parador de hondarribia

Photos courtesy of Parador de Hondarribia








Founded during the reign of Sancho Abarca, King of Navarre (970-994), enlarged by Sancho el Fuerte (1194-1234), strengthened by Ferdinand and Isabel (1474-1516), and rebuilt in its present form by Charles V (1516-1556), this impressive castle was supposed to guard the frontier from French marauders.

French king François I captured the fortress in 1521 but soon lost it. The French again assaulted the castle for 64 days in 1638, but, thanks to the help of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Spanish took the exhausted French troops by surprise and defeated them. (The citizens of Hondarribia still celebrate this victory every year on September 8.) The French bombarded the fortress again in 1794, causing substantial damage that was not repaired until the late 19th century.

Pamela’s Perspective

Located right on the border with France, this parador makes both a great introduction and a fitting farewell to Spain.

The best rooms at this parador are the ones with a view of the water.

The parador charges for parking, but you can find free offsite parking not too far away.


Parador de Hondarribia

A 10th-century castle


Plaza de Armas, 14
20280 Hondarribia
Tel: ++34 943 64 55 00
Fax: ++34 943 64 21 53
Official parador website
Reserve with

Fast facts

36 rooms

Double rooms: 158–258 euros
Single rooms: 80% of double room rate
Rates include breakfast and tax.
Free Wi-Fi

Open: all year

Getting there

Hondarribia is 21 km east of San Sebastian, and a few km from Irún on the French border. As you near the town, you’ll see the Aeropuerto sign. At a large traffic circle with a statue in the middle, turn left up the hill. Look for the castle on the plaza. The nearest train station is in Irún.

What to do

Nearby: horseback riding; golf; sea fishing; mountain biking; excursions to French Basque country and San Sebastian (30-minute bus ride)


Never in the last 1000 years would anyone have imagined that this site of constant assaults would someday provide comfortable accommodation to vacationers.

Completely restored today, the castle looks ready for a siege. Its bullet-pocked, 10-meter-thick walls are massive and severe. Only five windows break up the stonework of its forbidding façade. (In contrast to such austerity, delightful baronial houses, with overhanging balconies filled with bright flowers, are just across the medieval plaza.)

The castle’s interior features enormous Gothic arches, winding stairways, and galleries hung with heraldic flags, tapestries, lances, wrought-iron chandeliers, wall sconces, and escutcheons. Outside, the flagstone courtyard holds an ancient well that once provided the castle with water during its era of constant siege warfare, and a terrace is a fine spot to gaze at the vast coastline extending into France.

Comfortable guest rooms are located in the former palace section of the castle. Many have canopied beds and views of the Bidasoa Estuary. Rooms have heating but not air-conditioning; however, the thick stone walls keep interiors cool.

Note, too, that this parador does not have a restaurant, but many fine ones exist within walking distance.

Something special

curlicueLovely outside terrace on which to enjoy drinks