Tourism in Zumaia: from spa town to so much more

Mar 31, 2022

Tourism is nothing new in Zumaia. In fact, it began in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when the Sanctuary of Loiola and the Zestoa Spa became popular tourist destinations, and visitors to these two attractions began to also travel to the coast. This is how sea bathing started to become famous.

What’s more, various cities on the north coast (Biarritz, San Sebastian, Zarautz, etc.) became fashionable destinations frequented by leaders and aristocrats from different states. Thanks to the beaches of Itzurun and Santiago, Zumaia was another of these destinations. As a result, the Local Council provided both beaches with services that at the time were considered very modern: hot bathing facilities, canopies and cabins were created in  Itzurun, for example.

Meanwhile, little by little, the municipal council began to promote Zumaia as a tourist destination. It decided to invest in order to appear in tourist guides, creating infrastructure such as gardens, and organising interesting events and leisure programmes.

The most significant project was the construction of the Gran Hotel Amaya. Work on the luxurious hotel began in 1922, but things did not go smoothly. First, construction had to be suspended just as it was about to be completed, and then came the Spanish Civil War and the Second World War. The hotel was finally inaugurated in summer 1943, and it came to have services that would be impressive even today: a swimming pool, a cinema, a tennis court, a garage... Although the building was demolished in the 1970s, its memory lives on in Zumaia.

As the political situation worsened during the dictatorship, tourism gradually disappeared both in Zumaia and throughout the Basque Country. Summer tourism also changed, and national and international tourism was directed towards the Mediterranean.


A lot has happened since then. Tourism has grown to become what we know today, and is a fundamental pillar of many cities – ours included.

Zumaia is all about flysch, gastronomy, landscapes, quality of life, the Basque language, art, culture, the sea, and industrial heritage. And in Zumaia you can find out about all these aspects.

Are you ready to discover it all?