Welcome back to the latest instalment of City Breaks where I look at destinations that can be visited in a few days – perfect for those who are pressed for time.
This week we will be focussing on the idyllic San Sebástian in North eastern Spain. Popular with surfers, backpackers and travellers in general, San Seb is in the Basque region and it’s closest airport is Bilbao which is approximately an hour away by bus. After I arrived into town off said bus I suddenly realised why it’s such a popular destination – it is gorgeous here!
San Sebástian sits on the Bay of Biscay and boasts two amazing beaches in Playa de la Concha and Playa de la Zurriola which have a promenade style setup making them a great focal point to do a bit of people watching, take a nice relaxed walk, water sports or if the weather is hot, swimming.
San Sebastián, or “Donostia” as it’s called in Basque, also boasts an incredible dining scene. Here you’ll find world famous restaurants as well as more traditional Basque pinchos bars which are a great social thing do if you’re in town. Pinchos means “small bites” so you won’t get a main meal as such, you generally try quite a few things depending on what takes your fancy. The old town or “Parte Vieja” is quintessentially European; think cobbled streets, beautiful plazas, incredible architecture at every turn and it’s here that you’ll find all of your food needs. I really enjoyed hopping from one pinchos bar to the next, making dinner a bit of an adventure where I found the locals to be very proud and sociable. The general rule of these bars is no seats; plenty of barrels and high tables to eat and drink at though or if you’re game you can prop yourself up at the bar where all the food is! My personal favourite was Borda Berri.
With amazing sights and scenery San Seb really does have it all. A couple of things that you should be doing whilst here include taking a trip up to Monte Igeldo at the far end of the Playa de la Concha. To get to the top there is a funicular but you probably could walk or, dare I say, cycle if you’re game. Once at the top the views are spectacular with the Bay of Biscay to the west and San Sebástian town to the east. I spent a good 30 minutes up there as I just couldn’t get enough of the views.
Right next to the town centre there is another, smaller mountain called Mont Urgull which, along with Mont Igeldo, provides good shelter to the town from high winds. Urgull has a peak of 123m along with a fortress and lovely views of the Old Town and back across to Mont Igeldo. Unfortunately when I visited it was pouring with rain but I still managed a good walk and explore around. Just to the east of Urgull is the main surf beach (Playa de la Zurriola) which gets lots of use in the warmer months but if you don’t surf the main beach at Concha is more than ideal.
All told I spent 5 glorious days in San Sebástian and I loved every second. The vibe is incredibly chilled here and that rubbed off onto me very quickly, making my visit incredibly relaxing and very enjoyable. I think you could get by with 3 days here but if you have more time, why rush it? Especially in such an amazing location such as this!