5 Best Surf Towns in Europe for Waves & Culture

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Let’s face it when you think of best surfing towns, Europe does not jump to mind as a hot surfing destination, you’d probably think of Hawaii, South Africa and California but believe it or not Europe does have some incredible worthwhile surfing towns.

Best Surfing Towns in Europe
Best Surfing Towns in Europe

Bundoran, Ireland

This surf town made it onto the National Geographic’s list of top 20 surfing towns in the world!

The water may be cold and it may rain a lot but seasoned surfers love to take on the challenge of this surf town’s sea. Surfers call it “Europe’s cold-water Indonesia” and a “surfer’s paradise”.

Swells come in from the North Atlantic and crash onto the beaches, reefs and rocks of this ancient fishing village’s rugged coastline.

One of the waves that swells here even has a name – The Peak and the coast offers stretches of beach suitable for experienced, intermediate and beginner surfers.

Mundaka, Spain

Situated in the Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai at the foot of Mount Katillotxu, Mundaka in an ancient port town in the Basque country.

The town is renowned for its surfing as high waves roll in from the Bay of Biscay and hit the town’s rocky coastline.

Many surfers and travelers take ferries from UK to Bilbao, and either base themselves in Bilbao and take day trips to Mundaka, or continue from Bilbao with the bus to Mundaka.

There is a direct car ferry between Bilbao and Portsmouth, and here are the Bilbao Ferry Timetables and Prices.

There is a natural sandbar that is formed by the estuary of the Errekatxu stream flowing into the sea, this makes hollow waves, perfect for adventurous surfers.

The World Championship Tour of Surfing has been held here and world names in the surfing world have surfed here like Bobby Martinez and Kelly Slater.

Biarritz, France

Another town which is on the National Geographic list and often called the “birth place of European surfing”.

In the South West of France the water is thought to be the warmest in Europe and there are two favorite surfing beaches – La Cote des Basques and La Grande Plage.

There are a number of annual surf competitions here as well as the Biarritz Surf Festival.

The quaint town has a blend of French elite culture and laid back surf culture.

The town is famous for Napoleon III’s visit in 1854 and the palace he subsequently had built here. Today the palace is a fancy hotel facing the sea.

September to November are the best months to surf here when the swells rush in from the Atlantic but the surf is more suited to intermediate surfers rather than experienced pros.

San Sebastian, Spain

Another surf town on the National Geographic list of top surf towns of the world.

The romantic town has many cozy restaurants and bars, it is in the heart of the Basque country and has a reputation for cultural events and venues.

There is a beautiful Old Town and a gourmet food culture.

The town at the mouth of the River Urumea is surrounded inland by mountains and forests.

The best time to visit is from June to November when the water is warmest and the waves high.

Within convenient distance from northern Spain’s ferry ports, you can easily reach San Sebastian by taking one of the many ferries to Santander or Bilbao, and then continue by bus to the surf city.

There are many benefits with ferries to Spain – book a ferry to Spain and chances are you can bring more surf boards along than if you fly, sometimes without any extra cost!

San Sebastian’s best known beaches are the centrally located 2km long Concha Beach in Concha Bay; La Zurriola is the most popular with surfers and Zarautz Beach which is a long stretch of golden sand.

Newquay, England

The famous beaches of Newquay are at the foot of rugged cliffs, there are eight beaches within walking distance of the town.

Watergate Bay Beach gets large swells rolling in on the 2 mile long beach; Mawgan Porth Beach is wide and popular with families and surfers; Holywell Bay Beach can reach a mile long at low tide; Towan Beach is centrally located and is best for beginner surfers, these are only a few of the many beaches in the area.

There are world class waves at Little Fistral near Pentire Head and North Fistral has some of the best waves in the country.

(photo credits: 1 – 1 – 2 – 3 – 1)