My love affair with Zarautz (tha-rauth) began three summers ago. It was August, and I was in Pamplona bored out of my skull because the city turned into a ghost town when Sanfermines ended. In desperate need of sea, sun and surf, I googled “San Sebastian surf camps” and hopped on a bus to Zarautz, a small Basque town 20 minutes from San Sebastian in the north of Spain. It was here I had my first encounter with the weird and wonderful people of Stoke Travel, who gave me such a good time that my 4-day trip got extended to a week and a half.
When I left, I promised myself that after finishing university I’d go back to Zarautz and spend the whole summer working with Stoke. Keeping that promise was the best decision of my life. These are just a few things I miss about the little slice of paradise that is Zarautz:
There’s a reason this stretch of coastline holds the title “Queen of Beaches.” Besides looking sexy, the beach of Zarautz has plenty of room for activities like swimming, tanning, running, drunkenly disturbing the peace, and of course…
I’m not great at surfing but I do love it, and Zarautz is a good place to learn. The chances of a serious injury are reduced by its spacious coast and sandy bottom. Of course that didn’t stop me from dropping in on a local, getting my leash tangled in his board and causing us both to wipe out.
Pintxos are northern Spain’s answer to tapas. They might be small, but each delicious mouthful is made with love. The best part is you don’t have to empty your wallet to fill your belly – I never spent more than 20 euros treating myself to pintxos, wine included.
Tasty, cheap and super fun to drink. We need MORE CIDRA!
5. BASQUE PEOPLE
Though a little rough around the edges, the people of Zarautz are without doubt some of the warmest, most generous humans I’ve ever met. They’re laid-back, prefer to make friends than money, and value a good time above all else.
As if its amazing beach isn’t enough, the forest of Aia is right beside Zarautz, and what better way to see it than on horseback? Highlights include a 13th century blacksmith’s cottage, botanical gardens, and being forced to gallop by Miguel, who organises these horseback tours.
Because once you’ve tried everything else, why not fly?
Zarautz does much better than pretentious nightclubs, as it’s just a bus ride away from weekly boat parties in neighbouring San Sebastian, the fiesta of Semana Grande, Bilbao’s BBK Live Music Festival and Fete de Bayonne, France’s biggest street party.
The perfect way to end the day was on this hill, drink in hand, Zarautz stretched before you as the orange sun sank into the ocean. I’m pretty sure that hill is magic, as it has the power to cure hangovers and bring the biggest bunch of weirdos together.
Take me back to Zarautz.