to international surfing competitions, showcasing the vibrant community spirit and the rich heritage of Guipuzcoa.
What we think are the best beaches in Gipuzkoa
Below are some of my favourite beaches in the province of Gipuzkoa. They are each unique and make my list for a different reason!
1. Playa de Itzurun (Zumaia)
There really is only one place to start! Zumaia’s Playa de Itzurun form part of the Flysch coastline which is renowned worldwide for its striking geological formations.
Formed over millions of years, these layers of rock create a natural spectacle that draws geologists, photographers, and nature lovers from all over the world!
The beach is not just a feast for the eyes, it’s also a gateway to exploring the mysteries of our planet’s past.
Beyond its geological significance, Zumaia’s Playa de Itzurun is a popular spot for swimming and sunbathing, offering visitors a unique blend of science and leisure.
2. La Concha Beach (San Sebastian)
Perhaps the most famous beach of San Sebastian’s three beaches, La Concha is next on our list.
The name La Concha, which means “shell” in Spanish comes from the shell shape of the bay itself. The beach stretches over a kilometre and a half from the Miramar Palace round to the town hall close to the Old Town (Parte Vieja).
Looking out from the beach you have stunning views of Santa Clara Island, framed by Monte Igeldo to the west and Monte Urgull to the east. It provides the perfect backdrop for a bit of sunbathing or dip in the sea.
And you don’t just need to take my word for it. La Concha has been recognised as not only one of the best beaches in Spain, but also one of the best in Europe!
In the evenings, it’s even the perfect setting to watch the sunset.
3. Zarautz Beach
Zarautz Beach is a surfer’s paradise. With its long stretch of sand and consistent waves, it’s considered one of the best surfing spots in the Basque Country.
The beach is also home to a vibrant promenade filled with cafes, restaurants, and surf schools, making it a lively spot for both locals and tourists.
The backdrop of Mount Talaimendi offers a stunning natural setting for beachgoers, whether you’re catching waves or simply enjoying the view.
4. Zurriola Beach (San Sebastian)
It’s famous for being the surfers beach in San Sebastian thanks to the more exposed bay and consistent waves, making it ideal to practise the sport.
On the main road to the beach (Zurriola Hiribidea) there are a number of surf shops where you can rent a board and a wetsuit for a few hours.
Whilst it’s ideal for surfing, it’s not ideal for bathing. If you’re looking to enjoy the sea (without a surfboard) I’d recommend going to La Concha or Ondarreta Beach instead.
The surfers bring a youthful vibe to La Zurriola beach. Donostia, in particular Gros, has a large influx of young people during the summer months who spend the days on Zurriola beach practising a bit of surf or volleyball.
5. Hondarribia Beach
With 800m of golden sand, Hondarribia beach is big enough for the 15,000 or so people who live in the small Basque town plus all the tourists to enjoy.
The Bay of Hondarribia and the port wall further down the headland protect the beach, meaning that even on days when there’s big waves on other beaches nearby, the water in Hondarribia is usually calm and tranquil.
The beach also has all the amenities you’d need such as showers, changing rooms, bathrooms and lifeguards, making it a popular spot for families.
6. Antilla Beach (Orio)
Antilla Beach is located in the charming coastal town of Orio.
The beach is particularly known for its golden sands and gentle waves, making it an ideal spot for families and those looking for a peaceful day by the sea. It’s also a favoured spot for surfers looking for less crowded waves.
It’s an expansive sandy beach that stretches along the Bay of Biscay, offering stunning views and a serene atmosphere. I particularly enjoy some of the hikes nearby that offer impressive coastal views!
The centre of Orio is also just a short walk away, which enriches the beach visit with its picturesque streets, delicious seafood restaurants, and traditional Basque architecture.
There are also a couple of cool beach bars nearby if you fancy a quick drink or bite to eat.
7. Markobe Beach (Getaria)
Markobe Beach, a hidden gem located on the the historic town of Getaria.
This small cove is perhaps the smallest beach on our list, but it definitely has something about it. Surrounded by lush greenery and rugged cliffs along with beautiful stone arches, I personally just love the backdrop.
It’s a sandy beach, perfect for a quick dip, a spot of sunbathing, a picnic or simply enjoying the unspoiled beauty of the Basque coastline.
The town of Getaria is just a short walk away. Famous for its maritime history and culinary delights, it presents a perfect blend of adventure and culture.
FAQs about the beaches in Gipuzkoa
Below we’ve answered some of the most popular questions we get about the beaches in Gipuzkoa.
In the province of Gipuzkoa there are over 36 beaches in total.
The largest beach in Gipuzkoa is the Playa de Zarautz which is over 2.5 km long. Not only is it the biggest beach in Gipuzkoa, but it’s also the biggest beach in the Basque Country.