Hondarribia, a walled town with the scent of the sea
At the mouth of the River Bidasoa, Hondarribia is a small location that wins over any-one visiting its historic old town, strolling around its fishermen’s district or its intermi-nable nature. In a strategic enclave, with France on one side and the mountains on the other, Hondarribia keeps its history and its festive atmosphere alive wherever we go.
A visit to Hondarribia’s Old Town is a must. Its cobbled streets are the base of Gipuz-koa’s best preserved walled town, and wherever we look we see vestiges of the stra-tegic location it once was. Its walls withstood numerous sieges down through the cen-turies. Going in through Puerta de Santa María, which still has a beautiful arch with the town’s coat-of-arms, we go up calle Mayor with the small local shops to the sides, a bar or two, Hondarribia Town Hall and the Gothic church, Santa María de la Asun-ción y del Manzano. As we move along, we see Plaza de Armas loom up, an esplanade formerly used for army receptions, bullfights and other popular festivals. Nowadays we can have a drink at one of the terraces and visit Hondarribia’s fantastic Parador hotel.
Moving out of the walled area, we arrive in the La Marina district and the town’s nerve centre: calle San Pedro. Here the traditional fishermen’s houses, painted like the town’s fishing boats, bear witness to the liveliest spot in Hondarribia. During our walk we can drop in at some of the most popular restaurants and “pintxo” bars.
Because fine gastronomy is something that defines this location: restaurants, pintxos, terrace … all with a wide range of offers to enjoy the best cuisine, its products, and most particularly its authenticity. Not to mention its aromatic txakoli, the produce of its vineyards with the local grape known as Hondarribi zuri y beltz, which brings in wine tourists and enthusiasts of this local beverage.
Moving on towards the sea and the beach, we arrive at the most natural areas of Hondarribia: spaces to walk, for physical activity and leisure, rambling … We can go up to Mount Jaizkibel, visit the Higuer lighthouse, and walk along the Talaia path. Or go up to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the town’s patron saint, and admire a captivating view of the bay.
Finally, Hondarribia inevitably has a close relationship with the sea. Through its arran-tzales (fishermen) and nowadays with its “trainera” rowing boats, where Hondarribia is one of the elite teams, the Cantabrian Sea is a feature of many aspects of life in this coastal town. This means we can home in on plans and experiences such as div-ing, paddle surf, and sailing boat or catamaran trips as an enjoyable way of viewing this beautiful enclave from a different, unique perspective.