The beautiful and unique French Basque country is a fantastic region for a fun family holiday. Many travelers are more familiar with the Basque country across the border in Spain, and while this article contains a couple of suggestions on the Spanish border, I mostly explore the French side of this famous region.

If you’re planning a family trip to the Basque country in the most southwestern part of France, you’ve come to the right place. Please note that many of the attractions mentioned below are closed during the winter months, so if you’re traveling out of season, be sure to check the relevant websites.

If you’re looking for family-friendly accommodation, you will find them at the end of this article. And if you’re traveling soon and still haven’t booked any activities, you may want to do it now to ensure availability.

Here are some of the best activities in the region requiring prior reservation.
Surfing lessons for kids in Biarrtiz
Rafting on the Nive river
E-bilke family guided tour

What to do on a family vacation in the Basque Country

Go to the beach 

There are plenty of amazing beaches on this stretch of coastline, perfect for long walks, surfing, tanning, swimming, and other fun summer activities. Locals enjoy the beaches year-round and many are totally safe for kids. Hendaye, Saint-Jean-de-Luz, and Ciboure are all situated in bays that create safe swimming zones without any huge waves or rip tides, making for great family-friendly places to swim. 

A kids friendly beach in Saint Jean de Luz, the Basque country
The central beach of Saint Jean de Luz – by Lost in Bordeaux

If you’re staying in Biarrtiz, try Plage du Port Vieux, one of the most beautiful and kids-friendly beaches in the French Basque country. If you don’t mind traveling a bit, Hossegor Lake is an amazing place for kids. 

In summer there are lifeguards keeping an eye on swimmers and even beach clubs where your children can learn to swim (depending on their age).

Learn to surf

The French Basque county is a surfers’ heaven and if your kids are in the mood to learn surfing you’re in the region place. There are many surf schools in places like Bidard, Biarritz, and Hossegor, which are all considered the surfing hubs of the Basque country.

surfing schools for kids in the Basque country
Take surfing lessons on the Basque coast – by Lost in Bordeaux

You have quite a lot of options here, from group lessons to surf camp which is where you take a few days’ worth of intensive lessons and hopefully come out the other side a pro! This five-day surfing course in Anglet (near Biarrtiz) is a great opportunity for kids over 7 years old to be experts in surfing.  

However, if you’re pressed for time, there are private teachers who can give your kid the basics of surfing in a couple of hours.
If you’re staying in Biarrtiz, La Vague Basque is a great surfing school offering both private and group lessons. In Bidard, Taiba Surf Club is a fantastic school for 8-year-olds and older. Aquality school in Bidard is a great option for smaller kids who want to try surfing for the first time. And finally, if you’re staying closer to Hossegor in Les Landes, Watermansports is great for 6yo and up.

Aquarium in Biarritz

One of the most well-known kids’ attractions in the Basque country is the lovely Biarritz aquarium. Your kids will marvel at the wide variety of sea creatures, from the tiniest starfish to imposing sharks. You can watch the staff feed the seals in the outside pool or feed the sharks in the tanks, which is always a fun experience for children.
You can book your tickets here.

Rafting down the Nive River 

If you want an unforgettable experience in the Basque nature, rafting is one of the best options. The Nive is a river that starts in Bayonne and passes through beautiful villages like Itxassou and Bidarray.

There are rafting companies in the French Basque country. One that I can recommend is NCKD which is located in Itxassou (not far from Biarrtiz), an ideal starting point for a rafting adventure on the Nive River. They offer three rafting adventures (from one hour to a full day) for adults and kids over 10 yo. 

Rafting down the Nive River near Biarritz – photo by NCKD

Another option for smaller kids (8yo and up) is rafting on the Ouse River near Pau. The rafting adventure is offered by Parc Aquasports which is located in Bizanos. You can book it here.

Kids will love this activity and it’s very safe with all the necessary gear being provided by the local companies!

Take the train to La Rhune Mountain 

Inland from Saint-Jean-de-Luz and near the Spanish border you’ll find La Rhune train station and tracks. Take a ride and experience the magnificent view over both the French and the Spanish sides of the Basque country. You and your family can also do a hike there!
The train station from where you take the train is located just next to Sare, one of the most beautiful villages in the Basque country. The train operates from April to the beginning of November.

Visit the caves of Sare

Another fun attraction in Sare is its famous caves. You can explore the caves carved out of the cliffside, the megalithic park, and the museum which explains the history of human evolution and is a great educational outing for kids.

Les Grottes de Sare is open almost all year long, It closes only for a few weeks after Christmas break.

Parc Animalier Etxola 

Staying in the Sare region, we have the fantastic Parc Animalier Etxola. A visit to this animal park is one of the best things to do with kids in the Basque country, especially if you’re traveling with little ones.

You’ll get to see uncommon domesticated animals, some of which are endangered. Think different types of sheep, camels, lamas, Basque pigs, ducks, and buffalo. There are also pony rides available for children and a place to eat on-site. It’s a guaranteed family fun outing! The park is closed in the winter and usually opens up at the end of March.

If you’re looking for a zoo, you can try the Labenne Zoo which is located just north of the Basque country, about 30 minutes drive from Biarrtiz.

Skateboarding lessons in Bayonne

Do your kids express interest in skating? A vacation in the Basque country can be an amazing opportunity to kickstart their skateboarding journey or refine their skills!
Andrea is a highly qualified instructor and avid skateboarder in Bayonne and he’s passionate about sharing his expertise with enthusiasts of all levels. He offers 60 to 90-minute skating classes for kids over 6 yo. You can choose between joining a group or taking a private lesson – see all the details here.

Route du Fromage – Visit a cheese producer farm

France is famous for cheese, and each region has its own specialty. The Basque country is known for Ossau-Iraty, a pressed, unpasteurized, and absolutely delicious sheep’s milk cheese. 

There are more than 20 cheese-producing farms in the French Basques that are open for visits and it’s a really great activity to do with kids. Some farms just sell cheese, others offer tours where you can see the sheep and taste the cheese and some even have guest houses and you can sleep there! Visiting a farm is always a great experience with kids because it’s eye-opening and can give us a deeper appreciation for our food.

Here you can find all the farms you can visit on the famous Basque cheese route. If you’re a big group of people I recommend taking the French Basque Country Farms & Food Tour offered by the Txiki Combi (a company that offers plenty of fun tours in the French Basques.

Atelier du Piment d'Espelette
Atelier du Piment d’Espelette and ossau Iraty – by Lost in Bordeaux

Hike with kids on the The Ursuya mountain 

Why not make time for a beautiful, kid-friendly hike during your Basque break? Whether you like mountain hikes or coastline walks with views of the sea, there is something for everyone. Simply check this website for the best trails for all ages.

If you’re looking for a guided hike, Laëti’tes Balades is a great local company that offers family-guided tours in the French Basque. They have this fun half day guided hike near Saint Jean de Luz you can join with your kids.

Le Château des Enigmes – Château de Laàs

Next on our list of family-friendly places in the Basque country is the Château des Enigmes. Offering group games like scavenger hunts around the whole domain, an escape game, treehouses, and even a magic school, this is a fun outing for kids of all ages. You can also visit the château and walk around the parks and gardens. Be sure to check the website for opening times during the year!

Château d’Abbadie (Abbadia, le Château Observatoire)

Another idea for family fun in the Basque country is to visit one of the most beautiful castles in the region, Château d’Abbadie. All the rooms are very well preserved and the visit is spectacular. They also have great activities for kids, like family treasure hunts and science workshops.

Château d’Abbadie is located in Hendaye, just next to the Spanish border and it’s open almost all year long, except three weeks in January – see the opening hours here.

Château d'Abbadie - the most beautiful castle in the French Basque county
The entrance to Château d’Abbadie – by Lost in Bordeaux

Bid’A Parc

Bid’A Parc is a great amusement park for the little ones! With plenty of rides, roller coasters, games, and activities, it’s like a mini Disneyland in the heart of the Basque country. There are numerous food options available, including restaurants and shady picnic spots if you prefer to bring your own food. This amusement park is a must-visit with kids of all ages, so check out their website and make sure you plan a stop there!

Bid’A Parc is located in Bidard, a few minutes drive from Biarritz and it opens for the season at the end of March. You can’t buy tickets online.

WOWPARK 

Closer to the Spanish border in Urrugne we have the WOWPARK, also called, Le Plus Grand Parc de Loisirs Aventure. Advertised as a fun park with plenty of games and activities for people from ages 2 to 12, WOWPark is the perfect place for outdoor fun. You and your kids alike will have plenty of fun climbing, crossing, crawling, exploring and sliding throughout the adventure park. The park is open from April to August. 

Go to the Saint-Pée lake

Lac de Saint-Pée-Sur-Nivelle is a leisure park with tons of fun activities like Stand Up Paddling, inflatable water parks,w and much more. It’s definitely worth a detour on your Basque country road trip. You and your family can spend all day on the beach of the lake, each one doing the activities he or she enjoys, and you can meet up for lunch under the trees.

Taste chocolate in Bayonne 

Bayonne, the capital of the French Basque country is also known as the French chocolate capital. The charming city abounds with stunning chocolate shops and hot chocolate cafés. The oldest and most famous is Chocolat Cazenave, with its beautiful cups of hot chocolate. Another fun stop is the Chocolate museum, where you and your kids can learn all about the art of chocolate making.

La foret aux lapins

One very cute place for little kids is the Bunny Forest or La fôret aux lapins. You’ll find a variety of wild and domesticated rabbits and hares, Guinea pigs, and a great presentation of local plant life.
The forest is located in Itxassou, a beautiful Basque village, and is open all year long.

Family-friendly hotels – where to stay with kids in the Basque country

The French Basque country is spread over a rather small region so no matter where you decide to stay, you should be able to get to any of the places I mentioned within less than an hour. On my many visits to the Basque county with my kids I had the chance to stay in very different parts of the region. We had an amazing time on the coast near Saint Jean de Luz in the summer and enjoyed the city vibe of Bayonne in the winter. In the spring and fall I really love staying in the mountains or the inland stunning villages, around Ustarritz. 

All of these places have their charm so you can’t really go wrong here. 

If you rather be closer to the Atlantic coast these are great places to stay with kids: Boutique hôtel Maria-Christina, Domaine de Bordaberry, Irigoan vert

Staying inland will help you discover more of the stunning countryside of the Pays Basque, here are a few recommended accommodations for families: Le Moulin de Pascale, Les Villas d’Harri-Xuria, Etxe Goxoan chambres d’hôtes, Domaine Xixtaberri.

Hope you enjoyed my Basque country family guide! Share it with your friends who are looking for a fun summer destination.

If you’re a big family or traveling with friends, here are a few great larger accommodations you will probably like: Maison dans la Prairie, Les Matitis.

family trip to the French Basque country
With my family in Bayonne

Here are all my other Basques country-related articles to help you plan your trips:
Most beautiful villages in the French Basque country
Weekend in Biarritz
All the best things to do and eat in Biarritz
What to do in Espelette

You can also get plenty of tips on things to do in the Southwest of France via lost in Bordeaux’s social media accounts and email list, check them out here:

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*Note – Some of the links in this article include affiliate links for which I earn a small commission. It adds absolutely nothing to your cost and helps me continue writing about this amazing region. Don’t worry, I’m not getting rich here, I’ll never recommend anything I don’t believe in 🙂 

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