Around San Sebastian, there´s a lot of interesting villages, like Fuenterrabia (Hondarribia) just in front of the french town of St Jean de Luz. Or visit the Basque Coast with beautiful towns as Zarautz (with a great beach) or Getaria...
The Ulia Mount
Just behind the Urgull Mount (on its right, when watching the ocean), the Ulia Mount is less easy to climb on. It's a bit more empty of tourist as the paths are slightly harder to walk. Before climbing there, you have to know that you may meet some snakes (I did) and, as it is a famous place for gay people to meet, don't be mesmerized (I did not) if you suddenly see (I did) some men doing their own business...
The port of Donostia is, as you should expect, a colourful and vibrant place that carefully hides its various tourist traps. Don’t be fooled, there are the usual traps, mainly restaurants and souvenir shops with grossly overpriced hats and t-shirts or mass market paella. If you avoid those, however, you can concentrate and the beauty of the rest of the port. The absence of large tankers or cargo vessels (this is primarily a port for small fishing boats and yachts, as well as pleasure boats) means that the water is quite clean and still preserves the pretty blue colour. There are also several picturesque boats – probably left more for ambience than for actual practical usage – floating by the Paseo de Mari. A number of the buildings, as well, as quite interesting, as they were built when San Sebastian counted fisheries among its more important industries and thus they were built up by mariner schools and insurance companies. The fact that the atmosphere is preserved by the architecture, the bay and the boats, rather than hucksters and tour guides, means that you can actually enjoy this area while feeling like you really have been transported back to an earlier time, without getting that sleazy feeling so common in so many other “idyllic” tourist destinations.
San Sebastian, Spain
"Everyone Raves About San Sebastian"
San Sebastian has a beautiful beach, but the selection of appealing hotels along the beach is limited. The casco viejo has character but seemed typical to the others I visited in Spain. The hike up Monte Urgull offers spectacular views and great photo opportunities.
For more views, I took the funicular, built in 1912, to the top of Monte Igeldo. At the top there is also a small, neglected amusement park, which seemed surreal in that setting.
In general, San Sebastian is very attractive and not "tourist tacky" like most beach town resorts. It is easy, and pleasant, to walk around this city...and there is a youthful energy here. San Sebastian attracts a lot of wedding parties because it is a stunning backdrop for wedding photos.
The area near The Good Shephard Cathedral was lively in the late afternoons when local families would gather...the children running wild, and parents lost in conversation with friends. Because most people live in apartments, rather than houses, the plazas become one big backyard, and a wonderful place to observe families interacting. I noticed a lot of young families, and the most beautiful babies!!!!
Thousands of Basque separatists peacefully marched through the city, while I was there, shouting for the release of political prisoners.
In addition to the two nights I spent in San Sebastian, I spent two nights in the less touristy, and more quaint Hondarribia.
"Hondarribia...near San Sebastian"
In Hondarribia I walked a lot, relaxed, took in the view of France across the bay and, explored France's Pais Basque. I drove to St. Jean du Luz and up to Bayonne, caught the "Metro Basque" and visited St. Jean Pied de Port. This is one of the starting points for the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, and a very beautiful spot.
Back in Hodarribia, I met a taxi driver, Joseba, who gave me a tour of the Basque countryside between Hondarribia and San Sebastian. He took me to a restaurant in a village called Olaizola, for what he referred to as a real Basque meal!