Take our guided tour around the most unmissable places in San Sebastián to learn its secrets & urban tales. Stoppin regularly in various bars around the Old Town, you can enjoy the mini haute-cuisine of 'pintxos' for an authentic experience of the gastronomic richness of the city.
Donostia, as it's known in the Basque language, is gloriously situated around the shell-shaped La Concha Bay, protected from the Atlantic by a wooded islet, the Isla de Santa Clara. San Sebastian has long been considered one of the most elegant and fashionable Spanish seaside resorts, since it became a popular summer retreat with the Spanish aristocracy in the late 19th century. The city has been hailed by many as one of the gourmet temples of Europe.
La Concha Beach and the promenade are the perfect places for relaxing, strolling and people watching. At the western tip of the beach stands one of the greatest monuments of modern Spanish sculpture, Eduardo Chillida’s "Peine de los Vientos". Here you can also take the charming old funicular to the top of Mount Igueldo for stunning views over the city and bay. Later, if you feel like being pampered, head to the La Perla Thalassotherapy Spa right on the La Concha beach.
The Old Town
San Sebastian´s lovely old town, the Parte Vieja, is quite fascinating although none of the buildings predate 1813, when it was reconstructed after a devastating fire. Of note are the C19th(Town Hall), the Museo San Telmo and the Plaza Mayor. This vibrant area is also famous for being the home of pintxos the generic name given to the deliciously elaborated Basque gourmet tapas which overflow every bar counter. Just deciding which one to try is probably the most difficult decision you have to make while in San Sebastian. But do try them, you won´t regret it.
San Sebastian offers without doubt some of the finest and most innovative gastronomy to be found anywhere in Europa. The city has numerous Michelin Starred restaurants and dining here is simply a pleasure not to be missed. Legendary chefs like Juan Mari Arzak (ARZAK), Martin Berasategui, Pedro Subijana (AKELARRE) and more all have restaurants in San Sebastian.
This elegant city hosts a number of internationally recognised events annually including the International Jazz Festival every July and the International Film Festival every September.
The Basque Country
Due to it´s location San Sebastian is also an ideal base from which to enjoy numerous day excursions and days trips.
Just 1hr 15mins from San Sebastian and easily reached by car or regular bus service. Bilbao is home to the magnificent Guggenheim Museum and a fine Old Quarter.
Just 30 miles from San Sebastian. Easily reached by car and there is also a bus and train service. Biarritz, located in the French Basque Country, was for several decades the most fashionable resort in Europe and it´s easy to see why. Be sure to visit the Musee du Chocolat (Chocolate Museum).
1 hour from San Sebastian and easily reached by car or regular coach service. Pamplona is internationally famous for it´s San Fermin Festivities, therunning of the bulls held every July (6th – 14th), that attracts tourist from all over the world.
RIOJA WINE REGION
2 hours from San Sebastian and easily reached by car. The Rioja Wine region produces some of the best wines in Spain and is also notable for it´s fine cuisine, traditional & avant garde wineries and charming historical towns and villages.
The belle époque, Hotel Maria Cristina makes a very grand base, usefully located on the edge of the old town. A city landmark, it hosts the annual San Sebastian Film Festival.
Of the Michelin-starred restaurants in mainland Spain almost half are in or around San Sebastian, including:-
Kokotxa at Campanario 11,
Kursaal at Zurriola Pasealekua 1,
Miramon-Arbelaitz at Mikeletegi 53.
Several have three Michelin stars:
Arzak at Avda. Alcalde Elosegui
Akelare at Paseo Padre Orcolaga
Restaurante Martin Berasategui at Calle Loidi Lasarte-Oria
DAY 1: TREASURES OF THE OLD TOWN
CITY WALLS, CANNONS AND FORTRESSES GUARD SAN SEBASTIAN'S MOST PRECIOUS TREASURES
In the morning, you could climb up Mount Urgull in the very heart of the city, where you can see all three beaches, observing the remains of the city wall and cannons that bear witness to the city's military past.
To complete the historical tour, visit La Mota Castle and History House or the English Cemetery. At midday, go down to the port and stroll around the Old Town, sampling its famous pintxos, the miniature culinary delights and markets such as La Bretxa Market. Pass by the Plaza de la Constitución, in the centre of the Old Town, to find out why its balconies are numbered.
After lunch, there is nothing better than having a coffee on one of the terrace cafés in Plaza Zuloaga, where the San Telmo Museum holds the secrets of the Basque culture. In the afternoon, stroll around the romantic La Concha Beach with its iconic railings and enjoy an unforgettable sunset. And to round off the day nicely look for a restaurant with a view of the sea for dinner. It's not hard in a city with three beaches!
DAY 2: ALONG THE COAST
6 KM OF COASTLINE WITH 3 BEACHES AND 3 ICONS
Take the century old funicular up Mount Igeldo, and start the day with the best panoramic view of the city. On your way down, look out for one of San Sebastian's icons: the Peine del Viento (Wind Comb), by the internationally famous San Sebastian artist Eduardo Chillida. Stroll through the gardens and Ondarreta Beach, to arrive at the Miramar Palace, the former summer residence of the royal family, which is itself surrounded by gardens.
There's nothing like mingling with the locals on Calle Matía in the Antiguo district and enjoying delicious pintxos or set menus. Walk off your lunch with a walk along La Concha Beach, toward the Aquarium that is nearly a century old and has recently been refurbished. It is one of the most modern oceanographic museums in Europe and tells the fascinating story of the Basque whalers of years gone by.
Continuing along the coast, you will come to the Construcción Vacía (Empty Construction), a sculpture by Oteiza, and from here into the popular Gros district, with its charming terrace cafés, shops and bars. The walk ends at the third beach, Zurriola, and with the third sculpture: Paloma de la Paz (Dove of Peace) by Nestor Basterretxea.
Before dinner watch the sun set from the wall in the Sagües district, surrounded by surfers and young skaters. Book a table in the Gros district, which is the most dynamic and bohemian area of the city, and enjoy the countless charming restaurants for which it is known.
DAY 3: DISCOVERING THE ARCHITECTURE
Explore the city's architectural treasures, starting by the sea and follows the course of the River Urumea and its magnificent bridges.
From the Zurriola Bridge, you can see the modern cubes of the Kursaal Auditorium, by Moneo on the one side and, on the other, a couple of impressive buildings with a typical Belle Époque design, the Victoria Eugenia Theatre and the only five-star hotel in the city: the Maria Cristina Hotel.
At the second bridge, Santa Catalina, you will find 'La Equitativa' (the Equitable), which welcomes you into the Gros district on the left. Continuing along the pleasant Paseo de Francia with its spectacular mansions, you arrive at the Maria Cristina Bridge and the Tabakalera: an old tobacco factory converted into a centre for contemporary culture. Check out the free exhibitions and enjoying the view from the terrace. Then take a wander around the Cristina Enea Park, among its swans and peacocks. After crossing the Maria Cristina Bridge, in the city centre, you arrive at Plaza Bilbao, the Koldo Mitxelena Library and the Buen Pastor cathedral with its pointed arches, surrounded by numerous terrace cafés to stop off for a bite to eat. The area around the San Martín Market is ideal for going shopping in chic shops, alternative stores and boutiques that sell big brands. Finish your tour in the Yacht Club: a rationalist building emulating a boat moored in the dock. From the jetty that juts slightly into the sea, you can enjoy one of the finest sunsets in San Sebastian.
And finally, treat yourself by booking a table in one of the Michelin Star restaurants or in one of the traditional restaurants in the Old Town. We can reserve your table for you.
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