The Basque Country, located in northern Spain, is one of the country’s most beautiful regions. A far cry from the usual Spanish stereotypes, its own unique culture and traditions set it apart from the rest of the peninsula.
The Basque Country is made up of three provinces: Alava, Guipuzcoa and Vizcaya, whose respective capitals are Victoria, San Sebastian and Bilbao.
Today, we’re going to take a closer look at one of these capitals: San Sebastian.
While each province is worth visiting, San Sebastian is, without question, the most attractive of the three. The city’s seaside location lends it its own special beauty, setting it apart from the rest. The centre of Donosti, as the city is known in the Basque regional language of Euskera, sits alongside La Concha beach, one of the world’s best urban beaches. In summer, the beach is usually packed with people enjoying its fine white sands and bathing in its waters. Sheltered by the island of Santa Clara, the beach makes the perfect place to enjoy a relaxing dip.
At lunchtime, visitors to the city usually head to the Parte Vieje, or Old Town, an area overflowing with bars where you can sample the famous “pintxos”: think traditional Spanish “tapas,” but taken one step further. San Sebastian’s “pintxos” are world famous, and any food lover visiting the city has to try them at least once. You can find a good introduction to the best pintxos spots at sansebastian.co.uk, with an essential guide to the city’s top bars. You will also learn about each bar’s house speciality “pintxos”, so you know what to order wherever you go.
Why not walk off your meal with a stroll along Paseo de la Concha to the “Peine del Viento,” or “wind comb” statue, one of the city’s most famous monuments. From there, catch the funicular railway to the peak of Monte Igueldo, where you can enjoy fabulous views over the entire city. As well as the views, Monte Igueldo is home to the city’s small but charming funfair. If you’re travelling with children, they’re sure to enjoy a visit to the summit of this famous hill.
If you enjoy exploring on foot, San Sebastian makes an ideal destination. After climbing Monte Igueldo, head back down towards the Parte Vieja and stroll around the fish port. Here, you’ll also see the aquarium, one of the biggest and most modern in Spain. If you feel like a longer walk, why not climb Monte Urgell, a hill which rises up behind the aquarium. The climb takes 20 minutes on foot, and like Monte Igueldo, the summit of Monte Urgell offers breathtaking views.
Finally, if surfing’s your thing, make sure to head to Zurriola beach, another of the most popular in San Sebastian, especially among aficionados of this sport. Unlike La Concha beach, it offers large waves ideal for surfing. You’ll spot visitors from all corners of the world, who flock here simply to catch the waves.
The most important advice to any visitor to San Sebastian is to explore the city on foot. San Sebastian’s compact size makes it the perfect place just to wander, to lose yourself in its charming streets.
One final tip if you’re looking for somewhere to stay in San Sebastian: I recommend choosing an apartment in the Old Town. Make sure to find somewhere comfortable and in a good location for exploring the whole city.