San Sebastian, Donostia
San Sebastian is a delight on both the eyes and the taste buds! It is a gem of Spain’s Basque Country and goes by the local name of Donostia (In Basque). You will get by with a few words of Spanish but if you can throw in a couple of words in Basque, the locals will thank you and be delighted at that! Prepare yourself for a lot of X’s and K’s and what looks unpronounceable but make friends with some locals as you tour the Pintxo bars like we did & you can’t go far wrong!
Visit the Beach Playa de la Concha
If you’re anything like me you’ll be so happy you did!
If you love a soft sand beach with a view – Playa de la Concha is the one for you! Surrounded by greenery with Mount Urgell on one side and Mount Igueldo on the other, with Santa Clara island nestled in between the two, surrounded by small sailing boats, La Concha has such a beautiful location that it becomes unlike any other I have visited.
As you walk along the beach you will find that the architecture which surrounds the beach is as beautiful as it the beach itself.
If you are more interested in surfing than sunbathing, check out neighbouring beach Zurriola . Which is famous for giving Australia a run for it’s money when it comes to the waves! People travel to San Sebastian for this alone every year so if you’re into your surfing I’m sure you’ve heard of it & if you’re not – there are surfing schools situated right in the town for those brave enough to try it for the first time!
Eat in the Parte Vieja (Old Town)
San Sebastian is a foodie’s absolute paradise! Being one of the cities in the world to hold the highest number of Michelin stars per square metre!!! (only beaten by Kyoto in Japan) but for such a small place it’s a pretty impressive feat! At last count I think it has 16 Michelin stars in total and there are three 3*** (the highest accolade) located right here in this little foodie heaven!
But it’s not just the michelin stars which should have you running for your bib – San Sebastian is also famous for Pintxo’s. A little Basque delight which often comes bitesized on a small slice of baguette and often comes at the price range 1-3euros (including a drink)! A Pintxo tour is definitely one thing that should be on the cards during your stay.
If you are interested in finding out more about How to Pintxo like a Local, stay tuned for my next blog post on The Wee Wanderer Blog.
Hike up Monte Urgull to visit La Monta Castle
Now if you have time you can hike up both Monte Urgull and Monte Igueldo but seeing as we were only there for the weekend we chose Monte Urgull, mainly because I love a castle – so it had to be done!
Monte Igueldo has a funicular (Cable Car) which takes you part of the way up which is always fun & a bit of a treat for tired feet! At the top it has stunning views like this & a fancy hotel if you enjoy the finer things in life, give it a try!
If however, you decide to hike up Monte Urgull, like we did, you will find equally stunning views like this!
You will also discover a castle to explore! La Mota Castle dates back to the 12th Century and has quite the history. It changed hands a few times between the French, English and Spanish, was partly demolished before it was declared a National Historical and Artistic Monument by Royal Decree in 1921.
Part of what I think makes it such a stunning place is the statue of the Sacred Heart which was not placed on top of the castle until 5 years after the declaration.
As you approach the castle you can see sights like this peeking through the trees.
If you are brave enough to climb to the top platform you will see the statue from stunning angles like this! Something I would definitely recommend!
Discover why it was Europe’s 2016 City of Culture
So as if the food, beaches, castle and views weren’t enough, San Sebastian was actually made Europe’s City of Culture last year! And it’s not difficult to see why! By simply taking #aweewander a wee wander around the town you can see stunning architecture and pieces of art everywhere you look!
I adore the moment we came across the church of Santa Maria Del Coro, hidden away at the end of this tiny street in the Parte Vieja (Old Town). Dating back to 1774, this Baroque style Iglesia is so intricate that I could just look at the details forever! (Actually heard some Spanish men moaning about how long I was looking at it & they couldn’t get the photo they wanted! Haha perks of speaking the language! Sometimes you gotta just laugh at yourself and take the hint!) But it is beautiful! We also saw a wedding coming out of it which was a sight to see, what a unique location!
As you enter this gate to the old town you will find quirky art and bold buildings like this:
If you venture further along the promenade by La Concha you will find contrasting styles like these:
If you stay close to the harbour you will find stunning boats & mosaic tiles like these:
I think you will agree there are more than enough reasons to visit the Basque beauty that is San Sebastian!
Ave – Barcelona – San Sebastian
Ave – Madrid – San Sebastian
There are no direct flights to San Sebastian from the UK so you would be better taking a flight to local Bilbao and from there you can hire a car, take a train or bus.
You can fly to Bilbao direct from Edinburgh, London & more with Easy Jet
San Sebastian is increasingly popular, particularly in the summer months so book your accommodation in advance if you can, as closer to the time the prices will increase.
My final piece of advise: Don’t forget to bring your camera and your appetite!!
I hope you have enjoyed this piece & found it useful! If you have any more San Sebastian tips please comment in the box below!
The Wee Wanderer x x