Discover San Sebastian
San Sebastian provides a picture perfect getaway that’ll make you feel like you’re in paradise.
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When many think of San Sebastian, they think of food due to the city's culinary creations that draws in foodies from around the world. But it has even more to offer than just delicious dishes, as it is a city steeped in culture, tradition, and beauty. Why not see for yourself?
If you’re only passing through San Sebastian and only have a little time to look around, we recommend you head to Parte Vieja, or Old Town. With so many things to do in San Sebastian, Old Town allows you to experience a little bit of everything this amazing city has to offer its visitors. One of the main things people come to San Sebastian for is its food, specifically pintxos. These are bite-sized delicacies, each made mini masterpieces that have become famous around the world. When you head to Old Town you’ll not be stuck for pintxo bars and stands to dine on the beautifully designed appetisers. Old Town also has some stunning architecture, especially in the historical quarter where buildings such as the Santa Maria del Coro Basilica and San Vicente Church can be found. Wander the cobbled streets of Old Town and you’ll find little curiosities tucked away, each with their own unique charm.
The first thing that usually comes to mind when people think of holidays is relaxing on a sunny beach, and the sandy shores of San Sebastian certainly won’t disappoint. Situated on the Gipuzkoa coastline, San Sebastian offers a multitude of beaches that visitors and locals head to throughout the year. We can guarantee that you’ll leave with Instagram ready photos! Zurriola beach provides a variety of different beach based sports, including volleyball, football and beach tennis, but is most well known for its surfing. Its notoriously big waves are the perfect conditions for surfers of all abilities to make the most of, whether you’re just starting out in a surf class, or are a pro looking for a rough and ready ride. Alternatively, Playa de la Concha has a wide stretch of sand perfect for sunbathing with a view like no other. If you’re looking for places to eat and drink in San Sebastian, then the shoreline is a good place to head as it has lots of great places to stop off for a drink or filling meal after a relaxing (or very energetic) day at the beach. One such restaurant is Cafe de la Concha - using the best of local produce they serve traditional Basque dishes that’ll give you a taste of local culture. With views overlooking the beach, it’s the perfect place to watch the sun set.
After a day relaxing at the beach, take a gentle stroll through Old Town, or Parte Veija. Whilst we’ve suggested it as part of the half day itinerary, it may come as no surprise that you can easily fill a whole day in this beautiful part of San Sebastian. Get lost in the maze of cobbled streets of Old Town and you’ll soon discover lots of little hidden gems, from shops to beautiful architecture. Among the notable historic buildings in the region is San Vicente Church. This gothic style church was built in the 16th century and is home to some mesmerising features, including a stone altarpiece created by Ambrosio de Bengoechea and Juan de Iriarte. If you happen to be at the church on a sunny day, the colourful stained glass windows will illuminate the stone floors like an ever changing painting. As you wind through the streets, pop into some of the local stores. While you’re likely to find shops full of gifts carefully curated for a tourist audience, there are just as many locals selling traditional hand crafted items and curiosities. You’re sure to find the perfect gift to take home to your loved ones in Old Town, or at least a little something for yourself as a reminder of your time in San Sebastian.
Get to know San Sebastian with a tour of the area, but rather than walk, why not adventure through the cobbled streets of the city with a bike tour! La Bicicleta Bike Rental not only offers a range of tours to visitors, but you can hire out bikes to explore as and when you want. Urban Adventures will help you craft your own personalised tour so you can see all of your favourite things, and that includes food and drink tours. Need we say more!
San Sebastian has a pretty impressive aquarium that is a great day out for all the family. See aquatic wildlife from across the globe, including exhibits carefully tailored to each of the aquariums residents. The most enchanting feature is a tunnel providing a 360° view of a huge tank containing so many species of fish that you could easily be there all day. The aquarium aims to educate visitors about environmental issues in a fun, engaging way, so not only is it a fun day out, hopefully you’ll learn something new along the way.
If you’re the type who likes to get active on holiday, San Sebastian offers pathways surrounded by breathtaking views from every angle. Hike up Monte Igueldo to gaze out across the Bay of Biscay (you can also catch the Funicular to the top if you’re feeling a little tired!) and stop for a bite of pintxos while you’re there. Drive further out to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and follow a trail across a bridge, up 241 steps to a 1000 year old church. While it might sound like a lot of effort, Game of Thrones fans will recognise it as the passage to Dragonstone. For those of you who are completely lost by this, then the charming little church atop the hill is fabled to grant you a wish if you ring the bell three times. We’ll let you decide if it’s worth the walk.
If you’re looking for a cultural day out, then look no further than the Guggenheim Bilbao. Home to an array of impressive contemporary artworks, the building itself is a sight to behold with its sweeping architecture that makes quite an impression along the Bilbao riverside. As well as its permanent and temporary exhibitions, it also offers a range of workshops for both children and adults so you can hone your artistic skills during your visit. You may discover a hidden Picasso among you!
Since San Sebastian is world-renowned for its culinary scene, a must for foodies on their visit to the city is a food or drink tour (or maybe even both!). You don’t need to be an expert in the industry to enjoy these tours, however, as many guides teach you more about the local produce throughout the day. From pintxo tasting tours to chef’s table dining sessions, there are food tours to suit every taste while still immersing you in local cuisine. If you like a little tipple, then wine tours might pique your interest. Txakoli wine is a speciality of the region and can be found in bars, restaurants, and tasting menus across the city. San Sebastian tourist office offers a range of pre-bookable tours of Txakoli vineyards on their website. Tasty or tipsy, we’ll leave that up to you.
Day six and seven
Unbelievably, there’s still even more to do in Old Town! We briefly mentioned that you should try some of the food during your visit to Parte Vieja, but going for a quick taste of pintxos doesn’t do these mini masterpieces justice. Dive into the local culture by going on a bar hopping day, but instead with pintxos galore (and maybe a few drinks thrown in for good measure!). If you stay into the evening you’ll be treated to live music from various bars, so it’s well worth exploring all of your options. If you’re looking to find somewhere to spend the rest of your evenings, find somewhere where the locals are - chances are there’s a reason they’ve chosen that as their preferred bar! After a day and possibly night of pintxo bar hopping, chill out on one of San Sebastian’s many beaches for a relaxing last day. We’ve mentioned that there are loads of activities to get involved with on local beaches, plus the bars and restaurants open in the area, but if you just want a quiet evening with your loved ones head to a beach. Sit on the sandy shores, surrounded by luscious green mountains and blue waters and watch the sun set. We can’t think of anything more idyllic to end a holiday than that, can you?